Latest Rail News


West Midlands Rail launches consultation on imminent rail devolution

West Midlands Rail (WMR) and the Department for Transport (DfT) have launched the long-awaited consultation on the future of increasingly devolved rail services in the region and beyond.

The West Midlands franchise, which covers the region’s local rail network and longer-distance services to the north west and London, will be run by London Midland hands until 2017, when its renewed contract ends.

The budding West Midlands Rail, a partnership of local transport authorities, has been calling for further devolution of passenger services from that point on.

The 14-week consultation, opened today, asks for views on how the next West Midlands franchise can provide better journeys. The government already expects the next franchise to put measures in place to tackle overcrowding, reduce delays and cancellations, and implement free on-board wi-fi.

The next operator will be expected to support planned infrastructure programmes, including enabling works at London Euston for HS2, signalling upgrades at Birmingham and the completion of the Rugeley Trent Valley to Walsall electrification.

It will also “lay the foundations” for greater devolution of services in the region, ensuring the network is increasingly managed locally through WMR rather than centrally only.

Cllr Mark Winnington, WMR chair, said: “We believe having a strong local involvement in the next franchise will be good for passengers, goof for the local economy and good for taxpayers. A local partnership will better understand what the region needs from its railway which is why we are delighted to be working with the DfT on this.

“But it’s important that the public, businesses and other stakeholders use this consultation to have their say and help ensure we have a future rail network that meets the real needs of passengers and the local economy.”

As anticipated, the new operator will be asked to separate the 2017 franchise into two business units as part of the devolution programme. One of these would comprise the West Midlands local rail network, while the other will cater for longer-distance services between Liverpool and Birmingham and Crewe and London (operated predominantly on the West Coast Main Line).

The government will also consider the value of having a specific brand for each set of services to provide a “clear and identifiable” network for passengers, similarly to that provided in Liverpool with Merseyrail.

For more information – including proposals on passengers’ needs, competitive services, safety, sustainability and customer experience – check out today’s consultation, running until 22 March.


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

Rail industry Focus

View all News


The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >

'the sleepers' blog

On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

29/06/2020On the right track, Sulzer is awarded RISAS accreditation for Nottingham Service Centre

Following an independent audit, Sulzer’s Nottingham Service Centre has been accepted as part of the rail industry supplier approval scheme (RISAS). The accreditation reinforces the high-quality standards that are maintained by Sulzer’s... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio 4's BBC’s flagship news programme that he would not rule out his organisation issuing future r... more >
Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

08/05/2019Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

In answering the pressing questions of how current and future generations of managers can provide solutions to high-profile infrastructure projects across the UK, Pearson Business School, part of... more >