Golden era on track with £1bn revolution of West Midlands railways

Abellio JR East and Mitsui clinch West Midlands franchise

Govia, the Anglo-French joint venture between Go-Ahead Group and Keolis, has lost the rail franchise, meaning that the new operators will be Abellio, the British arm of the Dutch state railway, alongside Mitsui, the Japanese conglomerate, and East Japan Railway.

The Department for Transport (DfT) confirmed on Thursday, August 10, that Abellio has been awarded a contract to run the West Midlands rail franchise.

Transport secretary, Chris Grayling, added: "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".

The MP for Watford has expressed his "delight" at a new rail operator taking over the West Midlands franchise.

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.

"We are pleased to have the opportunity to work in partnership with the NTA to deliver a vital service to people living and working in and around Dublin". The West Midlands network of trains and infrastructure will be run by a local team.

It said there would also be free Wifi on all main line services by the end of 2019, compensation if services are delayed by more than 15 minutes and improved access for people needing extra assistance, including disabled people.

Govia will continue to run the network until December. The new Cross City Line carriages will offer metro-style passenger facilities, just like on the London Overground, with increased space to carry more passengers and wider doors.

New trains with more seats and more space as almost £1 billion is invested in services on the West Midlands network.

Furthermore, around £60m will be invested on station improvements across the area, including 1,000 new auto 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 encompasses suburban and regional services radiating from Birmingham as well as suburban, regional and inter-regional services from London Euston to Milton Keynes, Northampton, Birmingham, Crewe, and Liverpool via the West Coast Main Line.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said: "We want to see a new golden era for our local trains and today's announcement is an important step towards that".

The West Midlands franchise is now operated by London Midland, a joint venture between Go-Ahead (65%) and Keolis (35%).

David Brown, chief executive of Go-Ahead, said: "London Midland and its people have been part of our group's rail business for ten years".

Council bosses have also welcomed the move saying it will ensure that railways in the West Midlands cater for the real needs of passengers.

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