West Midlands Trains
West Midlands Trains (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).
10 December 2017 – March 2026
|Main region(s)||West Midlands|
|Other region(s)||North West|
|Fleet size||West Midlands Railway|
|Stations called at||178|
|Parent company||Abellio (70%)|
JR East (15%)
Mitsui & Co. (15%)
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%). In July 2016, MTR Corporation withdrew from the bidding process.
The invitation to tender was issued in August 2016. In August 2017, the West Midlands Trains consortium was awarded the franchise, and it took over from London Midland on 10 December 2017. The franchise is scheduled to run until March 2026.
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; 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”. Manuel Cortes, the general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) union described the company's action as “[...] a cynical and shocking stunt by West Midlands Trains, designed to trick employees who have been on the frontline throughout this terrible pandemic – ensuring essential workers were able to travel. The company must now account for their totally crass and reprehensible behaviour. They could and should have used any other pretext to test their internet security. It’s almost beyond belief that they chose to falsely offer a bonus to workers who have done so much in the fight against this virus.” According to The Guardian, "one worker at West Midlands Trains had died from Covid-19 and many others had fallen ill with the virus".
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. However, DfT must still approve any changes West Midlands Rail wish to make until the franchise is re-let.
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.
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. 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.
London Northwestern Railway servicesEdit
- services out of London Euston;
- branch line services off the West Coast main line.
Oyster card and contactless card payments can be used on London Northwestern Railway at Watford Junction, Bushey, Harrow & Wealdstone, Wembley Central and Euston stations.
As of May 2021, the typical off-peak Monday - Saturday London Northwestern Railway service pattern, with frequencies in trains per hour (tph), includes: 
- 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
- Polesworth served by one train per day, northbound-only
- Acton Bridge is served most hours, but there are some 2-hour gaps in service
Sunday services are similar however:
- London Euston - Tring services do not run with the local calls picked up by the hourly London Euston - Milton Keynes Central service.
- Services have an amended calling pattern between Coventry and Birmingham New Street with some trains picking up local calls between Birmingham International and Birmingham New Street instead of calling at the local stations between Coventry and Birmingham International
- Northampton - London Euston services call additionally at Harrow and Wealdstone southbound and do not call at Tring
- London Euston - Birmingham New Street services call additionally at Watford Junction in both directions but do not call at Leighton Buzzard or Bletchley towards Birmingham
- There is no service at Wembley Central
Early morning and late night services have amended calling patterns and usually call at most stations.
West Midlands Railway servicesEdit
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: 
- Request stop
- 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:
- 2 trains per hour run on the Cross city line between Lichfield Trent Valley and Redditch. An hourly service operates between Birmingham New Street and Bromsgrove
- Services at local stations between Birmingham New Street and Birmingham International are provided by additional calls on London Northwestern Railway services between Birmingham New Street and Northampton
- On the Snow Hill lines, services operate hourly from Stratford-upon-Avon to Great Malvern via Shirley and do not call at Wood End, Danzey, Langley Green, Old Hill or Lye. An hourly service also operates between Dorridge and Stourbridge Junction which picks up the calls at Langley Green, Old Hill and Lye in the daytime.
- Services between Leamington Spa and Nuneaton are split at Coventry and run hourly with no rail replacement bus.
Planned changes included:
- 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. 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. West Midlands Rail have since stated these stations will retain a direct service to London taking a slower route via Birmingham and Northampton.
- reintroduction of calls at Barlaston and therefore closure of Wedgwood. This will mean the end of the long-standing rail replacement bus service. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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/March 2009. In May 2009 the first unit, 139 001 was finally delivered to Stourbridge, with 999 900 removed at the same time. 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 have been removed from their consist. They will have a minor refurbishment: along with being reliveried externally, internally the vehicle will be changed to the house colours of their new operator CrossCountry. These vehicles will be used to extend some of their 2-carriage Class 170 units. The Class 170/6 units which remain at West Midlands Trains will be renumbered to reflect them becoming Class 170/5 units, before being moved to East Midlands Railway after the Class 196 units are introduced.
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.
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.
|Family||Class||Image||Type||Top speed||Carriages||No.||Routes operated||Built|
|West Midlands Railway|
|Parry People Mover||139||Railcar||40||64||1||2||2009|
|London Northwestern Railway|
|Vivarail D-Train||230||DMU||60||97||2||3||2016–18[nb 1]|
|Siemens Desiro||350/1||110||177||30||West Coast Main Line services:
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.
Class 196 CivityEdit
The Class 153 units left West Midlands Trains at the end of 2020, and the Class 170 units will move to East Midlands Railway, with the exception of the centre cars of the 170/6s moving to CrossCountry to lengthen its 170/5s.
Class 730 AventraEdit
Eighty-one Class 730 Aventras sets are to be purchased. They will be built at Derby Litchurch Lane Works. 36 3 carriage long trains will replace the Class 323 units. 45 5 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|
|730/1||110||180||5||29||Electrified LNR suburban services|
|730/2||16||Long distance LNR services|
Former units operated by West Midlands Trains include:
|Sprinter||150/1||DMU||2||3||1985–86||2019||Transferred to Arriva Rail North|
|153||1||8||1987–88||2020||Put into long-term storage|
|Bombardier Turbostar||170/5||2||1||1999–2000||2021||Transferred to East Midlands Railway|
|170/6||3||6||Transferred to East Midlands Railway (end carriages) and CrossCountry (middle carriages)|
- Operated by London Northwestern Railway
- Operated by West Midlands Railway
- Converted from London Underground D78 Stock originally built between 1979 and 1983.
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Media related to West Midlands Trains at Wikimedia Commons