Journey times between Sheffield and London have been cut to just over two hours thanks to new timetable.
Sheffield World Cup referee Howard Webb assisted East Midlands Trains, Sheffield City Council and South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) with the dispatch of the 08.29 service from Sheffield which is one of the 68 trains to be improved in the new timetable.
Passengers using this service benefit from a journey time of two hours one minute to London – a six-minute improvement on the previous journey time.
The fastest train to London will now take just two hours, whilst the average journey time has reduced by seven minutes to two hours 10 minutes.
The launch of the new faster train journeys comes on the back of a £70m investment programme being delivered by Network Rail in partnership with East Midlands Trains.
The programme of work includes the upgrade of almost 160 miles of track, with trains able to run at 125 mph on parts of the Midland Main Line route for the first time. Other work carried out as part of the investment includes the replacement of a number of level crossings with bridges, minor re-signalling and work to realign parts of the track.
Howard Webb joined Clare Burles, HR director for East Midlands Trains; Julie Hurley, interim director of strategy for SYPTE and Councillor Leigh Bramall, Sheffield City Council’s cabinet member for business, skills and environment, to blow the starter whistle on 125 mph journeys to London.
Clare Burles said: “Over 13 million passengers now use our services to travel to London and the route provides a vital artery for the South Yorkshire region.
“These latest improvements to our timetable highlight just how much service levels have improved since we launched our franchise in 2007. The launch of our December 2008 timetable was the first stage in delivering faster journey times, then through a successful partnership with SYPTE, we brought two trains an hour to the Sheffield-London route in 2009. The launch of today’s timetable will see a further seven minutes knocked off the average journey time to London, which is a great step forward for our passengers.”