The End of the Year (Non-) Show
You would have to live on the planet Zog not to know that West Midlands Trains are facing fierce criticism from all angles for the appalling service that they are providing at present.
On 23 December 2019, the West Midlands Metro Mayor, Andy Street, tweeted the following:-
The current service provided by West Midlands Trains is WOEFUL. I have lost all faith in WMT’s ability to run our network. If not sorted out by midnight 31/01/20, I will formally ask @transportgovuk to STRIP WMT of the franchise.
West Midlands Trains responded with the following statement from Managing Director Chaudhry-van der Velde:-
"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.
"December’s changes are only part of a bigger plan to improve performance which we presented to the West Midlands Rail Executive and the DfT last week. We consulted with the Mayor and the DfT extensively on how to speed up improvements already planned. Together, we explored bringing forward next May’s timetable with Network Rail but that was not possible due to the impact on the wider rail industry.
“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. Subject to approval, we will announce details of the package early in the new year."
The use of the May timetable change as an excuse for the pathetic service that has been provided on Snow Hill line services is beneath contempt. The reason for our trains being cancelled is obvious to all of the long-suffering passengers - LACK OF TRAIN CREW. SLUG has every sympathy with the stance taken by the Mayor and has written to West Midlands Trains and the West Midlands Rail Executive to seek face to face meetings with senior officials from both organisations to express the concerns of our members and demand answers. We await their replies.
In the meantime, SLUG has been collating data of all Snow Hill line cancellations and our findings up to 14 December may be viewed on the News page entitled “A Lack of Service”. It was hoped that the new timetable starting on 15 December would coincide with improvements to the service but, in the run-up to Christmas, the situation got worse and worse, culminating in the joke of a non-service suffered by Snow Hill line passengers on Christmas Eve.
In fairness to West Midlands Trains, there has been a major improvement since Christmas. In fact, on Saturday 28 December every service operated and only one was over five minutes late. The downward trend of cancellations continued during the last two days of 2019 and one hopes that this will continue throughout 2020. However, SLUG will continue to collate cancellation figures and will press for a permanent solution to the train crew shortage problem. A detailed breakdown of the service provided for each day from 15 December to the end of the year may be viewed by clicking on the appropriate date below. Cancelled services are highlighted and the following colour code is used.
Train Crew Issue
Late Arrival of Inbound Service
Other reason attributable to West Midlands Railway
Other Reason not attributable to West Midlands Railway
Chiltern Railways service
Due to scheduled early rundown of services on Christmas Eve