RAIL passengers in Redditch are being promised better journeys with a host of extra services and benefits under plans announced by Rail Minister Paul Maynard.
Bidders for the new franchise will be required to deliver hundreds of extra services, new ticketing options and much increased capacity. The publication of the Invitation to Tender details the minimum level of improvements bidders hoping to secure the next franchise will need to include in their detailed proposals.
Key benefits called for include:
1) Space for more than 20,000 additional passengers to travel into London and Birmingham in the morning peak though the introduction of longer trains.
2) More than 300 extra Sunday services across the franchise by 2021, including 50 new services in each direction between Birmingham and Longbridge and the same between Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield.
3) A new hourly service from Birmingham and Wolverhampton to Crewe via Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent.
4) Free WiFi on all main line services by the end of 2019.
5) New ticket options for part time travellers which provide better value options.
Additionally there will also be a requirement for bidders to provide at least 60 apprenticeships as part of the franchise.
Paul Maynard MP said: “We are making the biggest investment in the railways since the Victorian era and today marks a key step forward in giving passengers better journeys across the West Midlands and beyond.”
The current franchise is operated by London Midland and covers a combination of commuting and long-distance services spanning the Midlands, south east and north west as well as services to London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street.
The shortlisted bidders for the franchise are:
London and West Midlands Railway Limited, a subsidiary of Govia Limited (a joint venture between Keolis and Go-Ahead Group).
West Midlands Trains Limited, currently a wholly owned subsidiary of Abellio Transport Group Limited with East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co Limited as minority partners.
Bidders have until November 29, 2016 to submit their bids, with the new operator planned to take over the franchise in October 2017.