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West Midlands franchise announced

The Department for Transport has announced that the West Midlands rail franchise, to run from November 2007 to September 2015, has been awarded to Govia. The franchise, expected to generate annual revenue of GBP400million, will be operated under the 'London Midland' brand.

Govia have stated that one of the key highlights of the franchise will be the introduction of Parry People Movers lightweight railcars to operate all services on the short branch line between Stourbridge Junction and Stourbridge Town. Two new railcars will be built to cover the operation, replacing the heavy diesel trains that currently provide the service. They will be based at a new depot on the branch line, eliminating the need for empty trains to run to and from the maintenance facilities at Tyseley. The lightweight rail service is planned for introduction before the end of 2008, once the two new railcars have been built and tested for public service use. The new 'PPM 60' railcars will be built by a British industrial supply chain which includes Clayton Equipment, East Lancashire Coachbuilders, Power Torque Engineering, Linde Hydraulics and Brecknell Willis Composites.

An experimental service, using a prototype Parry People Movers railcar operated by licensed train operator Pre Metro Operations Ltd, ran on this route between December 2005 and December 2006. With over 4,000 trips operated in passenger service, reliability and punctuality stood at 99%. It was calculated that carbon dioxide emissions were cut by 80% compared to the conventional type of train that currently operates the branch.

22 June 2006

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