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The first in a series of new 125 mph speed signs on the Midland Main Line route to London have been unveiled by East Midlands Trains and Network Rail as the rail operator gears up to launch its new timetable with faster journeys to London.
The roll-out of the 125 mph speed signs are part of a £70 million line improvement scheme being delivered by Network Rail in partnership with East Midlands Trains, which will allow trains to London to operate at speeds of up to 125 mph on certain parts of the route for the first time ever.
In just five days time, on Monday 9 December, East Midlands Trains will launch its new timetable with faster journeys to London from Sheffield, Chesterfield, Derby, Nottingham, East Midlands Parkway, Leicester and Loughborough.
The programme of work being completed by Network Rail includes a total of 159 miles of track which have been upgraded to allow faster line speeds, replacement of a number of level crossings with bridges, minor re-signalling and work to realign parts of the track. This will allow East Midlands Trains to reduce the average weekday journey time between Sheffield and London by seven minutes, between Nottingham and London by five minutes and between Derby and London by four minutes. Once the scheme has been fully completed by Network Rail, East Midlands Trains will look to make further improvements to journey times during 2014.
David Horne, Managing Director for East Midlands Trains, said: “East Midlands Trains services on the Midland Main Line route to London now carry more than 13 million passengers a year and the route provides a vital artery for South Yorkshire, the East Midlands and Northamptonshire.
“Faster journeys are vital for economic growth and this major investment in track and signalling will help us to provide faster and more reliable journeys for our passengers travelling to London.
“These latest improvements to our timetable highlight just how much service levels have improved since franchising began in 1996. We’re already offering double the number of services every day between Sheffield and London, and from Monday 9 December, the average journey time will drop to 2 hours and 9 minutes, a reduction of almost 20 minutes from 1996.
“We’re really looking forward to the launch of the new timetable and the start of our trains being able to run at 125 mph for the first time. This will start the next exciting chapter for this route.”
Phil Verster, Route Managing Director for Network Rail, added: "The Midland Main Line is an important railway as it connects communities in the East Midlands and provides a key commuter route to London. Our £70million investment will allow trains to run up to 125 miles on sections of the route, bringing significant social and economic benefits to the region through faster journeys and improved reliability. We are working closely with East Midlands Trains to complete the final stages of this programme of investment.”
Copies of the new timetable are now available at East Midlands Trains stations and online at eastmidlandstrains.co.uk. In addition to the improved journey times, there will also be changes to many of the departure times and connection times. Passengers are therefore strongly advised to check the new timetable in advance of travel.