Andy Street Ian McConnell WMR

West Midlands Railway Unveils New Era of Electric Travel

A brand-new fleet of electric trains has been unveiled by West Midlands Railway, marking a significant investment in the region's rail network.

Unveiled this week at Wolverhampton Station, the Class 730s represent a £700 million commitment from the operator. The new trains boast increased capacity, thanks to their longer length and metro-style interiors.

The initial 48 three-carriage trains will debut next week, carrying passengers between Wolverhampton, Birmingham, and Walsall. Later this year, the fleet will expand to the busy Cross City Line, connecting Lichfield, Birmingham, Redditch, and Bromsgrove. The new trains will run alongside the existing Class 323’s that currently run on the line.

Andy Street WMR Class 720

"These modern electric trains represent a huge upgrade to the experience of travelling by train in the West Midlands," said Ian McConnell, managing director of West Midlands Railway. He highlighted the significant capacity increase and the focus on passenger comfort, emphasising the positive impact on both commuters and leisure travellers.

Dominic Booth, chief executive of Transport UK Group, echoed the sentiment, calling this "the dawn of a new era" for West Midlands Railway passengers. He sees these new trains as a key contributor to a more efficient, accessible, and sustainable rail network across the country.

The investment extends beyond the initial fleet. A further 36 five-carriage Class 730s are currently undergoing testing with WMR’s sister company London Northwestern Railway which are destined for longer-distance routes connecting the West Midlands with Liverpool and London. They are scheduled to enter service in early 2025.

Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands said: “It’s good news that we’re seeing this £700million investment by West Midlands Trains continuing as we work together to make our rail network fit for the future.

“These new trains will make a real difference to passengers right across our region - boosting capacity on some of our busiest routes.”

The trains have been built at Alstom’s factory in Derby, and Nick Crossfield, managing director of Alstom UK & Ireland, expressed pride in the trains, saying “Working in partnership with West Midlands Railway we are delighted to provide passengers across the region with a cutting-edge and comfortable travel experience that offers a much greener alternative to the car. We now look forward to seeing the Class 730 enter service on the Cross City Line later this year, where our trains will double capacity for customers.”

Photo: West Midlands Railway

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