The new operator of commuter trains running through Watford is promising a wealth of improvements for passengers.   

West Midlands Trains Ltd – a joint venture between Dutch firm Abellio and its Japanese partners – will take over the franchise from current operator London Midland in December.

As part of the deal, it will also take on the Watford to St Albans Abbey and Bedford to Bletchley lines.

West Midlands said passengers would get more frequent services with new trains and extra seats “as a result of a near £1 billion investment in the West Midlands network”.

Under the new deal, passengers will get free Wi-Fi on all mainline services by the end of 2019, compensation if services are delayed by more than 15 minutes, and improved access for those requiring extra assistance.

People travelling between Northampton and Euston and on the Abbey Line between St Albans Abbey and Watford Junction will also be able to pay for their travel with a smart card for the first time.

Abellio’s Dominic Booth 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."

Since 2007 the service has been run by Govia, which was also responsible for the embattled Southern Railway.

However the Govia bid to continue running the services was unsuccessful after criticism for record delays.