The next East Midlands rail franchise: building on solid foundations

06 September 2017

The next East Midlands rail franchise must seize the opportunity to deliver an outstanding experience for passengers.

Today, Transport Focus, the independent transport user watchdog, has published research on what East Midlands rail passengers want from the next franchise. The next operator is expected to start running the franchise from August 2019.

The research finds that the current East Midlands franchise largely delivers on passengers’ basic needs. A dependable and reliable service which represents value for money on local journeys compared to the cost of driving or taking the bus. However, passengers making longer distance journeys have mixed experiences, with some fares seen as expensive.

Passengers’ priorities for the next franchise are more seats to handle overcrowding at peak times, additional evening and Sunday services, and modern trains. This includes free on-board Wi-Fi, power sockets and improvements to catering services.

Our research shows passengers rate staff on the network highly, finding them friendly and helpful at the station and on the train. However, there are issues around the dated feel of trains, with basic facilities, and the inconsistent quality of stations across the network. Passengers’ concerns around personal security at stations and on trains must also be addressed.

Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of independent watchdog 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.”

What passengers say:

[I use East Midlands Trains] because they’re on time, they’re reliable, staff are friendly. I know what I’m getting really.”  Mansfield, frequent commuter.

“I’m spending £130 at least on tickets and when I add that up to a month, it’s at least £600. And then I have to pay for Wi-Fi. I think that’s really rubbish.” Bedford, frequent commuter.

“I find them quite noisy. I often get the train from Lincoln to Newark Northgate and it’s a two carriage train but it is so loud. Literally the windows are shaking sometimes, it’s just really uncomfortable to sit on sometimes.” Peterborough, leisure frequent.

“I’ve written to [East Midlands Trains] saying that there’s a really good member of staff at say Beeston or Loughborough or somewhere. Really helpful, sold me a cheaper ticket, found a way of communicating something that I wouldn’t have been aware of.” Nottingham, frequent commuter.

Background information

Transport Focus East Midlands Trains’ passenger research can be found here.

The East Midlands rail franchise serves passengers in Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Lincoln, Derby, Liverpool, Norwich and London.

In the most recent National Rail Passenger Survey:

  • 89 per cent of East Midlands Trains’ passengers are satisfied overall with journey
  • 51 per cent of passengers are satisfied with the value for money of their ticket
  • 81 per cent passengers are satisfied with the helpfulness and attitude of staff on the train
  • 76 per cent of passengers are satisfied with the level of crowding on the train
  • 29 per cent of passengers are satisfied with the availability of Wi-Fi
  • 43 per cent of passengers are satisfied with the availability of power sockets.

For further information please contact:

Steven John Harry, Communications Assistant
Telephone: 0300 123 0821 or email:

Transport Focus is the independent transport watchdog representing the interests of:

  • rail passengers in Great Britain
  • bus, coach and tram passengers across England outside London
  • all users of England’s motorways and major ‘A’ roads (the Strategic Road Network).

We work to make a difference for all transport users.

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