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2002-10-03 SRA-001
Strategic Rail Authority

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Immediate benefits for Central Trains passengers from improvements package


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Strategic Rail Authority

Immediate benefits for Central Trains passengers from improvements package
_______________________________________________________________


date
3 October 2002
source Strategic Rail Authority
type Press release



The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) today announced that it had secured a
major package of benefits for passengers on Central Trains, providing more
seating in peak hours, measures to improve reliability, improved station
environments and better security and customer care.

Central Trains has agreed to make the improvements to compensate
passengers for poor reliability in December 2000, November 2001 and
December 2001, which saw the company fall below the standard set in its
franchise agreement for the number of train services cancelled. The
announcement follows discussions with Central Trains and consultation with
Centro and passenger groups. The improvements, some of which have
already been introduced, are:

Increasing the number of seats available on weekday peak hour
services between Tamworth and Birmingham New Street to 433 in the
morning and 436 in the evening peaks on weekday services, from 30
September 2002; this to rise to 500 and 565 seats respectively from 12
January 2003 until the end of the franchise in March 2004.
A fully crewed train on standby at Birmingham New Street available to
operate any service for which the planned train has failed, between
7am and 11pm Monday to Saturday, effective from 30 September 2002
until March 2004.
Nine stations not previously scheduled for maintenance to be fully
repainted by 31 October 2002: Aston, Blake Street, Butlers Lane,
Duddeston, Erdington, Five Ways, Four Oaks, Selly Oak and Sutton
Coldfield.
New door controls to be fitted on 26 class 323 trains by 31 October
2003. This will enable guards to operate doors from the centre of the
train rather than returning to the rear cab, which will help improve
performance, passenger service, security and safety.

Gary Backler, SRA Operations Director, said: "We have negotiated a
significant package of measures that is already bringing improvements for
passengers on Central Trains. This should go some way in making up for the
poor rail performance that passengers suffered during 2000 and 2001."

Mike Haigh, Business Development Director for Central Trains, said: "Central
Trains is fully committed to this package of improvements, many of which are
already underway. Additional seats on radial routes from Birmingham will
compensate for other operators' timetable changes. Central Trains is pleased
to sponsor on behalf of the SRA and Centro the investment in new
intermediate door controls for class 323 electric trains, which will enhance
passenger security and will further protect revenue that can be spent on
transport provision in the West Midlands."

Cllr Stewart Stacey, Vice Chair of the West Midlands Passenger Transport
Authority (WMPTA) and its Lead Member on Rail Issues, said: "Whilst not a
substitute for better rail performance, the benefits for local passengers are
welcome. I particularly hope that the investment in the door controls will help
provide the levels of performance that WMPTA and Centro are determined to
secure for rail users."

Notes to Editors:

1. Central Trains operates an extensive network of rural, urban and
interurban services right across the Midlands, North West England and
into South Wales and East Anglia. In the West Midlands, local services
are supported by Centro (West Midlands Passenger Transport
Executive).
2. The Central Trains franchise, held by National Express Group PLC, is
due to expire at the end of March 2004. The SRA has commenced
discussions with National Express regarding a potential two-year
extension to the franchise.
3. The SRA is the government body responsible for allocating funding to
the railways, awarding rail franchises and providing strong leadership
to the rail industry.


Railhub Archive ::: 2002-10-03 SRA-001





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