Rail News

DfT Announces the Winner of the West Midlands Franchise

The Department for Transport (DfT) has awarded the West Midlands franchise to West Midlands Trains Ltd, a joint venture between Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co Ltd.

Rail passengers will get new longer trains with more seats and more space as nearly £1 billion is invested in services on the West Midlands network.

There will be 400 new carriages rolled out by 2021 and space for an extra 85,000 passengers on rush hour services in Birmingham and London, with the longer trains providing extra seats and space for passengers.

West Midlands Franchise
© West Midlands Rail

Better Services for Passengers

Under the deal with West Midlands Trains Ltd (a joint venture between Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co Ltd) to run the West Midlands franchise, passengers will get:

  • free wifi on all main line services by the end of 2019
  • for the first time compensation if services are delayed by more than 15 minutes
  • improved access for those requiring extra assistance, including disabled people
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Smart ticketing and live passenger information will also be rolled out under the deal, as part of a package of reforms that will improve journeys for passengers.

The franchise covers services across the West Midlands, as well as trains from London Euston to Crewe and from Liverpool to Birmingham.

West Midlands

There will be more than 180 new train carriages for the West Midlands, creating more space for people.

This includes investment in 100 new carriages on the Cross City line and 80 new carriages for the Snow Hill line, offering longer and more spacious services.

The carriages for the Cross City line will offer metro-style services with increased space to carry more passengers, and wider doors for quicker access.

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Passengers on London services will benefit from 225 brand new carriages, with all other carriages being completely refurbished.

People travelling between Northampton and Euston and on the Abbey Line between St Albans Abbey and Watford Junction will be able to pay for their travel with a smart card for the first time.


New trains will be arriving in the north-west on the Liverpool to Birmingham line, which passes through Crewe and Winsford. These are longer and have more seats for passengers than the existing trains.

A later last train from Liverpool to Birmingham on a Saturday, departing at least 45 minutes later.

Enhanced Sunday services between Birmingham and Liverpool from December 2021 increasing from one train per hour to 2 trains per hour.

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A new Sunday service for Acton Bridge from May 2021.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said:

This is great news for passengers using West Midlands services – with new trains, more space, more regular services and easier access for disabled people.

We are improving the whole travelling experience with live train crowding information, compensation for people delayed by 15 minutes or more, smart ticketing and better value tickets for part-time workers.

This shows we are delivering on our commitment to build a railway that works for everyone.

Original article © Department for Transport.


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