Lichfield’s MP says he is backing an ultimatum given to a train operator to improve services or face calls to be stripped of the franchise.

West Midlands Trains, which operates as London Northwestern Railway and West Midlands Railway, has come under increasing pressure over delays and disruption to services.

The issue has seen West Midlands Police Commissioner warn the issue is becoming a “danger to public safety”, while West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has said he will request the franchise be stripped if services don’t improve before the end of the month.

Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant has now supported that call and said enough is enough.

Michael Fabricant

“Lichfield is not in the Combined Authority, but I shall act in support of Andy Street if he seeks to remove the franchise from West Midlands Trains.

“Many of my constituents commute on the cross city line across to Birmingham and elsewhere, while others commute down to London.

“An unreliable service due to staff shortages and other factors is making their life a misery. 

“Too many of my constituents are missing work appointments and I know of at least one case where a Lichfield resident has found it difficult to get to hospital in Birmingham in time for surgery.”

Michael Fabricant MP

The call is a long way from 2017 when the Lichfield MP heralded the arrival of the new operator to replace London Midland as a move that “will undoubtedly benefit” passengers.

But while the Conservative MP says he is aware of external factors impacting on train punctuality, he insisted too many problems lie at the operator’s doorstep.

“Not every issue on the trains is due to the train company.

“I am well aware that some delays have been caused by signalling problems, vandalism, train breakdowns, and trespass on the railway. 

“I also know of the huge investment West Midlands Trains are making in new rolling stock and at stations. 

“But many of the delays and cancellations are of West Midlands Trains own making.  This has to stop.

“Their new managing director, Julian Edwards, must quickly get a grip.” 

Michael Fabricant MP

The train operator has already confirmed it will not implement a fare rise due to the delays and disruption experienced by passengers.

And despite the confirmation of a new man at the helm of the West Midlands Trains, Mr Street said no more excuses can be made.

“A change in management does not change my ultimatum.

“Whether it is Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, Julian Edwards, or both in charge, if a reliable service is not restored by midnight on 31st January then my request to remove the franchise from West Midlands Trains will be sent to the Department for Transport.” 

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street

Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

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20 Comments

  1. Something clearly is wrong with this rail franchise and the treatment of passengers is appalling.

    Not surprising to see Mr Fabricant standing right behind his best chum the Mayor on this, or anything else.

    Backing up Andy Street is something he does regularly.

  2. Of course Mr Fabricant would support his old pal. However anyone with foresight would have seen this coming. After the breakup of the railways into different parts sold off to different franchises it has never since been a ‘joined up’ railway system. The idea that fares would become cheaper as a result of ‘the competition’ was laughable to those with the foresight to see that profits would become the main driver. And of course there are no guards to see to the safety of passengers. Having recently taken an evening train journey back from Birmingham I was shocked to find that cancellation of trains (apparently there were 3 cancellations that evening) meant the train was so full there was no standing room and some passengers were found sitting on the floor. So having had to wait longer for a train I then had to stand for most of the journey back to Lichfield. Packed like sardines came to mind. So yes in the year 2020 this is a situation that needs to be bettered for passengers and railway staff alike. Indeed Mr Fabricant’s position now is a completely different ‘call’ of 2017 when he was found praising the same train operator.

  3. “Backing up Andy Street is something he does regularly.”
    Haha. In their shared Cottage in deepest, darkest Wales.

  4. Back in the day the real Welsh would never have allowed second home owners. Fierce as dragons they were. Fought in the hills against the English. What’s happened to them. Like the Waitrose Christmas Video dragon ‘gotten’ too soft. Much preferred the real Welsh Halfords Christmas vid clip with a real down to earth family. Too much Caernarfon influence no doubt !!!!

  5. It’s about time that Mr Fabricant added his voice to this ongoing problem with WMT, I was stuck at Blake Street last month and we were given no reason for why the trains kept terminating there and no trains were coming from Lichfield. It’s an absolute embarrassment and pathetic that this is still ongoing even on 13th January due to people being stranded at the City Station

  6. Until the branch provides onwards services to Burton, it will always be the poor cousin of other lines. It’s easy for WMT to cancel and chop services from the line to service others.

    I know I, and Ross, have been stood at New Street as trains are cancelled with depressing frequency from platform 8.

  7. Michael is right to speak out on this. I regularly find myself stranded in Sutton Coldfield so I know very well the problems of this line. We deserve a better service that runs on time and allows our hard working commuters to get to work on time.

