Class 222 Meridian at London St Pancras in 2004
|Franchise(s)||Midland Main Line|
28 April 1996 - 10 November 2007
|Main Region(s)||East Midlands|
Yorkshire and the Humber Greater London
|Other Region(s)||East of England|
|Fleet size||23 Class 222 Meridian sets|
28 HST power cars
|Stations called at||27 (7 operated)|
|National Rail abbreviation||ML|
|Parent company||National Express|
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.
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.
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. The hourly pattern from St Pancras was as below:
xx00: semi-fast to Derby, calling at:
This service was operated by four or five carriage Class 222 Meridians.
xx25: fast to Sheffield, generally calling just at:
xx30: semi-fast to Nottingham, calling at:
with a journey time of 1 hour 56 minutes
This service was operated by four or five carriage Class 222 Meridians
xx55: fast to Nottingham, generally calling at:
with a journey time of 1 hour 41 minutes
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.
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.
From May 2003 until September 2004 Midland Mainline operated an hourly service between St Pancras and Manchester Piccadilly 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 service was named Project Rio after footballer Rio Ferdinand who had recently crossed the Pennines in a £30 million record transfer from Leeds United 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.
In April 1997 Midland Mainline ordered 13 (later extended to 17) Class 170 Turbostars to operate stopping services. Originally all were ordered as two-carriage sets before it was decided to increase 10 to three-carriage sets. The first entered service in May 1999 and allowed a new timetable with increased frequencies to be introduced with the Class 170s operating most of the all stops south of Leicester, allowing the High Speed Trains to be better used on the longer distance services.
To cover for a shortage of High Speed Trains Midland Mainline hired two Fragonset Class 47s to top and tail a HSBC Rail Mark 2 set on a morning service from Nottingham to London St Pancras and evening return to Sheffield from February 2002. In October 2002 Midland Mainline was able to replace these after leasing an additional five Class 43s and two sets of Mark 3 carriages that had been released by Virgin CrossCountry.
In February 2002 Midland Mainline ordered sixteen four-carriage and seven nine-carriage Class 222 Meridian trains based on the Virgin CrossCountry Class 220 Voyager, but with developments to improve passenger comfort and address some of the criticisms aimed at the Voyager. The first entered service in May 2004. The four-carriage sets were to replace the Class 170 Turbostars while the nine-carriage sets were ordered to operate a new service from London St Pancras to Leeds via Nottingham and the Erewash Valley Line.
After the Strategic Rail Authority decided the Leeds service could no longer be justified it appeared that the nine-carriage units may have been used elsewhere. Eventually they did begin to enter service from July 2005 releasing one HST for hire to First Great Western while it refurbished its fleet and others to GNER to let it run extra services to Leeds from May 2007.
In 2006 the nine-carriage Class 222 sets each had one carriage removed, allowing seven four-carriage sets to become five-carriage sets. In 2008, the sets were reconfigured again, resulting in six seven-carriage and 17 five-carriage sets.
To operate the Project Rio services to Manchester Piccadilly, 23 Class 43s and associated Mark 3 carriages were transferred from Virgin CrossCountry in May 2003. Whilst these were undergoing overhaul, a First Great Western High Speed Train was hired from May 2003 until February 2004. When Project Rio concluded in September 2004, some were transferred to First Great Western and GNER, others went into store.
Midland Mainline's fleet consisted of the following trains at the time they ceased operating:
|Class||Image||Type||Top speed||Quantity||Unit numbers||Routes operated||Built|
|Class 43||Diesel locomotive||125||200||31||43007/043-050/052/054-055
|Midland Main Line||1976-1982|
|Class 222 Meridian||diesel electric multiple unit||125||200||23||222001 - 222023||Midland Main Line||2003-2005|
|Mark 3 carriage||Passenger carriage||125||200||Midland Main Line||1975-1982|
|Class||Image||Type||Top speed||Quantity||Unit numbers||Routes operated||Built||Withdrawn|
|Class 170 Turbostar||diesel multiple unit||100||160||17||170101 - 170117
(170397 for a brief period)
|Midland Main Line||1999||2004 all transferred to Central Trains|
Midland Mainline had the following named units / locos:
|222004||City of Sheffield|
|222005||City of Nottingham|
|222006||City of Leicester|
|222007||City of Derby|
Luton Airport Parkway, Luton, Bedford Midland, Loughborough, Long Eaton, Willington, Burton upon Trent, Beeston, Nottingham, Langley Mill, Alfreton, Dronfield, Meadowhall, Barnsley, Doncaster, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds, York, Scarborough.
In September 2006 the Department for Transport announced the shortlisted bidders for the new franchise, National Express being included. In June 2007 the Department for Transport awarded the East Midlands franchise to Stagecoach with the services operated by Midland Mainline transferring to East Midlands Trains on 11 November 2007.