Train firm says service will start getting better

By Ian Dipple Friday 09 November 2012 Updated: 12/11 14:55

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LONDON Midland say they expect disruption to services, which has seen hundreds of trains cancelled or delayed, to ease over the coming weeks.

The commitment was given to Karen Lumley during showdown talks between the Redditch MP and the company's managing director Patrick Verwer in Parliament on Wednesday (November 7).

More than 500 services have been affected since the start of October, with over 40 trains affected on the Redditch to Lichfield Cross-City line in one week alone.

Although the disruption to services is set to continue until December 9, when the driver shortage causing the problem is expected to be resolved, Mrs Lumley said she had been assured fewer trains would be cancelled or delayed in the meantime.

"I had a very frank and open discussion with Patrick Verwer and received guarantees fewer trains will be cancelled between now and December 9 and I was also assured after December 9 there will be no more delays or cancellations to London Midland services in Redditch," she said.

"I also understand some passengers have had issues with trains not stopping at Alvechurch and Barnt Green and I am informed this will be urgently addressed. I have written to the Secretary of State for Transport informing him of the guarantees I have received from London Midland and expect these promises to be upheld."

A spokesman for the company said the large number of cancellations had occurred over the half-term period when staff had taken holiday which had added to problems already created by the driver shortage. But he said they were not expecting a repeat in the run up to December 9 and staff were working rest days and extra shifts to keep disruption to a minimum.

Richard Brooks, commercial director at London Midland, added: "We apologise to all those passengers affected and thank them for their continued patience. Our driver shortage has been caused by a vacancy gap and we are working hard to resolve this."

Mrs Lumley has previously suggested the firm should be stripped of responsibility for running services if the situation does not improve but Transport Minister Norman Baker said they were a long way from that currently.

In a letter to Mrs Lumley he said he had spoken with senior management at London Midland and reminded them of their contractual responsibilities and the need to restore services as soon as possible.

"The Department will be monitoring the situation extremely closely to ensure normal services are resumed as a matter of absolute priority."

Train users are advised to check London Midland's website which is being updated with regular updates of affected services at 5pm the day before, their Twitter @londonmidland or call the National Rail Enquiry Service on 08457 484 950.

A petition has also been set-up calling for urgent improvements on the Redditch to Lichfield line. Visit http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/40453 to sign.

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