Staffordshire 'forgotten' in rail shake-up

A Staffordshire business leader has claimed that the county has been ‘forgotten’ as plans to transform the rail network across the West Midlands forge ahead.

Staffordshire businesses will greet news of a £1bn investment in the West Midlands rail network with some trepidation, according to the chief executive of the county's Chamber of Commerce.

The cash injection is part of a deal that will see West Midlands Trains Ltd, a joint venture between Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co Ltd. run the region’s rail services, under a new franchise.

From December 2017, Crewe to London Euston services, currently operated by London Midland, will no longer call at Alsager, Kidsgrove, Stoke-on-Trent and Stone.

When West Midlands Trains Ltd begins operation, trains will go straight from Crewe to Stafford on the way to London. This is due to Abellio creating trains of up to 12 carriages long which cannot stop at these shorter platforms.

However, Abellio has stated that there will be a new hourly service from Crewe to Birmingham New Street that will call at the four stations before terminating at Birmingham New Street.

Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce is working hard to ensure that Staffordshire businesses can access the best rail services possible.

Sara Williams, chief executive of Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, said: “Once again transport connectivity in Staffordshire has been forgotten by Westminster.

"Despite an extra £1billion investment in the rail network, businesses need a reliable and consistent rail network which offers cheaper and fairer rail fares to help businesses remain profitable and competitive.”

Announcing the new deal last week, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling proised a raft of positive changes for rail users across the region.

He said: “This is great news for passengers using West Midlands services – with new trains, more space, more regular services and easier access for disabled people.

“We are improving the whole travelling experience with live train crowding information, compensation for people delayed by 15 minutes or more, smart ticketing and better value tickets for part-time workers.”

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