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Despite suggestions in the media and on social media that rail services on West Midlands Trains had improved in recent weeks, it is evidentially clear from over 1,400 responses online and letters to West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, that there still remains a tremendous public frustration, anger and hostility towards the train service provided by West Midlands Trains.

With the safety of the public his key priority, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, has made it clear he intends pressing ahead with a public hearing with the Leader of Birmingham City Council and the Transport spokesperson for the West Midlands Combined Authority, Councillor Ian Ward, at Lloyd House Birmingham, on Friday 21st February 2020.

‘Unsafe, claustrophobic, delayed, cancelled, horrendous, full, crowded’ are among just a few of the most common phrases used by rail users to describe their experiences on West Midlands Trains.

Initial results from the PCC’s West Midlands Train survey suggest that:

  • Nearly 88% of respondents used West Midlands Trains on a daily basis (sample size 1,142),

mainly for work and business purposes (sample size 1,142)

  • From those people who answered the question about length of delays, (sample size 197) rail users suggested that they witnessed regular delays of between 9 – 25 minutes
  • 90% of all respondents (sample size 1,203) suggested that overcrowding or train delays caused fear and affected their feeling of personal safety.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, said:

“The public are telling me that things are even worse on West Midlands Trains than I first thought and that is why it is vital this public hearing goes ahead. Public safety is absolutely paramount and action needs to be taken now to improve this service.

“The public hearing will not focus on who does or does not hold the franchise, but rather about hearing from whoever is providing the west midlands train service, that they have a positive, immediate and realistic plan in place to ensure those rail providers such as Network Rail, provide a dramatic improvement in performance and keep the public safe.”

The Leader of Birmingham City Council Ian Ward said:

“With over 1,400 responses from regular rail users, not only does this demonstrate the scale of dissatisfaction, but it also emphasises why the call for a public hearing by myself and the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner is so important. Only then, can the rail operators be brought to account and offer solutions as to how to bring this chaos and misery for the travelling public to an end.”

A selection of anonymised responses to the survey:

I am a sixth-form student, using trains twice a day to travel between home and sixth form. Whilst there has been no direct expense due to the late running of these services, I have had examinations disrupted due to cancelled trains in the mornings and have been late to sixth form due to a series of late running trains. Often the return journey can be worse due to disruption on services during the day, this often impacts the time I get back home and therefore induces stress for both myself and my mum which has a detrimental impact on our mental health. A number of phone calls to complain about LNWR services, whilst have been answered, have clearly not been taken seriously by the train operator as the delays and disruption continues to impact upon mine and many other commuters daily lives.

Not only do I pay for a monthly train pass to be late for work and miss several university lectures. The delays have been up to an hour before. Resulting in me missing job interviews. I now have to leave my house 90 mins before work for what is a 10 minute journey as I cannot risk the amount of delays there has been lately.

Now losing my home and my kids will be homeless due as of the loss because of losing my job and also because of the trains and also the unhelpful staff and how rude there are

I once saw a gentleman faint on an overcrowded morning commute. It took over ten minutes to release the man from the train as there were so many commuters in the carriage. He was then left at jewellery Quarter Station and a kind passenger got off to stay with him until he felt better. The guard had to get back onto the train and could not stay with the gentleman.

They’ve missed the disabled accessibility deadline in respect to the toilets on the train, they are consistently late or cancelled. I’ve cancelled my train pass and got a bus pass instead.

The school has now implemented a lateness register. I have to put my name every time I am late. Pretty much my name is the only one that appears in this book.

I don’t think west midlands railway have any understanding of what impact this has had on people. It isn’t just inconvenient. It’s massively affected my life. I’ve given up my gym membership because I can’t get there most days. I’ve suffered at work because my employer is fed up with it. I’ve missed out on family and social events because I’m still trying to get home.  My mental health has been affected as it’s massively stressful every day. I’ve had weeks where the additional travel time caused by delays and overcrowding has added an additional 12-15 hours onto my working week. To top it off I wasn’t even included in the season ticket price freeze because I have a ticket that includes bus and train. From an environmental point of view I’m really passionate about using public transport and getting people out of their cars. Or I was until I reached the ends of what I’m prepared to endure.  What a choice – compromise my beliefs and become a guilty polluter or risk my job, my sanity and my relationships because west midlands railway are incapable of getting me where I need to be.

I have witnessed others faint on the trains due to intense over crowding, often caused by cancellation and delays leading to double passengers packed into 3 carriages. Regularly there are particular morning trains delayed daily which has led to me having to get earlier and earlier trains to avoid busier periods. Violence has often occurred due to over crowded conditions, whereby people bar entry to others from attempting to get onto the train which erupts into argument, with shoving and pushing common place.

It’s frustrating, hot, crowded, irate people, lack of comms from train company, angry train staff, impacts social life.

Passengers are frequently stressed and agitated at the conditions on trains on the Cross City Line.  In recent weeks I have witnessed a passenger shouting and fighting to get off the train having become overwhelmed by the conditions, and on a separate occasion a young girl passed out on an overcrowded and overheated train and had to be helped to a seat by fellow passengers and given water.  I think this indicates a potential safety risk for passengers generally.

Sometimes when a train service has been cancelled, it has a knock on effect on other services after that (if indeed they are still running). This worsens all of the issues already present (overcrowding, not enough space on the trains etc.) I get the train at Marston Green and there are school children who get the same train, when the train is cancelled I have seen them having to phone their parents or friends parents for help because they can’t get to school – no child in the West Midlands should have to worry about not being able to get to school!

Late home to help with getting my young children to bed. Sometimes I do not get to see them awake.

I’m sick of this awful service from West Midlands Railway, please do something about this! It causes me to be anxious and panicky as I don’t want to be late for work. Sometimes I have to wait and miss at least 2 trains due to being overcrowded and late. As commuters all we ask for is a reliable service, it impacts your day to day life from going to work and getting home after a long day. The refunds I’ve had also don’t cover my taxi fare as this costs me 10 pound a time. Its getting to the point where i now dread going to work as trains will be delayed. This then causes me to be stressed and anxious

Trains being delayed also impact on staff working at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and others alike. This can impact not only on shift changes but also clinics. Direct impact can be either clinicians are perhaps or parents and families.

The compensation offered is laughable. There’s no point claiming delay repay as that doesn’t get me back my lost work time. As an Network card holder I am not even eligible for the fare freeze offered by West Midlands trains even though I’ve suffered  the same delays. The poor lighting and minimal staffing is also an issue. I don’t feel safe as a woman traveling alone waiting for trains that never turn up

I suffer from anxiety disorder and Aspergers, and regularly request assistance on the trains. WMR are good at booking the assistance, but have never once actually provided it. They have also failed to respond to a complaint that I made about the lack of provision – and that complaint will shortly be taken up with the ombudsman.

I am fed up with trains being ‘expressed’ from snow hill to Kidderminster/Stourbridge junction because they then meet their KPIs for timing and the true extent of the situation is still covered up…and someone who works at Snow Hill station told me that was the reason!

I’ve had to catch taxis in order to get home and I’m missing out on valuable time spent with family which you can’t put a price on as a result of not getting home on time ie train delays

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