BREAKING NEWS: New deal signals boost for rail links with London

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Rail journeys from Lincolnshire to London will be transformed by more services, new trains and more seats.

It follows the Government’s announcement that it intends to award the new East Coast franchise to Inter City Railways, a joint venture of Stagecoach and Virgin.

The new deal will include a host of extra benefits for passengers including:

*proposals for more direct trains between London and Lincoln;

*improved ticket offices, better cycling facilities, free wi-fi and other improvements at Peterborough, Grantham, Newark Northgate and Retford stations;

*new electric vehicle charging points at Peterborough and Grantham;

*3,100 extra seats for the morning peak time by 2020;

*65 state of the art Intercity Express Trains brought into passenger service from 2018; and

a £140 million investment package to improve trains and stations across the East Coast.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “This is a fantastic deal for passengers and for staff on this vital route.

“It gives passengers more seats, more services and new trains.

“We are putting passengers at the heart of the service. I believe Stagecoach and Virgin will not only deliver for customers but also for the British taxpayer.

“This government knows the importance of our railways. That is why they are a vital part of our long term economic plan, with over £38 billion being spent on the network over the next five years.”

Martin Griffiths, Chief Executive of Stagecoach Group, said: “A passion for customers, employees and the community is at the heart of our plans for the franchise.

“We want to build on the quality and pride of the people who will be joining our team.

“We have some fantastic ideas to deliver a more personal travel experience for customers.”

The deal will see an additional six trains a day to London and five trains a day from London to Lincoln from May 2019, significantly improving the current level of direct services.

Station improvements will include new platform canopies at Peterborough and Newark Northgate, and new information screens at Peterborough.

Over the eight-year franchise, Inter City Railways will also invest £140 million to bring extra benefits for passengers across the East Coast, including:

*complete refurbishment of the existing train fleet;

*better wi-fi connections and onboard catering on the new Intercity Express train fleet;

*improved ticket offices and 170 new ticket vending machines;

*over 500 new car parking spaces;

*411 additional cycle spaces and new secure cycle facilities;

*a customer and community improvement fund; and

a training fund for new apprenticeships, internships and staff development.

Inter City Railways will pay the government around £3.3 billion to operate the franchise.

The company will shortly begin talks with Network Rail and the Office of Rail Regulation to agree its plans to run new direct services from London to Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Huddersfield for the first time ever on the InterCity East Coast franchise.

It will also seek approval to run more trains to Edinburgh, Leeds, Lincoln, Stirling, Harrogate and Bradford.

From 2018, Inter City Railways will take delivery of the new Intercity Express trains, assembled at Hitachi’s factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.

By 2020, all of the 65 modern high-speed electric trains will be in service and will replace 39 existing trains.

In addition to more seats, passengers will benefit from cleaner, more reliable trains and faster journeys.

Inter City Railways has also given a commitment to reduce all long-distance standard anytime fares by 10%.

The operator will also develop its own website, smartphone and tablet apps that will make door-to-door travel easier for customers, including planning journeys and buying tickets.