Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has announced that West Midlands Trains will have to spend £20 million to improve services after breaching its performance targets.
In a warning to other train operators in the country, Grant Shapps has confirmed what the operator must do to improve its train services.
Passengers who use West Midlands Railway and London Northwestern services will see timetable improvements and also the recruitment of new train drivers.
Passengers will also continue to be offered compensation for poor service with discounts on season tickets and off-peak fares.
The Department for Transport has also made it clear that this is a major warning to the operator, and failure to meet these obligations will be met with a firm response.
What did the officials say?
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 of 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.
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