Sue Robb of 4Children talks to Julie Laughton and Alison Britton from the Department for Education about the role of childminders in delivering the 30 hours free entitlement.
Nearly £1 billion invested in Midlands train services
Nearly £1 billion has been invested in the West Midlands train network, creating more seats for rail passengers.
The almost £1 billion investment means that rail passengers will get new longer rains with more seats and more space.
There will be 400 new carriages rolled out by 2021 and space for an additional 85,000 passengers on rush hour services in Birmingham and London, with the longer trains providing extra seats and space for passengers. 20,000 of the extra seats will be for rush hour passengers in Birmingham, and 10,000 for people in London. There will be standing room for 50,000 people in Birmingham in metro-style carriages, and standing room for an additional 5,000 passengers in London.
Under the deal passengers will get free wifi on all main line services by the end of 2019, compensation for the first time if services are delayed by more than 15 minutes, and improved access for those requiring extra assistance, including disabled people.
Smart ticketing and live passenger information will also be rolled out under the deal, as part of a package of reforms that will improve journeys for passengers.
The deal is between West Midlands Trains Ltd (a joint venture between Abellio, East Japan Railway Company, and Mitsui & Co Ltd) and the West Midlands network.
The franchise covers services across the West Midlands, as well as trains from London Euston to Crewe and from Liverpool to Birmingham.
Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, said: “This is great news for passengers using West Midlands services – with new trains, more space, more regular services and easier access for disabled people.
“We are improving the whole travelling experience with live train crowding information, compensation for people delayed by 15 minutes or more, smart ticketing and better value tickets for part-time workers.
“This shows we are delivering on our commitment to build a railway that works for everyone.”
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “We want to see a new golden era for our local trains and today’s announcement is an important step towards that.
“Having the ability to use our local knowledge and understanding to shape what West Midlands Trains will deliver for passengers under this franchise has also been a game changer.
“I believe the deal secured today will help create a railway that can not only improve people’s journeys but keep our economy growing and we look forward to working with West Midlands Trains in making that happen.”
Dominic Booth, managing director of Abellio UK, said: “We are delighted to have been announced as preferred bidder for the West Midlands franchise, driving growth in one of the most exciting regions in the country. We will be investing nearly £1 billion into the network, delivering new trains, better stations and a whole host of other benefits for passengers.
“The trains running only in the West Midlands area will be jointly managed by the Department for Transport and West Midlands Rail, a consortium of 16 local councils.”