Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year - 2012


Well as I write this the last hours of 2011 are ticking away and soon we will be into a New Year. A year of hope for those taking part in the Olympics as well as those organising such a mammoth task. Its going to be a testing year for all public transport as operators gear themselves up for what will be one of the biggest movements of people from home and abroad since the war.

I’m sure that there will be problems along the way as we have seen during 2011 when we have had more disruption on the railways due to metal theft, breakdowns, staffing difficulties and all manor of things that has caused considerable disruption to passenger services her in the Midlands and elsewhere.

2011 has seen the re-introduction of faster passenger services from Birmingham Snow Hill and Moor St to London Marylebone due to heavy investment by Chiltern Railways. New investment and introduction of  Class 172 trains by London Midland on the Leamington – Snow Hill – Worcester Lines. £10,000 raised through the Farewell 150 Railway Tour organised between London Midland, Severn Valley Railway and Network Rail. The 150 units being the ones replaced by 172’s

We have seen the continuing work being done to modernise New Street Station and over Christmas 2011  a footbridge replaced in readiness for expansion work and new entrances and lifts.

And only this week Network Rail/London Midland have announced work to improve the line speed on the chase line (between Walsall and Rugeley TV) and Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury.  (more details here)

So a lot is going on around us on our railway networks at a time when road traffic is ever increasing as well as the increased cost of fuel. Which brings me to the cost of price rises in rail fares and season tickets. Is it justified or not in this economic climate. There are arguments for and against but personally for local travel in the West Midlands area compared to motoring  I am far better off continuing to use public transport and in particular our railway network. Not always convenient  especially when delays occur but i have found i have been more held up overall in the car in traffic jams than on the train. It also has the advantage of not worrying about parking charges which are always rising.

For longer distant commuters things may be different but you cannot easily compare road with rail as railway passengers bear the brunt of the cost of the rail infrastructure whereas roads and motorists in general don’t

If the South Staffs Railway line between Stourbridge and Alrewas via Walsall, Brownhills and Lichfield was open today I’m sure we would see the amount of growth that has been witnessed on the Walsall RugeleyTV recently and that the trains would be very crowded and would benefit the whole of the West Midlands Economy. But alas at the moment we can only hope the powers that be will become more than a talking shop and take action to ensure passenger growth across the whole of our area with new investment in infrastructure as without it no one wins.

Wish all who have an interest in railways and specifically the future of the South Staffs Line a Happy, healthy and fruitful 2012 and beyond

For more on the South Staffs Railway line and group go to www.southstaffsrail.co.uk

PS - For those of you who have asked, the picture for my background is Brownhills station. This station closed in the Beeching era and Brownhills was where i first lived

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