Chase Line is going from bad to worse says Cannock council leader
"It's going from bad to worse."
The leader of Cannock District Council has slammed rail bosses for 'unacceptable' service on the Chase Line.
Councillor George Adamson has called an urgent meeting with West Midlands Railway in a bid to get some answers.
The £200 million Chase Line, which runs from Birmingham to Rugeley through Walsall and Cannock, has been plagued with problems since electrified trains were launch on it last May and will be drastically scaled down next year as a result.
And now that strikes are expected in the run up to Christmas, he predicts the situation will only get worse.
Councillor Adamson said: "Industrial action is now starting for seven Saturdays so there will be no trains on the Chase Line.
"West Midlands Railway are not providing a bus service either for the area, which is totally unacceptable. It's appalling.
"They are providing buses in other areas."
Councillor Adamson added that the Chase Line had been struggling for months – and was a constant source of concern for the community.
"Struggling it putting it lightly," he added. "There have been cancellations, trains terminating and Hednesford or Walsall. It's unacceptable.
"I've called a meeting for next Friday where we will be grilling West Midlands Trains and ask them what they are playing at and why we are not prepared to accept the service, or lack of, for residents.
"West Midlands Railway think as long as they provide the whole West Midlands with a service, they're ok, and they can get away with the appalling service on the Chase Line."
A spokesman for West Midlands Railway said that replacement buses were due at Cannock but had only been announced very recently.
Richard Brooks, customer experience director at West Midlands Railway, said: “We are very disappointed that the RMT is going ahead with this unnecessary strike action which will only inconvenience people in Cannock and across the network
“Our contingency timetable is designed to serve as many passengers as we can but unfortunately not every station can be accommodated. However, we will be running rail replacement buses and train tickets will also be valid on local buses.
“We know train performance on the Chase Line has not been good enough since May and that is why we are changing our timetable next month to make sure more services originate in the West Midlands, reducing delays and cancellations.”
Commuters have pressed West Midlands Trains to take action for months, with many complaining about long delays, cancelled services and staff shortages.
Now a series of changes are set to be brought in following a meeting between rail bosses and the newly formed Chase Line Action Group.
The improvements include removing the stop at Long Buckley station from October 7 to save three minutes off journey times.
From December an emergency timetable will be brought in, removing one of the Euston bound trains each hour and replacing it with a train coming from Wolverhampton.
There will also be three new Sunday morning services from Rugeley to Birmingham, starting at 9.41am, while bosses say the disconnection of the service from London next May will further reduce delays.