Worcester MP Robin Walker has welcomed news that West Midlands Railways (WMR) will be required to spend an extra £20 million on improving services for passengers after badly breaching its performance targets.

Passengers across the West Midlands will benefit from the additional funding, which will be invested in delivering timetable improvements and recruiting new train drivers to tackle staff shortages. They will also continue to be offered compensation for poor service with discounts on season tickets and off-peak fares.

As part of this package passengers will be offered a 10% reduction in off-peak fares in July and August 2020, and the 3% season ticket discount announced in January will be extended to all season tickets renewals until 30 December this year. The Department for Transport has made clear that operators should consider this step a warning that poor performance impacting on passengers and the failure to meet contractual obligations will be met with a firm response.

Robin has applauded this intervention by the Department for Transport which comes after he has raised real concerns with the Minister as well as meeting regularly with the senior management of WMR. 

WMR have failed to meet contractual performance levels for several months, and Robin welcomes news that they will be required to spend £20m to deliver a package of service improvements and compensate passengers for the poor performance they have suffered. 

Speaking after the announcement, Robin said: 

“I am pleased that the Government has taken this decisive action and put West Midlands Railways on formal notice that it must invest money on delivering immediate improvements.”

“I hope these measures will result in better commuter rail services for the people of Worcestershire. I will continue to closely monitor WMR performance and will take up the concerns of my constituents.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

“One of my priorities is getting the trains to run on time, and as a commuter myself I understand all too well the frustration caused by endless delays and cancellations.”

“West Midlands Trains have failed to fulfil their obligations – to their franchise agreement and, most importantly, to their passengers.”

“The action we’re taking means they must invest in rapidly improving services, so that passengers have reliable, punctual trains they can rely on.”

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said:

“Having monitored the poor performance of West Midlands Trains with great concern, we’re taking action to ensure they fulfil their contractual commitments and deliver the service passengers deserve.”

“Every minute of delay adds up, and for far too long passengers have been left stuck on train platforms at the mercy of a fickle live departure board.”

“Having our country’s trains run on time must be the rule, not the exception. This is a warning that operators simply must do better for their passengers.”

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said:

“West Midlands Trains’ performance at the back end of last year was absolutely woeful and it is only right – as I requested – that the firm must pay the price financially. I am also pleased to see this money will be re-invested locally to help restore the reliable service that passengers want and deserve.”

“Since I issued my ultimatum in December to improve or lose the franchise, WMT has got better and performance is statistically on the up. But I still have very serious concerns and, alongside the DfT, will be keeping the firm under strict review. I will not hesitate to ask for the franchise to be stripped if performance slips again.”

ENDS 

Notes to editors 

For more information on the announcement, please see:

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/west-midlands-trains-must-invest-20-million-after-poor-performance-and-delays

 

For more information on Robin’s previous statements for faster services, please see:

https://www.walker4worcester.com/2019/10/relief-for-worcester-commuters-as-additional-carriages-added-to-west-midlands-rail-trains/

https://www.walker4worcester.com/2019/10/faster-worcester-campaign-will-be-delivered-this-year-with-sub-two-hour-service-to-and-from-london/

https://www.walker4worcester.com/2018/04/worcester-mp-meets-with-great-western-to-push-for-service-improvements/

https://www.walker4worcester.com/2018/01/worcesters-transport-on-track-under-the-conservatives-at-risk-from-labour/

https://www.walker4worcester.com/2016/02/businesses-must-speak-out-now-to-strengthen-case-for-fast-track-worcester/