The owner of Southern Rail has made it onto the list of the final two bidders vying to run the London Midland franchise.
Govia currently runs the network and will go head-to-head with Abellio, who recently won a nine-year contract to run the East Anglia franchise, one of the busiest commuter networks into London.
Central to Abellio’s successful tender was a promise for automatic compensation to rail users for delayed journeys.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said that the winning bidder would have to provide space for 20,000 additional passengers to travel between London and Birmingham as well as better value ticket options and free wifi on all mainline services by the end of 2019.
“Today marks a key step forward in giving passengers better journeys across the West Midlands and beyond. This franchise serves both commuters and long distance passengers and these benefits will deliver extra and smoother journeys for customers using these services,” said rail minister Paul Maynard.
The London Midland franchise services Euston station with routes from Birmingham, Milton Keynes and Crewe.
It also operates regional routes in and around Birmingham and the West Midlands.
Both contenders have until the end of November to submit their final proposals to the DfT with the successful operator taking over in October 2017.