THE planned £500,000 refurbishment of Stratford train station will still go ahead next summer despite ongoing uncertainty over who will be running services to and from the town.
London Midland gave the assurance earlier today, Monday, after announcing that it has been given another extension to its franchise to run services between Stratford and Birmingham.
The company has been operating those services since 2007, with the franchise due to expire in 2015.
But delays in the tender process meant that has now been extended twice; firstly to October this year, and now until at least December, and possibly even February next year.
One million journeys are made every year along the line from Stratford station alone.
Fraser Pithie, secretary of the Shakespeare Line Promotion Group, said: “This extension is good news in that London Midland has proved to be a good train operating company, but the ongoing delays of a new franchise announcement means there are delays in the long-term benefits of a proper award.”
London Midland’s owner, Govia Ltd, is in the running for the new franchise through a company called London and West Midlands Railway Ltd.
The other bidder is West Midlands Trains Ltd, a joint bid by Abellio Transport Group Ltd with East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui and Co Ltd.
Since the tender process began an organisation called Midlands Connect has also been set up to develop a transport strategy for the whole West Midlands region.
London Midland’s managing director, Patrick Verwer, said: “This extension means we can continue to build on the successes of the last five years that have made this an international, award-winning franchise.
“Our focus will remain on delivering the best possible service to our passengers, each day and every day.
“This approach is already producing high levels of customer satisfaction. During the months ahead we will continue to work with the Department for Transport and all our stakeholders to ensure a smooth transition for the awarding of the new, long-term, franchise.”