Midland Mainline - A

Midland Mainline - A

Midland Mainline was a train operating company in the United Kingdom owned by National Express that operated the Midland Main Line franchise from April 1996 until November 2007. Midland Mainline ran fast and semi-fast passenger services from London to the East Midlands and Yorkshire, on the Midland Main Line. Most services ran between London St Pancras and either Derby, Nottingham or Sheffield. Some services extended to Burton upon Trent, Matlock, Barnsley, Leeds, York and Scarborough.

Midland Mainline History

The Midland Mainline franchise was awarded by the Director of Passenger Rail Franchising to National Express for a period of ten years with operations commencing on 28 April 1996. In May 1999 Midland Mainline was able to extend its sphere of operation after receiving new rolling stock. In August 2000 the Shadow Strategic Rail Authority awarded a two-year extension in return for National Express committing to invest including ordering new rolling stock and running an hourly service to Leeds.

Midland Mainline Service Patterns

The off peak service pattern, upon conclusion of the franchise in November 2007, consisted of four departures per hour from London St Pancras. There were two fast and two semi-fast trains per hour. All Midland Mainline services (except The Master Cutler morning up service) called at Leicester with the fastest journey time to and from London of 1 hour 9 minutes. The services between London, Luton and Bedford supplemented the high frequency Thameslink and later First Capital Connect commuter service.

Midland Mainline Limited Services

Midland Mainline operated a limited service between St Pancras and Leeds, with three early morning departures from Leeds and four evening return trips from St Pancras. This was principally because Midland Mainline's HSTs were maintained at Neville Hill depot. The timings did not compare favourably with the principal service from London King's Cross to Leeds along the East Coast Main Line with the Midland Main Line having a much slower line speed. The journey time on the Midland route is around 3 hours 15 minutes vs 2 hours 15 minutes via the East Coast.

In July 1996, a bus service between Kettering and Corby was introduced.

From May 1999, a small number of through trains from St Pancras to Burton upon Trent and Barnsley were introduced as well as stops at Belper and Meadowhall.

From May 2000, through trains between St Pancras and Matlock were introduced, ceasing in December 2004 when Class 222s were introduced, as they were not allowed on the Derwent Valley Line branch line. Also in May 2000 Midland Mainline began operating one Saturday service between St Pancras and York via Doncaster. In summer it would continue to Scarborough. On Sunday a service to York started at Leicester, with the return service being via the Erewash Valley Line to Nottingham, where it reversed before proceeding to St Pancras.

A small number of trains operated between St Pancras and Sheffield via Nottingham and along the Erewash Valley Line to Chesterfield serving Langley Mill and Alfreton.

Midland Mainline Project Rio

From May 2003 until September 2004, Midland Mainline operated an hourly service between St Pancras and Manchester Piccadilly, this was at the request of the Strategic Rail Authority whilst the West Coast Main Line between London Euston and Manchester underwent engineering work using former Virgin CrossCountry High Speed Trains. This temporary service was named Project Rio after the similarity of the route to footballer Rio Ferdinand's recent transfer movements. He first transferred from West Ham United to Leeds United, then later crossed the Pennines in a £30 million record transfer to Manchester United.

The service used the Midland Main Line as far as Trent Junction, before taking the Erewash Valley Line (avoiding Derby) to Clay Cross, rejoining the Midland Main Line until Dore South Junction, using Dore Tunnel Curve to join the Hope Valley Line westwards towards Manchester Piccadilly. South of Leicester, the service ran in the path of the xx:30 semi-fast Nottingham train, with an additional Leicester to Nottingham service introduced using the displaced Class 170 Turbostar.

Midland Mainline Named Trains

  • The Robin Hood on the 06:30 Sheffield to St Pancras via Nottingham, and returning as the 17:00 St Pancras to Nottingham.
  • The Master Cutler on the 06:14 Leeds to St Pancras which runs non stop from Chesterfield, and 16:55 St Pancras to Leeds return.
  • The Midlands Express on the 07:05 Sheffield to St Pancras.

Midland Mainline Overview

Midland Mainline Franchise(s): Midland Main Line
28 April 1996 – 10 November 2007

Midland Mainline Main Region(s): East Midlands
Yorkshire and the Humber
Greater London

Midland Mainline Other Region(s): East of England
Midland Mainline Fleet Size: 23 Class 222 Meridian sets
28 HST power cars

Midland Mainline Stations Called At: 27 (7 operated)
Midland Mainline Parent Company: National Express
Midland Mainline Reporting Mark: ML
Midland Mainline Predecessor: InterCity
Midland Mainline Successor: East Midlands Trains


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