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TfWM formally opposes ‘wholly unacceptable’ plans to cut inter-city WCML services

Potential plans to reduce inter-city trains on the next franchise for the West Coast Main Line have been branded “wholly unacceptable” as transport chiefs in the West Midlands sent in their formal response to the government.

Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), sent a formal response to the DfT’s Inter City West Coast (ICWC) franchise consultation opposing plans to reduce services at stations like Wolverhampton, Coventry, Birmingham International and Sandwell and Dudley.

The DfT had said the proposals in its consultation document would increase capacity on the line, speeding up journey times for long-distance passengers and improving the region’s services to London and Scotland after the existing franchise, which is held by Virgin Trains, expires in 2018.

But TfWM said reducing the services would damage the economy. Instead, it has put forward proposals to introduce longer 10, 11 or even 12-car trains to replace or extend the existing five and nine car services.

Cllr Roger Lawrence, transport lead on the WMCA, added that other proposals include better management of on-train capacity to avoid passengers standing in the middle of the train when there are seats available nearer the front or back.

The transport chiefs have also called for changes to the fare structure to address the significant difference between peak and off-peak fares and for more effective use of available train capacity.

The response also calls for the existing three trains per hour service between the West Midlands and London Euston to be retained with no restrictions to existing calling patterns.

Cllr Lawrence added: “Thousands of people in the West Midlands rely on the inter-city services currently provided by Virgin Trains for their daily commute.

“While we recognise the pressing need to squeeze more capacity out of the existing line it should not come at the expense of fewer inter-city services at key West Midlands stations. That would be wholly unacceptable.

“Nevertheless, we need to meet rising passenger numbers and support economic growth until the arrival of HS2 can relieve the pressure and that’s why we have suggested a number of alternative options.”


Huguenot   18/08/2016 at 20:03

I'm afraid that I have to disagree with TfWM and WMCA. Inter-City services are for long-distance travellers not short-distance commuters. Peak-hour VTWC trains starting from or terminating at Birmingham NS should be set-down only or pick-up only (as appropriate) at Birmingham International and Coventry, otherwise longer-distance passengers suffer considerable discomfort. It's more difficult with the hourly through trains to/from Scotland as even long-distance passengers may with to alight or board at these stations. Commuters have plenty of London Midland services to use.

Mike, Malvern   19/08/2016 at 11:51

I think Mr Huguenot is extremely patronising towards the people of the West Midlands who have every right to use the fast trains to complete their commute. This route is already bursting at the seams and forcing these passengers to use the overcrowded, slow suburban services is not a fair option. It is also not right to cut people off from direct services to London. The proposed changes to extend trains and to provide better passenger information are sensible and cost effective. Frankly its what the 'innovative' train company should already have done.

Grev Jones   19/08/2016 at 13:05

Its refreshing to see someone passionate about the Railway and his local area/economy offering practical suggestions rather than just lambasting all and sundry

Gb   19/08/2016 at 14:08

I have always been surprised that the Voyager long distance trains were permitted to run as 4 or 5-car sets. Surely, to maximise track and train capacity these should be extended to 10 or 12-car sets at least.

Peter Jarvis   19/08/2016 at 15:09

In response to Gb, the Voyagers I use from Milton Keynes to North Wales are indeed of ten cars.A most useful service.

Brian O   19/08/2016 at 17:53

Perhaps ways and means should be found to 4 track (at least parts of) the Coventry to Wolverhampton corridor. Mixing stoppers and fasts on the same two tracks is a huge contributor to the lack of capacity.

Lesf   19/08/2016 at 20:35

Brian O is right. 4-tracking is Centro/WMCA policy and the bridge carrying A45 over WCML near NEC is currently being rebuilt for 4 tracks. Meanwhile, congestion can be cured by train lengthening, scrapping season tickets in favour of electronic carnets, an overhaul of the fares to eliminate the fares "cliff", and by showing passengers where to stand on the platform to find a seat. No need to deny access to passengers. Gb, the hourly VT Voyager Euston-Shrewsbury is already 10 cars.

Jak Jaye   20/08/2016 at 08:42

Re Mike Malvern::Vermin West Coast innovative? don't make me laugh,Branson and Co are only interested in milking as much money out of it as possible,the 'poodalinos' are rubbish as are the 'orrible voyagers,if more trains are needed,take some of the magnificent HST s from FGW,make them 5-6 car formations and run every half hour, anything is better then the slow coach LM Desiros

David J   20/08/2016 at 12:17

Thanks, Jak, for your suggestion that we 'West Country yokels' should give up our bi-hourly HST service to London so you can get a more comfortable service.

Tim B   17/09/2016 at 17:52

David J, you hadn't heard that the HSTs are being replaced by electric and bi-mode trains?

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