Snow Hill lines – Our route recovery plan

Our Snow Hill line services run from Stratford-upon-Avon, Dorridge and Whitlocks End, through Birmingham Moor Street and Snow Hill stations in the city centre and on to Stourbridge, Kidderminster and Worcester.

Following the pandemic we know too many services on the route have been affected by shortages of drivers, reduced numbers of carriages and reduced reliability. We’re sorry if your journey has been affected and would like to reassure you we are doing everything we can to fix this.

What is causing this issue?

The key issue which has caused performance to be lower than we’d like is the impact of the pandemic on our driver training programme.

Social distancing constraints have caused significant delays in training our new recruits and for our existing teams to learn to drive our brand-new trains.

These issues are being felt hardest on the Snow Hill line because of the high number of vacancies at our depots at Worcester, Snow Hill and Leamington Spa which have all had a higher-than-average number of retirements in recent years.

What are we doing to fix this issue?

  • Established a dedicated director-led working group to develop and continually review our route recovery plan. This plan is centred on catching up with the training backlog, improving the availability of our train fleet so we can run longer trains, developing better contingency plans for when disruption occurs as well as improving our communication to keep you in the loop.
  • Collaborating with our partners at West Midlands Rail Executive as well as across the industry with other train operating companies including Chiltern Railways, East Midlands Railway and CrossCountry, as well as Network Rail, to reduce impacts to customers’ journeys wherever possible.
  • Currently training over 120 new drivers across our organisation. Around half of these new drivers will join our Snow Hill line teams between November 2021 and July 2022. This accounts for three times the number of recruits we would usually have in training, which aims to address the training backlog caused by the pandemic.

Keeping you in the loop

We’ll be publishing a monthly blog here with all the latest news and updates from our action plan.

Read our November route recovery blog to find out more about where our recovery plan started, the background and scale of the challenge to restore reliability on the route after a bruising two years.

Read our December blog update for our 2021 end of year review, including a look at the number of new drivers who had qualified by the end of the year and how our fleet took a battering during the early winter storms.

Read our January blog update which focused on the impact of the Omicron variant over the festive season, as well as an interview with one of our brand new drivers who undertook their training during the pandemic, with all the added complications that brought.

Read our February blog update here, covering some of the recent issues our partners at Network Rail have been having with faulty signaling equipment in the Kidderminster area and the measures we took to protect the railway during Storms Dudley, Eunice & Franklin.

Read our March blog update with a specific focus on how the route is emerging from the pandemic as the government introduced the "living with covid" plan.

Read our April blog update for a look at some upcoming infrastructure improvements, a review of recent challenges on the Stourbridge shuttle and how our route recovery plan is progressing 6 months in.

Read our recent blog update for all the latest news and updates, and specifically a look back at some of the responses we've received via our feedback channels over the last year.

Thank you for your patience

While the vast majority of our services are running as normal, we understand cancellations are frustrating and we are very sorry if your journey has been affected. Thank you for your patience as we continue restoring our teams to full strength as quickly as possible.

For live train service information or to plan a journey - visit wmr.uk/plan or follow @WestMidRailway on Twitter for updates, and as always, any passenger delayed by 15 minutes or more can claim compensation via our Delay Repay scheme.