Stagecoach wins Midlands contract

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Stagecoach has won the contract to run the East Midlands rail franchise as the Department for Transport continues its overhaul of the network to improve train services between cities in the region and destinations such as London and Liverpool.

Stagecoach will add 850 extra seats during peak times and 10,000 seats at off-peak times every weekday between London and the Midlands, and will raise the frequency of trains to five an hour during peak times. It will also create an integrated connection to the Eurostar for business passengers and plans to run extra-fast trains in 2012 for the Olympic Games.

The company has been set a target of ensuring that more than 90 per cent of trains running on the new franchise arrive on time. The new services will also speed up existing services, for example, shaving 12 minutes off the journey between London and Sheffield.

The new franchise comprises the old Midland Mainline service between London St Pancras and cities such as Nottingham, Sheffield and Leicester as well as the eastern section of the central franchise.

The Department for Transport has reduced the number of franchises in the region to three from four and has already awarded the West Midlands rail franchise to Govia, a rail company majority-owned by Go-Ahead Group.

The new East Midlands franchise will run from this November to April 2015. Stagecoach will pay the Government a premium of £133m over the life of the contract, although it will receive a subsidy in the early part of the deal. Stagecoach will raise regulated fares by inflation plus 1 per cent every year; unregulated ticket prices will climb by an average of 3.4 per cent a year.