New 125mph diesel trains will come into operation in 2004 to replace 100mph Turbostars on the Midland main line.

They will be used in conjunction with Britain's most successful train - the InterCity 125 - which was introduced nearly 30 years ago as the high-speed train.

The 28 new trains will be up to five carriages in length, compared to the two- or-three-car Turbostars, and will have air-conditioning, CCTV, full catering facilities and a mixture of first and standard class.

The trains will add around 10,000 extra seats a day, increasing peak-time seating capacity by 33%.

The entire IC125 fleet will be refurbished, at a cost to train operator Midland Mainline of £19million.

MML said: "We propose to improve services to Leeds with the gradual introduction of hourly trains from Sheffield and the East Midlands.

"Sheffield will benefit from three additional peak hour trains aimed at providing the kind of service the city needs to help its continued redevelopment."

Midland Mainline is also undertaking a feasibility study to evaluate the possibility of introducing services to Corby in Northamptonshire, the largest town in Europe without a railway station.

Railfuture welcomes the new trains but believes the Midland main line should be electrified. Railfuture has already proved that electrification of the line would provide a good financial return.

The Strategic Rail Authority has said it will find 40% more seats for commuters using the Midland Main Line to travel into London during the morning rush hour.

In its Route Utilisation Strategy for Midland Main Line and the East Midlands, the SRA says performance and capacity can be significantly improved from June 2005 without the need for expensive infrastructure changes.

A standard clockface timetable for Midland Mainline trains is promised all day, with additional trains in peak hours while a new  hourly direct service is planned to allow passengers to travel between Sheffield and Leeds without changing trains.

Some Midland Mainline trains will call at Bedford, relieving pressure on Thameslink services. Passengers using Thameslink trains should also benefit from four car trains being lengthened to eight cars and a more regular timetable.

More information about MML's plans should become apparent at a Railfuture North Midlands meeting in Derby on 3 April 2004 which will be addressed by MML's operations director Tim Shoveller.

Information from Paul.Clark at