Improvements on the way for passengers as Govia wins the West Midlands rail franchise
Govia today welcomed the decision by the Department for Transport (DfT) to award it the new West Midlands rail franchise.
The new franchise will run from 11 November 2007 to 19 September 2015. It combines the existing Silverlink County franchise and the major part of the current Central Trains franchise - specifically, the West Midlands regional services, including the Snow Hill Lines and the Birmingham to Liverpool route.
The franchise is expected to generate annual revenue of approximately £400 million at the outset, inclusive of subsidy. Subsidy payments will continue throughout the franchise, though on a declining basis year-on-year.
Tom Smith, Govia's Managing Director-Rail Development said: "We are delighted that the Government is entrusting us to run this important new franchise. We submitted a high-quality bid which offered good value for money. Our plans, together with our experience, commitment and energy, will ensure we meet the challenges presented by this exciting opportunity."
"We look forward to uniting the existing operations and creating a dynamic new business. We have chosen the name London Midland to reflect the new franchise's geographical market. London Midland's headquarters will be in Birmingham, in recognition of the city's strategic importance to the franchise."
"Through London Midland we will deliver real improvements to passengers. We have exciting plans for new trains to replace some of the older parts of the fleet. The new fleet will completely transform passengers' travelling experience and play a key part in enabling us to meet our targets for continuous improvement in punctuality and reliability."
"We will also invest in stations and in passenger security and will introduce a new Smartcard ticketing system. We recognise the need for more car parking across the network: our plans will increase the number of spaces by more than 25 per cent."
"The West Midlands franchise serves economically strong and growing cities and regions. As a key transport provider we look forward to supporting and playing a full part in continued sustainable growth."
The key highlights of the franchise, developed following wide consultation with local, regional and national stakeholder groups include:
- The introduction of: 37 four-car Siemens Desiros; 12 two-car and 15 three-car Bombardier Turbostars. These will replace the existing Class 321s and Class 150s respectively
- Reliability and interior improvements to the existing Class 153 and Class 170 rolling stock
- Passenger information systems and CCTV installed on the majority of the fleet
- Fitment of automatic load monitoring equipment to provide reliable data on heavily and lightly-loaded trains, enabling alterations to the train plan to alleviate crowding
- The operation of the Parry People Mover on the Stourbridge Town line
- £11.5m overall investment to improve the look and feel of the stations. Enhancements will include improvements to waiting rooms, toilets, lighting and new signage
- Expansion of car park spaces by over 3000 at stations, with 1000 spaces resulting from direct investment by Govia
- Improvements to customer information systems
- More cycle storage at 22 stations
- Better accessibility to stations through an annual investment of £250,000 to extend step-free access
Fares and ticketing
- £9.3m to introduce Smartcard technology by 2010 to make ticket purchasing easier and enable automatic top-ups for season tickets
- £2.7m to install new ticket gatelines at five Birmingham stations - New Street, Snow Hill, Moor Street, University and Five Ways - by 2009.
- Promotion and development of internet sales
- £0.5m to provide ticket purchasing facilities at all stations, through ticket offices, new ticket machines or permit to travel (PERTIS) machines
Customer service and information
- New passenger charter which is simple to understand and to use for claiming refunds when passengers are delayed
- Provision of information at stations on the availability of space on trains
- Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) for passenger-facing staff, giving them access to real-time information to provide rapid assistance
- A new Stakeholder Advisory Board
- Secure Station Accreditation at 73 stations by the end of the franchise
- Improved security at stations, including new help points at all stations
- New CCTV systems at 29 stations and the development of a passenger information security centre to provide information to passengers, respond to help point enquiries and monitor CCTV
- Introduction of the London Midland Task Force, a combination of London Midland staff, security personnel and British Transport Police to target crime and disorder across the network
- Roving security patrols around stations between 1700 hours and midnight
- Graffiti-free stations and trains, with a target to clean graffiti within 24 hours
- Accreditation of Park Mark Safer Parking status at a further ten car parks within two years
London Midland staff
- Training and development programmes to create a single new business, drawing on the strengths of both Central and Silverlink
- Achievement of Investors in People by 2010
- Provision of NVQ level 1 training in customer service to all front line staff within two years
- A new staff training centre
- Improvements to staff accommodation in consultation with staff
- An environmental benchmark audit to be carried out within the first six months
- Annual improvement targets to include carbon emissions and energy use, recycling and litter management, and noise and light pollution
- Reduced parking fees for drivers with low-emission cars and free parking for drivers with electric vehicles. Both schemes will be trialled for a minimum of three years
- First commercial use of the innovative Parry People Mover
London Midland branding
- Roll-out of the London Midland brand across the network within three years
- Development of two London Midland sub-brands: London Midland City, the network for the West Midlands cities and region which will give full prominence to Centro's Network West Midlands brand; and London Midland Express Lines, for the longer distance routes.