Uproar as rail station cuts approved

Plans to reduce staff on local railways have come in for criticism.

TrainsLocal Transport chiefs have criticised a decision to allow staffing levels and opening hours to be reduced at West Midlands railway stations. Centro, the region’s transport authority, called the government decision terrible news for passengers and said it was extremely disappointed that train operator London Midland has been allowed to make the controversial changes.

Centro’s Lead Member for Transforming Rail, Cllr Roger Horton, said: “Passengers tell us they like to see a staff presence at stations because it makes them feel safe.

“Not only do staff perform a critical role in customer service but they act as a deterrent to criminal or anti-social behaviour. You don’t get that from a ticket machine.

“This decision does nothing for passengers. It is a great pity that London Midland and the Department for Transport did not adopt our solution that would have delivered operational efficiencies and, most importantly, have met the needs of passengers.”

Centro, along with watchdog Passenger Focus, rail union RMT and more than 18,000 passengers, opposed the staffing reductions when they were first proposed by London Midland last year. In pushing forward the staffing reductions, London Midland pointed to the recent McNulty Report which looked at how Britain’s rail network can be made more efficient and cost-effective.

However Centro chairman Cllr John McNicholas said “London Midland recently said that reducing staff will not save them any money. If that is the case we fail to see why they did not listen to the 18,000 passengers and disabled groups who objected.

“We also fail to see what possible benefits there are to London Midland, the Department for Transport, or, most importantly, the passengers in driving through these changes.

“I can fully understand if passengers feel angry. They are entitled to be.”