A special seven-week timetable for commuters on the Cross City line will be introduced by West Midlands Railway to combat delays caused by leaf fall.
The temporary timetable will operate on weekdays only from Monday 14 October until Friday 29 November 2019, affecting services from Lichfield, through Birmingham New Street, to Redditch and Bromsgrove.
Under the revised timetable some trains will have an amended stopping pattern during the middle of the day, with the normal timetable resuming at all stations by 1600. The amended pattern is to allow services greater leeway to recover from delays caused by leaves on the line.
The timetable is focused on providing a normal level of service for commuters travelling to and from Birmingham city centre, with every train arriving at New Street before 0930 unaffected. Trains heading out of the city after 1600 will also call at all stops as normal.
The leaf fall timetable involves missing out some stops on the route to help deal with slippery rail conditions. Autumnal weather creates significant challenges for train drivers, as wheels and rails can often become coated with a hard residue. As a result, trains often need to slow down to adapt to the driving conditions.
The Cross City line is particularly affected because of the high frequency of trains on the route, the short distance between stations – meaning acceleration and deceleration is required – as well as the density of foliage near the tracks.
The stations with amended calling patterns are Wylde Green, Chester Road, Erdington and Gravelly Hill (Cross City North) as well as Bournville, Kings Norton and Northfield (Cross City South).
West Midlands Railway is continuing to work closely with Network Rail on a number of initiatives to reduce the impact on services. Vegetation has been cut back along the route and rails are spray-cleaned throughout the day.
Richard Brooks, customer experience director for West Midlands Railway said:
“Our priority at all times is to provide a reliable service for passengers on the Cross City line and we know from experience that introducing a leaf fall timetable brings major benefits to punctuality in the challenging autumn period.
“The new timetable we introduced in May 2019 brought such a big increase in the numbers of trains that this reduced autumn timetable still carries 80 more stops than last year’s regular timetable.”
Passengers are advised to plan ahead and check their train times at nationalrail.co.uk