New contract to make journeys better for West Midlands rail passengers

New contract for West Midlands rail passengers

£13 million package of improvements in new contract that will see London Midland continue to run services until October 2017.

Passengers will benefit from £13 million worth of improvements – including more services, around 6,600 extra seats, free Wi-Fi and better ticketing – after the government agreed a new deal for rail services in the region today (3 December 2015).

Under the contract, which will deliver improved connections, a better customer experience and set tough new targets, London Midland will continue to run services between London, the West Midlands and the north-west of England until October 2017.

Rail Minister Claire Perry said:

"We have already delivered significant improvements in the West Midlands and surrounding areas – including investing more than £60 million in a fleet of brand new trains, and the massive £750 million redevelopment of Birmingham New Street station which was completed earlier this year.

Today’s contract with London Midland builds on this work, and will not only ensure that customers continue to benefit from better journeys, but also support long-term economic growth in the region and beyond.

Millions of passengers will benefit from better journeys."

Improved connections

  • 2 extra evening services every weekday from London to the Trent Valley, providing an additional 2,300 seats from Euston each week
  • earlier services to central Birmingham on Sunday mornings from surrounding towns including Rugby and Lichfield
  • new Sunday services from Longbridge, Dorridge and Whitlocks End
  • these services give more than 900 extra seats every week, benefiting shoppers, workers and local businesses
  • an extra daily return service on the Abbey line, between Watford Junction and St Albans Abbey, providing an extra 3,400 seats every week

A better customer experience

  • free Wi-Fi on long-distance services between London Euston, Birmingham, Crewe, and Liverpool, and a commitment that free Wi-Fi will be rolled out on all services when the next fully-competed franchise starts
  • new and upgraded ticket machines at selected stations, with new ‘click and collect’ capability and contactless payment options
  • more than 400 extra car parking spaces across 3 stations – Watford, Hemel Hempstead and Tamworth

Tough new targets

  • London Midland will have to meet new targets for passenger satisfaction, punctuality and cleanliness
  • extra drivers, conductors and on-board staff to be recruited to ensure improvements are delivered
  • Passenger benefits of the West Midlands direct award franchise.

London Midland will also install CCTV on cross-city Birmingham services to improve security, and equip station staff with tablets to improve the information given to customers. The operator will also be required to work with the Smart Cities Partnership to introduce smart ticketing on trains, building on the existing Swift smartcard scheme, to provide seamless and more convenient journeys for passengers.

London Midland managing director Patrick Verwer said:

"Winning this contract is a great endorsement by the DfT of how London Midland is focused on improving our passengers’ journeys. Since 2007 we have invested nearly £300 million in trains and stations. Over the last 2 years we have significantly improved performance – cutting both delays and cancellations. Twelve months ago we delivered a further £60 million investment in 10 brand new trains. Last year we also introduced a new timetable, offering more seats and services than ever before into and out of major towns and cities and cut our Birmingham to London fares by up to 40%.

This new franchise offers some very exciting opportunities and will bring benefits touching every element of our passengers’ journeys. It will enable us to continue delivering improvements for our customers and, as before, we remain committed to listening to our passengers and working with our stakeholders, communities and local elected representatives to make further improvements in the months ahead."

The West Midlands franchise will be funded with a subsidy of £130 million over the duration of the direct award (April 2016 to October 2017). Around 64 million passenger journeys are made on London Midland services every year.

In addition to the improvements being delivered through the franchise, the government is also pushing ahead with electrification of the Chase line from Walsall to Rugeley Trent Valley, and the extension of electric services to a new station at Bromsgrove. Further investment between Nuneaton and Leamington Spa will see two new stations opening soon at Coventry Arena and Bermuda Park. A new station, partly funded through the government’s New Stations Fund, is also being built at Kenilworth and will be served by a new Leamington Spa to Coventry service when it opens.


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