London Midland has received a directly-awarded agreement involving a £13 million package of improvements that will see the TOC continue to run passenger rail services on the West Midlands franchise until October 2017.

The direct award ensures continuity of passenger services and paves the way for the start of the formal franchise that will commence in autumn 2017. This franchise competition will be launched later this month.

London Midland is owned by Govia, a partnership between the Go-Ahead Group (65 per cent) and Keolis.

David Brown, Go-Ahead Group chief executive, said: ‘We’re pleased that the government has put its confidence in London Midland to continue operating the West Midlands franchise and also deliver further enhancements for passengers such as extra train services, free Wi-Fi, and additional car parking at busy stations. The plans offer benefits for passengers, taxpayers and the local communities that are served.’

Alistair Gordon, chief executive of Keolis UK, said: ‘We’re pleased to be able to continue to operate London Midland, as part of our Govia partnership, until October 2017. The franchise is an important cog in the Midlands Engine and we’re committed to ensuring that it can continue to serve the region’s local communities and its economic needs.’

Tough new targets are part of the award around passenger satisfaction, punctuality and cleanliness, and extra drivers and on-board staff will need to be recruited to ensure improvements are delivered.

Rail Minister Claire Perry said: ‘We have already delivered significant improvements in the West Midlands and surrounding areas – including investing more than £60 million in a fleet of brand new trains, and the massive £750 million redevelopment of Birmingham New Street station which was completed earlier this year.

‘Today’s contract with London Midland builds on this work, and will not only ensure that customers continue to benefit from better journeys but also support long-term economic growth in the region and beyond.’