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On Monday 11 February it is exactly three months since the start of the East Midlands Trains franchise and the company has been taking time to reflect on the successes achieved and the challenges faced since 11 November 2007.
Tim Shoveller, Managing Director for the company, said, “In the first 12 weeks we have operated over 30,000 train services, carrying hundreds of thousands of passengers. Our aim for the first few months was really to operate ‘business as usual’, focusing on offering a safe and punctual service.
“We’ve faced some challenges over these first three months. The most testing of which was the train derailment at Barrow on Soar on 1 February. The derailment was caused by a bridge which had fallen onto the track, having been struck by a road vehicle. I believe that our staff provided the best service possible service in very difficult circumstances and I want to assure passengers we will be reviewing the incident. We want to ensure we learn lessons, focusing particularly on the way we worked with our partners Network Rail to recover the service and the flow of information to passengers.
“Perhaps the best indication that we have a great team in place to move the company forward successfully is that year-on-year statistics show that for the first 12-week reporting period, East Midlands Trains' punctuality has been significantly better than the combined figure for the same period under the previous operators London services and Central Trains. Average punctuality was 87.15%, 86.09% and 88.13% for the first three periods, compared with 81.31%, 84.95% and 86.15% for the same periods last year. This is a great achievement, but not one that we are satisfied with. We have made a commitment to improve punctuality even further. I want us to be the operator that runs a ‘right time railway’.”
East Midlands Trains has exciting investment plans too and this year will see:
Tim added: “I know that for some passengers travelling on our Local services route the standard of accommodation on trains has not been good enough. We realised very quickly that the fleet of trains we inherited needed more immediate attention than we had planned in terms of appearance, comfort and reliability. We made immediate improvements to external cleanliness by investing in a new wash plant for trains. Longer term the relivery and refurbishment of our Local services fleet starts later this year. This, along with new staff uniforms across the network in summer, will see us start to build a sense of pride and identity for services in our region. We are asking for passengers’ continued patience and understanding whilst we make improvements.
“One of the most interesting opportunities for East Midlands Trains will be the focus on our relationship with stakeholders and community partners along our route. We believe external funding is available for improvements, subject to us creating positive relationships and providing a good case for investment from business partners.
“During the life of our franchise, Stagecoach Group is investing £90m in stations and services. I am sure we have the right team in place to now deliver this and more, exceeding what our passengers are hoping for and bringing new passengers to rail.”