West Midlands Trains

  (Redirected from London Northwestern Railway)

West Midlands Trains[2] (WMT) is a train operating company in the United Kingdom. It operates passenger trains on the West Midlands franchise between London and the English Midlands under two trade names: West Midlands Railway (WMR) (within the West Midlands region) and London Northwestern Railway (LNR) (outside the region).

West Midlands Trains
WMT Class 172 Pair at Birmingham Moor Street.jpg 350232 at Watford Junction.jpg
Top: 172344 in WMR livery at Birmingham Moor Street
Bottom: 350232 in the transitional LNR livery at Watford Junction
Franchise(s)West Midlands
10 December 2017 – March 2026
Main region(s)West Midlands
Greater London
Other region(s)North West
East Midlands
Fleet sizeWest Midlands Railway

London Northwestern Railway

Stations called at178
Stations operated146
Parent companyAbellio (70%)
JR East (15%)
Mitsui & Co. (15%)
Reporting markLM[1]
PredecessorLondon Midland
Route map

Route map

  West Midlands Railway
  London Northwestern Railway

It is owned by a consortium of three companies: Abellio, JR East and Mitsui & Co.


Passenger journeys on the West Midlands rail franchise from 2010–11 to 2018–19[3]

In April 2016, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced the shortlist of bidders for the West Midlands franchise, comprising the incumbent operator Govia, MTR Corporation, and West Midlands Trains: a consortium of Abellio (70%), JR East (15%) and Mitsui (15%).[4][5][6] In July 2016, MTR Corporation withdrew from the bidding process.[7][8]

The invitation to tender was issued in August 2016.[9] In August 2017, the West Midlands Trains consortium was awarded the franchise, and it took over from London Midland on 10 December 2017.[10][11] The franchise is scheduled to run until March 2026.[12][13]

In May 2021, the company was criticised after it sent an email to 2,500 employees thanking them for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic and offering a financial bonus;[14] employees who clicked on the link within the email were informed that there was, in fact, no bonus and that the email had been part of a "phishing simulation test”.[15]


Unlike the previous London Midland franchise, which was solely accountable to the DfT, West Midlands is also accountable for services that operate wholly within the West Midlands region to West Midlands Rail Executive, a group of 16 local authorities.[16][17] However, DfT must still approve any changes West Midlands Rail wish to make until the franchise is re-let.[citation needed]


WMT services are split into two businesses which operate under two distinct sub-brands. Train services running on the West Coast Main Line, including those running to/from London Euston, Liverpool Lime Street and Crewe, operate under the London Northwestern Railway brand. This name was chosen in tribute to the former London & North Western Railway (LNWR), the company that operated services on the route between 1846 and 1922. Branding of trains and associated publicity use a green colour scheme with a logo composed of the letters L, N and W.[18][19]

Services running in Birmingham and the West Midlands region – previously operated by London Midland under the London Midland City brand – are operated by WMT under the West Midlands Railway brand. WMT have chosen to operate these services as a distinct business unit in order to facilitate a possible future devolution of these services from the national DfT to the West Midlands Combined Authority.[18] These services bear an orange and purple colour scheme and are branded with a hexagonal "WM" monogram adopted as part of a shared branding initiative under Transport for West Midlands, in which several transport modes in the West Midlands County use similar branding to emphasise integrated transport. Each mode bears a variant of the "WM" logo: West Midlands Buses use a red logo, West Midlands Metro trams use a blue logo, cycling initiatives are branded with a green logo, West Midlands Railway bears an orange logo, and the West Midlands Rail Executive uses a turquoise logo.[20]

London Northwestern Railway servicesEdit

WMT's services along the West Coast Main Line rail corridor are operated under the London Northwestern Railway brand. These services include:[21]

  • services out of London Euston;
  • branch line services off the south of the West Coast main line.

