PROTESTING commuters from Berkswell say their family lives are being disrupted by the ‘bizarre’ scrapping of a peak-hour packed train – causing a ‘nightmare’ with the school run and working hours.
Supported by politicians including Dame Caroline Spelman, Conservative candidate for Meriden, they are calling for the train’s urgent re-instatement to serve thousands of residents living in Balsall Common, Berkswell and surrounding areas.
From today, London Midland has scrapped the 8.21am service from Berkswell Station to Birmingham New Street – which was so in demand that campaigners described it as being like the London Tube in rush-hour.
To add insult to injury, the service is still running between London Euston and Birmingham New Street, despite no longer stopping at Berkswell.
London Midland says it took the decision to deal with the overcapacity by scrapping the four-carriage 8.21am train and replacing it with a new 7.57am eight-carriage train stopping at Berskwell.
The petition states: “London Midland have cancelled the 08:21 service which runs from Berkswell to Birmingham New Street. From 22/05/17, the services will only run at 07:57 and 08:40.
“The 08:40 train arrives at Birmingham New Street at 09:02, making it unsuitable for morning commuters who start work at 09:00.
“The change also puts a greater strain on the 07:57 service, as all current commuters will start to use this service. This service arrives at Birmingham New Street at 08:17, which is too early for people who start work at 09:00.
“As the London Midland service will continue to run from London Euston to Birmingham New Street, we would like to request that the train continues to stop at Berkswell at 08:21.”
Commuter and Berkswell mum Rachel James, who launched the petition with Julie Woodfield, added: “Parents now have to drop off their kids very early at nursery or school.
“They’ve added a new service at 7.57 but why can’t that be in addition to keeping the 8.21?”
Another commuter, a Berkswell mum who did not want to be named, said: “Some before-school clubs and nurseries don’t open until 8am so it’s causing a nightmare for parents and children.
“It’s bizarre to still have the train running but no longer stopping at Berkswell.
“They are forcing more cars on the roads when they want people to use more public transport.
“How are private rail companies going to be held to account for such decisions? It took them weeks to respond to me, I got no real answers, and the 8.40 today was seven minutes late. It’s not good enough.”
Dame Caroline met commuters at the station last week.
She said: “Having caught the 0821 last week from Berkswell Station to Birmingham New Street, I have seen first-hand just how popular this service is and I do not believe that the customers should be penalised in this way.
“For that reason, I have called on London Midland to put on more carriages to meet demand –after all, many commuters will recall that the platforms were lengthened to cater for longer trains.
“Furthermore I would actively encourage people to go online and sign the petition which I am delighted to support.”
A London Midland spokesman said the changes would be reviewed after a month. He said: “The changes to the stopping pattern at Berkswell have been made with the objective of enabling customers to travel more comfortably. The 08:21 service was a busy train with many customers needing to stand. The new 07:57 service is formed of eight carriages, double the capacity of the 08:21 service.
“We are aware that the change has not been popular with all our customers. Inevitably, there will be some people who are happy with the change and others less so.
“We will listen to what our customers have to say and we are committed to reviewing the change after a month to establish whether it has been successful.
“In the meantime customers are welcome to provide feedback directly to London Midland at londonmidland.com/comments, tweet us @LondonMidland or call us on 0344 811 0133.”
Read and sign the petition here