The MP for Watford has expressed his “delight” at a new rail operator taking over the West Midlands franchise.

The Department for Transport (DfT) confirmed on Thursday, August 10, that Abellio has been awarded a contract to run the West Midlands rail franchise.

The company is a joint venture between Dutch firm Abellio and Japanese partners, and will take over services in December, with trains running through Watford serving Bushey, Harrow and Euston, as well as the St Albans Abbey line.

Since 2007 it has been run by Govia, the joint venture between Go-Ahead Group and Keolis, which is responsible for embattled Southern Railway.

However, the Govia bid to continue running the services was unsuccessful.

Richard Harrington has called the news “a real victory” as it will see an investment of £1bn and investment and new, longer trains.

He said: “I’m absolutely delighted that we’re going to have a new franchise, after seven years of campaigning. When I was re-elected this year, I promised the people of Watford that London Midland would go and so this a real victory. The West Coast Main Line includes our services to and from London Euston, as well as the Abbey Line.

“This new franchise represents a unique opportunity for a much better service. I’m really pleased that the Abellio-led bid will see nearly £1bn invested to drastically improve services. We’ll be seeing more frequent services on evenings and weekends, as well as upgraded trains. Passengers will also get free Wi-Fi on all mainline services by the end of 2019, charging points on all London services, compensation if trains are delayed more than 15 minutes, and improved access for disabled passengers.”

“I’m also particularly pleased that we’ll get a brand new modern train on the Abbey Line and improvements to Sunday services. Passengers travelling between St Albans Abbey and Watford Junction will also be able to pay with a smart card for the first time.”