As of May 2022, the typical off-peak Monday - Saturday London Northwestern Railway service pattern, with frequencies in trains per hour (tph), includes: [22]

West Coast Main Line
Route tph Calling at  Stock
London EustonTring 2
London EustonMilton Keynes Central 1
London EustonNorthampton 2
London EustonBirmingham New Street 1 350
NorthamptonBirmingham New Street 1
London EustonCrewe 1
Birmingham New StreetCrewe 1
Birmingham New StreetLiverpool Lime Street 1
Abbey Line
Route tph Calling at Stock
Watford Junction – St Albans Abbey 43
  • runs roughly every 45 minutes
Marston Vale Line
Route tph Calling at Stock
BletchleyBedford 1
  • Train services run roughly every 2-hours during the day, supplemented with a rail-replacement bus service in the other hours. The bus service consists of two services: an all-stops service, and a service that skips Fenny Stratford, Aspley Guise, Millbrook and Kempston Hardwick
  1. ^ Wembley Central is served by 2 trains per day - 2 early morning services towards London and 2 late night services towards Tring, except Saturdays, when it is served hourly
  2. ^ There are no Monday-Saturday direct daytime trains northbound between Tring and Cheddington. Passengers wishing to make this journey must double-back via Bletchley or Berkhamsted
  3. ^ Marston Green is served by most trains. Local West Midlands Railway services also call throughout the day.
  4. ^ Polesworth served by one train per day, northbound-only
  5. ^ Longport is served every 2-3 hours. There is no Sunday service
  6. ^ Acton Bridge is served most hours, but there are some 2-hour gaps in service

Sunday services are similar however:

Early morning and late night services have amended calling patterns and usually call at most stations.

West Midlands Railway servicesEdit

In the West Midlands region, WMT's train services are operated under the West Midlands Railway brand. These services include:[21]

Services on the short Stourbridge Town branch line are run by the open access operator Pre Metro Operations, who operate services on behalf of WMT under the West Midlands Railway brand name.

As of May 2021, the typical off-peak Monday - Saturday West Midlands Railway service pattern, with frequencies in trains per hour (tph), includes: [23]

Birmingham – Shrewsbury
Route tph Calling at  Stock
Birmingham New StreetShrewsbury 1 170
Malvern Line
Route tph Calling at  Stock
Birmingham New StreetHereford 1
Cross-City Line
Route tph Calling at  Stock
Lichfield Trent ValleyBromsgrove 2 323
Four OaksRedditch 2
Chase Line & West Coast Main Line
Route tph Calling at Stock
Birmingham InternationalBirmingham New Street 1 Lea Hall, Stechford 350
Birmingham InternationalRugeley Trent Valley 1
Birmingham New StreetRugeley Trent Valley 1
Birmingham New StreetWalsall 1
WolverhamptonWalsall 1
WolverhamptonBirmingham New Street 1
Snow Hill lines
Route tph Calling at Stock
Stratford-upon-AvonKidderminster 1 172
Whitlocks EndWorcester Foregate Street 1
DorridgeWorcester Foregate Street[b] 1
Branch lines
Route tph Calling at Stock
Stourbridge JunctionStourbridge Town 6 Shuttle 139
Leamington SpaNuneaton 1
  1. ^ a b c d Request stop
  2. ^ Most services start/terminate at Foregate Street; however some do so at Worcester Shrub Hill instead with some trains serving both stations by running to/from Foregate Street via Shrub Hill, where trains reverse before continuing. Additional services are extended to Great Malvern, calling at Malvern Link.

