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East Midlands Trains customers will be treated to free train-shaped chocolates today (19 October) as a £13 million programme of investment gets underway to deliver better journeys for millions of customers travelling on the UK’s most punctual long distance train services.
Following an agreement with the Department for Transport (DfT), East Midlands Trains will continue running services from London St Pancras International to Northamptonshire, the East Midlands and South Yorkshire, as well as local routes throughout Lincolnshire, the East Midlands and Staffordshire and trains between Liverpool and Norwich until at least March 2018. The initial franchise was due to end in October 2015 and following the agreement with the DfT, the new franchise will now run until at least 4 March 2018 with the DfT having the option to extend the contract by up to a further year.
Around £13 million will be invested to improve journeys with discounted fares and an improved compensation system for delays. There will also be cleaner stations and trains, a better on-board service and new technology to provide faster and better customer information.
Local communities will benefit with more than £250,000 invested in community rail, expansion of the popular station adoption scheme, new initiatives with schools and continued opportunities for graduates and young people. Extra front-line staff will be recruited to help customers, and employees will benefit from a wide range of improvements.
To mark the start of the new era of East Midlands Trains and the multi-million investment programme, extra staff will be on hand at stations across the network today handing out free train-shaped chocolates and talking to customers about the exciting plans for the next few years.
There will also be copies of the new East Midlands Matters available, a new bi-annual customer report launched today, which will provide clear and transparent information for customers on progress with the investment plans, and updates on how East Midlands Trains is performing. Issue One of East Midlands Matters can be found here
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "I want to see passengers put at the heart of our railway system. The franchise that starts today will mean better journeys and a better deal for passengers on East Midlands Trains. Strengthening our transport infrastructure, locally and nationally, is a key part of the government's long term economic plan, and the £38 billion spent on the UK's rail network between 2014 and 2019 will help boost jobs and growth."
Jake Kelly, Managing Director of East Midlands Trains, added: “This is a very exciting day for our customers, our employees and local communities and marks the start of our major improvement plans.
“We are extremely pleased to have been given the opportunity to continue operating train services until at least March 2018, and we’re certain our customers will welcome the plans we have in place to improve our services.
“Today marks the start of a new era for East Midlands Trains and we hope customers will enjoy talking to our team, reading about our plans and of course, eating the free chocolates we’ll be handing out!”