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There are four key areas of strategic focus being developed and progressed by West Midlands Rail. The model below illustrates each of these strategic themes.
WMR is working collaboratively with stakeholders to create a new rail strategy for the region. The rail network already plays a key role in supporting our regional economy by keeping people and goods moving easily and cost-effectively across the West Midlands.
The new West Midlands Rail Investment Strategy will set out our collective aspirations for the investment and development we believe our rail network needs to ensure it is fit for our region's people, communities, businesses and economy, supporting its growth over the next 30 years and beyond. This holistic strategy covers a number of areas including:
The West Midlands rail network contributes significantly to the region's economic, social and environmental wellbeing. It provides access to employment and education, links businesses to suppliers and customers, provides access to retail and leisure facilities, and reduces congestion and contributes to a more sustainable, lower carbon economy. However, despite the correlation between rail and economic growth, local influence in rail services in the West Midlands has historically been low.
This is all set to change, as from December 2017 responsibility for the management of the majority of passenger services in the West Midlands region will be devolved to West Midlands Rail (WMR). This historic development marks the culmination of three years of preparation, and means that for the first time in a generation local train services in the West Midlands will be managed from the region, and for the region.
This has been made possible through WMR's involvement in the procurement of the latest West Midlands Franchise. Most rail services in the UK are operated under Franchise Agreements let and managed by the Department for Transport (DfT). The West Midlands Franchise is different in that WMR have been involved from the very outset, helping to specify the contract, evaluate the bids, and finally take over responsibility for overseeing the delivery of the new agreement.
The Single Network Vision (SNV) stands for WMR's aspiration to be recognised as the country's best region for rail, characterised by widespread innovation, an intuitive and resilient network, and collaborative working between all interested parties. WMR aims to achieve this by creating a consistently high standard of customer experience and service delivery across the rail network in the West Midlands, regardless of the identity of the service provider or geographical location.
By comparison, today's regional rail network is characterised by pluralism. For example, there are no fewer than six different passenger rail companies within the WMR area, operating under six different franchise agreement. Between them they run over 150 stations of different shapes and sizes, and operate more than a dozen different types of train.
The West Midlands Stations Alliance (WMSA) concept seeks to address issues of:
Crucially the WMSA approach works within the rail industry's existing station ownership and contractual structures with partners working together to identify and secure funding to enable an agreed programme of station enhancements to be developed and delivered.
The West Midlands Stations Alliance ultimately aims to create a long term sustainable solution that delivers the West Midlands Rail's Single Network Vision in respect of stations and aligns with the objectives set out in the forthcoming West Midlands Rail Investment Strategy to transform stations into true community assets which: