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MPs welcome £1 billion investment plans for new West Coast rail franchise

The Department for Transport has confirmed that it has awarded West Midlands Trains Ltd – a joint venture between Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co Ltd – to run the West Midlands franchise.

Under the new deal, 400 new carriages will be rolled out by 2021 and space for an extra 85,000 passengers on rush hour services between Birmingham, Milton Keynes and London, with the longer trains providing extra seats and space for passengers.

Under the deal passengers will also get:

  • Free wifi on all main line services by the end of 2019;
  • For the first time, compensation if services are delayed by more than 15 minutes;
  • Improved access for those requiring extra assistance, including disabled people.

Smart ticketing and live passenger information will also be rolled out under the deal, as part of a package of reforms that will improve journeys for passengers.

Importantly for Milton Keynes, there will be more space for passengers on the Marston Vale line with earlier and later services between Bedford and Bletchley and a new hourly Sunday service from May 2021.

There will be more Sunday trains on the line from Euston to Northampton, with up to 4fourservices an hour running between Euston and Milton Keynes by May 2021.

Milton Keynes North MP Mark Lancaster said: “This looks like a great investment for commuters. We all know the pains of having to stand from MK to London during rush hour, so I am pleased that capacity is being addressed. 

"I am also pleased to see the focus on technology such as wifi on all trains and smart ticketing.”

Iain Stewart (pictured), MP for Milton Keynes South, added: “I have long argued there should be more products in ticketing, a better on board experience for passengers and more capacity during rush hours.

"Commuters in Milton Keynes want to see this in practice and I hope the new franchise will deliver.” 

In a letter to MPs, the Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling said: “The award of the new West Midlands franchise is terrific news for the region, and it underpins the Government’s determination to continue investing for the benefit of passengers, communities and the local economies that rely so heavily on their rail serveics.” 

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