The London Midland franchise will continue until October 2017, after the Department for Transport announced a £13 million deal this morning (December 3).
Included in the deal are more services, around 6,600 extra seats, free WiFi and ‘better ticketing’. It will be funded with a £130m subsidy, and the Direct Award runs from April 2016 to October 2017.
Rail Minister Claire Perry said: “We have already delivered significant improvements in the West Midlands and surrounding areas - including investing more than £60m in a fleet of brand new trains, and the massive £750m redevelopment of Birmingham New Street station which was completed earlier this year. Today’s contract with London Midland builds on this work.”
Improvements include two extra evening trains from London to the Trent Valley (providing an extra 2,300 seats from Euston each week), earlier trains to central Birmingham on Sundays from surrounding areas, new Sunday trains from Longbridge, Dorridge and Whitlocks End (an extra 900 seats) and an extra daily return train on the Abbey Line (an extra 3,400 seats every week.
Free WiFi will be available on long-distance trains between Euston, Birmingham, Crewe and Liverpool. There is a commitment to roll out free WiFi on all services when the new, fully completed franchise begins in 2017.
New and upgraded ticket machines will be made available at selected stations, with new ‘click and collect’ capability and contactless payment options, and more than 400 extra parking spaces across three stations.
More drivers, conductors and on-board staff will be recruited, and CCTV will be installed on cross-city Birmingham trains. LM must also work with Smart Cities Partnership to introduce smart ticketing on trains.
LM Managing Director Patrick Verwer said: “Winning this contract is a great endorsement by the DfT of how London Midland is focused on improving our passenger’s journeys.”
- For more on this, read RAIL 790, published on December 23.