A consortium including Japan’s JR East has been shortlist for the next West Midlands rail franchise.
London Midland – a Govia company – currently holds the franchise, which includes a mixture of local services across the West Midlands and longer-distance regional services to destinations like Crewe, Liverpool and London.
The shortlist includes:
- London and West Midlands Railway Limited, a subsidiary of Govia Limited (a joint venture between Keolis and Go-Ahead Group);
- West Midlands Trains Limited, currently a wholly owned subsidiary of Abellio Transport Group Limited with East Japan Railway (JR East) and Mitsui & Co Ltd as minority partners;
- MTR Corporation (West Midlands) Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of MTR Corporation (UK) Limited.
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.”
Announcing the shortlist, the Department for Transport (DfT) also confirmed that JR East and Mitsui & Co Ltd had been awarded a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ) Passport, which allows the consortium to express an interest in future franchise competitions for the next four years without having to submit the same pre-qualification documents each time.
Hironori Tsujimura, executive director of JR East (London), welcomed the announcements: “Today’s rail passengers expect and deserve an excellent service whether they are commuters, business travellers or leisure travellers.
“If our bid is successful, we will be looking to help our partner make the improvements that are needed.”
He added: “We are delighted to be awarded a PQQ Passport.
“We opened our London office in 2014 in order to become more familiar with the UK’s railway operations and to help support our ambition to contribute to the growth and success of railways in Great Britain.
“The Department for Transport’s PQQ Passport is an important step in the franchise competition process. Having the PQQ Passport means we are one step closer to achieving our ambition.
“We are confident that we can contribute to the improvement in rail services and the passengers’ experience in the UK.”
The contract will be awarded next summer, with the new franchise beginning in October 2017.
East Japan Railway Company (JR EAST) is one of the seven railway companies formed in 1987 upon the division and privatisation of the Japanese National Railways (JNR), and is the largest passenger railway company in Japan.