We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

West Midlands Rail Franchise Awarded to Abellio JVRail

West Midlands Train Illustration ()Yesterday, 10th August, 2017, it was announced that the West Midlands Rail Franchise was awarded to Abellio JVRail, a joint venture between Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co Ltd. The consortium will trade as West Midlands Trains Ltd. The franchise will start in December 2017 and will finish in March 2026.

In the West Midlands area the contract will be jointly managed by the Department for Transport (DfT) and West Midlands Rail, which is a consortium of 16 local councils. In the West Midlands at least there will be some measure of local authority involvement and a small amount of democratic accountability. The DfT will manager the contract directly in the remainder of the franchise area, i.e. the long-distance, the Northampton-Euston and the branch line services

Passengers are being promised new longer trains with more seats and more space and nearly £1 billion is to be invested in the West Midlands network.

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

Passengers will also get:

  • free wifi on all main line services by the end of 2019
  • for the first time compensation if services are delayed by 15 minutes or more
  • improved access for those requiring extra assistance, including disabled people
  • smart ticketing
  • live passenger information

In South West Hertfordshire, 225 of the new carriages will be on the commuter services into Euston, providing an extra 10,000 more seats on these routes. Across the entire West Midlands franchise area there are to be 2,500 extra cycle park spaces and 1,000 extra car park spaces. But it is not specified where these will be, so people in Tring and Berkhamsted should not get their hopes up.

A new train is promised for the Abbey Line and the Sunday service frequenciy will be enhanced from May 2021 to match the Saturday frequency - but there is no mention of the passing loop at Bricket Wood which would of course be a Network Rail investment. Also from 2021 the Sunday service between Northampton and Euston will increase from 2 to 3 trains per hour, from Berkhamsted from 3 to 4 trains per hour and from Tring from 2 to 3 trains an hour.

However we must not forget the weekend disruption which will be taking place almost every weekend between Watford and Euston while Euston Station is rebuilt to receive HS2. Bus replacement services will of course be provided but the inconvenience could be mitigated once the Croxley Link is completed. Unfortunately we do not even have a start date yet for construction. Why don't we ask our MPs to press for an early start?

Abellio was formerly called NedRail and its parent company is Nederlandse Spoorwegen.
East Japan Railway Company is owned by the Japan Trustee Services Bank and six other Japanese banks and insurance copmanies.
Mitsui & Co Ltd is a Japanese general trading company which is now part of the Mitsui Group.
Picture courtesy of Rail Technology Magazine