Emergency timetable needed to stop train service ‘shambles’

(A Press Release issued by Campaign for Rail today)

An emergency timetable should be introduced no later than September so that passengers can be confident that their train will complete its journey to Rugeley.  That's the suggestion being made by Midlands-based Campaign for Rail as passengers continue to complain that they cannot rely on the train service from Birmingham reaching Rugeley.

The demand for an emergency timetable for train services between Birmingham and Rugeley, on what is known as the Chase Line, comes as high numbers of train cancellations and the late running of services between Birmingham and Rugeley since the introduction of May timetable continues.

Yesterday, 7 August 2019, saw passengers suffer 11 cancellations to and from Rugeley by 20.00hrs. Rush hour services were particularly severely affected with no trains to and from Rugeley between 16:29hrs until 19:38hrs.  One passenger commented on social media 'it would have been quicker to walk between Cannock and Rugeley'.

The Chair of CfR, Ian Jenkins said "CfR welcomed the recent investment and electrification of the Chase Line.  However, the train service operator, West Midlands Railway Ltd, is delivering a disgraceful level of unreliability for train passengers at Rugeley.”  Things  have

8 August 2019

Emergency Chase Line Timetable Demanded

got so bad that some passengers are now considering legal advice.  Another user of the service has written to the new Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps MP, stating that "the whole situation is a shambles".

The problems have arisen since May when, as part of the new timetable train operator West Midlands Railway Ltd, decided to operate some of its Chase Line trains through from London Euston.  Extending what was previously a local service has meant any late running services have been stopped short of Rugeley and turned back so they can make the return journey to Euston on time from Birmingham New Street.  The problems have also affected passengers at Cannock and Walsall.

The service unreliability problems have also been compounded by WMT staff shortages that have also led to train service cancellations along the line.  The Member of Parliament for Rugeley and Hednesford, Amanda Milling said: "It is clearly unacceptable to terminate late running services at Hednesford and leave Rugeley passengers with no way of completing or starting their journey."

"Running to and from London Euston, while great in principle for Chase Line passengers, has led to far too frequent service unreliability mainly due to late running.  People use the Chase Line largely as a local service, we need an emergency timetable that passengers can rely upon, and we need it in place urgently after the summer holidays from September." Ian Jenkins added.

The good old days!