UK to invest £1bn in West Midlands services
The UK Government is set to invest nearly £1bn in services on the West Midlands network as part of a new franchise, in a bid to improve rail services and infrastructure in the region.
The new West Midlands Trains franchise will be run from December this year by a joint venture (JV) comprising Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co known as West Midlands Trains.
It will provide new services across the West Midlands and includes trains from London Euston to Crewe, and Liverpool to Birmingham.
The investment plan will see 400 new trains rolled out by 2021 in order to provide service to an additional 85,000 commuters in Birmingham and London during peak hours.
The new trains will also be equipped with extra seats and space for passengers.
Abellio UK managing director Dominic Booth said: “We are delighted to have been announced as preferred bidder for the West Midlands franchise, driving growth in one of the most exciting regions in the country.”
“We will be investing nearly £1bn into the network, delivering new trains, better stations and a whole host of other benefits for passengers.”
Passengers on the West Midlands network line will receive free Wi-Fi on all main line services by the end of 2019, and additional access will also be provided for disabled customers.
Customers will also be entitled to compensation when services are delayed for more than 15 minutes.
Additionally, the new franchise will introduce smart ticketing and provide live travel information as part of the reform programme, which aims to improve train journeys for passengers.
Trains operating solely in the West Midlands are be managed by the Department for Transport (DfT) in collaboration with West Midlands Rail (WMR), a consortium comprising 16 local councils.
The new contract will be valid through March 2026.