WEST Midlands Trains has been issued with an ultimatum over its ‘woeful’ and ‘failing service’.
The company could be stripped of its franchise if it doesn’t restore a reliable service by January 31, 2020.
The deadline was set by West Midlands mayor Andy Street who said he has seen no signs of improvement since the company changed its timetable earlier this year.
“Like many of you, I have lost faith in West Midlands Trains’ ability to run our network under the current system.
“I am determined to take control and bring this misery to an end.”
Mr Street added he will ask the Department for Transport to strip the operator of its franchise if it didn’t meet the ‘correct standards’.
West Midlands Trains has been heavily criticised since taking over from operator London Midland at the close of 2017.
Customers have had to deal with an unprecedented amount of cancellations, delays and shortages of train crews and carriages.
Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson described the situation as a matter of ‘public safety’ and threatened to hold a public hearing unless matters improved.
Mr Jamieson has a track record of following through with his threats, as he he did in 2016 over failures with the region’s motorway network.
It takes two and a half years to build a train according to West Midlands Trains bosses, of which £700million has already been invested into building new ones.
Francis Thomas, head of corporate affairs for West Midlands Railway, said: “We come out regularly to train stations to listen to our passengers because we feel it’s the right place to have these conversations.
“We care about the people and we want them to know that we realise things aren’t as good as they should be at the moment, especially since the timetable change in May – which was the biggest shakeup in more than 10 years.
“But new trains, which will be air-conditioned and have more room for people and their bags, are being built and will be here soon enough.”
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