England

'Major' rail changes in West Midlands timetable overhaul

Euston station Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Boosted services to London Euston have been promised by a rail operator

Two railways covering the West Midlands are introducing new timetables on Sunday in an overhaul of services.

West Midlands Trains, which operates both West Midlands Railway and London Northwestern Railway, is reminding passengers to check journey details due to "major" changes.

It says these include additional services and extra capacity, with more direct services between cities.

A passengers group called it a "good first step" but sounded caution too.

West Midlands Railway services travel across the region via Birmingham New Street, while London Northwestern Railway services travel between Liverpool and Birmingham and also operate on the West Coast mainline to and from London Euston.

West Midlands Trains has pledged a raft of changes across the West Midlands.

It says its more direct services include those that see Euston connected to Wolverhampton, Walsall and Stoke-on-Trent via New Street.

It promises three trains an hour to and from the London station every day.

Image copyright West Midlands Rail
Image caption West Midlands Railway's services are being overhauled across the region

The company also says electrification work between Rugeley Trent Valley and Walsall will enable faster trains to run with more carriages and seats.

Elsewhere, according to the operator, timetable tweaks will see the last trains between New Street and Coventry depart later into the evening, with later services also added to the Cross City line between Lichfield and Birmingham, along with local stations to Wolverhampton, plus later departures from Birmingham Snow Hill to Worcester Shrub Hill on Fridays and Saturdays.

Additional changes for Warwickshire include "improved" services Monday to Saturday between Nuneaton and Leamington Spa, and a new Sunday service between Coventry and Leamington, via Kenilworth.

In Shropshire, West Midlands Trains says there will now be two trains per hour, Monday to Saturday, between Shrewsbury, Wolverhampton and New Street, with the additional service calling at Wellington, Telford and Shifnal.

Trains to Shrewsbury are set to continue to depart Birmingham until about 22:30 on weekdays and 23:00 on Saturdays.

Martin Lambert, chairman of the Solihull and Leamington Rail Users Association, said the changes were a "good first step", and he praised the introduction of earlier and later services in particular, calling them "much required".

But he said new trains were not due until 2020, and the timetable upgrade would only work if the existing fleet proved reliable.

A West Midlands Railway spokesperson said: "The timetable improvements being introduced this weekend will bring a range of benefits to passengers, with more direct services to destinations across our network and improved capacity on some of our busiest services.

"To accommodate these enhancements, there will be alterations to train times, carriage formations and the platforming of some services at busier stations. Therefore, we are advising all passengers to plan and to check the details of their journey."

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