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Tony Cave Column: New train franchise decision on hold



The last day of the summer service is September 10. However the Sunday service will continue as usual although the 12.18pm Netherfield to Nottingham and 17.52pm Carlton to Nottingham services will not run after this date. Cheap advance summer fares are also due to end at the same time.


The commencing date has again been put back to Autumn 2019, with the decision as to who will run the franchise being announced in April 2019.

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The delay has been brought about by the decision to cancel electrification of the Midland Main Line, meaning that the terms of the new contract has had to be revised. Whoever takes over will be required to deliver “modern, fast and efficient inter-city and commuter trains”, and these will include a new fleet of bi-mode inter-city trains for London to Sheffield and Nottingham services from 2022.

The changeover point from electric to diesel will be at Kettering, as electrification from Bedford to Corby via Kettering is going ahead. What it could mean is that these trains will cease to call at Wellingborough, Bedford, Luton and Luton Airport Parkway and for these stations you will have to change at Kettering into a Corby to London St. Pancras service. In this way, and with track improvements going ahead, journey times to London should be reduced, although bi-mode trains are heavier, and therefore slower than the current High Speed (HST) trains.

HST’s are now over 40 years old, but still giving good service, and many prefer them to the newer trains on other lines. They are due to be ‘retired’ at the end of 2019 as they do not comply with the ‘Persons of Restricted Mobility’ regulations, and it would probably be too costly to upgrade them. So, for a couple of years before the new trains appear, we could go back to having a diesel locomotive and coaches on some London services.

As mentioned previously, it has been recommended that Netherfield should have 15 trains a day calling, instead of the seven at present, when the new franchise commences. I was going to give my choice of the times when these extra trains should call, and the reason, but this can wait now the franchise decision is delayed, but I am always pleased to have your suggestions, as the new franchisee may take note of what we would like.


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Some more record numbers. 161 joined the 08.08am Matlock service over 5 days between June 26 – 30. This was 105 back in 2016. On Mon, Aug 14 I was advised that 22 people including children joined the 10.08am service to  Matlock. On August 23, 20 adults and 4 children joined the 09.05am service to Matlock. I did predict in 2010 that if we had an hourly service “..passenger figures would increase probably by 100% from 60 to 120 per day…” Actually, there must be around 240 per day now on weekdays.

Saturday trains are quite popular, and the new Sunday trains are being well used from most stations on the line.

Again I would like to thank all who have provided me with the numbers joining and alighting from trains they have used, as I don’t have time to see many trains after the morning rush hour. One day in July I heard the 08.51 Netherfield to Skegness had 23 join.


East Midlands Airport and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) have called for improved railway links to the station, and the airport has offered to put forward £2.5m towards the changes it wants to see. These are new services and also improved frequencies of trains at the station. They also want to change the station name to East Midlands Airport Parkway. The current timetable off-peak has trains to London at 35 and 43 mins past each hour (52 minute gap), plus the Lincoln to Leicester services. We get a few direct trains from Carlton to and from East  Midlands Parkway.

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Plans are underway to sell Gedling Youth Club and the old stations building to the highest bidder. The Friends of Gedling Station are committed to obtaining Heritage Lottery funding to save this fabulous piece of local history. Please join the campaign. You can read more about it HERE.

Newark Castle Station Cafe should be open by the beginning of September. It will be environmentally friendly with no plastic bottles, only cans, cartons and glass bottled drinks being on sale, you can also bring your own container.

It’s the annual Station Adopters Conference at Derby on Friday, September 8. We get to meet the managers of East Midlands Trains, so if there is anything you think ought to be mentioned, let me know.

Next summer the track and signalling around Derby station is to be upgraded as part of a £200m project beginning on July 22, 2018. The station will be partially closed for 79 days. A full and detailed revised timetable will be published in the new year. Once complete, services will be better segregated, reducing journey times. A new platform will also be built. Only service to and through Derby will be affected. Some, like Nottingham to Birmingham, will use a route that avoids Derby.

The 11.24am Saturday Carlton to Leicester service is usually very busy, especially when Forest are playing at home, ad during the weeks just before Christmas. The 11.08am train to Matlock will give a connection to the 11.32am train to Leicester and you don’t have to pay extra to travel on this London-bound service, as some thought.

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