Thousands claim free London Midland train tickets

Passengers at New Street Station About 1,000 London Midland services were delayed or cancelled between October and December 2012

A train operator has given away 127,000 free tickets to more than 25,000 passengers as compensation for cancellations and delays last year.

Between October and the end of December almost 1,000 London Midland trains were disrupted due to driver shortages.

The government told the operator to offer a £7m package of benefits, which included season ticket holders getting five days of free travel passes.

London Midland said it had rectified the driver shortage.

Analysis

London Midland was effectively forced to offer compensation to passengers after services fell below acceptable levels.

The driver shortage problem had meant hundreds of cancellations and passengers who faced disruption were entitled to compensation over and above what was normally offered by train companies.

The government extracted from London Midland management a whole set of what is often termed 'Passenger Benefits'.

In addition to the free ticket offer, the company also talked of further improvements to stations.

London Midland maintains that it does now have enough drivers, although there are still worries that a similar shortage problem could happen again.

A spokesman said: "We are pleased that so many people have come forward to claim their free tickets, each of which offers a day's unlimited travel on our network."Thousands claim free train tickets

Passengers had to apply for the free travel between 5 February and 30 April.

The firm, which will continue to operate the routes until at least September 2015, said the number of tickets claimed was "close to the number they were expecting".

Train travel watchdog, Passenger Focus said it was glad to see people had been compensated.

Chief Executive Anthony Smith said: "We are pleased to see that both regular and occasional passengers affected by the recent disruption were able to get something back.

"We will continue to monitor the service closely, including meeting with London Midland regularly to discuss performance, and to work with industry to reduce the inconvenience to passengers when disruption does occur."

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