In an effort to improve commuter travel times between Lichfield City and Birmingham New Street train operator London Midland is facing the prospect of having its franchise revoked as Network Rail prepare to convert the line into a cycle track.
Severe weather, fallen trees on the line, overhead line equipment failures, trespass, fatality incidents, freight locomotive failures, winter conditions and displaced train crew : just some of the foreseeable events that competent train operators take in their stride.
But not London Midland whose public performance measure for December 2013 was, even by its own standards, appalling being its worst monthly performance for over two years.
Lichfield commuter and cycle enthusiast Richard Wheeler commented:
‘I’m delighted by the news, I really look forward to being able to cycle all the way to work in Colmore Row from my home in Brownhills. I think that I could do the journey door-to-door in three hours, which is probably a half-hour saving on my average train journey in January.’
Midland employers have also welcomed the news. Birmingham based international law firm Wragge & Co’s head of HR commented:
Birmingham City Council spokesman Peter Blinders added:
‘Many Council employees make the daily commute between Lichfield and Brum. We welcome the bold move by Network Rail, it will do away with all those old excuses about being late for work because of problems with the trains.’
Local council trade unionists however are less enthusiastic:
‘Our members have rights,’ said UNISON official Rob Robertson, ‘it has been a long standing tradition that we could blame ‘leaves on the track’ and ‘thoughtless bastard suicides’ for our members being late to work. This track conversion is a disturbing development. It puts the onus on our members to take responsibility for their own lives, that is completely unacceptable.’
Commuter and local real ale enthusiast Len Pearson also expressed concerns:
‘I’ve weighed in at over 22 stone for years now and I’m not sure if I’m fit enough to make the daily round trip, although if the rumours are true and each station is being converted to a Greggs then I’ll give it a go.’
Anyone who wishes to join in the debate can do so by contacting London Midland on Twitter @londonmidland or just use hashtag #incompetentcunts .