By Ian Dipple Friday 23 November 2012 Updated: 26/11 16:36
THE GOVERNMENT will take action against London Midland if it breaches the terms of its contract, the Transport minister has confirmed.
Train passengers have faced weeks of cancellations and disruption across the network as a result of a driver shortage the company is dealing with.
Since the start of October more than 500 services have been affected and although promises were made the situation would ease in the near future, disruption has continued with over 100 services cancelled in this week alone including more than 20 on the Cross-City Line between Redditch and Lichfield.
A petition has been set-up calling for immediate action to improve the situation.
Redditch MP Karen Lumley recently met with London Midland's managing director Patrick Verwer to demand the situation was resolved as soon as possible and was assured disruption would be kept to a minimum before the shortage was finally resolved from December 9.
Now in a letter to Mrs Lumley, Transport Minister Norman Baker has acknowledged the current situation is not good enough and all options were on the table to deal with the matter including financial penalties or even stripping the firm of its franchise.
"I agree that if London Midland's poor performance causes it to breach its contract the Department should take action against the operator," he said.
"The Department is monitoring the situation extremely closely to ensure normal services are resumed as a matter of absolute priority."
Mrs Lumley said the letter represented a harder rhetoric by the Government.
"Since the first delays took place, I have taken a hardline stance on this issue. As a result of this, I am pleased the Department for Transport have informed me they are now watching the situation extremely closely," she said.
"Meeting Patrick Verwer, the Managing Director of London Midland earlier in the month he promised after December 9 all train services will be running on time and that there will be no more delays.
"The Minister has highlighted that if this promise is broken then he has all options on the table including the possibility of financial penalty or worse.
"I know how important reliable train services are for our town and both Patrick Verwer and Norman Baker are fully aware I will not cease campaigning until trains are running both on schedule and on time."
Visit http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/40453 to sign the petition.
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