UK: The Department for Transport has directly awarded incumbent Stagecoach Group subsidiary East Midlands Trains an interim contract to continue to operate the East Midlands passenger franchise.

The new short-term contract announced on February 12 will start when the most recent extension of the current franchise expires on March 3 and run until at least August 18, when the next long-term contract is now scheduled to start. DfT has the discretion to extend the interim franchise by up to 24 weeks on terms that have already been agreed.

Revenue risk will sit primarily with DfT under the interim contract. Stagecoach said it expects to earn a ‘modest’ profit, adding that there is a profit-sharing arrangement with DfT.

The East Midlands franchise covers Midland Main Line inter-city services linking London St Pancras with Leicester, Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield, as well as network of regional routes in central England. It has been operated by Stagecoach Group under the East Midlands Trains brand since 2007.

Refranchising was delayed after the government’s July 2017 announcement that it had cancelled the planned 25 kV 50 Hz electrification between Kettering, Nottingham and Sheffield.

Stagecoach, Abellio and Arriva have been invited to tender for the next long-term contract, which is scheduled to run from August 18 2019 until August 22 2027.

  • East Midland Trains is to begin the roll-out of smart ticketing in March as part of a wider National Rail programme.