London Midland


There have now been hundreds of delays and cancellations of London Midland services in the West Midlands because of driver shortages in the last few weeks. Last week, on Tuesday alone more than 60 scheduled train services were cancelled or altered.

Why has London Midland suddenly found themselves in the position of not having enough drivers? All companies experience turnover of staff but presumably that should be planned for.

For my constituents it is not just the delays and cancellations that are causing concern, it is also the cuts to ticket office opening hours and the lack of long-term thinking about plans for Longbridge train station – as part of the wider redevelopment of the former MG Rover site – and the future of transport in the area.

Does this lack of long-term thinking and planning have something to do with the fact that their franchise is due to end in 2015? There are certainly important questions that both London Midland and the Transport Secretary must urgently address.

Ministers have told me that Department for Transport officials are in daily contact with London Midland and that they are concerned about the deterioration of services. I am pleased they are in contact and taking an interest – but what I really want to know is exactly what they intend to do.

Will the problem be resolved? If so, when? How did we get to the situation whereby London Midland appears not to have forward planned for its driver requirements? Are the government looking at what powers they have to impose a penalty on London Midland? How will they ensure that this does not happen again in the future?

These are the questions I want transport ministers to answer and soon.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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