Sunday services are generally hourly on most routes however:

Planned changesEdit

Map of the Birmingham & West Midlands rail network (2017)

Planned changes included:[12]

  • extension of the Birmingham to Wolverhampton service to Crewe via Stoke-on-Trent. This will replace the London Euston to Crewe service via Stoke-on-Trent that will operate directly from Stafford to Crewe via the West Coast Main Line.[24] The change of this service has angered councillors in Staffordshire as to the loss of the direct service (although Avanti West Coast will continue to operate a London-bound service through Stoke-on-Trent). The change of service is necessitated by West Midlands Trains increasing the number of carriages up to twelve in peak hours, which makes stopping at Alsager, Stone and Kidsgrove impossible due to the platforms not being long enough to take 12-car trains.[25] West Midlands Rail have since stated these stations will retain a direct service to London taking a slower route via Birmingham and Northampton.[26]
  • reintroduction of calls at Barlaston and therefore closure of Wedgwood. This will mean the end of the long-standing rail replacement bus service.[citation needed] From 10 December 2017, the Stafford – Stoke-on-Trent rail replacement bus was cut back to run only between Stoke-on-Trent and Norton Bridge, via Wedgwood, Barlaston and Stone.
  • reintroduction of calls at Polesworth, refurbishing and reopening both platforms.

Rolling stockEdit

WMT inherited a fleet of Class 139, 150, 153, 170, 172, 319, 323 and 350 units from London Midland, but as the newer units enter service, some will be returned to the leasing companies that own them.[27][28]

Current fleetEdit

Class 139 Parry People MoversEdit

The concept of using the lightweight railcar dates from 2006 when a year-long pilot scheme began on the Stourbridge Town branch line on Sundays, using a Parry People Movers PPM50 unit constructed in 2002 and numbered as 999900 under TOPS.[29] The success of this trial led to the provision of regular services using the technology in the franchise plans for the new West Midlands Franchise. Following the award of the franchise to London Midland, it placed an order for two PPM60 units with Parry People Movers, through Porterbrook. The service itself was operated for London Midland by Pre Metro Operations.[30]

These two units are 139 001 and 139 002, composed of vehicle numbers 39001 and 39002 in the British carriage and wagon numbering and classification system. The vehicles are mechanically similar to 999 900, but are approximately one metre longer. They were intended to start operating on the Stourbridge Town branch in 2008. In January 2009 it was confirmed that 139001 was still undergoing testing at Chasewater Railway and 139002 was still not completed.

Despite the difficulties in the commissioning of the two Class 139 units, London Midland consistently outlined its faith that they would be ready to enter service. In March 2009, it was announced that the first unit had received its passenger certification from Network Rail, allowing it to carry passengers. London Midland stated that they would begin a phased entry into service, starting with weekend operation in April, leading up to a full service by the timetable change in May 2009. Until then, London Midland temporarily returned a Class 153 to operating the branch service. 139 002 officially entered service on 29 March 2009 as part of the type's phased entry. This unit had previously worked in full service, including all-day on Monday 11 May 2009 and previously had worked all morning services during February and March 2009. In May 2009 the first unit, 139 001 was finally delivered to Stourbridge, with 999 900 removed at the same time.[31] Test unit 999 900 had been on the branch line between 2005 and 2009. At the point of introduction, they displaced a single Class 153 DMU that was previously allocated to the branch line. By December 2009, the 200,000th passenger had been carried by the railcars.

Class 170 and 172 DMUsEdit

West Midlands Trains operate a total of 35 two-car and three-car Class 172 units, 27 of which had been ordered by predecessor London Midland, who originally planned for them to enter service by the end of 2010 on services to and from Birmingham Snow Hill, replacing Class 150s. The original 27 sets have revised front ends with end gangways which make the trains look like the Electrostar family of units.

From 1 September 2011, the Class 172s started operating on the Snow Hill Lines with some weekend work from Birmingham – Hereford. When first used in service, the units suffered a fault with engine vibration in the passenger cabin, which has since been rectified.

The units were originally meant to replace all of the Class 150s, however three were retained until 2019 and moved on to Northern after the Class 172/0 and Class 230 units entered service. Between late 2018 and early 2019 West Midlands Railway inherited the London Overground 172/0s to replace the remaining Class 150s and Class 153s operating on the Coventry to Leamington line, the Coventry to Nuneaton line and Birmingham to Hereford. All had entered service by May 2019.

