Lichfield Rail Promotion Group Newsletter – December 2014
Our new venue, the upstairs meeting room of the Kings Head on Bird Street, is becoming established, and approved of by those attending; the date of the second Monday of each month at 20.00 is unchanged. Attendance averages about 12 members. Terry Oliver, London Midland’s Head of Route for west coast, joined us in September, as did Mark Goodall, Head of Line for Cross City, in October; both talked openly and lively discussions followed.
Lichfield Trent Valley car parking
Having just reached full usage (up to 160 cars with overflow on the approach road) after 6 months, the new car park by the up main line platform was closed from 1st December to allow the Burton Old Road bridge over the WCML which gave access to it to be demolished over Christmas. (A new bridge capable of taking 44-tonne lorries to the new Lichfield Park development will be completed in 2015). As a temporary (but smaller) substitute, London Midland managed to get use of part of the old GKN site off Crossfield Road. We continue to encourage them to try to acquire more of this site as a permanent parking space: our view is that 600 spaces could be justified, given the easy access to the station from the A38 and elsewhere, and the clientele the hourly fast London service has attracted.
Lichfield Trent Valley “Access for all”
David Dixon and Ian Jackson met Network Rail’s project manager in November. He shares our view that lifts connected by the high level platform are the best solution. Design work will begin in the New Year.
London Midland timetables
Cross-City: a revised “leaf-fall” timetable with some stops taken out proved more robust than versions of earlier years. The new timetable starting this month has the first major changes for some years: in particular the xx25 and xx55 departures from Birmingham New St now run through to TV station, where longer turnrounds should improve punctuality and reduce terminations before reaching there. The TV trains now call at Shenstone in both directions, satisfying a long-sought need. One change on cross-city, which we’ve been suggesting for years: the weekdays 2336 Blake St-Birmingham New St starts back from Lichfield Trent Valley, giving a train from City station to Shenstone and stations to Sutton at 2327, nearly half an hour later than before. Our parallel suggestion that the 2255 Birmingham New St – Blake St be extended to Lichfield City has yet to be adopted.
There are more changes on the Trent Valley: from Euston on Mondays to Fridays, the 1724 now leaves at 1746, arriving Lichfield Trent Valley at 1921, 24 minutes earlier than before; the 1805 now leaves at 1849 with unchanged arrival at 2036. On Saturday mornings there are two extra trains to London, at 705 (due 840) and at 815 to relieve the 805 (and, no doubt, take passenger off Virgin’s 831…) Congratulations for this to London Midland! However, the Sunday service appears unchanged, London still taking around 2hr 15m in both directions.
After an earlier dismissive response to our representations, Virgin Trains have looked more seriously at extra Lichfield stops at weekends, but still don’t feel able to oblige. It seems difficult to change times at either terminal, and the alternative of calling at Lichfield in place of other stops is difficult politically at those places, even if it made business sense. We will persist, especially for Sundays when the London Midland service is poor too (see above).
More seats are to be provided on the 9-car Pendolinos by converting one first class coach in each, giving six standards instead of five (the 11-car trains have seven).
Lichfield to Derby/Burton
Taking the cue from a supportive letter in the Lichfield Mercury, our response invited people to support a petition on our just-activated website (www.lichfieldrailusers. org.uk). With links on the NMA and other sites, by the time of writing 431 names had appeared. We have established links with Railfuture East Midlands, and see this campaign as a priority for the Rail Alliance.
Lichfield Rail Alliance
In order to have greater “clout” with government, we are seeking support to establish a body with this title, including local Councils and other interested parties. Letters of invitation are being sent to those most likely to participate.
In accordance with the Department for Transport’s programme, several existing franchisees are being offered short new franchises pending full-scale refranchising. Virgin have already agreed terms; we will be commenting on others as the opportunity arises.
Station footfall stats
The ORR have managed to issue these for 2013-4 this month, some three months earlier than in previous years. The local figures in thousands (change on the previous year in brackets) are:
Lichfield City 621 +0.7%
Lichfield Trent Valley 969 +5.9%
Rugeley Trent Valley 134 +14.5%
Shenstone 174 -3.4%
(Tamworth 1,025 +6.5%)
In addition Lichfield Trent Valley is estimated to have 73k interchange passengers which takes its total over 1 million, almost certainly for the first time.
It looks increasingly likely that this will open through to Crewe from 2027, but the proposed Handsacre link to the WCML is still planned, perhaps with a less elaborate junction. The alignment locally has been changed at Cappers Lane and at Wood End in order to reduce environmental damage.
Printed and Published by Ian Jackson, Secretary, Lichfield Rail Promotion Group, 113 Walsall Road, Lichfield WS13 8AD