Rail operator vows extra compensation for disrupted passengers
West Midlands Trains said timetable changes in May led to disruption on its London Northwestern Railway and West Midlands Railway services.
Rail passengers who have suffered months of severe disruption after new timetables were introduced are to receive additional compensation.
London Northwestern Railway (LNR) and West Midlands Railway (WMR) announced they will compensate customers in addition to their standard schemes.
West Midlands Trains, the operators’ parent company, said it will confirm details of the programme “very shortly”.
It has already paid out £2.5 million in delay repay compensation since May.
West Midlands Trains said timetable changes in May created capacity for 150,000 extra passengers but made it “much harder” to cope with disruption, leading to more severe knock-on effects and an increase in delayed journeys.
There have also been a large number of cancellations due to drivers refusing to cross picket lines when members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union go on strike in the long-running dispute over guards on trains.
A third successive Saturday walkout is taking place this weekend.
Office of Rail and Road figures show 44.8% of LNR and WMR services combined arrived at stations within one minute of the timetable between October 13 and November 9, compared with the average across Britain of 59.3%.
It was the worst performance on the West Midlands Trains route for a four-week period since current records began in April 2013.
A simplified timetable will be introduced on December 15 in a bid to improve reliability.
West Midlands Trains commercial director Andy Camp said: “Performance since May has not been as good as it should have been, and we apologise to all our customers.
“While we have started on a vigorous programme to improve performance, working with industry partners including Network Rail who run the signalling and tracks and the West Midlands Rail Executive, we are taking this extra step to compensate our passengers.”
Linda McCord of independent watchdog Transport Focus said: “Passengers will welcome this extra compensation, which we have been calling for.
“When lives are disrupted on a daily basis for such a long period, it’s only right that those responsible do the right thing.
“We want to see this made simple to understand and really easy to claim, including a lot of publicity to ensure that passengers don’t miss out.”
Additional compensation programmes run by Govia Thameslink Railway and Northern following the May 2018 timetable disruption was open to passengers who had travelled from affected stations on a minimum of three days in any week during a qualifying period.
The value of compensation varied depended on the type of ticket bought, with season ticket holders receiving the equivalent cost of up to four weeks’ rail travel.
West Midlands Trains is a joint venture between Abellio – the international arm of the state-owned Dutch national rail operator – and Japanese partners.
It is investing £700 million in a fleet of new trains which will begin entering service in the second half of next year.
London Northwestern Railway services operate between Liverpool and Birmingham, and on the West Coast Main Line between London and Crewe, while West Midlands Railway runs trains across the West Midlands.
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