A ground-breaking deal has been agreed today among rail bosses to deliver higher standards for rail users in the West Midlands.
Areas that fall under the new, first-of-its-kind West Midlands Grand Rail Collaboration (GRC) deal will benefit from improved train service performance, simplified fare structures, better quality of trains and stations and improved timetable reliability.
Launched by mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street yesterday (Thursday, 19th September) the GRC partnership brings together five train operating companies, Network Rail, the West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE), Vintage Trains, Transport Focus and the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education to drive up excellent customer service.
Mayor Andy Street, who is also the independent chair of GRC 2019-2020, said: “Rail patronage in the West Midlands is growing faster than the rest of the UK and we are investing massively in the railways and delivering new stations.
“However, we know problems still exist, particularly around punctuality and capacity, which is why I have launched the GRC so we can tackle these challenges effectively.
“Quite simply, this new collaboration is about putting the customer first - whether that is with reliable and dependable services that meet where and when people want to travel, or by creating stations that are modern, clean, and accessible to all.”
The GRC has introduced a performance task force, to ensure reliability and punctuality problems are seen to as efficiently as possible. Open lines of communication have been established between the train operators and Network Rail to make decisions that are in the best interest of the customer.
The collaboration is keen to keep communities, including accessibility and station experience stay at the heart of GRC. Members have vowed to tackle problems head on and promised action right here, right now.
Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, managing director of West Midlands Trains, added: "With travelling by rail more popular than ever, this vital collaboration enables us to work together across the industry to provide the West Midlands 'travel to work area' with a joined-up, easy to understand rail network.
“By coming together with partners in this unique way we can be more proactive and make a real impact as the West Midlands transport network continues to grow.”