East Midlands Railway
Class 222 at Leicester in EMR Intercity livery
  • East Midlands
  • 18 August 2019 – 16 October 2030[2]
Main region(s)
Other region(s)
Fleet size
Stations called at140
Parent companyTransport UK Group
Reporting markEM[1]
PredecessorEast Midlands Trains
Websitewww.eastmidlandsrailway.co.uk Edit this at Wikidata

East Midlands Railway (EMR; legal name Abellio East Midlands Limited[4]) is a train operating company in England, owned by Transport UK Group, and is the current operator of the East Midlands franchise.

Originally owned by Abellio, EMR took over operations from East Midlands Trains (EMT) on 18 August 2019, on an agreement to run the franchise for eight years. As part of the franchise commitments, EMR placed an order for 33 new bi-mode Class 810 Aurora high speed train sets and sourced preexisting Class 170 multiple units from other operators.

During early 2020, passenger numbers and ticket revenues collapsed following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to the original franchise agreement being initially suspended before being replaced entirely. Under the new National Rail Contract signed in 2022, the franchise is to last until October 2030. In February 2023, Transport UK Group concluded a management buyout of Abellio's United Kingdom business, which included EMR.



In March 2017, the Department for Transport announced that Arriva, a joint venture between FirstGroup and Trenitalia, and incumbent Stagecoach had been shortlisted to bid for the next East Midlands franchise.[5][6][7] Abellio was also shortlisted for the franchise during February 2018.[8]

In April 2018, FirstGroup and Trenitalia pulled out of the bidding process, their stated reason for doing so being to focus on the West Coast Partnership franchise.[9][10] During April 2019, it was announced that the franchise has been awarded to Abellio, with East Midlands Railway (EMR) to take over the franchise from East Midlands Trains (EMT) on 18 August 2019 for a period of eight years;[11] rival bidder Stagecoach had been disqualified from the process because its submission failed to meet employee pension obligations.[12][13]

In June 2019, Abellio revealed its branding and colour scheme for EMR, which featured distinct purple and white colours that reflected the heritage of the East Midlands. The company also confirmed that it would divide the franchise's services into three segments:[14]

EMR Electrics was later rebranded as EMR Connect following an announcement in April 2021.[15]

Covid-19 and franchise suspension

Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and a resulting collapse in both passenger numbers and ticket revenues in March 2020, the franchise agreement was suspended and replaced by an Emergency Measure Agreement for six months under which the Department for Transport assumed responsibility for all revenues and costs and EMR was instead paid a management fee.[16] This arrangement was superseded by an Emergency Recovery Measures Agreement (ERMA) under which the original franchise agreement was terminated. At the time, it was announced that the EMR franchise would operate until March 2022.[17][18]

In October 2021, the DfT issued an updated prior information notice that confirmed that the ERMA period would be extended until 16 October 2022.[19] During October 2022, it was announced that EMR had received a direct award of a four-year National Rail Contract, the terms of which included the option of extending it for a further period of up to four years.[2]

Industrial action and ownership change

EMR was one of several train operators impacted by the 2022-2023 United Kingdom railway strikes, which was the first national rail strike in the UK for three decades.[20] Its workers were amongst those who participated in industrial action due to a dispute over pay and working conditions.[21] On multiple occasions, EMR has requested that the travelling public avoid using its services on certain dates due to these strikes.[22][23]

During February 2023, Transport UK Group concluded a management buyout of Abellio's United Kingdom business, which included EMR.[24][25]


Route map of the East Midlands Railway network
A vector map of EMR InterCity and EMR Connect services

EMR operates commuter services from London St Pancras to Corby, as well as InterCity services from London St Pancras along the Midland Main Line to Nottingham and Sheffield with limited extensions to Lincoln. EMR also operate the local East Midlands services and inter regional services to Liverpool and Norwich (Express service). Services from Nottingham to Liverpool Lime Street were to transfer to another operator during the life of the franchise,[26] although following a review by the DfT, this will no longer take place; the service instead being split at Nottingham as intended but remaining with EMR.[27] The Barton line was expected to transfer from Northern in 2019 but this was delayed until May 2021.[28][29]

