More rail seats and free wifi

Photo courtesy of London Midland � 2008. ENGPNL00120130908162152 NNL-160831-164702001

Photo courtesy of London Midland � 2008. ENGPNL00120130908162152 NNL-160831-164702001

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Rail passengers can expect more frequent services, a wider range of ticket options, and free wifi from their journeys from next year.

Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted and Tring are all served by London Midland Trains, but the firm’s contract is set to expire in October 2017.

14 local authorities 
have joined forced to create West Midlands Rail (WMR) Ltd, and have worked with the government to set out their 
requirements for the future of the franchise.

Anyone bidding to run the service will be required to 
deliver hundreds of extra services, provide new 
ticketing options and much increased capacity.

The main improvements will be space for more than 20,000 additional passengers to travel into London and 
Birmingham in the morning peak through the introduction 
of longer trains, free wifi 
internet on all mainline services by the end of 2019, and new ticket options for 
part-time travellers who travel 
fewer than five days a week.

Additionally there will 
also be a requirement for 
bidders to provide at least 60 apprenticeships as part of the franchise.

WMR chairman Mark Winnington said: “This 
announcement is a game-changer in that it is the first time the region has had this level of involvement in shaping what a train company has to deliver for local passengers.

“The region has come together to grab this devolution opportunity with both hands and we believe that together with the Department for Transport we have set out a railway that brings real benefits not only for passengers but also for local businesses, supporting economic growth and jobs.”

Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted and Tring all sit on the West Coast Main Line, which runs from 
London Euston to Scotland.

Intercity trains are run by Virgin and do not stop at the three Hertfordshire stations.

Before London Midland trains serving Hemel, Tring and Berkhamsted were run by Silverlink, a company owned by National Express Group.

> What would you want to see from the new rail franchise from 2017? Email 
thegazette@jpress.co.uk