First look at new 125mph trains for Sheffield to London route

This is how a new £400 million fleet of trains running between Sheffield and London will look.

By Robert Cumber
Tuesday, 30 July, 2019, 15:22

East Midlands Railway passengers have been promised more seats and upgraded features, including air conditioning, free Wi-Fi throughout and better information screens, after Abellio ordered 165 new intercity carriages.

The incoming operator, which takes over the franchise from Stagecoach on August 19, says the new 125mph trains will also be quieter and greener and will cut journey times.

How the new East Midlands Railway trains, running between Sheffield and London St Pancras, will look

The 33 five-carriage trains, which Abellio says will regularly run in a 10-carriage formation, will be built by the British-based manufacturer Hitachi Rail and are due to enter service in 2022.

Abellio, which earlier this year won the contract to run the franchise until 2027, has described the new trains as the centrepiece of more than £600m it is investing to improve the region’s railways, with more services, faster trains and better stations promised.

The new trains will serve the main cities and towns on the Midland Main Line, including Sheffield, Chesterfield, Nottingham, Derby, Leicester and Lincoln, as well as Kettering and London St Pancras.

They will be bi-mode, meaning they can run using overhead electric lines where possible – taking advantage of the £1.5bn Midland Main Line upgrade – and use diesel at other times. Abellio claims they will be up to 90 per cent less polluting than the trains they are set to replace.

Abellio (UK) managing director Dominic Booth said: “These new trains form the centrepiece of our ambitious plans for a complete replacement of all the trains on the East Midlands Railway and are a more than £600 million investment to really improve the region’s railway.

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“They will respond to what our passengers have told us they want with more frequent services, faster journeys between the East Midlands and London, and provide more capacity with 80% more seats into London in the morning peak.”

The Midland Main Line was due to be electrified in full between London and Sheffield, significantly speeding up services between the two cities. But the Government cancelled this upgrade in 2017 to much criticism, claiming they would be too disruptive, and the route is now only due to be electrified as far north as Market Harborough.

The Dutch firm Abellio was awarded the contract for the franchise, currently operated by Stagecoach as East Midland Trains, in April. It was the only qualifying bidder after Stagecoach was disqualified by the Department for Transport due to a row over pensions.

The announcement came with the promise of new 125mph trains from April 2022, as well as more modern diesel trains from May next year. Passengers were also told there would be timetable changes to speed up journeys from December 2020, earlier and later trains to and from London, and a more regular evening service between Sheffield and the capital.

Clive Betts welcomed the announcement about the new trains but said he would continue to push for full electrification of the Sheffield-London route.

“It’s obviously good news we will eventually get new trains on the Midland Main Line. It’s just disappointing we’re not getting electrification as well, which is the ultimate objective,” he said.

“Sheffield railway station is one of the city’s pollution hotspots and without electrification when these trains come into Sheffield they will still be polluting the air. There’s a lot of new evidence that electrification costs would be much lower than previously believed.”

Abellio also announced it has appointed Will Rogers as manager director of East Midlands Railway, a role he will take up from January next year, and confirmed the senior management team will be based in Derby.