Early changes coming to struggling electrified Chase Line

More changes are to be made on the £200 million Chase Line to address the “significant unreliability” facing passengers.

The electrified Chase Line was launched in May
The electrified Chase Line was launched in May

Disruptions and early terminations on the route led to rail chiefs deciding to pull the plug on direct trains between London Euston and Rugeley Trent Valley which began after the electrification of the line was completed in May.

Bosses at West Midlands Railway have now said some changes are to take place in December, subject to Network Rail approval, before major changes in May next year.

In December one of the two hourly services from Euston to Rugeley will include a change at Birmingham to avoid knock-on delays and early terminations.

As of May 2020 the entire extended service to London Euston from Rugeley will be lost and replaced with services solely to Birmingham New Street and Birmingham International, if plans are accepted.

Cannock Chase MP Amanda Milling had previously called for the full alterations to be made in December – saying passengers “should not be expected to suffer”.

Ms Milling had also called for other contingency measures to be put in place during a discussion with rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris MP.

She said: “West Midlands Trains have issued a briefing note detailing the action they are taking, in the medium and longer term, to address some of the issues causing the significant unreliability on the Chase Line.

“Their briefing confirms much of what we already know, that at the May 2020 timetable change the extended service to London Euston will be lost and replaced with services solely to Birmingham New Street and Birmingham International.

“However, I welcome West Midlands Trains commitment to also make alterations to the service at the December 2019 timetable change.

“Hopefully this will mitigate some of the disruption passengers are facing until the full restructured service comes into force in May 2020.”

Richard Brooks, West Midlands Railway customer experience director, said: “The direct London service taking advantage of the electrification has not performed as it should since it was introduced in May.

"In response we have established a taskforce and we are seeing the benefits of this work.”

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