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£7m compensation for London Midland passengers

Passengers on London Midland will be offered free and discounted travel after months of cancellations and delays on the franchise.

Rail minister Norman Baker has announced that London Midland will have to provide a £7m compensation package, as well as spending more on infrastructure improvements to avoid future disruption.

Season ticket holders will be given five days worth of free travel passes, and 500,000 discounted tickets will be made available.

Baker said: “London Midland has cancelled or delayed hundreds of services in recent months. Securing these benefits for passengers represents a firm yellow-card for London Midland and some financial benefit for those who have been hardest hit by their poor performance.

“I am confident London Midland has now rectified their driver shortage but the company need to be clear that we will continue to monitor their performance closely and take firmer action if necessary.”

There has been extreme disruption on the line in recent months, due to the company being unable to provide enough drivers. This was felt most keenly in the West Midlands. After the Olympics many of London Midland’s staff took leave which they had been unable to take during the Games, leading to shortages and cancellations of services.

A statement on the operator’s website reads: “Although we worked hard to ensure the shortage was addressed and resolved as quickly as possible, we recognise that recent disruption has been unacceptable to passengers. It is also not what we expect of ourselves and we are sorry for letting you down.”

Labour peer Lord Hunt said in the Lords in the autumn: “[There is a] general obligation contained in the franchise agreement…that the operator should undertake its job with a ‘degree of skill, diligence, prudence and foresight’. The problem with the London Midland service is a shortage of drivers. I would have thought that that is ample evidence for an intervention into the franchise agreement. This company is not fit to run the franchise.” 

Rail minister Earl Attlee said at the time: “It is important to understand that all train operating companies rely on rest-day working but only to the extent of about 3% or thereabouts, whereas this operator is now in the region of 6%. A shortage of drivers causes a serious problem for that operator but it is the train operating company's problem.” 

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