West Midlands Rail
A New Devolved Railway
We are partners in West Midlands Rail (WMR) a partnership of 16 Metropolitan District, Shire and Unitary local transport authorities who took greater influence and control over local rail services in a fully devolved franchise that started in December 2017.
West Midlands Trains Ltd (a joint venture between Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co Ltd) is the company that run the region's passenger services under the new franchise. Local train services have the operational name West Midlands Railway. London Northwestern run West Coast Main Line services between London and Liverpool, which pass through the West Midlands. The franchise runs until March 2026.
A package of improvements is built into the franchise agreement to support further economic growth and jobs across the region. 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 franchise will see:
- 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 lines, replacing the entire fleet currently running to and from Worcester/Hereford and Shrewsbury
- 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 the locally specified West Midlands Railway livery
Rail devolution passes control for the specification, management, and in some cases the procurement of certain rail franchises to local bodies. This model has been successfully used for some time elsewhere in the UK in Scotland, Wales, Merseyside and London. Trains running only in the West Midlands area are jointly managed by the Department for Transport (DfT) and WMR.