Short-formed services to/from Euston in early 2017
Customers regularly using our weekday trains to and from Euston during November and December will probably have noticed one or more services operating with fewer carriages than advertised.
If you are one of these people, we are very sorry for any discomfort and inconvenience you have experienced. Below you will find information on why there has been an increase in short trains on the route and what we are doing to improve things.
Class 350 trains
- The landslip and derailment at Watford (in September 2016) resulted in two Class 350 trains sustaining significant damage. These trains will be unavailable to London Midland, undergoing repair, until the end of its franchise (in October 2017).
- London Midland has a total of 77 Class 350 trains in its fleet (each of which is a unit of four permanently-joined vehicles). 72 trains are used in service every morning peak. The landslip and derailment mean that we now need to deliver 72 out of just 75 possible Class 350 trains each day in order to provide the planned service.
- The number in service has to be lower than the size of the fleet to allow for regular maintenance (needed for safety and reliability), as well as to allow a small number of train faults to be robustly managed.
- Maintenance requirements are driven by how many miles each train runs – so with fewer trains working harder since the landslip, the need to maintain each one comes around more often.
- 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 agreed with the Department for Transport) and the replacement of certain components aimed at improving reliability further. While we plan to do this work when fewer trains are needed (for example off-peak and at night), some pieces of work necessarily take longer to complete and require a train out of service for one or two days at a time.
- The reliability of the class 350 trains has returned to near-normal levels now, although there remain occasions (about three times per week on average) when a fault occurs on one of the 72 trains. We try to manage around these faults with as little impact on users as possible, although there is often a short-term impact.
Class 319 Trains
- We also lease 7 class 319 trains (also made up of four permanently-joined vehicles each), of which 5 are used in service every morning. Due to their age, these trains are currently undergoing a cycle of more intrusive maintenance, meaning than most days in recent months a maximum of six trains have been available for London Midland to use.
- This fleet has continued to suffer from a greater number of faults than the class 350s. On average the class 350s achieve about 12x more miles between requiring attention than these class 319 trains.
Following the loss of the Watford units, we have been and continue to examine all realistic options to bolster the service. This includes talking to leasing companies and other operators about trains that may be available (and that can operate on our line) to help us to cover the shortfall.
As our plan to do this solidifies, we will tell what we are able to do using this website, Twitter and through face-to-face interaction. Once again, please accept our apologies for the disruption to recent service caused by these problems – and thank you for travelling with London Midland.
Steve Helfet, Head of West Coast Services