Birmingham’s rail commuters will start to notice improvements in their services within weeks of the new West Midlands Train Ltd franchise taking over on December 10.
Live train information screens at stations and online apps will be swiftly introduced for travellers after the company, a consortium of Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitusi & Co, takes over from London Midland.
Meanwhile the 400 new carriages promised, including an extra 100 on the busy Cross City Line, will be introduced by 2021.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced the winner of the nine-year franchise at New Street Station today along with the promised £1 billion investment, the majority in new trains and carriages.
Dominic Booth, managing director of Abellio UK said: “It all starts on December 10 this year. Having been awarded the franchise today we will now move towards finalising contracts to build the new trains. Passengers will understand they take a while to make. So a couple of years from today to contract and build the new trains.”
He said they will start introducing the new carriages when they are ready and aim to have them all in service by 2021.
“The big chunky new train investment will take a while to get off the ground. But from December we will start to work on the new franchise promises, particularly looking to improve reliability and punctuality for passengers working closely with Network Rail and other partners.”
The new compensation facility will come in quickly, information screens at stations, apps for information will come in during the early months of the franchise so passengers will start to see benefits through the first year or two of the franchise and the big investments in carriages after a couple of years.”
He promised a strong performance saying: “We’re proud to run Mersey Rail, currently the most punctual service in the country.”
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street recognised that while London Midland and its owner Govia had experienced problems with reliability a few years ago it had make remarkable improvements and passenger numbers have gone up by 50 per cent over their tenure. This had not been a major factor in the decision not to award them the new franchise he suggested.
“This new franchise was about going forward and where the investment in future services was going to come from. In particular this £1 billion investment in new services we are talking about today,” he added.