On 19 June 2021, EMR Regional services were cut to enable the timetable to run effectively.[30] Although EMR stated that 85% of services were still running, there was still an impact to local commuter services.[31]

Contactless payment cards can be used between London St Pancras and Luton Airport Parkway.[32]

Over the course of the franchise, several planned timetable changes are to be made:[26]

As of December 2023, East Midlands Railway's regular off-peak services Monday-Friday include:[33]

EMR InterCity
Route tph Calling at
London St Pancras InternationalNottingham 2
London St Pancras InternationalSheffield 2
EMR Connect / Luton Airport Express
Route tph Calling at
London St Pancras InternationalCorby 2
EMR Regional
Route tph Calling at
NottinghamMatlock 1
CreweNewark Castle 1
LeicesterLincoln 12
LeicesterGrimsby Town 12
Newark NorthgateLincoln 5tpd
NottinghamSkegness 1
NottinghamWorksop 1
PeterboroughLincoln 1
PeterboroughDoncaster 12
Liverpool Lime StreetNorwich 1
Barton-on-HumberCleethorpes 12

Luton Airport Express

In March 2023, an automated guided people mover, the Luton DART, opened between Luton Airport and Luton Airport Parkway railway station.[34] EMR now advertise the Luton Airport Express service as an airport rail link, with a headline figure of 32 minutes from London St Pancras to the airport terminal using the Luton DART, the cost of which is included in the train ticket price.[35][36]

Rolling stock

East Midlands Railway inherited a fleet of 28 Class 43, 21 Class 153, 15 Class 156, 26 Class 158, and 27 Class 222 units from East Midlands Trains. In January 2020 nine additional Class 156 units from Greater Anglia were introduced into service. Nine 8-carriage InterCity 125 sets were also transferred from London North Eastern Railway, with the first set having entered service on 4 May 2020. They were replaced in May 2021.[37] To replace the former Grand Central “buffered” HST sets, EMR commenced a lease of the four former Hull Trains Class 180 fleet despite their history of technical difficulties, with the first units entering service on 13 December 2020.[38][39] On 16 May 2021, East Midlands Railway launched EMR Connect services between Corby and London St Pancras, which has enabled the final HSTs to be withdrawn.[40] The Connect service is operated by ex-Greater Anglia Class 360s.[41][42]

By 2023, East Midlands Railway plans to run EMR Regional services using 40 Class 170 units, and by 2024 plans to run EMR InterCity services using 33 new bi-mode Class 810 Aurora.[43]

The final Class 170s from West Midlands Trains were delivered in May 2023.[44]

Current fleet

Family Class Image Type Top Speed Number Carriages Routes operated Built
mph km/h
EMR InterCity
Bombardier Voyager 222 Meridian DEMU 125 200 23[45] 5
  • Intercity routes
4[45] 7
EMR Connect / Luton Airport Express
Siemens Desiro 360 Desiro EMU 110 180 21[46] 4
  • Connect route
EMR Regional
Sprinter 158 Express Sprinter

DMU 90 145 26[46] 2
  • Regional routes (mostly Liverpool to Norwich services) [47]
Bombardier Turbostar 170 Turbostar 100 161 27[46] 2
  • Regional routes
13[48] 3

Future fleet

To replace the Class 222 units, 33 five-carriage Class 810 bi-mode trains will be introduced in 2024 to make use of the newly-electrified Midland Main Line.[49] The Class 810 is an evolution of the Class 802 units that Hitachi have delivered to a number of British train operators;[50] amongst other changes, it has a reduced car length as to better facilitate its use of stations such as St Pancras and is fitted with uprated diesel engines that enable the Class 810 to equal, if not exceed, the acceleration of the Class 222.[43] During May 2020, EMR opened a competition to give the class their own unique brand name.[51] In October 2020, EMR announced that the fleet will have the 'Aurora' brand.[52] The earlier-than-planned withdrawal of the Class 180 fleet, now occurring at the May 2023 timetable change, means that 'Aurora' units will only directly replace the Class 222 fleet.[53]

