London Midland is introducing a temporary leaf fall timetable on its Cross City line again this year. The autumn timetable, which affects Monday – Saturday services, will apply from Monday, 24 October until Saturday, 10 December.
The main change for passengers travelling on the route, which runs from Lichfield in the north, through Birmingham and on to Redditch, is that not all trains will stop at every station. This means there will be fewer train services from some stations*.
Autumn leaf fall creates challenging driving conditions for trains. The wheels and rails become coated with a hard residue, making the rail head slippery, so our drivers need to slow down to adapt to the driving conditions. Last year the autumn timetable helped improve punctuality by almost fifty per cent.
The adverse driving conditions means trains have to travel more slowly through affected areas. Conditions can vary by location from day to day. Train companies have found the best solution is to run an amended timetable instead of making ad-hoc adjustments when delays start to happen. This means passengers benefit from a structured and more predictable train service with better reliability.
Rob Hornsey, head of Cross City Services said, “Autumn is when the punctuality of our trains has suffered most in recent years, so it’s right that we make changes. We listen carefully to passengers and have reviewed feedback from previous years when we didn’t adjust the timetable. I firmly believe the changes we are making offer a safe and sensible solution and will help to minimise delays and keep our passengers moving. Amending the timetable is just one step in the process of preparing for autumn. We have worked closely with Network Rail to reduce the impact of leaf fall, from identifying ‘hot spots’ for cutting back trees and vegetation, to defining the most effective times of the day to spray clean the rails. We’re doing everything we can to mitigate the impact of leaf fall and deliver the best possible service for passengers.”
The key advice for passengers is ‘Check before you travel’ and there are a number of ways to do that. A printed version of the autumn timetable is available from all stations on the route and you can also check the London Midland app and website – where a dedicated leaf fall page has been created at www.londonmidland.com/leaffall.
*The key features of the timetable change are as follows:
• The timetable will operate Monday to Saturday, from 24 October to 10 December inclusive
• There is no change to the calling pattern of trains after 20.00 Monday – Saturday and all day Sunday
• There will be up to six trains per hour between Four Oaks and Selly Oak in each direction
• Two of the six trains will run non-stop between Sutton Coldfield and Birmingham New Street, in each direction
• Two of the six trains will run non-stop between Selly Oak and Longbridge
• Services that stop at all stations will be half hourly.