A bid to take the under-performing London Midland rail service under local control has been boosted following a government consultation.
Transport authority Centro wants to take over regional rail services from the Department for Transport, claiming it is better placed to award contracts and run them in the interests of commuters and taxpayers.
Commuters using London Midland services, including the Cross City line, have been frustrated by frequent cancellations and delays due to a driver shortage in recent week.
Last week the Birmingham Post revealed that Centro has asked for devolution of rail services and wants to take over the London Midland franchise once the current contract expires in 2015.
A nationwide Department for Transport consultation has found overwhelming support for devolution, from the transport industry, business and local authorities.
Centro chief executive Geoff Inskip said: “The findings of the Government’s consultation shows a strong consensus is emerging around the benefits of putting decision making for local rail networks in local hands.
“We certainly welcome these findings as we also believe that greater local control can result in better rail services focussed on the real needs of West Midland passengers.
“That’s why, with the backing of the wider region, we have formally told the Government that we wish to have responsibility for the local rail franchise from 2015 onwards.”
Last week Mr Inskip told the Post that if handed the power to award the rail franchise it would run it in a different way by setting performance standards, fares, timetables and taking direct responsibility for stations. Then a contract would be awarded to a train operator.
Centro would bear the revenue risk.
At present only rail services in London and Merseyside are run by local authorities.
Responses to the Government consultation highlighted the success of regions where the operation of rail services has already been devolved and also showed support for transport models specifically designed for particular regions on the basis of local geography and the structure of local networks.
In announcing the findings Rail Minister Simon Burns said: “Ensuring decisions are taken by those best placed to make them – those who live and work in those areas – could make certain not only that services are planned to maximise value for money for taxpayers but that passengers get services they need and want.”