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£680m to be spent on new trains as West Midlands franchise prepares to take over from London Midland

By John Corser | Business | Published:

The West Midlands rail franchise which will take over from London Midland is spending £680 million on new trains.

Bombardier has also supplied its new Aventra range of trains for the Crossrail project in London

Derby-based Bombardier is to make 81 of the 107 new trains needed. The modern Aventra trains will be made for the West Midlands Trains joint venture, which takes over routes operated by London Midland from December 10.

The new trains will provide space for an extra 85,000 passengers on rush hour services into Birmingham and London and journeys will be faster and more comfortable, with the trains having air conditioning, free Wi-Fi and in-seat power sockets provided as standard.

Bombardier will produce 333 electric carriages made up of 36 three-carriage trains, which a top speed of 90mpph for metropolitan services. It will also produce 45 five-carriage trains with a top speed of 110mph for outer suburban and long distance configurations.

Dutch firm Abellio and Japanese firms JR East and Mitsui, who are the partners in West Midlands Trains, said the trains will be made up of 413 carriages and cost £680 million as part of a near £1bn investment into the franchise.

The other trains will be made by Spanish company Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF).

CAF will produce 12 two-carriage trains and 14 four-carriage trains, which will provide dedicated services for journeys to the towns and cities around Birmingham.

West Midlands Trains said the new trains will be essential for delivery of the increased capacity and improved journey times required on the franchise and that by the end of the franchise, which runs to March 2026, there will be 25 per cent more train carriages available than at the start.

The new trains will be leased to the new West Midlands rail franchise, as is standard practice.

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Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, said: "We are delivering the biggest rail modernisation programme for over a century. West Midlands passengers will see longer, more frequent trains, faster journeys and a more reliable service for passengers. This is part of a huge investment happening up and down the country and will make a real difference to passengers.

“This investment reflects our commitment, and that of train operators, to put passengers at the heart of everything we do.”

Dominic Booth, managing director of Abellio UK, which has a 70.1 per cent share of the joint venture, said: “We are delighted to award this work to Bombardier and CAF, which means we are now overseeing £3bn of investment into 1,700 new carriages across all our franchises.

“It is great news that so many of these trains will be produced in the UK. As a company, we are committed to working with the government to strengthen the British economy and deliver thousands of high-quality jobs over the coming years.”

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Richard Hunter, UK managing director of Bombardier Transportation, added: “Being selected for this important order is another huge endorsement of our workforce and the quality of the products we design, engineer and manufacture here in the UK. Our modern Aventra trains will be built in the Midlands for the Midlands, and provide passengers with greater connectivity, reliability and shorter journey times.”

Business development director for UK and Ireland at CAF, Richard Garner, said: "This is fantastic news and builds upon recent success in securing contracts to supply new trains for the Northern and TransPennine franchises. This opportunity consolidates CAF’s position as one of the leading manufacturers of trains in the UK market and is a fabulous achievement in CAF’s centenary year.”

The new investment will also see £70 million put into new and existing depots to improve train reliability, more than £60m on station improvements, delivering more than 1,000 new car parking spaces and 2,500 cycle parking spaces, alongside new and refurbished waiting rooms, more seats at stations and feasibility studies into developing new stations in the West Midlands;

New Sunday services will be introduced by 2021 including trains from Birmingham to Shrewsbury. There will also be greater provision of passenger information with audio visual displays on all trains by the end of 2019 as well as 800 new digital screens across the network. The free Wi-Fi on all trains will be in place by the end of December 2019.

The joint venture is also creating more than 900 new apprenticeships over the course of the franchise and existing staff will benefit from a £13m investment in staff training and development.

There will also be an investment of £1.25m into community rail initiatives.

John Corser

By John Corser
Business Reporter - @JohnCorser_Star

Express & Star business reporter at head office, Wolverhampton. Welcomes all news of companies and business organisations.

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