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14 January: news in brief

Chaudhry-van der Velde to leave troubled West Midlands

THE managing director of West Midlands Trains Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde is leaving the troubled company at Easter ‘to take a career break’. His replacement has been named as WMR director Julian Edwards, who is joining now and will work alongside Mr Chaudhry-van der Velde until Easter. WMT is one of the franchises which has come under fire for poor performance. West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has called for WMT to have only until the end of January to put its house in order before cancellation of its franchise is considered, and on 8 January Boris Johnson told MPs that the ‘bell is tolling for West Midlands rail’. WMT was won by a partnership of Abellio and Japanese consortium JREM Train in August 2017, and took over from Govia’s London Midland in December 2017. The franchise expiry date is April 2026.

New vehicle-carrying contract for DRS

DIRECT RAIL SERVICES has signed a contract to carry Ford vehicles between Dagenham in east London and Garston in Liverpool. DRS will be working with transport specialist STVA UK, and a mixture of double- and single-deck wagons will be used. The new service will run between six to eight times a week, and DRS said the number of movements could be expanded to 10. DRS will use bi-mode Class 88 locomotives, because the main route between the two sites is electrified.

London Waterloo keeps top spot as busiest station

NEW figures from the Office of Rail and Road confirm that London Waterloo had the highest number of passengers in the year to 31 March 2019, at 94.2 million. Only one station outside London makes it into the top 10 busiest, with Birmingham New Street moving above London Euston to take 5th place in the list, with almost 48 million passengers. Two new stations opened at Kenilworth and Maghull North in 2018-19, bringing the station total to 2,566. Kenilworth was used by 170,912 passengers, and Maghull North 399,066. Glasgow Central retains its position as the busiest station in Scotland and stays at 11th place, with 32.8 million passengers. Scotland’s second busiest station was Edinburgh, with almost 23.9 million. In Wales Cardiff Central was the busiest, with more than 14 million passengers. A total of 42 stations catered for more than 10 million passengers each during the year, while the quietest station on the network was Denton in Greater Manchester. It sees only one northbound train each week and was used by a total of 22 passengers – an average of almost two a month.

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