All aboard! Latest West Midlands public transport partnership agreed

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Virgin Trains, West Midlands Rail Executive and Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) have signed a brand new partnership deal pledging to work together to improve rail journeys in the region.

Virgin Trains, which operates stations in Coventry, Birmingham International, Rugby, Stoke on Trent and Stafford, has committed to continue supporting initiatives such as installing cycle hubs so people can leave their bikes securely at key stations in the West Midlands.

The company will help make it easier for people to use sustainable transport to travel to and from stations, work with local football clubs and British Transport Police to keep passengers moving safely and comfortably on match-days, and improve signage and passenger information.

Cllr Roger Lawrence, portfolio holder for transport at West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and chair of the West Midlands Rail Executive, said: "This agreement underlines our commitment to work with network and transport operators in the region to improve people's journeys.

"We're particularly pleased Virgin Trains agrees our focus on sustainable transport, especially cycling to stations, is a good way to promote environmentally-friendly and healthy travel choices.

"We are working hard to bring organisations together, to forge partnerships and keep everybody working to ensure train travel is an attractive choice for people living in and travelling to and from the region."

Amanda Hines, general manager for Virgin Trains in the West Midlands, said: "We have been proud to serve the West Midlands for the past 21 years. In that time services on the west coast route have been transformed with a number of industry leading initiatives such as Automatic Delay Repay, the roll out of m-tickets and the launch of BEAM, our free entertainment service.

"We look forward to forging stronger relationships with the West Midlands Rail Executive, TfWM and other industry partners, working as one team to strengthen our support for the local economy and the communities we serve.

"Our stations, and the railway, should to be part of the answer and not a barrier to local needs, by providing the associated connectivity required to enhance economic growth and provide access, both inward and outward, for employment, business and leisure."

Meanwhile, TfWM, part of WMCA, is set to launch the NextBike scheme, the UK's largest docked bike-share scheme outside London.

Cllr Roger Horton, lead member for rail and Metro on WMCA's transport delivery committee, said: "We're delighted that Virgin Trains has signed up to an ongoing partnership agreement to outline its commitment to a sustainable, healthy region.

"We are working hard to represent passengers by creating links with the rail industry to ensure they have a clear focus and shared aims in the West Midlands.

"This agreement represents our latest success in this respect - and we look forward to signing many more of these with other operators in the future."

The agreement comes after TfWM and West Midlands Rail Executive renewed a long-standing agreement with Chiltern Railways.

The eventual aim for TfWM is to have as many transport operators as possible signed up to agreements to help push through an agenda to "revolutionise" the rail network.