One billion pound investment in West Midlands rail network

A computer generated image of how trains operating only in the West Midlands could be branded under the franchise.

One billion pound investment in West Midlands rail network

Passengers in the area are expected to get more frequent services with new trains and extra seats as a result of a near £1 billion investment in the West Midlands network.

The new funds are part of a deal announced today that will see West Midlands Trains Ltd run the region’s rail services under a new franchise from December onwards.

Trains running only in the West Midlands area will be jointly managed by the Department for Transport (DfT) and West Midlands Rail (WMR), a consortium of 16 local councils.

It is the first time that West Midlands authorities have had such a level of influence in setting out what a train company needs to deliver for local passengers.

The new improvements include:

  • 20,000 extra seats for rush hour passengers in Birmingham
  • 100 new carriages on the Cross City line
  • 80 new carriages for the Snow Hill line
  • Compensation if services are delayed by more than 15 minutes
  • Free WiFi on all main line services
  • A roll out of smart ticketing and live passenger information
  • Trains and stations branded in a locally specified West Midlands Railway livery

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “We want to see a new golden era for our local trains and today’s announcement is an important step towards that.

“When it comes to our local train services we have not had this level of local influence and management before and it fits with the wider powers and responsibilities currently being transferred from Whitehall to the West Midlands.

“The result of this influence is that we will see West Midlands Trains deliver more of the services that passengers want, including earlier and later weekday services and more trains on Sundays.”

Under the franchise agreement West Midlands Trains will run local rail services in the West Midlands from December this year until March 2026.

As well as an increase in frequency, the deal will see major investment in new trains with local services branded under a new West Midlands Railway livery.

The 100 new carriages for the Cross City line, the busiest route on the West Midlands network, will be of a design that offers increased space to carry more passengers and wider doors for quicker access.

Cllr Roger Lawrence, chair of WMR and leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council, said: “It’s important to remember that tens of thousands of people rely on this local network to not only get to work each day but to undertake wider business trips and enjoy the cultural and leisure attractions of our region.

“This deal, together with the significant transport infrastructure set to be built in the West Midlands, will help ensure we have efficient train services that connect with the rest of the wider bus and tram network and, of course, the forthcoming high speed rail line. That will underpin economic growth and the new jobs being created in our region.”

Around £60m will be invested on station improvements across the franchise area delivering 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 improved access for those requiring extra assistance, including disabled people.