FURTHER rationalisation of the passenger train operating franchises in the UK has been completed. November 11 saw the launch of the East Midlands, West Midlands and CrossCountry franchises, replacing the former Central Trains, Midland Main Line, Silverlink and Virgin CrossCountry operations (RG 7.07 p403).

Stagecoach subsidiary East Midlands Trains now operates the former Midland Main Line services from London St Pancras to Sheffield, Derby and Nottingham, plus regional services previously operated by Central Trains. These include routes from Nottingham to Lincoln, Cleethorpes and Skegness, Derby – Crewe/Matlock and Norwich – Liverpool.

Merging other Central Trains services with the Silverlink County business, Govia's London Midland franchise has been structured with two main service groups. Express Lines brings together the London – Birmingham, London – Crewe via Stoke-on-Trent and Liverpool – Birmingham routes. City Lines comprises local services within the West Midlands conurbation and routes to neighbouring towns and cities including Redditch, Leamington Spa, Stratford-upon-Avon, Worcester, Hereford and Shrewsbury.

Arriva has taken over the restructured CrossCountry franchise, although former operator Virgin Trains will retain the West Midlands – Scotland services which have been transferred to its West Coast business. CrossCountry also surrenders the Manchester – Scotland route to TransPennine Express in December, but has taken over a number of inter-regional routes from Birmingham which were formerly part of Central Trains.