National Express West Midlands

National Express West Midlands is the new trading name for Travel West Midlands which has been the the trading name of West Midlands Travel Ltd who has never had a very big involvement in the provision of bus services in Redditch and the surrounding County. West Midlands Travel Ltd came into being on the 26th October 1986 when the bus operations of the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive were transferred into a separate private sector company in line with the requirements of bus de-regulation, which started on 26th October 1986. The shares in this new company were owned by the on going West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority until the sale to the Management of the Bus Company in 1992. By April 1986 all bus operators had to decide what services they were going to retain on a commercial basis (services without subsidy) after 26th October 1986. Amongst the services Midland Red West decided not to retain were the X92 Birmingham to Hereford on Sundays, 318 Redditch to Stourbridge in the evenings and Sundays and the Bromsgrove to Halesowen section of the then service 302 (now 202). Ahead of full de-regulation Hereford and Worcester County Council used its powers to procure socially necessary services and invited tenders for the above services. West Midland Travel was successful in winning all of the tenders and started running the services from Sunday 31st August 1986. Of the routes the only one that ran to Redditch was the service 318 which they ran from their now closed Hartshill Garage using a mixture of Leyland Nationals and some of the prototype six Leyland Lynx vehicles (C61-66HOM). Reliability of the service was not that good because the operation was so far from the Garage and within 18 months the whole of service 318 was back with Midland Red West. West Midlands Travel took the service 145, which runs from Bromsgrove to Birmingham, from Stevenson's on 29th December 1991 and operated until Saturday 28th June 2003. The Company also briefly operated the service 146 between Redditch and Birmingham on a Sunday between 19th July 1992 and 4th April 1993. In the early 1990's as part of the electrification of the Cross City rail line between Redditch and Birmingham Centro procured bus replacement services that ran during the evenings and Sundays to allow necessary engineering works on the rail line. The contract was let in two halves with a service between Redditch railway station and Birmingham New Street Station and a service from Birmingham New Street to Lichfield City rail station. The two services were referred to as XCS and XCN respectively as these letters could easily be displayed on the front of bus using normal number blinds. West Midlands Travel ran the southern service from Redditch to Birmingham. West Midland Travel's (now trading as Travel West Midlands) most recent involvement in bus services in Redditch came to an end on 28th June 2003 when they withdrew their services 175 and 179. Travel West Midlands had taken the service 175 Wythall to Solihull service over from Harding's Coaches on 20th February 2000 when Worcestershire County Council re-tendered the service. For operational reason as their base is in Redditch Harding's had extended the first and last journeys to/from Redditch and these were retain when the contract was renewed as they had generated some regular usage. This brought Travel West Midlands back into Redditch. On Monday 22nd February 1999 following the withdrawal by First Midland Red Travel West Midland was also able to take over the first 179 journey at 0630 from Kings Heath to Redditch (FMR had started the journey in the City Centre) as they were able to use the same vehicle that operated the early morning 175 journey from Redditch to Solihull. Subsidy for this 179 journey was in the form of a joint Worcestershire/Centro contract. Due to staff shortages Travel West Midlands decided to withdraw all of their 145, 175 and 179 journeys after operation on Saturday 28th June 2003.