Trains in the West Midlands are to be run by a new operator from December – but what does this mean for passengers?West Midlands Trains Ltd says it will put £1bn into improving the routes it takes over from London Midland. The plans include 400 new carriages, free wifi and space for an extra 85,000 passengers on rush-hour services in Birmingham and London. BBC News website readers sent in questions about the takeover and here are some of the answers.How does this affect the trains where I am?Follow this link to the Department for Transport website to find out what changes are coming your way.The franchise covers routes in the West Midlands, as well as from London Euston to Crewe, and Liverpool to Birmingham.It also runs services between Northampton and London Euston – connecting lines between Bedford and Bletchley, between St Albans and Watford and Crewe to London – via Stoke-on-Trent, Stafford, Lichfield and Milton Keynes.When will I notice a difference?West Midlands Trains Ltd will take over the franchise in December 2017. But passengers will not notice a difference to journeys until December 2018 when the new timetable is launched.Will any of the services become driver only when West Midlands Ltd takes over?Abellio, the Dutch firm behind West Midlands Trains Ltd, said no.”Our bid retains a second person on board the train so there will be no reduction in on-board staffing levels,” a spokesman said.What does this mean for current London Midland staff?The workforce of 2,400 will pass to the new operator when the franchise is taken over, a spokesman for Abellio confirmed.An extra £13m will be spent on staff training and there is a plan to create more than 900 new apprenticeships.Abellio has pledged to employ more women and people from ethnic minorities, and to give work experience placements to 250 young people.Why has Stoke-on-Trent been removed from the direct line service to London?London Midland’s Crewe to Euston service currently stops at Alsager, Kidsgrove, Stoke-on-Trent and Stone.But when West Midlands Trains Ltd takes over, trains will go straight from Crewe to Stafford on the way to London.This is because Abellio are creating trains up to 12 carriages long which cannot stop at the shorter platforms at Alsager, Kidsgrove, Stoke-on-Trent and Stone.However, there will be a new hourly service from Crewe to Birmingham New Street that will call at the four stations, Abellio said.The current journey from Stoke to London takes around 2hr 20min. In the future, the change at Stafford will mean it will take around 2hr 30 minutes, said Abellio.But DfT said: “A direct journey from Stoke to London with Virgin trains takes 90 minutes. This service will remain.”How was the decision to award the contract to another operator reached? Were regular users of the service involved in a consultation?DfT undertook a public consultation inviting people to offer their views and suggestions for the franchise.Then it organised a bidding competition and awarded the franchise.Will the entire network change its timetable?A “major timetable recast” is planned for December 2018 based on improving the performance of Birmingham New Street, said Abellio.From May 2021 there will be a Sunday timetable that runs as many services as Saturdays, doubling the current number of services.What questions do you have about the takeover? Submit them in the form below and we could be in touch.
Source: Worcester News