West Midlands Rail Franchise winner announced

The UK Department for Transport has announced that the West Midlands rail franchise will be taken over by West Midlands Trains Ltd, a joint venture between Abellio Group, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co Ltd. The new contract will start in December and last until March 2026.
Under the deal with West Midlands Trains 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.
Rail passengers will get new longer trains with more seats and more space. 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.
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 new franchise will see closer partnership working between track and train – delivering the Secretary of State’s vision for the network. The trains running only in the West Midlands area will be jointly managed by the Department for Transport and West Midlands Rail (WMR), a consortium of 16 local councils.
The franchise covers services across the West Midlands, as well as trains from London Euston to Crewe and from Liverpool to Birmingham.
“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,” Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said.