The Government have confirmed that the reliability of the London Midland rail service between Lichfield and London Euston is “a particular concern”.
Transport Minister Paul Clark, made the admission in a Parliamentary reply to Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant.
Mr Fabricant has been a vocal critic of reliability and punctuality of the London Midland service between Crewe and Euston, which calls at Lichfield Trent Valley.
Mr Clark said:
“Reliability of the London Midland train service on the West Coast Main Line route from Crewe to Euston has been a particular concern recently. Both Network Rail and the train operators on the route are being urged to seek improvements in punctuality and reliability.”
Mr Clark added that London Midland’s average punctuality was 86.5 per cent for the year up until February 28 this year, but the figure fell to 81.6 per cent, during the four weeks ending on that date. But performance on the Crewe to Euston route was below this level.
He admitted that plans were in place to improve the service. He explained:
“Improving rail performance is a key objective for the Department for Transport. Joint action plans are in place between Network Rail and London Midland to address performance issues. London Midland has also developed an Improvement Plan, progress against which is monitored regularly.
“The Minster of State, Lord Adonis, meets senior representatives of the Rail Industry every four weeks to discuss performance. The Secretary of State met recently with the Chairman of the Office of Rail Regulation, when the reliability of services on the West Coast Main Line was raised. The Office of Rail Regulation is giving particular attention to monitoring Network Rail’s performance on the route.”
But Mr Fabricant has vowed to keep up the pressure, insisting that the benefits of recent work to upgrade the line should now be noticeable. He said:
“Many of my constituents – particularly in Armitage, Handsacre, and Fisherwick – experienced over two years of upheaval while two extra rail lines were added to the West Coast Main Line . It was then hoped that the much promoted London Midland Service would provide an efficient, cheap, and regular service to London and back on the Crewe-Euston route. This has not been the case.
“The service has been unreliable – particularly on Sundays. When I met London Midland’s managing director, Stephen Banaghan, he sought to reassure me that we would see huge improvements by the time the new May timetable comes into operation. I hope he is correct. Meanwhile, I will keep up the pressure.”