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Transport Secretary, the Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin, today (Monday 9 December) visited Derby station to help officially launch new faster journey times to London.
The Secretary of State for Transport, who is also MP for Derbyshire Dales and a regular commuter between Derby and London, assisted East Midlands Trains and Network Rail with the dispatch of the 09.01 service from Derby which is one of the 68 trains to be improved in the new timetable. From today, passengers using this service will benefit from an 89 minute journey to London – a four minute improvement on the previous journey time.
The fastest train to London will now take just 88 minutes, whilst the average journey time has reduced by four minutes to 99 minutes.
The launch of the new faster train journeys comes on the back of a £70 million investment programme being delivered by Network Rail in partnership with East Midlands Trains. The programme of work includes the upgrade of almost 160 miles of track, with trains able to run at 125 mph on parts of the Midland Main Line route for the first time ever. Other work carried out as part of the investment package includes the replacement of a number of level crossings with bridges, minor re-signalling and work to realign parts of the track.
The Transport Secretary joined David Horne, Managing Director of East Midlands Trains and Phil Verster, Route Managing Director for Network Rail for the timetable launch today.
Patrick McLoughlin said: “The improvements East Midlands Trains has made are excellent news for passengers. Quicker journeys, better signalling and increased reliability are precisely what we want to see across the whole of the UK’s rail network.
“Investment in our rail system is absolutely vital. That is why we are spending more than £38bn on our railways between 2014 and 2019, including modernisation and expansion of the network.”
David Horne, Managing Director for East Midlands Trains, said: “The launch of our new timetable today is great news, not only for passengers here in Derby, but across the whole Midland Main Line route to London.
“The fact that our services can now run at 125 miles per hour on parts of the network for the first time ever is a major achievement and marks the culmination of many years of work by our stakeholders, staff and industry colleagues.
“With major investment in signalling and track now delivering faster, more reliable journeys and with electrification just around the corner, this marks the start of a new and exciting chapter for train services in the East Midlands.”
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 £70 million investment will allow trains to run up to 125 miles per hour 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.”
Passengers in Derbyshire will also benefit from the launch of the new timetable with faster journey times between Matlock and Nottingham. The hourly train service from Matlock to Derby and Nottingham will no longer have a waiting time at Derby station, delivering an average 11 minute improvement in the end to end journey time between Matlock and Nottingham. In addition to the improvements for Derby, passengers in Sheffield, Chesterfield, Nottingham, Loughborough and Leicester will also benefit from faster journeys to London.
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.