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Two foreign firms and Govia in the running for West Midlands franchise

Three train companies have been shortlisted to run the next West Midlands franchise competition, including two international firms and Govia, the franchise’s current operator.

The franchise, currently operated by Govia’s London Midland, could stay in the company’s hands or be transferred to West Midlands Trains Ltd (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Abellio with East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co Ltd as minority partners) or by MTR Corporation West Midlands Ltd (a wholly-owned subsidiary of MTR, a Chinese company).

The joint consortium of East Japan Railway and Mitsui & Co has also been awarded a new pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) passport, thus joining the list of the department’s ‘passport holders’ who are eligible to express an interest in any upcoming franchise for the next four years.

Rail minister Claire Perry said: “The West Midlands franchise serves both commuters and long distance passengers and we are confident these companies will create high quality bids that can deliver better journeys for all.

“Today’s announcement marks a key step forward in giving passengers improved services across the region and beyond.”

According to the DfT, the companies were shortlisted today after submitting an expression of interest. Although there was no mention of this in the department’s statement, it is expected that the new operator will be required to work with West Midlands Rail (WMR) to prepare for full devolution across the region’s network.

The new operator will take over the franchise in October 2017, at which point London Midland’s extended contract ends. The contract award is expected to be made in June 2017.

The current franchise spans a combination of commuter and long-distance services across the Midlands, the south east and north west, as well as services to London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street.

But WMR, a partnership between local transport authorities, has been calling for further devolution of services, including a proposal to split the franchise into two business units early in the new franchise term.

One of these halves will be for the West Midlands local rail network, while the other will cater for services operated predominantly on the West Coast Main Line.

According to a 14-week consultation launched in December on the future of the region’s increasingly devolved rail services, the DfT already expects the new franchisee to put measures in place to tackle overcrowding, reduce delays and cancellations, and implement free on-board wi-fi.


Andrew Gwilt   07/04/2016 at 23:46

I think Abellio or Arriva could be bidding to win the franchise to take over the London Midland franchise. First may not opt in to bid on as they could take over the Greater Anglia franchise in October when Abellio does lose its franchise contract that they first started when they won the bid to take over from National Express and Greater Anglia was born then Abellio renamed it as Abellio Greater Anglia.

Lutz   08/04/2016 at 00:42

The rump WCML partition, if merged in to the Chilterns franchise, would provide more robust competition to the WCML operator. Just a thought.

Terry B   08/04/2016 at 12:45

To be pens antic its 3 foreign firms as Govia isn't British either.

Mikeb   08/04/2016 at 16:39

@Terry B. Govia is 65% British (GoAhead) and in answer to Andrew, Abellio is bidding with minority Japanese partners.

M.   09/04/2016 at 10:12

Andrew Gwilt: Read the article again. FirstGroup and Arriva are not bidding - they either declined to submit an Expression of Interest, or failed to meet the pre-qualification criteria. And with the amount of bid work taking place now (or forthcoming), I would suspect they were not interested in the first place. Franchise bids are expensive things for only a 25-33% chance of winning.

Andrew Gwilt   13/04/2016 at 09:38

Well in that case. First Group could take over the Greater Anglia franchise when Abellio decides to end their franchising contract and First Group to take over as a new franchise operator for the GA franchise in October this year.

Andrew Gwilt   18/04/2016 at 10:20

@M I don't need to read the article again. Stop asking me that question for goodness sake.

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