England

Contenders for West Midlands rail franchise revealed

London Midland train
Image caption London Midland currently has the contract which is due to expire in 2017

Three rail firms have been shortlisted to run the West Midlands franchise.

Current operator Govia, which owns London Midland, is in the running for the contract which is due to expire in 2017.

West Midlands Trains Ltd, a subsidiary of Dutch-owned Abellio Transport Group, and Hong Kong-based MTR Corporation are also bidding for the franchise.

The network covers the Midlands, south east, north west and services to London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street.

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Rail minister, Claire Perry said: "The West Midlands franchise serves both commuters and long distance passengers and we are confident these companies will create high quality bids that can deliver better journeys for all.

"Today's announcement marks a key step forward in giving passengers improved services across the region and beyond."

Record delays

The Department for Transport (DfT) said East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co Ltd form part of the bid by Abellio, which has run ScotRail services since April last year.

MTR will run the new Crossrail service through London from 2018 after being announced as the successful bidder for the £1.4bn contract in 2014.

London Midland's contract was extended by the government in 2013, despite criticism for record delays to its services.

The company was forced to offer a £7m package of compensation to season ticket holders affected by the disruption.

The DfT said the new operator was expected to be announced in June 2017, with them taking over the franchise in October.

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