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West Midlands

Essex Thameside

What is happening now?

The present franchise is operated as London Midland by Govia. This is a short-term franchise (known as a direct award) negotiated by the Department for Transport (DfT)  to run until October 2017. The DfT is now running a competition to find an operator for those rail services from that date.

The DfT held a public consultation into the future of rail services in the West Midlands, which closed on 22 March. The responses are now being analysed and will help the DfT decide what to ask bidders to propose for the next franchise. We have published our response to the consultation on our website.

On 7 April the DfT announced that it had shortlisted three bidders for the new franchise, however, one bidder (MTR Corporation) later withdrew. The remaining shortlisted bidders are:

  • London and West Midlands Railway Ltd, a subsidiary of Govia Ltd (a joint venture between Keolis and Go-Ahead Group)
  • West Midlands Trains Ltd, currently a wholly owned subsidiary of Abellio Transport Group Ltd with East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co Ltd as minority partners.

In August the DfT issued the Invitation to Tender setting out what they want bidders to provide in the next franchise. Bids are due to be submitted on 29 November 2016.


The timetable for the award of the next franchise competition started when the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) notice was published in December 2015. This was followed by a period of public consultation and the issue of the Invitation to Tender. The award is due to be made in June 2017 ready for the contract to start in October 2017.

Our role in the franchising process

Transport Focus engaged with London Midland and the DfT about passengers’ priorities for the direct award period. These discussions were informed by research into passengers’ current experiences and aspirations for the future franchise, which we published in 2015. In March 2015 we also published our analysis and recommendations for the direct award. We are pleased to see passenger experience directly reflected in the direct award with the inclusion of targets for National Rail Passenger Survey satisfaction scores. We pressed for the award to deliver this and other real benefits for passengers.

We continue to hold detailed discussions with the DfT to identify key passenger issues for the next franchise.

In December we will provide advice to the DfT on the bidders’ delivery plans for the Customer Experience and Stations elements of the tenders.

To view our National Rail Passenger Survey reports or to access these and our appeal complaints data through our Data Explorer tool, please click on the links below:

NRPS                                                         Data Explorer

Transport Focus reports and publications

March 2016

December 2015

July 2015

March 2015

 West Midlands franchise – consultation response from Transport Focus

Transport Focus response to London Midland Direct Award

London Midland rail franchise passenger research

Passenger Focus proposals for the London Midland Direct Award

Click here for key Department for Transport publications

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