Centro, a UK based organisation that operates the bus, rail and the Midland Metro Tram transport in the West Midlands area, is bidding to take control of the West Midland rail services.
The company’s bid has recently received a boost from a Government consultation, which has reported extensive support for the proposal.
Those responding to the Department for Transport consultation on rail devolution said that passengers and local communities could achieve improved rail services and better value for taxpayers if they had more say on how their railways were run.
In June, Centro submitted a formal expression of interest to the Government to take over the commissioning and management of local rail services once the region’s current franchise, operated by London Midland, expires in September 2015.
The chief executive officer at Centro, Geoff Inskip, said, ‘The findings of the Government’s nationwide consultation shows a strong consensus is emerging around the benefits of putting decision making for local rail networks in local hands.
We certainly welcome these findings as we also believe that greater local control can result in better rail services focussed on the real needs of West Midland passengers.
That’s why, with the backing of the wider region, we have formally told the Government that we wish to have responsibility for the local rail franchise from 2015 onwards.
If we held control locally we would be in a far better position to make sure the local rail network dovetails with economic developments and the wider transport network.
We would also work to ensure it fully connects and feeds into the forthcoming high speed rail line, thereby maximising the significant economic benefits offered by HS2.’
As of now, only two areas, London and Merseyside, have control of their local rail networks, while the Department for Transport in London manages the rest.
Announcing the result of the consultation, UK rail minister, Simon Burns, said, ‘Ensuring decisions are taken by those best placed to make them – those who live and work in those areas – could make certain not only that services are planned to maximise value for money for taxpayers but that passengers get services they need and want.’