Bim Afolami: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether improvements to infrastructure and the capacity for East Midlands Trains will be completed in 2020; and what steps his Department is taking to prevent delays to services serving stations along that route post-2020.
Jo Johnson: We are investing in the biggest upgrade of the Midland Main Line since it was completed in 1870. This infrastructure upgrade will create capacity for up to 50% more seats in the peak into London St Pancras.
We continue to work closely with Network Rail on the upgrade, and based on their plans and projections at this time, delivery is expected in 2020.
We will shortly be announcing the Invitation to Tender for the next East Midlands franchise, which will set out how we want to see the next operator make best use of this additional capacity. For journeys between Corby and London, the consultation on the next East Midlands franchise proposed that passengers benefit from a new and dedicated express service. From 2020, it was proposed that the trains would be fast, like today, but also longer, with more seats.
This would enable the next operator of the East Midlands franchise to resume peak-time services at Bedford and Luton.