RAIL company East Midlands Trains says a £69 million project to improve the speed of trains between Sheffield and London is to start early next year.
The news was revealed by Tim Shoveller, outgoing managing director of the firm, after he joined Master Cutler, Pam Liversidge, for a ceremony to name a train after The Cutlers’ Company.
Mr Shoveller, who is leaving to become managing director of South West Trains, said: “The work to increase line speeds will take 18 months to complete and mainly involve sections of track in Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire.
“There will be some benefits to passengers from next December but the full impact will be from December 2013, when fast services between Sheffield and London will take less than two hours, down from two hours, seven minutes at present.”
Mr Shoveller believes the faster services will be an economic boost for Sheffield.
“Having a journey time to London of less than two hours makes Sheffield very competitive compared with rival cities,” he said.
East Midlands Trains is not making any major service changes in its new December timetable this year, apart from an additional early morning journey to Sheffield from London.
Mr Shoveller said: “That will still be a benefit in terms of making it easier for business users to travel to South Yorkshire.”
East Midlands Trains has already announced it is doubling the size of the majority of its trains between Sheffield and Manchester from December this year.
The services, which run hourly between the cities and currently suffer overcrowding, will mainly be four carriages instead of two.
East Midlands Trains has been given eight extra coaches by the Government.