London Midland loses right to run a Northwich railway service

Govia will continue to operate the franchise until December

Over the next nine years, WMT will deliver almost £1bn into the region with £700m of this going into new and refurbished trains.

New local branding and a new livery will be introduced for WMR services and there will be feasibility studies into the opening of new stations in the West Midlands.

Earlier on Thursday, Go-Ahead said its joint venture, Govia, had been unsuccessful in its bid to win the new West Midlands rail franchise.

This includes investment in 100 new carriages on the Cross City line and 80 new carriages for the Snow Hill line, offering longer and more spacious services.

Dominic Booth, managing director of Abellio UK, said: 'We will be investing almost £1bn into the network, delivering new trains, better stations, and a whole host of other benefits for passengers'.

Managing director Patrick Verwer said: "The new franchise will bring much welcomed investment in new services and extra capacity across the network".

The department said under the new franchise deal, passengers will get free WiFi on all main line services by the end of 2019, compensation if services are delayed by more than 15 minutes and improved access for those requiring extra assistance.

West Midlands Trains Ltd - a joint venture between Dutch company Abellio, and Japanese duo East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co - has been awarded the rights to the West Midlands railway network from later this year.

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Green MP Caroline Lucas, whose Brighton Pavilion constituency has been affected by the problems on Southern, said: 'I'm sure that passengers in the West Midlands are pleased to see GTR [a Go Ahead subsidiary] lose this contract, after the company have consistently shown their inability to properly manage a railway. During the present franchise, over £400 million was invested in improving the network with new trains and more stations.

"Over the coming months our focus will remain on delivering the best possible service to our passengers, each day and every day".

West Midlands mayor Andy Street said: 'We want to see a new golden era for our local trains and today's announcement is an important step towards that'.

The new operator will take on local routes from December 2017.

"Staffordshire and other local authorities in the West Midlands have played a direct role in specifying what the new franchise should deliver to make a real difference to people's lives".

Smart ticketing and live passenger information will also be rolled out under the nine-year contract, as will compensation for delays of more than 15 minutes, in line with the Department for Transport's policy.

"I believe this deal will help create a railway that cannot only improve people's journeys but keep our economy growing and we look forward to working with West Midlands Trains in making that happen".