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Council seeks early meeting with Shropshire's new rail operator

By Sophie Madden | Telford | Business | Published:

A council says it is looking to meet with the new operator of the Telford to Birmingham railway line as early as possible.

How the West Midlands Trains could look

Telford & Wrekin Council says it its looking to arrange an early meeting with West Midlands Trains Ltd, which has taken over the line from London Midland.

Councillors say they have already had positive discussions with the provider who have "exciting plans" to make improvements.

The council also wants to seek its support as it continues to lobby for the electrification of the line from Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton.

West Midlands Trains Ltd, a joint venture between Dutch company Abellio and Japanese duo East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co, will take over the rights to the franchise for the West Midlands network from later this year.

This includes Shropshire’s main railway line from Shrewsbury through Telford to Birmingham.

The new operator has pledged to invest a billion pounds in the network, including new carriages and additional services to alleviate congestion of a variety of lines.

Councillor Angela McClements, Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for transport, said: “This is really excellent news for our transport infrastructure and I would like to welcome West Midlands Trains and congratulate them on their successful bid to win the franchise.

“I am delighted that it will mean additional train services to Telford’s three stations as well as an enhanced Sunday service.

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“Myself and council officers met with West Midlands Trains Ltd before they submitted their bids and they had some very exciting plans for improving the stations and facilities across our borough.

“I will be seeking an early meeting with them to discuss how we can work together to further improve Telford’s transport infrastructure.

"I will also be seeking their support in lobbying for electrification of the Shrewsbury to Wolverhampton line, which would bring significant benefits to Telford.”

As part of their successful bid, West Midlands Trains have committed to make an additional Monday to Saturday hourly service from Telford to Shrewsbury, Wolverhampton and Birmingham starting from December 2018, a new hourly Sunday service, smartcards for season tickets, free wifi on all trains, refurbished trains and possibly some new ones and potential improvements to stations

The agreement is the first time a Japanese operator has been awarded a UK contract.

It will take over the franchise from London Midland on December 10 and will run it until 2025 to 2026.

Sophie Madden

By Sophie Madden
@SMadden_Star

Senior reporter based out of the head office in Ketley covering the Telford area.

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