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.
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 standards of customer experience and service delivery across the rail network in the West Midlands.
People of today expect consistency whether they are catching the same train or a different train however at this moment in time this just isn't the case. 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 operate over 150 stations of different shapes and sizes, some are staffed, some are not. At these stations you could expect to see over 21 different types of train, all with different seating arrangements and on-board facilities. This of course is no-ones fault it is just simply the increase in diversity of the industry and indeed has helped the West Midlands region grow.
WMR in conjunction with rail devolution will help incentivise train operators to be more responsive to the needs of different parts of the network. Thus working together with the goal of consistently high standards of customer experience and service delivery with the overall aim that all passengers should be able to expect to have an excellent journey from the moment they turn arrive at the station.
WMR is committed to developing a 30 year rail development strategy that is based around the needs of the region's growth and lives of West Midlanders'. For example WMR will work with local government constituencies to look at regional development and work with its partners to develop proposals specifically looking to see whether the rail connections and facilities nearby are adequate enough for the growing demand. Based upon this WMR and its partners will work together to develop future developments in the hope to secure future funding for that area.
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, 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.
From December WMR will be responsible for ensuring all of the franchise agreements are adhered to and when not will hold the operator to account ensuring the high customer standards and service delivery are at the forefront of their minds.
The West Midlands Stations Alliance (WMSA) concept seeks to address issues of:
lack of co-ordination between the various parties responsible for station assets
insufficient incentives to invest in significant station enhancements
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:
Support the wellbeing and development of the areas they serve