14 August 2019
FirstGroup and Italian rail firm, Trenitalia, have successfully won the bid to operate the West Coast Mainline train route.
FirstGroup and Trenitalia will operate the route, which operates from London Euston to Glasgow passing through Birmingham, from December.
The Department of Transport said that First Trenitalia will provide passengers with new trains, more seats, simplified fares and more frequent services on the West Coast Mainline.
First Trenitalia will also oversee the introduction of new environmentally-friendly trains, entirely replacing the diesel-only fleet and reducing CO2 emissions by 61 per cent.
It will also invest £117 million in a major refurbishment of the current Pendolino fleet, providing more comfortable seats and additional luggage space.
First Trenitalia will also act at the Shadow Operator responsible for HS2.
The government will shortly launch a review into HS2 and the Partnership has been designed in order to ensure that it can implement the review’s outcomes.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "This award is positive news for passengers, with more services, more direct connections and ambitious plans for a cleaner, greener railway, and also represents a decisive shift towards a new model for rail."
Sir John Peace (pictured), chair of Midlands Connect and Midlands Engine said:“We’re very much looking forward to working with First Trenitalia as they take on the West Coast Partnership from December.
"This new franchise is a fresh opportunity to guarantee our region benefits from the quality railway it needs and deserves.
“There’s a lot of work to do to prepare for the arrival of high speed services in Birmingham in 2026 and make sure the region is ready to take advantage of the capacity HS2 will release on the existing West Coast Mainline for both passengers and freight.
“It’s encouraging to see First Trenitalia making a clear commitment to more services, better stations, clearer fairs, and greener trains.
"These things are important to Midlands Connect, they’re important to our partnership, and above all they’re important to the people who travel to, from and through the Midlands.
“We’re also eagerly awaiting the recommendations of the Williams Rail Review, so this comes at the perfect time for us all to ensure the Midlands’ rail network, and the services which operate on it, are the best they can be for our region’s people, businesses and economy.
“Midlands Connect will be bringing together our region-wide partnership, including West Midlands Rail Executive, the Constellation Partnership and Network Rail to speak to First Trenitalia and the Department for Transport with one voice concerning our expectations of the speed, frequency and stopping patterns of trains serving our major economic centres.
"We’re not just working in the interests of Birmingham, but Coventry, Wolverhampton, Shrewsbury, Telford, Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent and the rest of the Trent Valley too."
The Williams Review was established in 2018 to recommend the most appropriate organisational and commercial frameworks to support the delivery of the government's vision for the UK railway.