The UK government awarded FirstGroup/Trenitalia the West Coast rail franchise that will start from December 2019 until 2031. West Coast mainline connects London Euston and Glasgow Central.
“This award is positive news for passengers, with more services, more direct connections and ambitious plans for a cleaner, greener railway, and also represents a decisive shift towards a new model for rail,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said.
Starting December 2022, passengers will benefit from 263 extra train services every week, with Motherwell set to become a major calling point for most West Coast Partnership services. Destinations including Llandudno and Gobowen will now be served by direct trains to and from London, and Walsall will receive its first direct intercity services. Subject to approval from the Office of Rail and Road, 2 trains per hour will run between Liverpool and London.
First Trenitalia will also introduce new environmentally-friendly trains, entirely replacing the diesel-only fleet and reducing CO2 emissions by 61%. It will also invest GBP 117 million (EUR 126 million) in a major refurbishment of the current Pendolino fleet, providing more comfortable seats and additional luggage space.
The new operator will invest in stations and depots to reduce the environmental impact of the Partnership. This includes introducing new solar panels and energy efficient air conditioning, alongside a commitment to achieving an 80% reduction in non-recyclable waste from products sold or supplied on-board trains.
The consortium will provide free Wi-Fi and high quality mobile connectivity on board services, new ticket machines at stations, will remove the administration fee and will enable on-the-day changes to both advance tickets and seat reservations.