Shropshire Star

More rail replacement buses pledged after stranded passengers 'unable to board full coach'

Residents are being assured more rail replacement buses have been provided after a landslip cancelled all trains between Shropshire and Wolverhampton.

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The landslide near Oakengates, Telford, has meant the town's rail access has been completely cut off.

The closure is expected to last a minimum of two weeks, with Network Rail warning it may be the end of the month before the line is open again.

In response to the closure, train operators have implemented rail replacement bus services, but residents have reported challenges, including issues with frequency, capacity, and travel time.

Since the line closed, there have been two bus services an hour in each direction between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton; a 'fast' service stopping at Wellington and Telford Central only, and a slower bus that also stops at Oakengates, Shifnal, Cosford, Albrighton, Codsall and Bilbrook.

Residents have also expressed difficulty in accessing up-to-date information regarding the situation and the latest travel updates.

Residents are being assured more buses have been provided to tackle issues with the rail replacement service

On Monday, Council Leader, Shaun Davies said: “Whilst I welcome the work taking place to fix the issue, residents and businesses from Telford and Wrekin need an effective alternative means of transport and regular communication from Network Rail so that travel options are clear.

“People have been in touch with me to express their dismay at the impact of the closure. They are saying that the replacement bus service takes too long and cannot cope with the number of people who need to use it.

“This morning, residents told me that the replacement bus was 30 minutes late and almost full on arrival – leaving around 30 passengers at Telford Central with nowhere to go and no option for onward travel. This is completely unacceptable.

“I have written to the Transport Secretary to urge him to use all available resources to reopen the railway line at the very earliest opportunity. I have also detailed the need for urgent reconsideration of the replacement bus service to ensure it is fit for purpose and disruption to passengers is minimized.

“I look forward to prompt action and resolution of these issues to lighten the burden on residents and businesses who have quite literally been stopped in their tracks.”

Spokespeople for both West Midlands Railway and Transport for Wales said they were aware of issues, and had arranged additional coaches to help with the teething problems.

A West Midlands Railway spokesperson said: “Following the landslip near Wellington last week, we were able to source rail replacement at short notice.

“We are aware of reports of capacity issues and as a result we have increased the number of standby buses along the route. A manager from our road transport provider has been deployed to stations along the line to review how the service is operating and whether any adjustments are required.

“We will continue to work with Transport for Wales to ensure there is appropriate alternative transport and we urge passengers to check their journey planners and allow extra time for their journeys while Network Rail carries out safety-critical repairs."

A spokesperson for Transport for Wales said: “We’re aware of some issues with capacity on peak-time rail replacement bus services which are currently in operation between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton due to a landslip near Wellington and would like to apologise for any inconvenience this has caused.

“We are working with the rail replacement bus providers to add additional coaches to each departure with options for direct travel between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton or services calling at all stations.

“Extra standby buses have also been put in place and we’re increasing the number of staff at key locations to assist passengers. We’d like to thank our customers for their patience and understanding while this rail replacement bus service is in operation.”