PRIME Minister Boris Johnson has warned West Midlands Railway could lose its franchise, amid warnings its performance has been “absolutely woeful”.

Responding to a question posed during Prime Minister’s Questions by West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin, Mr Johnson said:”The bell is tolling for West Midlands rail if I hear my honourable friend correctly.”

Mrs Baldwin had asked the PM if he could arrange an inspection from the secretary of state for transport.

She said: “In recent months the performance of West Midlands rail for my constituents and for constituents across the region has been absolutely woeful.

“Will he agree with Andy Street, the West Midlands mayor, that if they do not shape up by the end of January they too should have an inspection by the Secretary of State for Transport and potentially have their franchise taken away?”

In response, Mr Johnson told the Commons the Government is looking at the performance of various franchise holders across the rail network.

Mrs Baldwin added: "The rail service between the county and Birmingham has been consistently poor over recent months and my efforts to talk to the managers doesn’t seem to have any effect at all. I keep hearing excuses and promises of better performance in the future, but rail users want improvements now.

“The West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street, has also taken a close look at this matter and he has given the company until the end of the month to show some urgent improvement.

“I am pleased that the Government is looking hard at this issue and if necessary, use its powers to strip the franchise holder of the failing services.

“I hope that the rail company is listening hard and is making an urgent plan of action to give commuters a better, value-for-money service in the coming days and weeks.”

West Midlands Railway has been beset by problems for several months with passengers routinely complaining about service.

Before Christmas, West Midlands mayor Andy Street called for the train company to be stripped of its franchise if urgent improvement was not made, saying he had lost all faith in the company’s ability to deliver services.

In response, Jan Chaudry Van der Velde, managing director of WMR, said: “”We recognise that the May timetable has not worked and apologise to all our passengers who have been affected. Last week we brought in extra carriages and made changes to the timetable to improve capacity and performance. Unfortunately, in that short period, we also experienced many incidents outside our control.

“These included several track and signalling failures – managed by Network Rail, trespass - including a person being struck by a train - and anti-social behaviour disrupting a very busy service.

“We have committed to an enhanced compensation package for West Midlands rail users which will recognise the planned national fares increase in January.

"We are discussing with the Mayor and the DfT how best to deliver this."