West Midlands Railway Class 172

Season ticket holders on West Midlands Railway and London Northwestern Railway services will receive a discount on their passes in 2020.

Following continued backlash from customers about poor performance and overcrowding, West Midlands Trains which operates WMR and LNR services said weekly, monthly and annual season tickets will be discounted by 3% in 2020, covering the annual 2.8% annual fare increase.

Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, managing director of West Midlands Trains, which operates WMR and LNR services, said: “In recognition of the poor performance, this compensation package is for our regular customers when they renew their season tickets will offset the national fares rise.

“We have said for some time now that performance and timekeeping since the May 2019 timetable has not been good enough. The timetable added too much complexity which means that even minor delays transmit through the network. Some changes were made in the December 2019 timetable change to remove the complexity, and to add capacity, but the most significant changes to reintroduce simplicity will be implemented in the May 2020 timetable. I apologise again to customers for the poor performance and cancellations since May.

“As well as the timetable simplification in May, 2020 will also see the arrival of the first of our new trains, boosting capacity on our diesel services in the West Midlands.”

The first of West Midlands Railways new Class 196 trains due arrive in 2020.

The company also announced there will be a summer sale for non-season ticket holders, with more information announced in due course.

Since May 2019 the company has paid out £2.5 million in Delay Repay claims. For 2019-20 the company closed 71,438 claims with 83.4% of claims being approved. Despite the poor performance West Midlands Trains saw a 11.7% increase in passenger journeys in 2019-20 Q2 compared to 2018-19 Q2.

Responding to the discount for season ticket holders, Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “I am pleased WMT have listened to my request to freeze the annual fare rise following their recent woeful performance. By offering this discount, season ticket holders will now see a reduction in their fares as opposed to the unfathomable increase they were originally facing.

“This is a positive first step towards repairing WMT’s relationship with passengers and I am sure this will be welcomed by regular commuters. Of course season ticket holders are not the only people who travel on trains in the West Midlands, and I expect WMT to offer a compensation package to day passengers as well.

“However what passengers really want is a train service that they can rely on seven days a week. That is currently not the case under WMT, whose performance is, quite simply, unacceptable. My ultimatum to restore a reliable service by the end of January or I will ask the DfT to strip the franchise remains in place.”