West Midlands Railway have announced that “thousands of extra seats are being introduced” from September – however it still doesn’t get services back to pre-covid levels.
The rail operator for suburban Birmingham and the wider West Midlands is clearly taking the taxpayer literally for a ride with this latest announcement.
In it, services are returning, but to nowhere near their pre-covid levels which is without any doubt putting pressure on the rate of infection in the region.
Let’s take the Cross-City line for example. Pre-Covid saw six trains an hour. Currently that is halved with just three trains an hour, and from September, it goes up to four trains an hour. Can you see the problem yet?
There are a couple of issues at play here. First is the ignorant fools that live amongst us who think that wearing a face covering on public transport doesn’t apply to them. Multiply the number of those on a packed train – because they are running at reduced capacity – and suddenly it becomes clear why there is a problem.
Secondly, the country is trying to get back to work. That is made all the more difficult when there isn’t a reliable public transport infrastructure to use, because it is still running at essentially lock-down levels.
Jonny Wiseman, customer experience director for West Midlands Railway, said: “This timetable is the most significant step up in our capacity since lockdown. We’re adding thousands of extra seats to give our customers the space to travel with confidence.
“We’ve taken all the aspects which made our lockdown timetable work so well and expanded them as increasing numbers of customers continue returning to the railway. This simpler timetable will be more reliable for passengers with longer trains to help social distancing.
“We know that coronavirus will continue to impact our lives and workplaces for some time to come but by creating a resilient, flexible timetable we can help our customers adjust to their new normal.”
There can be absolutely no excuse as to why train operating companies are not back to full service, other than trousering government subsidy, cutting costs and paying out covid bonuses to shareholders and executives.
The comments above by Mr Wiseman is a well-crafted statement which has simply been republished by most of the media and makes the rail operator look good. Well, I’m sorry Mr Wiseman, but it hasn’t cut through with me. I can see exactly what is going on here. West Midlands Railway is using the Covid Crisis to run fewer services, and thus repair its major punctuality and poor performance problems.
Quite frankly, West Midlands Railway should be operating a full service now, no ifs, no buts. A rail company running less capacity when the majority are trying to get back to what resembles normality is actually putting us all at greater risk.
To Mayor Andy Street… A formal investigation and enquiry is urgently required, we can’t get back to as close to normality as possible if rip-off merchants continue to pillage the population and profit from a crisis.
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