Cllr Jim O'Boyle is campaigning to have at least three fast trains remaining in Coventry, in a submitted response to the Department for Transport’s consultation for the InterCity West Coast Franchise.
Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration, fears that services to Coventry could be cut to make way for speedier services to Birmingham and emphasises that the Council will not support a reduction in stops at Coventry in any InterCity West Coast services.
He said: “One of our great strengths is how well connected we are. Our railway station is also the fastest growing station outside of London and it has a critical role to play in our work to attract new investment and create new jobs. As a minimum we want to ensure that the franchise for trains between Coventry and London meets the current standard of three fast trains per hour. We will be making a strong case for the three fast trains to remain and for improvements to the service. It's not acceptable that we could see fewer trains stopping at Coventry to speed up the connection between London and Birmingham.”
He added: "The department’s own vision says the new franchise needs to enable economic growth, support investment and build on high levels of customer satisfaction. We will be trying to hold them to this.”
The Council expects the new rail provider to take into account the following ten priorities:
PRIORITY ONE – COVENTRY TO LONDON Retention of 3 ICWC express services per hour between Coventry and London Euston with consistent journey times of 1 hour or less. The Council will not support a reduction in stops at Coventry in any ICWC services.
PRIORITY TWO – COVENTRY TO BIRMINGHAM Retention of 3 ICWC express services per hour between Coventry, Birmingham International and Birmingham New Street given the City’s key economic and employment relationship with Birmingham, Birmingham International and the wider West Midlands Metropolitan Area.
PRIORITY THREE – COVENTRY TO NORTH-WEST ENGLAND, GLASGOW AND EDINBURGH Retention and development of the 1 train per hour London Euston - Coventry - Glasgow Central or Edinburgh service (destination alternating each 2 hours)
PRIORITY FOUR – HIGH SPEED 2 WORKS AT LONDON EUSTON 2018-2021 Maximum reassurance from HS2, Network Rail and the ICWC franchise operator that effects on Coventry to London Euston services will be minimised, with a close ICWC focus on performance, customer service and information provision to passengers throughout
PRIORITY FIVE – COVENTRY STATION MASTERPLAN Proactive engagement from the ICWC franchise operator, as Station Facility Owner (SFO), in delivery to programme of the Masterplan, Platform 5 and new car park capacity schemes at Coventry Station
PRIORITY SIX – PASSENGERS USING OTHER OPERATORS’ SERVICES AT COVENTRY Proactive engagement from the ICWC operator, as SFO, in supporting continuous improvement of passenger facility quality and customer service to accommodate new and developing train services provided by other operators at Coventry Station
PRIORITY SEVEN – PERFORMANCE Radical, transformative commitment by the ICWC franchise operator to ambitious but deliverable PPM and ‘Right-Time’ performance improvement targets, in partnership with Network Rail and other operators, to address Virgin Trains’ current performance at the foot of all operators relevant to Coventry
PRIORITY EIGHT – FARES Developing and implementing a new commercial ticketing offer to passengers, directly relating this to developing demography, markets and economic growth as well as value for money, and using modern, evolving technology to make ticket purchase easy and simple
PRIORITY NINE – ON-TRAIN CAPACITY Maximising best use of finite ICWC train capacity via re-balancing between First and Standard Class accommodation, fares structures which encourage off-peak travel, and providing car park capacity available beyond peak hours
PRIORITY TEN – PLANNING FOR HIGH SPEED 2 A direct and proactive ICWC franchise role within the rail industry and with local authority stakeholders in ensuring development of the post-HS2 Phase 1 WCML train service after 2026 is fully evidenced via its knowledge of its markets for travel and its passengers’ needs.
The closing date for responses to the Department for Transport’s consultation is 2 August 2016.