A MAN has slammed West Midlands Railway after he ended up stranded in Bromsgrove because of train delays and cancellations.
George T Wallace was trying to get home to Sutton Coldfield on Saturday after spending an afternoon walking in the Malvern Hills.
He arrived at Colwall in good time to catch the 8.05pm train back to Birmingham New Street so he could get a Cross City service to Sutton.
After the 8.05pm was cancelled he called the West Midlands Railway helpline where a supervisor advised him to catch a train to Worcester Shrub Hill, catch a train to Birmingham Snow Hill, walk across Birmingham City Centre and then get the train to Sutton from New Street.
Mr Wallace said it was not good enough and demanded a taxi and the supervisor told him the only way that could happen was for him to go to the nearest staffed station – Worcester Foregate Street – where he could have a taxi to Bromsgrove and pick up the Cross City service there.
After doing that and making it to Bromsgrove the 10.27pm did not turn up, despite the indicator board saying it was on its way.
“Other people on the platform informed me that they had been waiting 90 minutes for a train, with nothing.
“The last train of the night was supposed to be the 10.50pm to Four Oaks, for which the departure board initially said ‘delayed’ and then ‘on time’.
“But the same thing happened again, except this time with no announcement – 10.50pm came and went with the departure board indicating it was ‘delayed’ before it vanished altogether.
Mr Wallace called West Midlands Railway again and got through to an India-based call centre where the operator told him passengers needed to make their own way.
“I explained to him that the train operating company has a responsibility – a duty of care – to get passengers home if the last train is cancelled.
“He said I would need to contact the train operating company (which I thought I was speaking to already) and then said he did not have the authority to book a taxi any contact details for the train operating company.”
Mr Wallace was then forced to team up with another man – a university lecturer who had been waiting for a train to Chester Road – to get a taxi at 11.30pm, paying for it with their own money.
He added: “There were three young teenagers (under 16) waiting for the 10.27pm, unaccompanied, who claimed to have been there for an hour and a half, who were travelling to Northfield.
“One of their parents finally got them a taxi.
“What would have happened if their parents did not have the financial means to get them a taxi, or if neither of the three had a mobile phone?
“I dread to think what position disadvantaged or vulnerable people without the means to make alternative arrangements would have been left in.
“It is my belief that West Midlands Railway has failed in its basic duty of care towards its passengers by leaving me (and others) stranded at Bromsgrove when the last train was clearly cancelled (train operating companies are obliged to provide alternative arrangements when the last train of the day is cancelled).”
He has written to West Midlands Railway demanding an explanation about why the company had failed in its duty of care.
“Obviously, with the distress and inconvenience caused by this egregious fiasco, I will in future be taking the car.”
A West Midlands Railway spokesperson said: “We apologise to Mr Wallace for the difficulties he experienced on his journey.
“We always look at each claim on an individual basis and will contact Mr Wallace directly regarding his concerns and his additional travel expenses.
“In this case advice and assistance was correctly provided based on the available information but unfortunately a series of issues including a broken rail at Birmingham New Street severely impacted train services across the West Midlands.”