West Midlands Trains and London Northwestern launch first services

The new West Midlands franchise officially launched this weekend as West Midlands Trains and London Northwestern began operations.

The new operator is a joint venture between Abellio, JR East and Mitsui which won the contract from London Midland in August.

Splitting the franchise into two sections means that, while west coast services will be controlled through the usual TOC system, West Midlands Trains will be operated by the JV and managed jointly by West Midlands Rail (WMR), a consortium of 16 councils, and the DfT.

After the award of the contract, the new operators announced £680m worth of spending on 107 new diesel and electric trains, with space for extra 85,000 passengers.

“Today really is a watershed moment for our region’s rail network and it will bring many improvements for passengers over the coming months and years,” said Cllr Roger Lawrence, chair of WMR and leader of City of Wolverhampton Council.

“This is the first time that West Midlands councils have had such a level of influence in setting out what a train company must deliver and we have used that control to make sure this new franchise gives passengers and our businesses what they need from their local railway in order to prosper.

“The increased frequency and on-board capacity is particularly important for the tens of thousands of people who rely on the network to get to work each day but it is also important for those making business trips or simply going out to enjoy our region’s cultural and leisure attractions.”

The investment is part of £1bn total of spending from the new operators from now until the franchise ends in 2026.

Last month, Merseyrail managing director Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde was appointed as the MD of the new West Midlands Trains.

He said: “It's great to get started on delivering everything we've promised to our customers across the network. The £1bn of investment will allow West Midlands Trains to be one of the core drivers of faster economic growth throughout the regions in which it operates.

“We're also delighted to see so many of our new trains produced in the Midlands, stimulating the local economy. Along with the 900 apprenticeships put in place over the coming years we'll be building a legacy that will benefit the industry for decades to come.”

111217wmtrains 01Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, left, West Midlands Trains managing director Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, and Cllr Roger Lawrence, chair of West Midlands Rail

Along with new trains, around £60m will be invested on station improvements across the franchise area to deliver 1,000 new car park spaces, 2,500 cycle parking spaces, a cycle hire scheme, new and refurbished waiting rooms and more seats at stations.

There will also be feasibility studies undertaken to analyse the potential benefits of developing new stations in the region.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, commented: “Our local rail network has a crucial role to play in making sure our region has the connectivity it needs to compete and prosper on a global stage.

“So being able to bring local knowledge to bear in shaping and managing this new rail franchise means we have been able to secure more of what passengers have told us they want – things like earlier and later weekday services and more trains on Sundays.

“The region will now work hard in partnership with West Midlands Trains to make sure this new franchise and the £1bn investment it brings will deliver the sort of railway our passengers need and deserve and one that can drive and support further economic growth.”

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Nickk   11/12/2017 at 20:42

Good start. The Abbey Flier (WFJ - SAA) was out of action, due to the weather (reported this morning) then, more credibly Due to Staff Shortage this evening. London Midland's excuses again.

Andrew Gwilt   11/12/2017 at 23:47

I do like the new liveries. A new lease of life for the trains that will be sporting their new liveries in 2 different subrands operated by the new franchise. London Northwestern Railway will have green on their trains and West Midlands Railway will have purple on their trains. Plus with new trains on order that will also have new liveries. I think that WM Trains franchise will do ok. London Midland had struggled in the past but they were the best rail operator. RIP London Midland. 2007-2017. 10 years of London Midland franchise operated by Govia/Go-Ahead.

Andrew JG   12/12/2017 at 02:40

I really did like London Midland to be honest. But now they are long gone. Have to get used to the new franchise. Even though they are ordering the new Bombardier Aventra EMU's and CAF Civity DMU's stocks which is yet to be classified.

Cliff B   12/12/2017 at 07:30

To say that London Midland were the best operator seems a bit off the mark by a mile.They have ruined the Watford-St Albans branch with almost daily cancellations,and didnt care about the passengers.I suggested that they use a more reliable Class 323 on the branch,but got no response (Normal for London Midland). Stone station in Staffordshire has a train every day,but on most days at least one,sometimes two successive trains were cancelled leaving a 3HOUR gap in the service.I suggested that they cancel the trains in London where they have a lot more frequent service but again got no reply. Glad they have gone,they were rotten to the core just like the rest of the Govia run franchises. Just think what British Rail could have done with the money that these cowboys are getting thesedays.

