At a meeting held at the House of Commons on Thursday afternoon (12th
July) between senior officials from the Department of Transport, the
Managing Director of Virgin Trains West Coast (Charles Belcher),
representatives of the Lichfield Commuters’ Club (Dorcas Batstone and
Douglas Neill), and Michael Fabricant, it was agreed that the planned
morning commuters Virgin Pendolino Service from Lichfield to London from
December 2008 was totally unacceptable. It had been proposed that the
existing morning 06.33 and 07.21 services to London would be slashed and
be replaced with a Pendolino at 05.58 and another at 06.41 with no later
Virgin Pendolino trains.
Following concerted pressure from commuter groups and coordinated by
Michael Fabricant, it was agreed at the meeting that there will now be a
Virgin Pendolino service to London from Lichfield Trent Valley at 06.41
and a later train at 07.07. There will be return Pendolino services
from London back to Lichfield at 16.57, 17.57, 20.30, and 22.00. All
the evening return trains – bar the 22.00 service – will have only a 70
minute journey time.
The Pendolino services will be supported by a 7 day timetable of hourly
and two hourly services from a new franchise, Govia, offering upgraded
Desiro trains south to Northampton, Milton Keynes, Watford, and Euston
and north to Stafford, Stoke, and Crewe.
Michael Fabricant says: "This is a major improvement on what was being
offered. It was intolerable that after suffering all the disruption due
to the 4 tracking of the Trent Valley section north of Lichfield,
regular commuters would end up with an inferior service. The new 7.07
is a little earlier than some commuters would have liked, but is
probably an acceptable alternative to the existing 7.21 service.
Commuters being forced onto an overcrowded 6.41 service with no later
Pendolino service would have been unacceptable. In addition, the
regular Govia service will put Lichfield in regular direct train contact
with our capital and other major cities throughout the seven day week."
Michael Fabricant hosts regular evening dinners of the Lichfield
Commuters Club in the House of Commons. It is expected that the Chief
Executives of Virgin and of Govia will be present to state their plans
and answer questions at the next dinner in October. Readers interested
in joining Lichfield Commuters Club (no fee for joining) and attending
the dinners should contact Dorcas Batstone by emailing her at: firstname.lastname@example.org