England

Extra 20,000 passengers on London and Birmingham trains

London Midland train
Image caption The new franchise has been billed as the "biggest investment in the railways since the Victorian era"

A new West Midlands Rail (WMR) franchise will accommodate another 20,000 passengers in London and Birmingham at peak times.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said bidders for the new franchise must demonstrate how they would deliver more trains and more space for passengers.

The current operator, Govia, wants to run the franchise again after its contract expires in October 2017.

It has been shortlisted as a bidder alongside West Midlands Trains Ltd.

New services will offer more than 300 extra Sunday services across the franchise by 2021, more evening trains, free wi-fi on mainline services and better ticket options for passengers who travel fewer than five days a week. A new direct peak time service between Walsall and London will also be provided.

Rail Minister Paul Maynard described it as the "biggest investment in the railways since the Victorian era".

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