RAIL users in Bromsgrove will enjoy extra capacity, more frequent services and free wi-fi under a new, locally managed rail network for the West Midlands – transport chiefs have said.
A wide range of passenger benefits have been included in a ground-breaking document which lays out the minimum specifications to be met by whichever train operator wins the next West Midlands franchise, due to start in October 2017.
It follows a public consultation which was held earlier this year and attracted almost 2,000 responses.
The Invitation to Tender document and the passenger improvements it contains has been drawn up by the Department for Transport (DfT) in collaboration with West Midlands Rail (WMR) – a consortium of all 14 metropolitan, shire and unitary authorities in the wider region.
One of the major improvements in the new franchise will be an increase in Sunday services to the same level of frequency currently seen on Saturdays.
Transport bosses say this will apply to nearly all local routes and together with more evening services is aimed at better reflecting modern working and leisure patterns.
The increases are among a number of improvements resulting from WMR’s influence in the design of the new franchise.
The new franchise will also be part managed by WMR allowing more local control and influence over services – something which currently rests with central Government.
Coun Mark Winnington, chair of West Midlands Rail said: “This announcement is a game changer in that it is the first time the region has had this level of involvement in shaping what a train company has to deliver for local passengers.
“The region has come together to grab this devolution opportunity with both hands and we believe that together with the DfT we have set out a railway that brings real benefits not only for passengers but also for local businesses while supporting economic growth and jobs.
“The authorities of the West Midlands are united in this and believe the region better understands what it needs from its railway and that having greater responsibility for its management is good for passengers, good for the economy and good for taxpayers.”
Announcing the Invitation to Tender, Rail Minister Paul Maynard said: “This announcement marks a step forward in giving passengers better journeys across the West Midlands and beyond.
“This franchise serves both commuters and long distance passengers and these benefits will deliver extra and smoother journeys for customers using these services.”
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