Transport for the East Midlands (TfEM) will have more of a formal voice in managing rail services in the region following a multi-year agreement with the Department for Transport (DfT).
TfEM will now play a larger role in managing the East Midlands franchise which has been run by East Midlands Railway (EMR) since August 2019.
The collaboration agreement will last the length of the East Midlands Railways franchise, up to at least 2027, with a 12 month notice period on either side.
The DfT is jointly funding two local rail officers with TfEM who will work closely with the department and stakeholders.
Employed by TfEM, one of the posts will lead stakeholder engagement with the DfT and EMR to secure better outcomes for local communities and businesses while the other is a support post to gather, analyse and present performance data to help make the case for improvement and or investment.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “This collaboration agreement delivers a railway truly focused on meeting the needs of the passengers who use it.
“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.”
Will Rogers, East Midlands Railway managing director, said working in partnership with local partners is “absolutely vital” to ensure the railway meets the needs and supports the aspirations of our cities, towns and communities.
He said: “We have worked closely with TfEM since the start of the franchise to develop and improve the service we provide.
“This further investment and formal collaboration agreement will further develop and strengthen our partnership as we invest to improve the railway across the East Midlands and beyond.”
The DfT will continue to retain its existing role in monitoring and managing the delivery of the contractual deliverables and benefits and all financial responsibility and accountability for the franchise.
Sir Peter Soulsby, chair of TfEM and City Mayor of Leicester said: “These are clearly challenging times for the railway but if we are to ‘build back better’ after COVID-19, then we will need to make sure that rail services enable local communities and businesses to thrive and that the local experience of rail travel is reflected in key decisions.”
Cllr Richard Davies, vice-chair of TfEM and transport lead at Lincolnshire County Council said the collaboration agreement gives a direct voice to councils and local stakeholders in the management of its rail services for the first time.
Davies added: “This can only be good thing for the urban, rural and coastal communities that make up the East Midlands.
“I look forward to working with Government and EMR to unlock the potential of the railway to grow our economy and create jobs.”