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I’m here in Derby for the launch of the new East Midlands rail franchise, which sees Abellio take over from Stagecoach, who’ve run the franchise since 2007. There’s lots to look forward to in the new franchise, which includes a replacement their train fleet with either brand new or cascaded trains. There’ll be lots of events happening throughout the day which I’ll blog about here…


EMR are kicking off the new franchise by giving out free cupcakes to passengers at many of their major stations. Here’s some of the folks at Derby.

The trains are being rebranded with two separate identities – Intercity and Regional. Here’s one of their Class 153s at Derby. These units will be replaced by larger trains cascaded from other franchises.

This is how the Class 222s look. All these trains will be replaced. EMR have ordered 33 five car bi-mode units from Hitachi at a cost of £400m.

It’s been a very busy day with launches at bother Derby and Nottingham. Now the re-liveried train is on it’s way to London, couple up on the rear of a normal service train. The main launch event was held at the Roundhouse opposite the station, with speakers from Abellio, EMR, Network Rail, Transport for East Midlands and also the Dutch embassy. Here’s few shots from the day so far.

Guests at the EMR launch

It’s been such a busy day I’ve really not had time to blog. After the events at Derby and Nottingham we travelled on the rebranded train to London where there was a final stakeholder event at St Pancras. The train attracted a lot of attention from enthusiasts whilst the launch was busy with the mainstream media who were willing to pick up and run with a good news story. Let’s face it, a £600m investment in the new franchise is certainly that!
After the event was over and my job was done I wandered over to Euston to have a look at progress on HS2. The  demolition phase is well underway now and it won’t be long before it’s completed. Even the big tent that covered the old graveyards starting to come down. I’ll add a few pictures later.

I headed back North up the Midland Main Line as I wanted to get shots of progress on the route rebuild so I stopped off at Wellingborough where the 4th platform’s being reinstated.
Of course, the irony of all this is that Network Rail are having to spend vast sums reinstating infrastructure that British Rail ripped out in the name of rationalisation and balancing the books…

After Wellingborough I made a brief stop at Kettering where I transferred to a Sheffield bound service. Sheffield’s where I am now, waiting for Cross-Country’s 20:21 to take me to Leeds.


My Cross-Country service turned up on time and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was worked by one of their HST sets – only this one’s had the slam doors replaced by automatic ones. They certainly seem to make a difference to the ambience inside the vehicle. To my mind it seems quieter and without the same pressure pulse when you enter tunnels or pass other trains. You still notice passing but it doesn’t have the same impact on the ears! Unfortunately, a family travelling in my coach with a young child have undone any benefit…

I’ll add a few more pictures from today’s events later or in the morning.  I’m posting this from my mobile so don’t have the facilities. I’m looking forward to having a day working from home tomorrow as I’ve a shedload of pictures to edit and get out to clients in readiness for the next jobs.


Back to earth with a bang! My final train of the day is Northern’s 21:08 from Leeds to Brighouse and it’s being worked by a rather tired and unrefurbished Class 150 – my least favourite train. Actually, the train’s going to Huddersfield, but they don’t display that on the screens at Leeds in case folk get the wrong (slower) train!