Commenting on media coverage in relation to the East Midlands rail franchise, a spokesperson for Abellio said:
“Abellio has been selected by the Department for Transport as the successful bidder to run rail services on the East Midlands Railway from August 2019 to 2027.
“Abellio put forward a bid, after listening carefully to the local community and passengers, which will deliver new trains, jobs, faster journey times, station improvements and create over 30 apprenticeships per annum for young people. Abellio also brought its expertise to offer a compelling opportunity to ensure that the East Midlands railway will become one of the most environmentally friendly in the UK, with a commitment to trials of hydrogen fuel cell trains and zero-carbon station pilots.
“Following the announcement there has been a short ‘standstill period’ - an important part of the franchise awarding process that allows all involved in bidding to ask confidential questions of the Department for Transport to fully understand how they have made their decision.
“As a responsible and experienced rail operator Abellio has taken great care in abiding by the rules of the franchising process during the standstill period and has not issued statements or briefing to the media. Once the standstill period has passed we will take steps to share in detail the plans we have to enhance the East Midlands railway over the coming years. 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. Abellio has already been contacted by many passengers and local stakeholders who are keen to work with us as soon as we are given the go-ahead.
“However, ahead of this it is appropriate that we comment on media reports over recent days.
“Abellio has been successful and unsuccessful in bids over many years. Our view is that the East Midlands competition has been conducted in a robust and fair manner, through a process run by an experienced Rail Franchise team within the Department for Transport. The process is designed to ensure the best bid for the passengers and UK taxpayer
“There have been reports suggesting that Abellio viewed material that was shared with us in a genuine error by Network Rail during the bidding process. They are inaccurate.
“The facts are that experienced Abellio staff took immediate and responsible action to bring the matter to the attention of the Department for Transport. The Department then commissioned an independent investigation that confirmed beyond any doubt that the material had not been opened or read by any Abellio staff.
“For many decades ensuring that the Rail Pension Scheme is fully funded has been an ongoing responsibility for everyone involved in running the railway. Abellio is working constructively with the Pension Trustees, Rail Delivery Group, employee representatives, the Department for Transport and the Pensions Regulator to maintain the pension scheme for the long term.
“Abellio, along with many other multi-national organisations who have submitted compliant bids for current competitions, are satisfied that the protection mechanism put in place by the Department for Transport suitably balances all parties’ risk.
“Abellio’s focus will remain on delivering for the passengers and communities that we serve whilst rebuilding public trust in the railway. This is evident in the huge contribution we are making to the UK’s railway, particularly by our overseeing of more than £3bn investment into new rolling stock, our work collaborating with Network Rail to improve train punctuality and our efforts to improve the UK railway for all through engagement in the Williams Review.
“Abellio looks forward to working with the people of East Midland Trains to ensure the communities in the East Midlands enjoy the benefits of our collective commitment and expertise over the coming years to deliver easier journeys, every day. “
Mark Fuller, Head of Policy and Communications (England and Wales)
+44 7979 731 903