South Warwickshire train users call for action over increasingly unreliable services - The Leamington Observer

South Warwickshire train users call for action over increasingly unreliable services

Leamington Editorial 29th Aug, 2023 Updated: 29th Aug, 2023   0

THE PATIENCE of trains users in Stratford has reached the end of the line due to the unreliability of services.

Shakespeare Line Rail User Group (SLRUG) has received numerous complaints about the increasing unreliability of trains between Stratford and Birmingham, which has led the group’s chairman Peter Morris to write to West Midlands Trains.

Complaints over the past few days have included nine train services cancelled on Monday (August 21) and and a three hour black hole on Saturday afternoon (August 19) when no trains were running in either direction. But, according to SLRUG, the problem has been escalating over the past four years.

Mr Morris said he could only see the situation, which has been put down to staff shortages, worsening and so had chosen to write to WMT and speak out on behalf of “seriously inconvenienced and frustrated train users”.

In his letter he said: “As a rail user group, we have exercised considerable patience over the past four years in response to your company’s plans and promises to address the shortfall in traincrew resources. We feel our tolerance has been misplaced given the persistent and unacceptable level of unreliability faced by passengers, many who rely on the train having no other means of transport.”

Mr Morris continued that over the past four years the same pattern of WMT’s unreliability had set in – commencing each year in the school holidays and continuing through autumn, mainly manifesting with late afternoon/evening and Saturday train service cancellations. Then as Christmas approaches and more staff leave is taken, the level of unreliability significantly increases.

Mr Morris questioned in his letter why the promise to address the shortfall in staff was not now in place, a problem that had only been further exacerbated by industrial action when the train service had been completely withdrawn.

He also again raised concerns about the closure of the booking office at Stratford station – a move which is set to become permanent under government cutbacks – for three days, which led to many passengers missing trains due to platform confusion. He said there was only one platform monitor, which only shows trains using platform one, when there are three platforms in use.

Mr Morris continued: “This situation must be addressed as soon as possible because people are boarding the wrong trains and missing the train they should board. Many of these mistakes have far-reaching consequences, as the Stratford departure is often part of a much longer train journey requiring timed connections.”

He added: “It pains us that these obvious, longstanding shortfalls at Stratford have to be brought to your attention by a group of pro-active amateurs (SLRUG) making WMT Ltd look as if it is ‘sitting on its hands’ when it comes to enhancing the passengers’ rail experience. We look forward to a sustained improvement in train service reliability arising from your anticipated response.”

A spokesperson for WMT told the Observer that ongoing industrial action coinciding with the summer holiday period had impacted service reliability recently.

They added: “We will continue to engage directly with customers and stakeholders, including the Shakespeare Rail User Group, on this issue and will remain focused on providing the best possible service to customers across our network.”

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