During November and December 2020, the centre vehicles of the Class 170/6 units were removed and transferred to CrossCountry to extend some of their 2-carriage Class 170 units. The Class 170/6 units which remained at West Midlands Trains have been renumbered to reflect them becoming Class 170/5 units, before being moved to East Midlands Railway after the Class 196 units are introduced.[32]

In May 2021, Chiltern Railways' fleet of four Class 172/1s transferred to West Midlands Trains. This transfer means that all of the Class 172 units are operated by West Midlands Trains. The initial sublease contract was until December 2021, the end of Chiltern Railways' franchise agreement, but the units have remained with West Midlands Trains,[33] with Chiltern stating that the 172/1s would not be returning to them.[34]

Class 230 D-TrainsEdit

West Midlands Trains are also the first operator of the Class 230, a new class of diesel electric multiple unit that are upcycled London Underground D78 Stock. WMT placed an order for three two-car units, which entered service in April 2019 on the Marston Vale Line.[35]

Class 319, 323, and 350 EMUsEdit

The Class 319, Class 323 and all Class 350/2 units will be replaced by brand new Class 730 units.

Seventeen of the Class 323 units will be transferred to Northern Trains to work with the existing 323 units already in service with them.[36]

Family Class Image Type Top speed Carriages No. Routes operated Built
mph km/h
Shunting locomotive
08[37]   Shunter 15 24 N/A 2 Stock movements 1952–1962
West Midlands Railway
Parry People Mover 139   Railcar 40 64 1 2 2009
Bombardier Turbostar 170/5   DMU 100 161 2 16 1999–2000
172/0   2 8


172/1   4 2011
172/2   12
172/3 3 15
323   EMU 90 145 26 1992–1995
London Northwestern Railway
Vivarail D-Train 230[38]   DMU 60 97 2 3


2016–2018[nb 1]
  EMU 100 161 4 10 West Coast Main Line services:


Siemens Desiro 350/1   110 177 30

West Coast Main Line services:


350/2   37
350/3   10
350/4   10

Future fleetEdit

In October 2017, details were announced of planned new rolling stock for West Midlands Trains.[28][39][40]

West Midlands Trains has ordered 26 new CAF Civity diesel multiple units (80 carriages) and 81 electric multiple units based on Bombardier Transportation's Aventra platform (333 carriages), giving a total of 107 new trains for the operator.[41]

Class 196 CivityEdit

WMT is to replace its fleet of 23 Class 170/5 and 170/6 Turbostar and eight Class 153 units, which operate on West Midlands Railway services, with 26 new Class 196 Civity units.

The Class 153 units left West Midlands Trains at the end of 2020,[42] and the Class 170 units will move to East Midlands Railway, with the exception of the centre cars of the 170/6s which moved to CrossCountry to lengthen its 170/5s.[43]

Class 730 AventraEdit

Eighty-one Class 730 Aventras sets are to be purchased.[44] They will be built at Derby Litchurch Lane Works.[45] 36 three-carriage long trains will replace the Class 323 units.[46] 45 five-carriage long trains will replace the Class 319 & Class 350/2 units.

Family Class Image Type Top speed Carriages Number Route(s) to be operated Built In service
mph km/h
CAF Civity 196/0   DMU 100 160 2 12 2019–20 2022[47]
196/1 4 14  
Bombardier Aventra 730/0   EMU 90 145 3 36 2020–21 Early 2023[49]
730/1 110 177 5 29 Electrified LNR suburban services[50]
730/2 16 Long distance LNR services[50]

Past fleetEdit

Former units operated by West Midlands Trains include:

 Family   Class   Image   Type   Carriages   Number   Built  Lines served   Withdrawn 
Sprinter 150/1   DMU 2 3 1985–86 2019
153   1 8 1987–88 2020
Bombardier Turbostar 170/5   2 1 1999–2000 2021
170/6 3 6


  1. ^ Operated by London Northwestern Railway
  2. ^ Operated by West Midlands Railway
  1. ^ Converted from London Underground D78 Stock originally built between 1979 and 1983.


