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Centro pushes for local rail control

Positive responses to a Government consultation on rail devolution offer support for Centro’s bid to take control of rail services in the West Midlands.

Responses indicated that the public believe local communities could achieve better rail services and better value for money if they had more say on how their railways were run.

In June, Centro submitted a formal expression of interest to the Government to take over commissioning and management of local rail services in 2015, once London Midland’s franchise expires.

The bid has also been endorsed by West Midlands Rail Members Group.

Centro’s chief executive Geoff Inskip said: “The findings of the Government’s nationwide consultation shows a strong consensus is emerging around the benefits of putting decision making for local rail networks in local hands.

“We certainly welcome these findings as we also believe that greater local control can result in better rail services focused on the real needs of West Midland passengers.

“That’s why, with the backing of the wider region, we have formally told the Government that we wish to have responsibility for the local rail franchise from 2015 onwards.

“If we held control locally we would be in a far better position to make sure the local rail network dovetails with economic developments and the wider transport network. We would also work to ensure it fully connects and feeds into the forthcoming high speed rail line, thereby maximising the significant economic benefits offered by HS2.”

Publishing the consultation responses, rail minister Simon Burns said: “Ensuring decisions are taken by those best placed to make them – those who live and work in those areas – could make certain not only that services are planned to maximise value for money for taxpayers but that passengers get services they need and want.”

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