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Express & Star comment: Extra train services welcomed

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

In the age-old battle between trains and cars as a mode of transport, trains have one inherent advantage.

Could improvements for West Midlands train services be on the way?

They are more exciting, even today. Nobody goes car-spotting?

There again, passengers waiting forlornly on station platforms for delayed or cancelled services don’t find anything exciting about that.

Nor do they if they get on board to find they are riding on a notorious “Sardine Express” with too few carriages and too much company.

Forking out on train fares may stir the emotions, but nevertheless, these are exciting times for our region’s trains with a range of new services and improvements in the pipeline.

There are going to be extra carriages, reduced journey times, and new services from West Midlands Railway in its forthcoming timetable.

For passengers, it represents a new world of opportunity for getting about at times which suit them.

There will be the chance to take journeys they have hitherto been unable to take as, for instance, in the new service which will carry passengers direct from Walsall to London. They will be able to travel earlier, or later, than previously – Shropshire passengers will be able to get in to both Wolverhampton and Birmingham well before 7am, for example.

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And then there are the creature comfort changes, such as those extra carriages, and the assurance of reduced journey times and so on.

When people talk of the golden age of trains it generally involves images of steam locos and an extensive network connecting places big and small.

Dr Beeching did for that extensive network. But if you remove the glow of nostalgia there is a case for saying that in terms of the number and frequency of services, today’s trains hold up very well. However, train services in modern Britain need to keep pace with the expectations of modern Britons looking for high standards of comfort, convenience, and speed.

Whether supporting travel for work and business, or for pleasure, the capacity and capability of our train services play a key part in the economic wellbeing of our region, and its cohesion by keeping it connected. They help take traffic off our congested roads, with the associated environmental benefit.

While the changes announced offer much promise, the proof of the pudding, as always, is in the eating.

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