04 February 2014

A rail service which would benefit local people and businesses is at the heart of a proposal to form the West Midlands Rail consortium.

A report before Northamptonshire County Council’s cabinet next week will show how rail services could be devolved to form the alliance.

Although the county council agrees with the move in principal and the benefits it could bring, the authority wants to see the proposals worked up further before giving complete approval.

Cllr Michael Clarke, county council cabinet member for transport, highways and environment, said: “Such an arrangement could well have advantages for Northamptonshire as it would mean we would have influence over how services could be run for local people.

“The consortium would also work alongside local authorities, the local enterprise partnership and businesses, so services could be designed to respond to local economic conditions.

“This is an exciting proposal but we need to make sure of all the detail and identify the advantages for the county before we go ahead.”

Rail service devolution

The move comes after the Department for Transport, invited Centro (the integrated transport authority for the West Midlands metropolitan area) to develop proposals for devolution in the wider West Midlands.

The areas where rail devolution has so far been implemented, Scotland, Wales, Merseyrail Electric and London Overground have been generally seen to be successful, with improved services and growing patronage.

The devolved arrangements would encompass train services between Northampton and Birmingham.

What are the advantages?

It is anticipated that the contract would cover Long Buckby station, but that the management of Northampton station would be for the operator of the future franchise covering Northampton – London services.

The devolved contract would provide an opportunity to make improvements to the current service between Northampton and Birmingham, such as filling the gaps in the service at peaks times on Monday to Friday.