Shropshire Star comment: Further rail failings should not be tolerated

The new boss of West Midlands Trains had made it clear that he intends to move on swiftly from the franchise’s troubled past.

Julian Edwards’ is the man charged with turning around the fortunes of the failing operator, and make no mistake, he has a monumental task on his hands. In many respects, his admission that West Midlands Trains has been letting passengers down will come as a surprise to few, bearing in mind the months of cancelled and delayed services that the public has been forced to endure thanks to a botched timetable revamp.

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The provider has certainly been hauled over the coals in recent weeks, with West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and then the Government laying down strict ultimatums demanding improved performance. Mr Edwards has vowed, in his own words, to “put things right”, insisting that behind the scenes measures have already been implemented to ensure that services improve.

A new timetable will be brought in from March, more train crew and drivers will be recruited, and extra carriages will be laid on during busy periods. He has also pledged to work with Network Rail to increase line speeds at New Street, a move that could seriously reduce congestion during busy periods.

This is all well and good, but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. People in this region are tired of being told to use public transport to help save the environment, when the systems in place are not fit for purpose. Last year it became common for commuters to turn up at railway stations hoping to get to work, only to be greeted by a list of cancelled trains and notices of driver shortages. It is little wonder that so many people fail to see the point of HS2, when local train services are incapable of keeping the region moving.

For the time being, the apology from West Midlands Trains is to be welcomed. The majority of people will be willing to give the operator the benefit of the doubt as we wait to see how the promised improvements pan out over the coming months. Further failings should not be tolerated.

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Henry Yates was a champion of the countryside, a farmer, an advocate, a writer, a conversationalist, and a promoter and a creator of good things for Shropshire’s agricultural community.

For many years he shared his knowledge and insight of the agricultural scene. He spoke on farming matters in the Shropshire Star and in his regular farming columns in the Bridgnorth Journal.

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And he made things happen, in particular being the driving force in revitalising the Burwarton Show after it was wound up in 1971.

So his death at the age of 83 will be keenly felt, not just because of what he said and did, but because of what he was like, and the tributes to him are testament to a man of energy and vitality, with a positive attitude, who was engaging and entertaining company, and held in great affection.

Henry Yates lived and breathed the country life. Being a farmer is not a choice for those seeking the easy way, and one of his many qualities was his capacity for hard work. In his younger days he wasn’t a bad cricketer either, scoring 124 not out while playing for Ludlow.

Farewell to a rural legend.

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