West Midlands franchise
The West Midlands franchise provides a combination of commuting,
regional and longer-distance services in the West Midlands and on
the West Coast Main Line. They can be split into three markets:
- Services between Northampton and London Euston, used by a high
number of commuters and connecting branch lines between Bedford and
Bletchley, and between St Albans and Watford;
- Local and regional services in the West Midlands area used by
commuter, business and leisure travellers; and
- Long distance services along the West Coast Main Line from
Liverpool to Birmingham (via Crewe and Stafford) and Crewe to
London via Stoke-on-Trent, Stafford, Lichfield and Milton Keynes.
The franchise also provides direct services between Birmingham,
Coventry and London, directly competing with those provided by the
West Coast franchise (services currently operated by Virgin
The franchise currently operates over 1,300 services every
weekday and serves 170 stations (directly managing 145), and is
currently operated by London Midland, owned by Govia - a
partnership between Go-Ahead (65%) and Keolis (35%).
On 10th August the Department for Transport announced
that the new Franchise would be awarded to West Midlands Trains
Ltd, a joint venture of Abellio, Japan East Railway Company, and
Mitsui & Co Ltd.
The new franchise will deliver nearly £1 billion of investment
in services on the West Midlands route. This will mean more space
on trains, more frequent services and better facilities for
Key benefits will include:
- New trains with more seats and more space as nearly £1 billion
is invested in services on the West Midlands network.
- New and refurbished train carriages creating more space for
people, especially during rush hour. This includes an investment in
100 new carriages on the Cross City line in Birmingham, and a
further 80 for the Snow Hill line. 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.
- 20,000 extra seats for rush hour passengers in Birmingham, and
10,000 for people in London. On top of this, there will be standing
room for 50,000 passengers in Birmingham in the metro-style
carriages referred to above.
- Two separable business units; one for the West Midlands and the
other for services on the West Coast Main Line. West Midlands Rail
will have lead the contract management of the services in the West
Midlands business unit. This is to ensure the new franchise will be
responsive to regional needs.
- The West Midlands separable business unit will receive a unique
brand, known as West Midlands Railway. The intention is that this
brand will become a uniting symbol for the region, creating a
positive sense of belonging that will enable the region to
- Passengers will also be entitled to 25 per cent compensation if
their train is delayed by 15 minutes. They will continue to receive
50 per cent of their money back for delays of half an hour and full
compensation if it is more than an hour.
- Free Wi-Fi will also be available on all main line trains by
the end of December 2019.
- More accessible services with a reduction in the period of
prior notice required for passenger assist, down from 24 hours to
12 hours in January 2020 and reduced further to 4 hours in January
- More than £60m invested on station improvements which will
deliver over 1,000 new car park spaces, over 2,500 cycle parking
spaces, a cycle hire scheme trial, new and refurbished waiting
rooms, and more seats at stations.
- Over 900 apprenticeships offered with female employees making
up at least 20% of those entering into engineering and driving
The new franchise will run from 10th December 2017
until March 2026.
More information on the changes, and how they might affect your
journey, can be found here http://maps.dft.gov.uk/west-midlands/]