London Midland will be missed
Travellers on the Marston Vale Line will miss London Midland when its rail franchise ends in October.
This is according to Marston Vale Community Rail Partnership (CRP) Officer, Stephen Sleight. He said:
“A number of significant improvements have been made to the Marston Line during their tenure of the franchise. The level of community involvement has increased and passenger numbers have risen to record levels.”
West Midlands Trains will take over in October
The Marston Vale Line runs from Bedford to Bletchley, Buckinghamshire. London Midland operates train services from London to Liverpool, and across the West Midlands.
The Department for Transport (DfT) announced on 10 August that West Midlands Trains Ltd will be replacing London Midland.
Working with the community
Involvement in the community included running Marston Vale CRP special themed trains. Such as the Easter Eggspress, Ghost Train and Santa Special.
London Midland also created a dedicated Marston Vale Line Service Delivery Manger. As well as managing the line, this role was an interface between the train company and Marston Vale CRP.
There was also support in the restoration of the former Station House at Ridgmont. Closed for over 40 years, it is now a Heritage Centre with Gift Shop and Tea Room.
There is also a Tourist Information Point, Meeting Room and three enterprise offices.
“This is a unique facility on the London Midland network and was runner in both the National Community Rail Awards and Railway Heritage Awards in the station building categories.”
All aboard the Marston Vale Specials
Special trains arranged by the partnership proved popular. One service was ran as part of the Bedford River Festival in July 2016. This provided a through service to Milton Keynes Central.
There was also special service was also ran to celebrate the line’s anniversary.
“London Midland ran a special through service to Kidderminster and the Severn Valley Railway on 19th November 2016 to celebrate the 170th Anniversary of the Marston Vale Line.”
London Midland has been operating train services from London to Liverpool and across the West Midlands since 2007.
The new franchise holders, West Midlands Trains Ltd, is a joint venture between Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co Ltd.
London Midland managing director, Patrick Verwer, said:
“We congratulate the consortium on winning the franchise. Over the coming months our focus will remain on delivering the best possible service to our passengers, each day and every day.”
A wish list for West Midlands
Sleight says that there is more to be done to improve the Marston Vale Line when West Midlands takes over. Such as:
- To keep the Marston Vale Line Service Delivery Manager post
- An earlier delivery date for the introduction of Sunday services
- Extension of at least some services to Central Milton Keynes at an early date in the franchise
The Marston Vale Community Rail Partnership website has information on what to see and do along the Line.