THE CHAIRMAN of Bromsgrove Rail User Group has hit out at the poor service and overcrowding on trains serving the town during peak time, claiming they do not justify the average 1.1 per cent rise in fares introduced by the Government at the new year.
Mike Ponsonby said the hike served to highlight a ‘fundamental flaw with the privatisation program.’
He said: “Firstly, it’s based on profit not service. Secondly, the train operating companies pay a track access charge to Network Rail based on the number of axles, or wheel-sets per carriage – so they pay a price per axel per mile.
“This means it’s always in the best interest of the train operating companies to run the shortest trains they can because then they pay the lowest track access charges and this leads to overcrowding.”
Mr Ponsonby said there were 2,378 people commuting from Bromsgrove Railway Station everyday and over the 22 years he had lived in Bromsgrove, the station had seen a footfall growth of circa 54 per cent which he said explained the overcrowding.
London Midland’s head of corporate affairs Francis Harris told the Standard: “We have no control over the rise in train fares as this is a decision made by the Government.”
He said the company spent £62million on ten electric trains this time last year in preparation for Bromsgrove’s new railway station.
Mr Harris said the platforms currently at Bromsgrove were not long enough to accommodate trains with more more than three carriages and the company did not have access to anymore diesel trains to fulfil the current demand.
He said: “The future is about the electrification of the route to Bromsgrove, which means we can run three trains per hour during peak times to Birmingham.”
He added: “This will mean an extra 50 per cent capacity. There will also be more seating in the new trains.
“Electrification of the service will make many things possible.”