When things go wrong.
During disruption, we'll let you know what the situation is as quickly as we can. Listen out for on-board and station announcements, check customer information screens or use the Help Points at our stations.
Meeting our driver shortage challenge
We’re sorry if you’ve been affected by a cancellation due to a shortage of available drivers recently. This is due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our train crew.
Passengers are urged to check their journeys before setting out. In recent weeks, we have seen the number of staff having to self-isolate quadruple resulting in trains being cancelled at short notice and fewer carriages being available on some services.
Before the pandemic started, we had begun recruiting extra drivers and guards to crew our new trains as part of our plans to develop our service and take into account the higher-than-average number of drivers due to retire around now.
Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 and social distancing constraints, our driver training programme has been severely disrupted with over 25,000 training days lost. This has significantly increased the amount of time it takes trainees to become fully qualified train drivers.
What we are doing to solve the problem
With restrictions beginning to ease, we have accelerated our training programmes as much as possible to bring our driver numbers up to the full complement.
We have a dedicated team focused on delivering the best possible service by doing things like making the best use of drivers who volunteer for overtime.
Despite the measures we have taken to speed up our training programmes, the size of the training backlog means we will not reach our full establishment until next year.
However, with every training course that takes place, more qualified drivers enter the pool and the problem reduces, so the situation will improve each month.
What does this mean for my journey?
Because we employ hundreds of train drivers, even with these training challenges the vast majority of our services will not be affected by this issue.
However, while we always do our best to have enough drivers available, there may be occasions when we need to cancel services due to shortages. This is more likely around popular dates to book annual leave, such as the school holidays and around bank holidays.
Driver shortages are more likely to impact services operating via Birmingham Snow Hill. This is because the driver depots on this line have the highest number of vacancies, meaning the delays in training replacements have been felt most here.
If we do have to cancel services, we will give our passengers as much notice as possible. Where necessary, we will provide rail replacement transport.
You can keep up-to-date with live information by visiting wmr.uk/plan or follow @WestMidRailway on Twitter for updates. As always, any passenger delayed by 15 minutes or more can claim compensation via the Delay Repay scheme.
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 rebuilding our complement as quickly as possible.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
We are always looking for experienced train drivers. While this can help with some aspects of driver training , unlike a licence to drive a car, train drivers are required to pass separate tests for every type of train and route they work on.
Learning to drive a train is more complicated than learning to drive a car. Even in ‘normal’ times it takes more than a year for a trainee to become a fully qualified driver. Unlike a licence to drive a car, our drivers are required to pass separate tests for every type of train and route they work on.
Just as every type of train is different and requires bespoke training, the same applies to routes. An individual driver must acquire ‘route knowledge’ before they can drive a train, so not all West Midlands Railway drivers can automatically cover every single route.
Where possible, we have changed which depots provide drivers to which routes, to ensure we have a better balance of available train crew at any given time.
We work to a formula agreed with our trade unions to ensure we have sufficient cover. However unexpected spikes in absence, or in this case - the pandemic legacy affects on our recruitment and training programme, means train crew shortages can still occur.
Unfortunately it is not as simple as ‘borrowing’ train drivers – there are dozens of different types of train used on the UK network and a driver must be trained to operate the specific vehicle on the route. And of course other companies need their own drivers too!
Yes. If your journey is delayed by 15 minutes or more, you can claim compensation via our Delay Repay scheme.
If your journey is delayed by 15 minutes or more, you're entitled to compensation under our Delay Repay scheme. Please keep a hold of your ticket and submit your claim within 28 days.
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Wherever possible our engineering work is planned in advance, generally for weekends or public holidays. When planned engineering works are going to affect our routes we will provide up to date information.
Passenger Information During Disruption (PIDD) are the principles we work to to keep you informed when trains are disrupted. We want to be transparent with our customers, and we publish our own PIDD plan online. It details:
- what we will do to keep you informed of problems affecting your journey.
- who does what to get the train service back to normal, and
- the expected standards that we are working to meet.
Part of the Rail Delivery Group PIDD Compliance Standards is monitored through a Train Company tracking document. We publish that online too, so you can see what we do to comply with the standards.
- View our Passenger Information During Disruption Delivery Plan
- View the Rail Delivery Group approved code of practice for the provision of Customer Information
How are we measured...
The rail industry wishes to understand better the extent to which each train operator is providing effective communications about disruption to their customers and what improvements might be made. Rail Delivery Group (RDG) undertakes research into how Train Companies are managing Passenger Information During Disruption.