Amanda Milling welcomes West Midlands Rail Franchise announcement.

Amanda Milling, Member of Parliament for Cannock Chase, has welcomed the announcement regarding the new West Midlands Rail Franchise.

The franchise that includes the Chase Line, currently operated by London Midland, has been awarded to West Midlands Trains Ltd (a joint venture between Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co Ltd).

The Cannock Chase MP, who has long campaigned for improvements to the service on the Chase Line, has welcomed the improvements the contract will bring. The new franchise will operate a half hourly service on the line, bring greatly improved weekend services, better compensation for delayed and cancelled trains, and improved information for customers at stations. The new franchise represents a near £1 billion investment across the West Midlands network.

The full benefits for the Chase Line include:

  • Electric rolling stock introduced following the completion of the ongoing electrification works
  • A half-hourly service between Birmingham, Walsall and Rugeley Trent Valley on Monday to Saturday by December 2018 and on Sundays by May 2021
  • Earlier and later services between Birmingham and Walsall, and between Birmingham and Rugeley Trent Valley including on a Sunday
  • New direct services between Walsall and London during rush hours (with 2 morning services into London and 2 evening peak services returning from London) from December 2018
  • A service quality regime to improve the quality of stations, trains and customer service for passengers
  • Passengers being entitled to 25 per cent compensation if their train is delayed by 15 minutes. They will continue to receive 50 per cent of their money back for delays of half an hour and full compensation if it is more than an hour.

Amanda Milling said: “The new franchise is welcome news and the commitment to a half-hourly service, following the electrification of the line, and a full half-hourly Saturday service by December next year will make a huge difference to passengers. I will be looking to meet the new operators as soon as possible to discuss with them some of the issues faced by passengers over the past few years which have included severe overcrowding and fare dodging. The new operators need to have plans in place to tackle these issues once they take over the line’s operation in December and ensure the benefits of the electrification project are fully realised next year.”

Amanda Milling MP also welcomed the new compensation scheme for passengers adding: “Along with overcrowded trains, one of the big issues faced by passengers on the line has been delayed and part cancelled trains. I am therefore pleased to see the new compensation package, where passengers can get full and partial refunds for delayed trains.”

The franchise will also see direct trains from Walsall to London at peak hours, something the Cannock Chase MP has welcomed: “The option of direct trains at peak time from Walsall to London offers new journey options for constituents and is another indirect boost to our area.“

The new franchise will operate from 10th December 2017 through to March 2026.