The government has awarded the West Midlands rail franchise to a new consortium instead of the current holder London Midland.
The new franchise, which is due to start in December, has been given to West Midlands Trains, which is joint venture between Dutch public transport specialist Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co.
As part of the franchise deal, the Department for Transport (DFT) said that nearly £1 billion would be invested in train services in the Midlands including 400 new carriages by 2021 and increased capacity on rush-hour services between Birmingham and London.
Free wifi will also be provided on all “main line” services by the end of 2017 while passengers will also receive compensation if their service is delayed by more than 15 minutes.
Dominic Booth, managing director of Abellio UK, said: “We are delighted to have been announced as preferred bidder for the West Midlands franchise, driving growth in one of the most exciting regions in the country.
“We will be investing nearly £1 billion into the network, delivering new trains, better stations and a whole host of other benefits for passengers.”
The franchise also includes routes from London Euston to Crewe and from Liverpool to Birmingham. The new franchise will run until March 2026.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “We are improving the whole travelling experience with live train crowding information, compensation for people delayed by 15 minutes or more, smart ticketing and better value tickets for part-time workers.
“This shows we are delivering on our commitment to build a railway that works for everyone.”
London Midland, which has run the West Midlands franchise since 2007, was operated by Govia, a joint venture between Go-Ahead and Keolis. Govia also runs the Southern rail franchise, which has been beset by strikes by its staff over the last two years.
Patrick Verwer, London Midland’s managing director, said: “The new franchise will bring much welcomed investment in new services and extra capacity across the network. We congratulate the consortium on winning the franchise.
“Over the coming months our focus will remain on delivering the best possible service to our passengers, each day and every day. This approach is already producing high levels of customer satisfaction.”
Abellio already runs the Scot Rail and Greater Anglia rail franchises in the UK.