This week marks the end of London Midlands tenure at Nuneaton and the start of a new franchise – West Midlands Trains, starting next week. As usual there is the promise of ‘jam tomorrow’ including new trains although there is unlikely to be much of a change for Nuneaton passengers with the exception of the Coventry service going to 3 trains an hour (3 at the weekend) at some point. We hope that the new franchise has a better start than London Midland who, after a poor start, became victims of their own success with passenger usage increasingly hugely.
West Midlands Trains Ltd – a joint venture between Dutch company Abellio, and Japanese duo East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co – has been awarded the rights to the West Midlands railway network from later this year.
The new operator has promised to invest £1 billion in the network, including new carriages and additional services to alleviate congestion on a variety of lines as well as new direct rush-hour services between London and Walsall.
The main changes that our stations will see are
1. Trains to/from London and North West will be extended from 4 to 8 coahces
2. Trains will now direct between Stafford and Stoke instead of via Stoke
3. Refunds if trains are more than 15 mins late
4. Free wifi
5. The likelihood of additional services at either end of the day
6. An additional hourly service between Nuneaton and Coventry giving a half hourly service during the week. Three trains an hour on Saturdays. This is subject to a new platform being constructed at Coventry
The new Franchise will take over from 10th December.
The Department for Transport (DfT) have published a prospectus for the forthcoming West Coast Partnership. This will be the new franchise which will combine the existing West Coast main line services with those of High Speed Rail, and is due to start in April 2019.
The document is thin on detail, but it does say that the new franchisee will be expected to “maintain and improve” the existing West Coast services, along with passenger facilities and a simplified fares system. You can access the prospectus using this link