The UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) has signed a multi-year agreement to improve East Midlands rail services.

The agreement with Transport for East Midlands (TfEM) will increase the authority of the local councils in the management of the East Midlands franchise, which is run by the East Midlands Railway (EMR).

As agreed, two local posts will be created in TfEM, who will work with the department and stakeholders to improve rail services.

One of the posts will lead stakeholder engagement to represent the needs for local communities and businesses and ensure better outcomes while the other will be responsible to procure, assess and present performance data to strengthen the case.

The move is expected to improve the management of the East Midlands franchise and provide a medium for the local councils to review and address performance issues and investment decisions, as well as expedite necessary improvements.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “This bespoke collaboration agreement delivers a railway truly focused on meeting the needs of the passengers who use it.

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“It provides councils and local leaders with a greater voice in the management of the services which matter to them, helping deliver positive long-term changes focused on what passengers want.

“Our railways are at the heart of this country’s transport links and it is essential that we work closely with Transport for the East Midlands to deliver the modern, punctual and reliable journeys people expect.”

Notably, Abellio took over the East Midlands rail franchise in August last year. The company will operate the franchise until August 2027, with the option for a two-year extension.

The latest collaboration agreement will also be valid throughout the length of the East Midlands Railways franchise with a 12-month notice period on either side.