Latest Rail News

02.11.12

London Midland attacked by Lords over cancellations

Under-fire operator London Midland has been accused in the House of Lords of being “not fit to run the franchise” after cancelling hundreds of services due to a lack of drivers over the past month. 

The TOC has seen a higher than normal turnover of drivers, and has also had many staff catching up on annual leave cancelled during the Olympics and Paralympics – a problem described by Earl Attlee, who speaks in the Lords for the DfT, as London Midland’s “chickens coming home to roost”. 

Yesterday alone, nearly 40 services were affected after six shifts were left uncovered. 

Earl Attlee told the Lords that the operator has “not yet” breached the contractual cancellations benchmark, but said if things get worse there are “further punitive measures” that could be taken. 

But Labour peer Lord Hunt replied: “I am not sure that that will be much compensation to the thousands of travellers, particularly in the West Midlands, who have suffered from the cancellation of hundreds of trains in the past few weeks. 

“[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.” 

Lord Snape said the company has “never recruited enough drivers or train crew generally”, relying instead on voluntary overtime and rest-day working to maintain services.

Earl Attlee said: “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.” 

London Midland itself has repeatedly apologised for the problem, which it says should be fixed by mid-December, and says drivers are working overtime to try to reduce disruption for passengers. 

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com 

(Image: Alvey & Towers)

Comments

Don   02/11/2012 at 13:03

Rather too late...this has been ongoing for ages. London Midland is technically abusing the franchise. Milton keynes to Rugby will take you minimum of 50 - 60 mins on London Midland. Really, appalling if you have to go to Rugby from business trip

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