London Midland wins contract extension with £13m improvement promise
London Midland, the train company that features in regularly in social media, has had its contract to run rail services between London and the West Midlands extended for a further two years.
But in awarding the extension the Department for Transport said the company must deliver a £13 million package of improvements including two extra evening services each weekday from London Euston to the Trent Valley, extra Sunday morning services in the Birmingham area, free WiFi on long-distance services and more parking at stations.
London Midland will be expected to offer an additional 6,600 seats a week and work with the Smart Cities Partnership to introduce smart ticketing on trains, improving and extending the existing Swift smartcard scheme.
The DfT has also introduced new targets to improve punctuality and cleanliness.
London Midland’s initial contract with the DfT was to end in October this year, but an extension to October 2016 was granted in June last year. The latest decision extends the contract to October 2017.
Rail minister Claire Perry said:
We have already delivered significant improvements in the West Midlands and surrounding areas – including investing more than £60 million in a fleet of brand new trains, and the massive £750 million redevelopment of Birmingham New Street station which was completed earlier this year.
Today’s contract with London Midland builds on this work, and will not only ensure that customers continue to benefit from better journeys, but also support long-term economic growth in the region and beyond.
Under the terms of the contract extension there will be extra evening services every weekday from London to the Trent Valley, providing an additional 2,300 seats from Euston each week.
London Midland will also be required to run earlier services to central Birmingham on Sunday mornings from Rugby and Lichfield and new Sunday services from Longbridge, Dorridge and Whittocks End.
The company, which in the past has been criticised when staff shortages have led to the cancellation of services, has promised to recruit extra drivers, conductors and on-board staff to make sure improvements are delivered.
CCTV cameras will be installed on cross-city Birmingham services to improve security. Station staff will be equipped with tablets to provide real-time information to customers.
London Midland is 65 per cent owned by the UK-based Go-Ahead Group, with the remainder held by French public transport giant Keolis.
London Midland managing director Patrick Verwer said:
Winning this contract is a great endorsement by the DfT of how London Midland is focused on improving our passengers’ journeys.
Since 2007 we have invested nearly £300 million in trains and stations. Over the last two years we have significantly improved performance – cutting both delays and cancellations. Twelve months ago we delivered a further £60 million investment in ten brand new trains.
“year we also introduced a new timetable, offering more seats and services than ever before into and out of major towns and cities and cut our Birmingham to London fares by up to 40 per cent.
This new franchise offers some very exciting opportunities and will bring benefits touching every element of our passengers’ journeys.
The DfT will fund the West Midlands franchise with a subsidy of £130 million over the duration of the contract.
London Midland began operations in 2007 as a new franchise, taking over a number of routes from the former Central Trains and Silverlink operations. In 2014-15, it took the second largest total subsidy from the taxpayer, at 16.6p per passenger mile. Northern Rail was first at 34.2p.
The Government has also announced it is pushing ahead with electrification of the Chase line from Walsall to Rugeley Trent Valley, and the extension of electric services to a new station at Bromsgrove.
RJF Public Affairs, publisher of the Chamberlain Files, has previously undertaken consultancy work for the Go-Ahead Group.
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