Lichfield commuters who have suffered disruption to their train services while engineering work upgrade the track could find their early morning timetable worse – instead of better – once the new timetables come into force in December 2008. Michael Fabricant says: "Last Wednesday, the Chairman of the Office of Rail Regulation, Chris Bolt, addressed Lichfield commuters at our regular dinner down at the House of Commons. Commuters are very alarmed at these changes to the existing timetable and I share their anger. The new timetable should improve conditions for commuters, not make them worse.
"I have now written to Chris Bolt formally asking him to intervene with the train operator, Virgin Trains, and with Network Rail who own the track and signalling infrastructure."
The text of the letter from Michael Fabricant to Chris Bolt, Chairman of the Office of Rail Regulation, follows below.
With regard to rail time tabling post December 2008, you will know that while we are generally satisfied with the Virgin Pendolino services being proposed for the evening return from Euston to Lichfield Trent Valley, there is very real concern about the early morning commuter service being proposed from Lichfield Trent Valley down to Euston.
It is proposed that the existing Monday to Friday 06:33 and 07:21 services will be replaced by one around 6am and another about 30 minutes later. This is a nonsense. Everyone will board the later train exacerbating the overcrowding problem while commuters requiring a later service arriving at Euston just before 9am will find no train available from Virgin. We have spoken to Charles Belcher, MD Virgin Trains West Coast Mainline, and he acknowledges that this is a degradation in service. He says it is due to signalling, track, and other constraints. This is particularly galling given all the disruption Lichfield commuters are facing due to the Trent Valley track upgrade.
Can you intervene with Network Rail? Lichfield commuters should be able to enjoy a better service from Lichfield after completion of 4-tracking – not a worse service.