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West Midlands Rail welcomes franchise shortlist

On behalf of West Midlands Rail

West Midlands Rail, the company set up by local authorities to improve passenger services, today (Thursday April 7) welcomed news that three operators have been shortlisted to run the region’s trains from 2017 onwards.

The operators are:

  • London and West Midlands Railway Limited, a subsidiary of Govia Limited (a joint venture between Keolis and Go-Ahead Group)
  • West Midlands Trains Limited, currently a wholly owned subsidiary of Abellio Transport Group Limited with East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co Ltd as minority partners
  • MTR Corporation (West Midlands) Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of MTR Corporation (UK) Limited

The operators will now compete to win the forthcoming franchise which will also mark the start of a new era in which more responsibility for local services will lie in local hands.

The new franchise will see West Midlands Rail Ltd (WMR), which was set up last year by 14 Metropolitan, Shire and Unitary authorities from across the wider West Midlands, working with the Department for Transport (DfT) to manage the new franchise within the West Midlands region. At present responsibility rests solely with the Government.

The franchise is expected to be awarded in June 2017 and start in October of that year. The existing franchise is operated by London Midland.

WMR’s Programme Director, Malcolm Holmes, said: “We look forward to working with the DfT and the three bidders on shaping our local rail services for the forthcoming franchise.

“The successful train operator will be working in an exciting new environment in which the West Midlands will have real influence and responsibility over its local services.

“We believe this partnership offers a major opportunity for the West Midlands to develop the network in a way that underpins economic growth, job creation and carbon reduction while delivering significant benefits for passengers. This shortlist of large and well established companies shows that train operators are ready and willing to step up to the plate and meet that challenge.”

Rail Minister Claire Perry added: “The West Midlands franchise serves both commuters and long distance passengers and we are confident these companies will create high quality bids that can deliver better journeys for all.

“Today’s announcement marks a key step forward in giving passengers improved services across the region and beyond.”

The government and West Midlands Rail expect the next operator of the franchise to provide significantly better journeys for passengers, with measures to tackle overcrowding and reduce delays and cancellations as well as bringing in benefits such as free on board Wi-Fi.

The operator will also be expected to support planned infrastructure improvements during the next franchise, including the completion of the Rugeley Trent Valley to Walsall electrification, upgrades at Birmingham, and enabling works at London Euston for HS2.

As part of the government's commitment to ensure local passengers are at the heart of the rail network by devolving power to those that know their economies and customers best, the new franchise will also lay the foundations for the region's rail services to be increasingly managed locally through West Midlands Rail, rather than by central government.

Today’s announcement of the shortlist follows a 14 week public consultation in which the DfT and WMR asked people to give their views on what they wanted to see delivered under the next franchise.

Tags: Highways and transportation