A £13 million investment to improve East Midlands Trains services, bringing extra trains to Lincoln, has begun – following a rail franchise extension.
The programme of investment, which will upgrade trains and stations across the region, was officially kicked off on Monday, October 19.
Following an agreement with the Department for Transport (DfT), rail operator Stagecoach group will continue running East Midlands Trains services.
The group’s contract, which was due to end in October 2015, was extended until at least March 2018.
Planned improvements include further investment in the Nottingham-Newark-Lincoln timetable, with faster journey times and extra services on Saturdays.
Customers are being told to expect discounted fares and an improved compensation system for delays.
They are also being promised cleaner stations and trains, a better on-board service and new technology to provide faster and better customer information.
Local communities will benefit with more than £250,000 invested in community rail, new initiatives with schools and continued opportunities for graduates and young people.
Extra front-line staff will also be recruited to help customers, and employees will benefit from a range of improvements.
To mark the start of the programme, extra staff are on hand at stations across the network today handing out free train-shaped chocolates and talking to customers about the plans for the next few years.
The Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, helped East Midlands Trains kick off the investment programme and the first day of the new franchise by joining Neil Micklethwaite, Customer Experience and Commercial Director for East Midlands Trains and the team at Derby station.
Patrick McLoughlin said: “I want to see passengers put at the heart of our railway system. The franchise that starts today will mean better journeys and a better deal for passengers on East Midlands Trains.
“Strengthening our transport infrastructure, locally and nationally, is a key part of the government’s long term economic plan, and the £38 billion spent on the UK’s rail network between 2014 and 2019 will help boost jobs and growth.”
Jake Kelly, Managing Director of East Midlands Trains, added: “We are extremely pleased to have been given the opportunity to continue operating train services until at least March 2018, and we’re certain our customers will welcome the plans we have in place to improve our services.
“Today marks the start of a new era for East Midlands Trains and we hope customers will enjoy talking to our team, reading about our plans and of course, eating the free chocolates we’ll be handing out!”