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  3. ^ "ORR Data Portal". Archived from the original on 19 June 2019. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  4. ^ Contenders for West Midlands rail franchise revealed Archived 7 November 2018 at the Wayback Machine BBC News 9 April 2016
  5. ^ East Japan Railway on LNWR franchise shortlist Archived 11 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine Railway Gazette International 7 April 2016
  6. ^ "Three shortlisted for next West Midlands franchise" Rail issue 799 27 April 2016 page 21
  7. ^ Battle to run London Midland rail service down to two Archived 10 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine Birmingham Post 6 July 2016
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  10. ^ West Midlands Trains announced as winning bidder for West Midlands franchise Archived 10 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine Abellio 10 August 2017
  11. ^ Lea, Robert (11 August 2017). "Southern operator comes off the rails in West Midlands". The Times. No. 72299. p. 37.
  12. ^ a b More seats for rail passengers as nearly £1 billion is invested in Midlands services Archived 2 December 2020 at the Wayback Machine Department for Transport 10 August 2017
  13. ^ Abellio, JR East and Mitsui clinch West Midlands franchise Archived 16 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine International Railway Journal 10 August 2017
  14. ^ "West Midlands Railway sent staff fake bonus email in cyber-security test". BBC News Online. 10 May 2021. Archived from the original on 11 May 2021. Retrieved 10 May 2021.
  15. ^ Topham, Gwyn (10 May 2021). "Train firm's 'worker bonus' email is actually cybersecurity test". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 10 May 2021. Retrieved 10 May 2021.
  16. ^ "London Midland loses West Midlands rail franchise". BBC News. 10 August 2017. Archived from the original on 10 August 2017. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  17. ^ Jones, Tamlyn (10 August 2017). "£1 billion rail investment as London Midland loses franchise". Birmingham Mail. Archived from the original on 10 August 2017. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  18. ^ a b West Midlands Trains announces London Northwestern brand Archived 27 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine Railway Gazette International 27 October 2017
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  25. ^ Harris, Jordan (19 August 2017). "Staffordshire forgotten in rail shake-up". Express & Star. Archived from the original on 20 August 2017. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  26. ^ Staffordshire stations to keep direct London rail link Archived 24 December 2017 at the Wayback Machine BBC News 17 August 2017
  27. ^ "£600m deals agreed for new West Midlands trains". Rail. No. 838. 25 October 2017. p. 12.
  28. ^ a b "Vivarail 230s for new West Midlands franchise as 170s to go" Today's Railways UK issue 191 November 2017 page 8
  29. ^ "Parry People Mover starts in traffic at Stourbridge Town". Rail. No. 531. Peterborough. 18 January 2006. p. 15.
  30. ^ "PPMs ordered for Stourbridge branch". Rail. No. 581. 19 December 2007. p. 20.
  31. ^ "Class 139s enter service at Stourbridge". The Railway Magazine. No. 1301. September 2009. p. 139.
  32. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 January 2021. Retrieved 9 December 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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  34. ^ "The 172 style trains will not be coming back to us, the silver sets will be back in action as soon as repairs have been completed." Twitter. Chiltern Railways. 23 September 2021. Retrieved 30 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
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  48. ^ a b "Abellio, JR East and Mitsui announce £680m new trains for the next West Midlands Rail Franchise 413 electric and diesel carriages to be manufactured by Bombardier and CAF". Abellio. Archived from the original on 20 October 2017. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  49. ^ "Testing continues on West Midlands '730s'". Rail. No. 959. 15 June 2022. p. 27.
  50. ^ a b Jones, Tamlyn (17 October 2017). "Over 100 new trains West Midlands trains – with wi-fi and speeds up to 110mph". Birmingham Post. Archived from the original on 18 October 2017. Retrieved 19 October 2017.

External linksEdit

  Media related to West Midlands Trains at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by Operator of West Midlands franchise
Succeeded by