In December 2017 the Department for Transport (DfT) awarded the West Midlands Franchise to West Midlands Trains (WMT), a joint venture between Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co Ltd. The new franchise heralds 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 passengers.
Between December 2017 and March 2026 WMTwilldeliver substantially more space for passengers and a fleet of brand new and refurbished trains serving the region. Improved passenger information and accessibility standards, more services at weekends and evenings, flexible ticketing for part-time workers, better compensation, free Wi-Fi, station upgrades and an innovative staff gainshare scheme will all contribute to a significantly enhanced passenger experience across the entire network.
Passengers in the West Midlands will benefit from 180 new 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.
In all, some 20,000 extra seats will be provided for rush hour passengers in region. On top of this there will be standing room for 50,000 passengers in the new metro style carriages that are to be introduced on the Cross City line.
There will be more than 300 extra Sunday services across the franchise, with most routes operating at Saturday frequencies. There will be more evening and later Saturday services from Birmingham and a new hourly service from Birmingham and Wolverhampton to Crewe via Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent.
The plans for the new franchise were built around demands expressed by passengers during the public consultation, and were developed in conjunction with the West Midlands Rail Executive Limited (WMRE), a partnership of 16 authorities in the region. This local collaboration has continued throughout the period of the Franchise, with WMRE exercising leadership over the implementation and management of the Franchise in the West Midlands region.
This leadership will also manifest itself through a unique brand for trains operating in the West Midlands region. This brand is known as West Midlands Railwayand the intention is that it will become a uniting symbol for the region, physically and psychologically connecting disparate districts and counties together, subliminally creating a positive sense of belonging that will enable the region to prosper.