The Government has set out its plans for the new franchise that will run the Birmingham to London services.
The current service operated by London Midland (a trading name of London and Birmingham Railway Ltd and owned by Govia) is set to be replaced by October 2017.
A consortium of 14 local authorities, including ones from Northamptonshire and Warwickshire, under the banner of West Midlands Rail (WMR) Ltd, has worked with the Government to set out the requirements for the future of the franchise.
Bidders for the new franchise will be required to deliver hundreds of extra services, new ticketing options and much increased capacity.
The main improvements will be space for more than 20,000 additional passengers to travel into London and Birmingham in the morning peak through the introduction of longer trains, free wifi on all mainline services by the end of 2019, and new ticket options for part-time travellers who travel fewer than five days a week. There will also be a raft of new, and more frequent, services in and around Birmingham and the West Midlands. Additionally there will also be a requirement for bidders to provide at least 60 apprenticeships as part of the franchise.
Cllr Mark Winnington, WMR chairman, said: “This announcement is a game changer in that it is the first time the region has had this level of involvement in shaping what a train company has to deliver for local passengers.
“The region has come together to grab this devolution opportunity with both hands and we believe that together with the DfT we have set out a railway that brings real benefits not only for passengers but also for local businesses, supporting economic growth and jobs.”
The two preferred bidders are London and West Midlands Railway (owned by Govia), and West Midlands Trains.