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New operator of East Midlands rail services unveils plans for improvements to trains and timetables




The new firm taking over rail services to and from Spalding has revealed its plans for passengers.

Dutch state-owned rail operator Abellio is promising hourly services between Spalding, Sleaford, Lincoln and Peterborough, "refurbished, modern trains" and "improved comfort" when it takes over the route on August 18.

As reported in the Spalding Guardian four weeks ago, Abellio is to replace Stagecoach (East Midlands Trains) as the operator of services on the Great Northern Great Eastern Line between Peterborough and Doncaster.

Dutch state-owned rail operator Abellio has announced plans for its new East Midlands rail franchise, including an hourly service from Spalding to Lincoln and Peterborough. Photo supplied. (9876647)
Dutch state-owned rail operator Abellio has announced plans for its new East Midlands rail franchise, including an hourly service from Spalding to Lincoln and Peterborough. Photo supplied. (9876647)

Last month, the Department of Transport announced that Stagecoach had been disqualified from bidding to keep the franchise over "non-compliance" with the rules for operating the route.

Abellio spokesman Edward Funnell said: "We are currently in the 'standstill' period between Abellio being announced as the 'winning bidder' and being confirmed as 'franchisee' for East Midlands Railway (EMR).

"This limits us to what we can say publicly about our plans.

Abellio has unveiled plans to improve rail services between Spalding, Sleaford, Lincoln and Peterborough. Photo supplied. (9877390)
Abellio has unveiled plans to improve rail services between Spalding, Sleaford, Lincoln and Peterborough. Photo supplied. (9877390)

"However, I can say that our plans for the new franchise will include new bi-mode (diesel-electric) trains on Intercity routes, while for Lincolnshire, there will be more services and modern, refurbished trains that will offer more seating.

"Also, stations will be improved, free, on-board Wi-Fi will be rolled out and there will be more spending on Community Rail Partnerships."

Abellio currently operates Greater Anglia, ScotRail, Merseyrail, West Midlands Trains and London Northwestern Railway

After being announced as the winning bidder, Abellio promised a £600million investment into improving its trains and stations.

George Scott, chairman of Spalding and Peterborough Transport Forum, said: "Whilst Abellio's franchise plans are good in some parts, it is disappointing to see that there are no plans for an hourly service before 2021, earlier or later services between Lincoln and Peterborough and no Sunday services.

Spalding and Peterborough Transport Forum chairman George Scott. Photo by Tim Wilson. SG-250219-011TW (9882697)
Spalding and Peterborough Transport Forum chairman George Scott. Photo by Tim Wilson. SG-250219-011TW (9882697)

"We will also have to see which lines the new trains will run on to assess whether it is the Lincoln to Doncaster service only that will benefit.

"In the meantime, the forum is still waiting to have an initial meeting with Abellio to discuss these improvements before they are implemented."

Alistair Crisp, of South Lincolnshire Green Party, said: "I am pleased to hear that Abellio is intending to modernise the Peterborough to Lincoln route.

"However, just like its predecessors, Abellio clearly sees the Midland Main Line out of St Pancras as the jewel in the crown and cross-country services as an afterthought.

Alistair Crisp at a South Lincolnshire Green Party meeting in Spalding at the end of February. Photo by Tim Wilson. SG-250219-009TW
Alistair Crisp at a South Lincolnshire Green Party meeting in Spalding at the end of February. Photo by Tim Wilson. SG-250219-009TW

"Of all the promised service improvements, the only one relating to the Peterborough-Lincoln line is an hourly service to Doncaster, though whether this will include any later services than at present is not stated.

"There is still no reference to a Sunday service, although the intention of implementing environmental improvements is to be welcomed and spending money to make stations more accessible is obviously good.

"Will Abellio be willing to talk to service users before finalising their plans for timetable alterations?"



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