Three potential bidders for the upcoming renewal of the East Midlands Rail Franchise have been shortlisted. Arriva Rail East Midlands Limited, First Trenitalia East Midlands Rail Limited and Stagecoach East Midlands Trains Limited, were recently announced by the Department for Transport as selected bidders. In order to pass the pre-qualification evaluation, each of the prospective bidders were required to demonstrate that they have the financial strength, safety and operational experience to run this important franchise.

The existing franchise, operated by East Midland Trains since 2007, has been extended by a one year period and will now finish in March 2019. The new franchise is expected to run for a period between 7 and 15 years.

The franchise covers services along the Midland Main Line from London St Pancras to Leicester, Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield as well as regional services to Liverpool, Norwich and Crewe, and local services within the East Midlands region serving 470 train services per day and 26 million passengers per annum.

The new franchise will see the completion of the Midland Main Line upgrade programme, expected to be complete by 2023, which will bring faster journey times using new rolling stock, after the electrification of the line with preparations already well under way. The number of seats into London during peak hour is expected to double with electric rolling stock to be introduced. This is to accommodate increased demand with the Midland Main Line experiencing higher than average growth in passenger number in recent years, and a further 30% increase is forecasted in the next 10 years.

The winning bidder will be announced in March next year.