Following the Lichfield Commuters’ Club dinner held earlier this month (6th July) at the House of Commons chaired by Michael Fabricant with guest speakers from Virgin Trains, Charles Belcher (Managing Director, West Coast Line) and Mike Bone (General Manager, West Midlands Region), Virgin have now responded to a number of suggestions and criticisms raised by Club members concerning Lichfield Trent Valley Railway Station.
The following issues were raised and this is the current status as provided by Virgin:
- Announcements. There are no or few announcements concerning Virgin Trains on the public address system at Lichfield Trent Valley. This is because the station is operated by Central Trains and the p.a. system is controlled from the ticket office which can only be accessed by Central Trains staff.
Solution: Discussions have been opened by Virgin Trains with Central to see whether access can be allowed to the ticket office for Virgin Trains staff. Alternatively, a p.a. link will be provided to the Virgin Trains cabin at the station.
- Ticketing. There can be delays in ordering and collecting tickets for Virgin Trains at Lichfield Trent Valley.
Solution: A business case is being prepared for the installation of a ‘Virgin Trains Fast Ticket’ machine to be installed at the station. This will enable speedy issuing of tickets. Permission will be sought from Central Trains to install the machine.
- Car Parking. A train is cancelled and commuters with car park season tickets for Lichfield choose to drive to Birmingham International to catch an alternative train service.
Solution: On production of a Lichfield Trent Valley car park season ticket at the ticket office of Birmingham International, commuters will be issued with a complimentary car park exit ticket.
Michael Fabricant has also been campaigning on behalf of elderly, infirm, and disabled passengers who have great difficulty using the footbridge to the south (London) bound railway line. The Strategic Rail Authority has informed Michael that the disused crossing over the west coast line at the end of the station will no longer be designated as a crossing for disabled customers.
"This crossing has not been used for some years as it is highly dangerous and requires passengers in wheelchairs or elderly passengers to cross over the four west coast lines between the platforms. Obviously, with trains travelling through Lichfield Trent Valley at speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, this so-called disabled crossing is highly unsafe and has been discontinued for some years" Michael explains. "By changing the designation, it makes it clear that there are no disabled facilities at Trent Valley. This will increase the pressure to provide alternative arrangements – such as a lift – for elderly and disabled travellers.
"The Lichfield commuters Club will be meeting again at the House of Commons on Tuesday November 30th at the House of Commons. The guest speakers, after dinner, will include the Regional Director of Network Rail which takes over the planning of the rail system later this year. Anyone interested in joining the friendly atmosphere of the Club should contact me at the House of Commons, London" adds Michael Fabricant.