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Trains between Sheffield and London will continue to run twice an hour after an agreement between the transport executive and East Midlands Trains to protect the present frequency.
There had been concerns that the current half-hourly service might be halved after the demise of Yorkshire Forward, the regional development body which had provided some of the funding.
But South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and operator East Midlands Trains have now reached agreement over a funding package that will see the present service maintained until at least March 2015.
The half-hourly service, which runs from Monday to Saturday during daytime, was introduced in December 2009 and has proved very popular with passengers. Improving the frequency of the rail link between Sheffield and St Pancras International had been regarded as vital to the competitiveness of the South Yorkshire economy by local business leaders. This has generated over 40, 000 additional passenger journeys between Sheffield and London each year.
The present journey time of two hours and seven minutes should be reduced further this year when work to relieve bottlenecks takes place. There may be further opportunities in the future too as electrification of the line in future years will bring journey times down even further.
It is important that Sheffield can offer a high quality service to and from London
David Young, SYPTE Deputy Interim Director General, said: “We are very pleased that this important service is being retained at its present frequency for at least two more years. A fast, regular train service between Sheffield and London is important if our city region is to remain competitive with other areas. It has proved very popular since being introduced and we are confident that journey time improvements will see it carry even more passengers in the future.”
Neil Mickelthwaite, Customer Service and Commercial Director for East Midlands Trains, said: “Sheffield is one of the UK’s most important cities and East Midlands Trains is proud to serve it. We are excited about the developments in the future, the line speed improvements and the electrification of the Midland Mainline route.
“The retention of the second train per hour was very important to us and we are very pleased that we have been able to come to an agreement with SYPTE to secure its future until at least March 2015.”