Dutch transportation giant Abellio is preparing for the launch of the new East Midlands rail franchise later this month, with a new managing director announced for 2020.

Abellio will take over the franchise on 18 August after winning the contract in April.

Current operator Stagecoach was barred from submitting bids for the service, along with the West Coast and South Eastern franchises, after the Department for Transport (DfT) said its proposals did not meet new pension rules.

Abellio has announced it will rebrand the franchise from East Midlands Trains to East Midlands Railway (EMR) and that current MD Jake Kelly will step down on 18 August. Abellio deputy MD Julian Edwards will temporarily fill the role until Will Rogers, who is currently MD of Arriva Rail London, takes over in January next year.

The appointment will be another blow for Arriva, which also lost the bid for the franchise. The company said it would sue the DfT over the decision, claiming the government was not transparent throughout the process.

3D drawing of a new East Midlands Railway train from Abellio

Abellio plans to introduce new bi-mode intercity trains between the East Midlands, the North and London

Abellio has announced several investments in the franchise since it was awarded the contract, including £400 million for new, faster and greener Hitachi trains aimed at boosting seat numbers, along with money set aside for station improvements, enhanced accessibility and ticketing, and training and benefits for employees.

Dominic Booth, MD of Abellio UK, commented: “Abellio is pleased and proud to have been confirmed as franchisee for the East Midlands Railway. We’re looking forward to working with the East Midlands Trains management and frontline team who have laid such excellent foundations for us to build on to deliver the vision developed with local people and stakeholders.

“With all trains replaced and much higher capacity, our new franchise will renew the railway and support communities large and small across the East Midlands and beyond.”

Abellio is contracted to operate the franchise for eight years.

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