Transport infrastructure across Birmingham and the wider West Midlands has received a £1billion boost, further underlining the area’s renaissance and credentials as a world-class location to live and work.
West Midlands Trains, a new joint venture between Dutch group Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Japanese conglomerate Mitsui & Co, has won a nine-year contract to operate rail services across the second city and beyond, replacing current operator London Midland.
The new venture is set to bring significant improvements to the local rail network, including free wi-fi on all services, 20,000 extra seats for rush hour passengers and 100 new carriages on an extended cross-city line, which carries thousands of passengers into and out of Birmingham each day.
Also planned is a roll-out of smart ticketing and live passenger information systems, £60million in station upgrades with more parking spaces, cycle racks and improved waiting facilities, more Sunday services and a compensation scheme for passengers delayed by more than 15 minutes.
Commenting on the news, Dominic Booth, Managing Director of Abellio UK, said: “We are delighted to have been announced as preferred bidder for the West Midlands franchise, driving growth in one of the most exciting regions in the country. We will be investing nearly £1 billion into the network, delivering new trains, better stations and a whole host of other benefits for passengers.”
The announcement comes hot on the heels of confirmation of the construction companies who will deliver the first phase of the landmark HS2 high speed rail project, linking London with the second city and beyond.
“Birmingham is already very well connected and located but these major infrastructure developments will take its public transport system to the next level, firmly enhancing the city’s already strong reputation as a favourable investment location,” concluded Phil Carlin, managing director at SevenCapital.
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