Train users in Cannock Chase have faced more than their fair share of issues over the years. These have included trains being delayed, cancelled, or terminated early, as well as persistent incidents of antisocial behaviour (ASB) and fare-dodging.
Many of these issues have been actioned for passengers, with new trains, longer platforms and the lines’ electrification. However, some problems have remained, including the last service from Birmingham New Street.
This train only goes as far as Hednesford, stopping short of Rugeley. This means passengers are often forced to rely on lifts from family and friends, or taxi services, to get home to Rugeley.
While I appreciate timetabling is an immensely complicated issue, Network Rail is responsible for this decision. I have written to the Chief Executive, Andrew Haines, to again reiterate the need for the last service of the day to reach Rugeley.
Issues around ASB and fare-dodging are also frequently reported by constituents. I recently met with West Midlands Trains (WMT) and heard about the innovative ways they are tackling ASB on the Chase Line.
This work is contributing to a much-improved train performance with fewer services being held up to get unruly passengers off the train. Opportunities for people to fare-dodge are also being closed down and more people are being fined.
I have witnessed first-hand how the actions of a minority of train users impacts everyone else using the service. And while I welcome the work being done by WMT, it is clear much more needs to be done to put an end to ASB on our trains.
I am proud the Government is committed to delivering the biggest investment in our railways since Victorian times. Investment is expected to be £47.9 billion between 2019 and 2024.
I know many workers are now returning to the office and need the Chase Line to get to work. With this in mind, I will work even harder to ensure passengers get the service they deserve.