East Midlands Parkway potential being missed, says airport
East Midlands Airport (EMA) wants train services to East Midlands Parkway railway station to be significantly increased in the next franchise which starts in 2019.
In its response to the East Midlands Rail Franchise consultation, the airport - one of the largest employment sites in the region – recognises the significant opportunity to develop new services and improved connections to the airport and the local area.
East Midlands Trains’ current timetable leaves East Midlands Parkway station without a service for up to 40 minutes of every hour. The two trains an hour to London are within eight minutes of each other. Only 300,000 passenger journeys were made to and from the station last year.
The airport believes that this is a missed opportunity and changing train service patterns and improving the routes would be of significant benefit to the local economy.
The airport shares the local vision for the region to be one of the best connected in the UK. To help achieve this, the airport believes that the priorities for the East Midlands Rail franchise need to include:
• increased services between Nottingham and Birmingham and Leicester and Birmingham stopping at East Midlands Parkway
• improving the frequency of trains between Nottingham, Derby, Stoke and Crewe
• reducing journey times on the Midland Mainline to achieve 90 minutes between Nottingham and London and 60 minutes between Leicester and London
• the development of a regional rail hub with services connecting Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Lincoln
These changes will make it easier for passengers to access the airport from towns and cities such as Coventry and Nuneaton, Lincoln, Stoke and Crewe. In addition, EMA is prepared to work with the holder of the new East Midlands Rail franchise and contribute £2.5m for improvements to facilities and infrastructure at the station, such as:
• renaming East Midlands Parkway - East Midlands Airport Parkway station
• joint train/bus ticketed services to and from the airport promoted on national rail ticket booking services
• bus transfer and flight departure and arrival times displayed at the railway station
• a new fleet of high-quality branded buses for the station, airport and Pegasus Business Park transfers
• local bus operators diverting services to the railway station which serve the communities of Kegworth and East Leake
With over 7,000 employees and 90 businesses based at the airport, EMA is currently one of the largest employment sites in the region. In future years the airport expects to see annual passenger numbers doubled to 10m and a tripling of cargo handled to 1m tonnes a year.
Modifications to services in the East Midlands Rail franchise area would be part of a wider package of improvements that could increase access to the airport from across the region. As a result of its potential for growth, the airport is identified as a growth hub by both of its Local Enterprise Partnerships (D2N2 LEP and LLEP).
The importance of its links to HS2’s Toton station are referenced throughout the recently published East Midlands HS2 Growth Strategy, which includes the airport as a future destination for an expanded tram network.
Howard Ebison, EMA’s Commercial Director, says: “As the East Midlands’ gateway to the rest of the world, both in terms of passenger flights and facilitating international trade through our significant cargo operation, we play a key role in driving forward the East Midlands economy. Our location is key to this but a more joined up approach to transport planning is necessary if the potential for the East Midlands to become one of the most connected regions in the country is to be realised. We already have great access to the motorway network but, while our road connectivity is good, getting to us via other modes of transport is not as easy. The airport could be within reach of a larger population if East Midlands Parkway was better served by more trains connecting a wider destination.”