DfT warns London Midland over cancellations

LONDON MIDLAND has been warned by the DfT that the growing list of cancellations caused by a shortage of drivers is now being scrutinised at high level. Rail minister Norman Baker said passengers are 'not getting the service they need'.

No cancellations were being predicted for today (Wednesday) but some 60 services were lost yesterday and around a dozen will be cancelled tomorrow, with some others running only on part of their routes.

Most of the disruption has been affecting routes in the West Midlands, but some longer distance services have been reduced as well.

London Midland has been struggling with its driver shortage since the spring. The company is believed to need around 30 more drivers, and has admitted that some have been leaving because they can earn more money driving trains elsewhere.

The company has maintained that the situation should improve from 9 December, when new timetables and rosters will be introduced.

But the DfT is now demanding daily updates on the crisis, because the growing number of cancellations could amount to a franchise breach.

Norman Baker said: "As with other franchises, London Midland is required to meet stringent benchmarks relating to performance and I will be monitoring this extremely closely, to ensure that normal services are resumed as a matter of absolute priority."

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