Rail services in the West Midlands are to see a £1 billion investment as London Midland loses the franchise to operate routes across the region’s network.
West Midlands Trains, a new joint venture between Dutch group Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Japanese conglomerate Mitsui & Co, has won the nine-year contract and will begin services on December 10.
The franchise award is a first for a Japanese company.
The West Midlands franchise encompasses a range of services including the Cross City line between Redditch and Lichfield via Birmingham New Street which carries thousands of people across the city every day.
The network, which has been operated by London Midland since 2007 and which received an extension to the contract last month, also serves routes out of London to the West Midlands and north from Birmingham to Stafford, Crewe and Liverpool.
The Department for Transport has announced today a £1 billion investment to bring new trains, extra seats and more frequent services to the region as part of the franchise award.
Among the planned changes are 20,000 extra seats for rush hour passengers in Birmingham, 100 new carriages on the Cross City line and 80 new carriages for the Snow Hill line.
Also included are compensation if services are delayed by more than 15 minutes, free wi-fi on all main line services and trains and stations branded in a locally specified West Midlands Railway livery (see link above for more detail).
London Midland managing director Patrick Verwer said: “The new franchise will bring much welcomed investment in new services and extra capacity across the network.
“Over the coming months, our focus will remain on delivering the best possible service to our passengers, each day and every day.
“We have created a strong foundation for the new operators to build on.
“During the months ahead we will continue to work with West Midlands Trains, the Department for Transport and all our stakeholders to ensure a smooth transition into the new franchise.”
Dominic Booth, managing director of Abellio UK, said: “We are delighted to have been announced as the winning bidder for the West Midlands franchise, driving growth in one of the most exciting regions in the country.
“We will be investing nearly £1 billion into the network, delivering new trains, better stations and a whole host of other benefits for passengers.”
Trains running only in the West Midlands area will now be jointly managed by the Department for Transport and West Midlands Rail which is a consortium of 16 local councils covering both the metropolitan county and surrounding areas including Shropshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire.
Under the current system, London Midland reports directly into the Department for Transport.