With weeks to go until it was set to expire, the Department for Transport has extended Stagecoach’s operation of the East Midlands franchise.
The new contract begins on March 3 and extends the transport group’s East Midlands Trains (EMT) operation until at least August 18, 2019.
Confirming the news to parliament in a written statement, rail minister Andrew Jones added that, if it is required, there is an option to extend this agreement by a further six rail periods, meaning EMT could continue to operate the franchise into 2020.
EMT began operating the East Midlands franchise in November 2007.
Officials say the deal will bridge the gap to the new franchise and ensure a smooth transition.
Stagecoach chief executive Martin Griffiths said: “We are very proud of the improvements we have delivered for our customers and our people over the past 11 years, and we look forward to continuing this successful track record.”
In 2018, a second shortlist for the new East Midlands franchise was announced. The competition process was restarted following the cancellation of the Midland main line electrification programme north of Kettering and Corby.
Abellio, Arriva, Stagecoach and a FirstGroup/Trenitalia joint venture were initially shortlisted. The First Group-Trenitalia JV has since pulled out of the running to focus on its bid for the West Coast Partnership franchise.