  8. Well, last week, the rush hour trains back from Birmingham were dumping people at random stations again and running empty trains, this happend on 3 days out of 5, this week Monday morning was shambolic – today ( Wednesday) cancellations and delays accross the board , no customer care or service, random comedy explanations for lateness , overcrowding and short units. Monday actually had one commuter fainting in the carriage and there is plenty of shouting and pushing , quite frankly if it wasn’t for electrification I would not be suprised to see commuters riding on the roof. As promised by Andy Street and others if the service has not improved since the last review and they have been given until the end of this month then the provider should be stripped of the franchise , well, we are well into January and it is getting worse, so please do what you have said you will do as I cannot see it getting any better

  9. Talking of trains, and parking. I’m going to the theatre in Birmingham this evening with my daughter, live in Handsacre. Was going to get the train, but the parking at Rugeley or Lichfield will cost more than the train tickets, and no guarantee the train will actually get us home. What’s the point?

  10. Got dropped off at Lichfield City. First train cancelled. Second train running late, only stopping at Sutton and Birmingham. Not that any of the information boards say that of course. Nothing running to or from Trent Valley which is where we very nearly went.

  11. For those who think I always back my “old pal” Andy Street, I can tell you we have diametrically opposing views on HS2! lol
    And I have taken up numerous issues with WMT, but as I say in my report (above) it’s not always their fault.
    As for Wales, my mother was Welsh and spoke Welsh before she learned English. Just sayin’.

  12. Mr F: “… I can tell you we have diametrically opposing views on HS2!”

    It helps to have different tastes and opinions in a relationship though. I dislike meringues as I find them too sweet and prefer a salted caramel, yet my partner adores meringues but finds salted caramel to be the work of the devil.

    We often laugh about these minor differences yet are still together and going strong after all these years.

    Its a funny old world.

  13. Well it’s Thursday and usual service with WMT , 3 carriages from L City on the 0744 instead of six ( mechanical issues) no one able to get on the train from Sutton onwards due to overcrowding and the train after that one cancelled again due to mechanical faults , I even passed a broken unit at Four Oaks , as I have said in previous posts, it ain’t going to get better anytime soon.

  14. You [Fabricant] and Andy Street have opposing views on HS2?!

    Is this news?

    HS2 will directly service the city of Birmingham, of course he’s going to be for it, whereas it will scoot past Lichfield at around 200+mph, of course you speak against it – because it’s a vote winner.

  15. Also, can we call this laughable threatening for what it is – if WMT don’t improve by the 31st of Jan you’re going to request that they rebadge their trains and create another company.

    No one is fooled by this “stripping of the franchise” nonsense, WMT is simply London Midland. Thus is the debacle created by privatisation, because if you keep “stripping” franchises, no private company is going to want them.

  16. Hi Daryl:
    1) My main reason for opposing HS2 is the route. It not only damages the countryside around Lichfield, it does not connect with either the channel tunnel nor Heathrow. And it ought to go into Birmingham New Street with extra platforms excavated not another station. HS2 was originally designed to replace air travel between, say, Manchester and Paris. As it is no longer going to be a direct route (it was originally) that won’t now happen. It’ll be quicker to fly. And, of course, there is the escalating cost.
    2) You are wrong about West Midlands Trains just being a rebadged London-Midland. Brand new rolling stock will come on line and WMT offered more than L-M in their franchise application. But they were over-ambitious with their initial timetable changes.

    I hope that’s helpful!

  17. Hi Dave:
    I took your comment up with WMT (via twitter!) This is what they say about this morning:

    “Hi Michael, apologies for the short train this morning – our Cross-City trains are undergoing some accessibility upgrades and on top unit faults, this can leave us short. Our engineers aim to prevent these issues, but it’s to be expected given their age (built in the 90s).

    We do have a new set of trains on order which will be eased into service throughout the course of 2021/2022 – this will dramatically increase capacity as well improve the reliability. Further improvements will be made as part of our timetable changes.”

  18. How can one be encouraged to use the railway with the cost of parking having to be added onto the ticket price. Charging to park at a railway station is just plane stupid

  19. As I said anyone with any foresight. Seems to be in short supply. And yes car parking charges are horrendous. Needed to get to the train quickly one day at Trent Valley. Anywhere to park there that doesn’t cost what is it £8? For a whole day. Only needed to be away for a couple of hours. Just doesn’t make any kind of sense.

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