Since last September, customers have experienced an abnormally high number of short-formed trains on West Coast services to and from Euston.
The principal reasons are:
- The landslip and derailment at Watford Tunnel in September 2016 caused significant damage to a couple of trains and reduced the available Class 350 fleet by two trains until at least the end of this Franchise in October 2017
- In addition, we are undertaking a challenging upgrade programme that includes the installation of free Wi-Fi on all of our class 350 trains (by October 2017 as part of availability demands from enhancements which London Midland is required to deliver for DfT by October 2017 under the Direct Award franchise agreement;
- During November and December in particular, a higher-than-usual failure rate on the fleet (due to attempting to sustain full availability for service with a smaller class 350 fleet than required to do so)
What are we doing to improve services?
We have been working hard on our plans to restore train availability - with all trains having the number of carriages we say they will have - in advance of the repair of the damaged class 350 units.
We hope to have a solution to bring unit availability back up to normal levels in place no later than the May 2017 timetable change.
In the meantime, we have implemented the following immediate and short-term actions:
- Change of train plan: until further notice, the 07:39 from Bletchley to Euston and the 18:05 from Euston to Northampton on weekdays will operate with eight carriages instead of the previous twelve. While we know they are busy, these services have been chosen on the basis of historic and current customer loading data
- Short-Form Guidance: we have taken positive steps to ensure the very busiest trains on the route are not short-formed (except as a very last resort, on the rare occasion we have an in-service failure and it really can’ be avoided)
- Project schedules: we are revising the days on which enhancement works (e.g. installation of Wifi) take place on Class 350 trains, to maximise fleet availability on the busiest days. For example, they are looking to increase the amount of work done at weekends
- Customer Communication: we will continue to update you as our plans firm up and evolve. Check back here for details!