The Department for Transport (DfT) in the UK has selected Abellio as the winning bidder to run the East Midlands Railway franchise.

Abellio East Midlands will run the franchise from 18 August this year to 21 August 2027, with the option for a two-year extension.

The decision, which is subject to at least a ten-day standstill period, comes after the current operator Stagecoach Group was disqualified due to concerns over pension commitments.

In February, Stagecoach received an extension of six months to run East Midlands until August.

“Abellio will invest £600m in improvements to trains and stations, maximising the effect of the government’s £1.5bn upgrade of the Midland Main Line.”

As the new operator, Abellio will be responsible for the introduction of trains that will replace the existing intercity fleet.

Passengers will benefit from an 80% increase in morning peak time seats on trains to Nottingham, Lincoln and St Pancras, as well as reduced journey times.

The operator will carry out significant improvements at stations and ticketing systems to improve passenger convenience.

It will also oversee the introduction of free Wi-Fi and mobile connectivity on-board, improve delay repay compensation and create additional car parks and cycle spaces at the stations.

Abellio UK managing director Dominic Booth said: “We look forward to this franchise driving economic growth and delivering significant benefits for passengers.

“Abellio will invest £600m in improvements to trains and stations, maximising the effect of the government’s £1.5bn upgrade of the Midland Main Line, to make journeys easier, more reliable and comfortable for our passengers.”

As per the agreement, Abellio East Midlands will trial hydrogen fuel cell trains on the Midland Main Line and also run zero-carbon pilots at six stations along the route.