Longer trains and more seats to benefit Midlands commuters

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Thousands of passengers will benefit from improvements on CrossCountry trains including over 20,000 extra seats a week, thanks to a £2.5 million government investment announced by the Rail Minister.

Passengers travelling from Birmingham to Nottingham, Leicester and Cardiff will start to see longer trains on some services from May 2020 delivering more than 5,000 more seats each week.

The £2.5 million new government funding was agreed by the DfT and CrossCountry to help tackle overcrowding. Work is underway on further improvements in the years to come when more rolling stock will be available, especially for longer distance routes that Cross Country serves.

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris, said: “Investing in transport is essential to levelling up the country, as we look to modernise our rail network and restructure the industry to put passengers at the heart of the railway.

“But we want to fund benefits to address pressing needs and improve journeys for passengers in the short-term, as well as in the future.

“More seats mean more people can travel, increasing access to opportunities and better connecting our regions.”

Tom Joyner, CrossCountry’s Managing Director, said: “We are delighted to now be able to get on and deliver these benefits for our customers, with improvements to the journey experience and 3 new community groups to bring our train services closer to the places we serve.

“Most importantly, many of our trains have become increasingly busy as more and more people choose rail for their journeys.

“This delivers the biggest increase in seats for our services in more than 13 years, helping customers enjoy a relaxing and comfortable journey every day. These improvements will deliver an immediate boost for rail users in the Midlands, with the promise of even more to come on other routes in the near future.”

Investment will also be made to expand CrossCountry’s seat reservation service to allow passengers to reserve a seat on most services, as well as to reserve a space for their bike. The investment will also improve communication and signage, pointing to places where luggage can be stored during a journey, both when travelling and as they board the train.

The funding from the government follows an agreement to extend the CrossCountry franchise last summer to October 2020.