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Rail Franchising (West Midlands)

Volume 461: debated on Thursday 21 June 2007

The Department has announced today that London and Birmingham Railway Limited (a subsidiary of Govia) has been awarded the West Midlands franchise. The new franchise will begin on 11 November 2007 and will increase capacity, improve performance and begin the introduction of smartcard technology by 2010.

The West Midlands franchise combines the current Silverlink County services between London Euston and Northampton with the West Midlands local and regional service groups of Central Trains,, The department will pay a subsidy of £1,127 million over the seven-year 10-month franchise.

From December 2008, the franchise will operate new services as a result of extra capacity created by the £8.1 billion upgrade of the West Coast Main Line, including a new hourly semi-fast service between London and Crewe and extra services from Birmingham to Liverpool and Northampton. The franchise also delivers 217 new carriages by April 2010, as part of the Government's 1,000 new carriages on the network. They will replace existing rolling stock which will be freed for use in other parts of the country. The agreement also demands improved performance of 90.7 per cent punctuality by the end of the franchise.

The Government will continue to limit annual rises for regulated fares for the franchise in line with national policy, currently RPI+1 per cent. As with all franchises, unregulated fares are the responsibility of individual operators.

On most routes in the West Midlands franchise area, London and Birmingham Railway Limited proposes to raise such fares by no more than RPI+1 per cent. per annum. However, on the London to Northampton route the operator plans to raise such fares by 3 per cent. over inflation. This change is expected to affect 13 per cent. of total passenger journeys in the franchise area.

A single compensation policy for all passengers will be introduced during replacement rail franchises, commencing with the West Midlands.

With improving Passenger's Charter performance in punctuality and reliability the current discount system means that an increasing number of passengers receive no compensation for delays.

Therefore discounts in renewal for season tickets valid between one month and one year in compensation for poor punctuality and reliability will be replaced by compensation based on delays to individual journeys, known as Delay/Repay. Under the new system, all passengers will be entitled to claim compensation for all delays, whatever their cause:

50 per cent. of the price paid for a single-leg journey delayed by between 30 and 59 minutes;

100 per cent. of the price paid for a single-leg journey delayed by between 60 and 119 minutes; and

100 per cent. of the price paid for a return journey delayed by more than 119 minutes.

The changes will also start to standardise disparate compensation arrangements for single, return and weekly season ticket holders on different train operators.