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East Midlands (East Midlands Trains)

East Midlands

What is happening now?

The franchise was awarded to Abellio on 10th April 2019, who will take over the service from August 2019.  

The Invitation to Tender (ITT) and Stakeholder Briefing Document were released by the Department for Transport (DfT) on 7 June 2018, with bids submitted in September 2018. A short direct award was announced in February 2019, to continue into the Autumn. 


The Department for Transport (DfT) negotiated a new short-term franchise (known as a direct award) with East Midlands Trains (EMT), who are part of the Stagecoach Group, the existing operator of the route. This started in October 2015, and with a further short-term direct awarded in February 2019, EMT will continue to run services in the area until at least Autumn 2019.

In September 2017 we published our report, East Midlands rail franchise: passengers’ experiences and aspirations, based on our research with current EMT passengers.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Transport Focus, said:

“East Midlands Trains passengers have a dependable service that delivers the basics well.

“Passengers have seen what other train companies provide, which has raised their expectations. They want more modern trains, with free Wi-Fi and power sockets as standard, and improvements to catering and toilet facilities on the train.

“The competition for the next franchise must seize the opportunity to provide an outstanding journey for rail passengers in the East Midlands.”

The DfT ran a consultation to seek views on the future of the East Midlands rail franchise, which closed in October 2017. A number of public events were held across the network, at which we presented results from our research. We submitted a full response to the consultation, based on our research into what passengers want from the new franchise.

The new franchise is expected to start in mid 2019.

Our role in the franchising process

We met with the DfT to determine our input to the next franchise replacement process and continued to hold detailed discussions with the DfT as the specification was developed.

The Transport Focus team also held meetings with the bidders to discuss key issues from the passenger perspective. The bidders are Abellio, Arriva and Stagecoach. First/Trenitalia pulled out of the competition to focus on other bids.

In November 2016 we presented passengers’ experiences and their priorities for the new franchise at the DfT’s Bidders Day for the new East Midlands franchise.

In 2014 we commissioned qualitative research into passengers’ current experiences and aspirations for the future franchise. We used this and other research, including the National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS), to inform our discussions with the DfT about passengers’ priorities for the direct award period. This has also been used as part of our analysis and recommendations for the franchise which we published in March 2015.

We also carried out an exercise on behalf of the DfT to gather passenger feedback online, the results of which will help DfT and East Midlands Trains shape future improvements.

We made representations to the DfT about the passenger benefits we wanted to see delivered by the most recent Direct Award. These included establishing NRPS targets for the franchise which are now in place.


Our National Rail Passenger Survey gives a twice-yearly perspective on passenger satisfaction on East Midlands. Other research can be found below:

Transport Focus research and publications
October 2017 East Midlands rail franchise consultation response
June 2017 East Midlands rail franchise: passengers’ experiences and aspirations
September 2015 East Midlands Trains direct award announcement – Transport Focus response
March 2015 East Midlands franchise – Passenger Focus submission and research

Click here for key Department for Transport publications

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