Other existing stock to be added consist of 39 Class 170s; 23 from West Midlands Trains, 12 from Transport for Wales and four from Southern.[54][55][56][57] Those altogether will enable the Class 153, Class 156, and Class 158 sets to be withdrawn, although some of the gaps were to be filled in when the Liverpool-Nottingham service was taken over by another operator. This will now not take place, with a proposal made to transfer 15 Class 185 units from TransPennine Express to prevent the shortfall in stock caused by EMR retaining this service, with another solution being to retain the Class 158s.[27][58] It was expected that 12 Class 171 units would transfer from Southern.[54][59][60] However, due to no replacement units being sourced, this reshuffling will not take place, with the Transport for Wales Class 170s replacing the planned transfer of Class 171s from Southern.[54][58] During May 2022, however, it was announced that four Class 171s would transfer from Southern, with expected entry into service being in the autumn of 2022. These units will be converted into Class 170s, reformed into three-carriage sets and work alongside the rest of the fleet.[57] Three of these units were transferred to EMR on 7 September 2022 having been reformed from their previous two-and-four-car formations.[48] The fourth unit is due to transfer in late 2023 as 170421.[61]

Family Class Image Type Top Speed Number Carriages Routes operated In service
mph km/h
EMR InterCity
Hitachi AT300 810 Aurora BMU 125 200 33[62] 5 2024[49]
EMR Regional
Bombardier Turbostar 170 Turbostar DMU 100 161 4 3
  • Regional routes

Past fleet

The last of the InterCity 125 sets East Midlands Railway inherited from East Midlands Trains were withdrawn in December 2020, having been replaced by five ex LNER InterCity 125 sets which had greater compliance with new regulations and four Class 180s.[63] Originally nine former LNER sets were to replace a similar number of sets inherited from East Midlands Trains. However, after the carriages were found to require more repairs than originally envisaged, this was cut back to five sets.[64]

In December 2021, the final Class 153s were withdrawn, as they were not PRM (Persons with Reduced Mobility) compliant, with Class 156s replacing them on the Barton line from 13 December.[65][66] These units were placed into storage at Long Marston and Ely Papworth Sidings in December 2021.[67]

In December 2022, four Class 156 units went off lease and were sent for storage at Barrow Hill, with East Midlands Railway stating that they will be moved to Ely Papworth sidings at a later date.[68]

East Midlands Railway withdrew the last of its Class 156 fleet and its entire 180 fleet in May 2023.[44]

Class Family Image Type Top Speed Number Carriages Routes operated Withdrawn
mph km/h
EMR InterCity
43 (HST) InterCity 125 Loco 125 200 24 N/A 2020
23 2020–2021
Mark 3 Coach 94[70] 2020
78[71] 2020–2021
180 Adelante Alstom Coradia DHMU 125 200 4[49] 5 2023[44]
EMR Regional
153 Super Sprinter Sprinter DMU 75 120 21[70][72] 1
  • Regional routes
156 Super Sprinter
24[73] 2 2021-2023


EMR operates two depots: Derby Etches Park and Nottingham Eastcroft.[74] The Class 360s are maintained at Bedford Cauldwell Walk depot by Siemens Mobility.[75]


East Midlands Railway was investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority, who in September 2021 found that they had breached marketing codes. The firm had launched a competition in February 2021 asking participants for ideas to "Build Back Better" with the chance of winning £5,000. However, the competition was closed and the prize not awarded; East Midlands Railway stated that this was due to financial concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic as well as due to the low quality of entries received.[76][77]


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Preceded byEast Midlands Trains Operator of East Midlands franchise 2019–2030 Succeeded byIncumbent