Skip to content

West Midlands (West Midlands Trains)

Essex Thameside

What is happening now?

The present franchise is operated as West Midlands Trains Ltd, which is a joint venture of Abellio, Japan East Railway Company, and Mitsui & Co Ltd.

The new franchise will run from 10 December 2017 until March 2026.

Our ongoing work

Now the new franchise is in operation we continue to use our rail research to ensure that it has passenger priorities at its heart. Key to this are the NRPS results that are presented and discussed with West Midlands Trains, highlighting areas that need improvement. We also hold meetings to discuss performance, both on a regular and proactive basis and to react to any poor performance.

We continue our statutory role in helping passengers with their unresolved rail complaints. Where a passenger has been unable to resolve their complaint directly with West Midlands Trains we work with them to achieve a better outcome for the passenger. We use the information from these ‘appeal’ complaints to help West Midlands Trains understand the root causes of unresolved complaints and continuously improve the customer service they provide.


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.

The DfT held a public consultation into the future of rail services in the West Midlands, which closed in March 2016. The responses were analysed to 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.

Our role in the franchising process

In December 2016 we reviewed the bidders’ delivery plans for the Customer Experience and Stations elements of the tenders. We provided a specialist report to the DfT on how well we felt each bidder had demonstrated its ability to meet or exceed the requirements in the Invitation to Tender.

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 held detailed discussions with the DfT to identify key passenger issues for the next franchise and provided advice about the passenger satisfaction monitoring regime.


Our National Rail Passenger Survey offers a twice yearly perspective on passenger satisfaction across the network.

Transport Focus reports and publications
August 2017 Awarding of the West Midlands franchise – Transport Focus response
March 2016 West Midlands franchise – consultation response from Transport Focus
December 2015 Transport Focus response to London Midland Direct Award
July 2015 London Midland rail franchise passenger research
March 2015 Passenger Focus proposals for the London Midland Direct Award

Click here for key Department for Transport publications

Related content

Latest news

Sort My Sign: transport watchdog calls for better road user information

Find out more
Latest publication

Sort My Sign campaign

Find out more
Latest post

Road sign not up to scratch? Let us know

Find out more