A transport campaigner has hailed a promise to increase peak morning train seats by 80 per cent as “great news” for Lincolnshire’s hard pressed commuters.
Secretary of State Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, recently announced Dutch company Abellio will take over the East Midlands Railway Franchise from August 18, for eight years.
The franchise, operates trains at stations throughout the county such as Lincoln , Skegness, Sleaford and Grantham – and runs trains to destinations such as Liverpool, Nottingham and London St Pancras.
Abellio East Midlands will introduce brand-new intercity trains, trial hydrogen fuel cell trains and will run zero-carbon pilots at six stations.
The Government claimed commuters will see a number of benefits, on the Nottingham-Lincoln– Grimsby service for example Abellio has promised a new service with “refurbished modern trains”, extended hours of operation and all a Sunday service between Lincoln and Grimesby all year round.
Darren Shirley, chief executive of the pressure group, Campaign for Better Transport, said: “The 80 per cent increase in morning peak seats in Nottingham, Lincoln and St Pancras is great news for passengers, as are shorter journey times and better station facilities.
“We are also glad to see a commitment to more smart ticketing and better compensation arrangements.
“The trialling of new low-carbon train technology is also a welcome move towards creating a cleaner, greener rail network.”
Mr Grayling, said: “I am updating the House on the East Midlands, South Eastern and West Coast Partnership franchise competitions.
“The franchise is due to start on 18 August 2019 and will run for 8 years, until 21 August 2027, with an extension of 2 years at my discretion.
“Abellio East Midlands will also deliver an additional 916 extra car park spaces and 1,050 cycle spaces.
“Bidders were invited to demonstrate how they would meet this specification, and I am very pleased that we have agreed a plan with Abellio East Midlands for them to exceed these expectations.
“Passengers will benefit from the provision of free wifi throughout the franchise, both on-trains and at stations, and a significant uplift to the current ticketing system, with the introduction of smart, flexible ticketing options, including to provide better value for those who travel regularly but less than 5 days a week, as well as improved ticket-buying facilities and nine newly staffed stations.
“The new East Midlands Railway franchise will also introduce enhanced delay repay compensation, with passengers able to claim compensation if their train is more than 15 minutes late.”