Rail company makes plans for autumn

Autumn leaf fall timetable to be introduced on Cross City services.

London Midland is introducing a temporary timetable on its Cross City line. The six week timetable, which affects Monday–Saturday services, will come into effect on Monday, 3rd November until Saturday, 13th December.

The main change for passengers travelling on the route, which runs from Lichfield in the north, through Birmingham and on to Redditch, is that not all trains will stop at every station. This means there will be fewer train services from some stations.

Mark Goodall, Head of Cross City Services said, “The six week period from 3rd November–13th December is when the punctuality of our trains suffered most in recent years, so it’s right that we make changes. “I listen carefully to passengers and have reviewed feedback from previous years when we didn’t adjust the timetable. I firmly believe the changes we are making offer a safe and sensible solution and will help to minimise delays and keep our passengers moving”.

In addition to amending the timetable, the company and Network Rail will be reducing the impact of leaf fall, from identifying ‘hot spots’ for cutting back trees and vegetation, to defining the most effective times of the day to spray clean the rails. Mark added, “We’re doing everything we can to mitigate the impact of leaf fall and deliver the best possible service for passengers”.

Liam Sumpter, Area Director for Network Rail said, “Network Rail’s priority is to keep the railway safe and keep it running. Our frontline teams work hard every year, in co-operation with train operators, to manage the effects of autumn, to improve the reliability of our equipment and to keep the trains running on our tracks punctually”.

Work is also underway at London Midland’s maintenance depot in Soho, Birmingham, where specialist traction gel applicators are being fitted to trains that serve the Cross City route. The traction gel will be sprayed on to the railhead to help improve the grip between the wheel and the rail.

A dedicated communications campaign will be launched this week to raise of awareness of the autumn timetable and to highlight what it means for passengers. Information posters and banners will be displayed on-board trains and at all 24 stations on the route. This activity will be supported by face to face sessions at stations, during the morning and evening peaks, in the weeks leading up to the timetable change.

Cllr Roger Horton, Centro lead member for rail and Midland Metro, said: “Any impact on services must be measured against the fact that this work is being done to minimise potential disruption, so it is the lesser of two evils.”

The key advice for passengers is ‘Check before you travel’ and there are a number of ways to do that. A printed version of the autumn timetable is available from all stations on the route and you can also check the London Midland app and website – where a dedicated leaf fall page has been created www.londonmidland.com/leaffall.

Network Rail will also be providing extra support at New Street station to help ensure passengers get on the right train.