The Rail Minister has officially invited tenders to operate the East Midlands rail franchise.
Jo Johnson said that the next operator must be able to deliver the services for an upgraded rail service in the area, with the biggest set of improvements planned for over 150 years.
He said the operator must be able to “unlock the unrealised potential” of the East Midlands railway, which deliver the type of services required by passengers and stakeholders.
Mr Johnson said: “We are investing in the biggest upgrade to the Midland Main Line since it was completed in 1870.
“We have listened carefully to what thousands of passengers and stakeholders have said they want to see in the next East Midlands franchise.
“We expect the next operator to unlock the unrealised potential while building on its stable foundations.”
All bidders must be able to show they are capable of providing faster intercity journeys, more services and seats, as well as compensation for delays – all of which are part of the blueprint for the East Midlands franchise.
The next operator of the franchise is due to take over in August 2019 and the successful bidder will work alongside Network Rail to guarantee the required changes can be made.
The government said the successful operator of the East Midlands franchise must be able to provide more Sunday trains, along with earlier starts and later finishes for weekly services; an increase in frequency including one additional train per hour between Corby and London; better mobile connectivity and high quality wi-fi.
The quality of seating must be improved – something the wider industry is aware of – and the operator of the franchise must be able to provide greater facilities at the railway stations in the region.
In addition to the invitation to tender for the East Midlands Franchise, a 12-week public consultation has been launched regarding the next Cross Country franchise.