The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced the successful bidder to operate the West Coast Partnership from December 2019.
The partnership, between First and Trenitalia has been heralded by not only Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, but also Keith Williams, chair of the Rail Review, as “vital” to deliver “significant benefits for passengers.”
First Trenitalia will run the West Coast Partnership from December 2019 to December 2031, which will provide more trains, seats, simplified fares and more frequent services on the West Coast Main Line.
This new partnership reflects the desire to fit with the direction of the Williams Rail Review and eventually implement its recommendations, whilst also moving away from the previous franchising system to tackle issues already highlighted by the Review.
The West Coast Partnership will ensure passengers benefit from an extra 263 trains every single week from December 2022 onwards.
Emissions and the environment will be key priorities during this partnership, with environmentally-friendly trains set to entirely replace diesel-only trains, therefore reducing emissions by 61%.
Elsewhere, £117 million will be invested to refurbish the current Pendolino fleet, providing passengers with more comfortable seats and additional luggage space.
Ambitious green targets will be set out by investing in stations and depots, such as the introduction of new solar panels and energy efficient air conditioning.
Keith Williams, Chair of the Review, commented: “The railway needs reforms that prioritises the customers and communities it serves, with an absolute focus on delivering benefits for passengers.
“I have also been clear that my review must not stop or delay investment and innovation.
“This West Coast Partnership delivers for passengers. It is a step forward that is firmly in line with the review, introducing benefits for passengers today and capable of incorporating the reforms needed for the future.”
Passengers can be assured that more flexible smart ticketing options will be incorporated, as well as £32 million of investment to deliver infrastructure capacity.
Electric vehicle charging points will also be introduced.