Track   12/12/2017 at 11:01

The day the unions have their militant powers taken away, the day train crew stop ducking and diving and trying to get out of work, the day train operators have the balls to stand up and actually have people do what they are paid for is the day that the public will get a service they deserve. Too many members of train crew walk away from work unless they're paid more, or ask that they're manager calls them because they are shaken up... Conductor's banging on that they're needed on the train yet hide in the rear cab, can't call emergency services unless someone else does it for them, bat off responsibilities to someone else... It's a joke. LM bred this behaviour and attitude and now it needs to be stamped out. In any other industry half of these clowns would be out the door.

Lutz   12/12/2017 at 12:07

I would expect the Market Study and Route Plans to have been updated prior to any enhancements - if not, how will they know what needs doing?

Cheesed Off   12/12/2017 at 16:22

LM has been a disgrace in every respect. In roughly 1,600 commute trips in the last 4 years, over 1,300 have been either greatly delayed or cancelled, fraught with misinformation, indifference, rude and racist staff, incompetence, failure to make reasonable contingencies,appalling carriages and a whole range of amenities not being available/broken. Yet they have always been allowed to publish blatant lies about punctuality etc. However, a so-called new franchise will not result in any improvements at all: the majority of corrupt cretins will remain, more will be recruited on their propensity to be dismissive of the welfare of passengers, the same inane excuses will be made and the same people will pocket billions (yes, billions, not millions) of tax payers' money supported by brown tonguing MPs who have a vested interested in perpetuating the abuse.

Diana Thomas   12/12/2017 at 23:20

Stone and Stoke do not seem to feature on the London to Crewe route on the government official website. I can only find eulogies about how wonderful the new service will be. What is happening to the service from Stone?

Phil   13/12/2017 at 17:47

What a shambles 1654 to crewe cancelled from nuneaton the 1800 delayed this is a poor start you directors need to get a grip and run the service on time with no cancellations will now miss connection

Cheesed Off   14/12/2017 at 13:49

It's me, Cheesed Off, again. Okay, some leeway has to be given for the recent bad weather, but London Northwestern were still spinning the 'no crew available' because of 'severe' conditions fib even today 14/12/17, cancelling/delaying trains heading north/south between Birmingham and London. Strange how Virgin and the freight trains were okay. Similarly, yesterday, they balmed engineering works on a stretch also used by Virgin and the freight trains - again, strange how it only affects them. I also find it incredible that they have continued the LM policy of either not apologising and not mentioning any problem, or just giving an inane excuse with no apology. Incidentally, in the 1970's my local station (franchised now accordingly) had something called a waiting room which had heating in it - that's been replaced by a hut to stand in -5 Celsius for 2 hours; that 1970's station also had something called toilets, which were accessible and clean, those have now been replaced by filthy ones which can only be accessed between 7am and 9am with a notice saying "toilets only open when ticket office is manned". The 'newsagent' whose notice says 'newspapers' informs me that he doesn't sell newspapers and is also only open between 7am and 9am. I hope this 2 hour window will eventually be sufficient to flush all train and rail staff down the pan.

GW   14/12/2017 at 17:17

Evening services as soon as possible please. Backlog of neglect to be caught up as soon as possible please. No purple and orange vomit comets please. It is a disgusting colour combination and is already being plastered over stations such as Snow Hill. It is wrong. Don't do it!!!!!

David   15/12/2017 at 07:40

Please can West Midlands trains run late Trains out of Euston on a Saturday night. During the week and on Sunday there is s service to Milton Keynes at 01.34 but on Saturday night the last train is at 00.15.

Simon Eames1990   15/12/2017 at 23:42

The London North Western livery is the best for some time, way better than the dull SWR livery even the the SWR blue logo is nice. The purple West Midlands livery is not bad, either.

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