Published: Fri, August 11, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Billion pound deal to change West Midlands rail operator

Billion pound deal to change West Midlands rail operator

The company is a joint venture between Dutch firm Abellio and Japanese partners, and will take over services in December, with trains running through Watford serving Bushey, Harrow and Euston, as well as the St Albans Abbey line.

West Midlands Rail will have lead the contract management of the services in the West Midlands business unit.

The Department for Transport said the decision would mean £1bn invested in services and that passengers would see new, longer trains, free Wi-Fi on all mainline services and compensation if services are delayed by more than 15 minutes.

"We are improving the whole travelling experience with live train crowding information, compensation for people delayed by 15 minutes or more, smart ticketing and better value tickets for part-time workers".

That will be one change resulting from the award of the new franchise for the West Midlands railway network, which will be introduced in December and last until March 2026.

There will be 400 new carriages rolled out by 2021 and space for an extra 85,000 passengers on rush-hour services in Birmingham and London, according to the department.

"This shows we are delivering on our commitment to build a railway that works for everyone".

"West Midlands Trains will also conduct feasibility studies into the opening of new stations in the West Midlands and I will be pressing for the opening of the Line from Lichfield Trent Valley to Burton for passenger traffic and the construction of a station at Alrewas to serve the National Memorial Arboretum and village of Alrewas". The West Midlands network of trains and infrastructure will be run by a local team.

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The routes between London, the West Midlands and Liverpool are set to receive an investment of nearly £1 billion, said the Department for Transport.

It has also pledged to provide better access to stations for disabled people, and more modern trains that will be able to cope more effectively with leaves on the line during the autumn.

Furthermore, around £60m will be invested on station improvements across the area, including 1,000 new vehicle parking spaces, 2,500 cycle spaces, a cycle hire scheme, new and refurbished waiting rooms, more seats at stations and improved access for those with mobility problems.

The franchise now operates over 1,300 services every weekday and serves 170 stations (directly managing 145), and is now operated by London Midland, owned by Govia - a partnership between Go-Ahead (65%) and Keolis (35%).

The DfT said longer trains would provide extra seats and space for passengers. We pressed for these passenger issues to be addressed in the new franchise'.

New and refurbished train carriages creating more space for people, especially during rush hour.

"Having the ability to use our local knowledge and understanding to shape what West Midlands Trains will deliver for passengers under this franchise has also been a game changer".

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