Black Country rail service faces funding axe
A West Midlands rail commuter link could be axed even though the number of passengers using it has grown to 60,000 a year.
Transport Minister Tom Harris said he would cut funding for the Walsall to Wolverhampton line, suggesting customers could catch the bus instead.
Passenger transport authority Centro has written to Mr Harris asking him to change his mind.
Centro chairman Gary Clarke said abolishing the service would replace a 15-minute train journey with a 40-minute bus trip. Coun Clarke (Con Walsall) added: “The rail service is a vital link for many Walsall and Wolverhampton residents by providing a quick and reliable connection between the two boroughs and giving much needed access to connecting rail services.
“Existing bus services take over 40 minutes to cover the 15-minute rail journey.”
Coun Clarke said efforts to persuade more people to use the rail link, which has been threatened with closure a number of times in the past, had proved successful. He added: “Thanks to the increase in reliability and punctuality on the Walsall to Wolverhampton line, confidence has grown and we have seen the number of people taking advantage of this service rise significantly.
"The Government should be looking to provide investment in local rail services so that we have a consistent high quality rail network that encourages and cares for passenger growth.”
The Government has said it is focusing on providing extra capacity on the busiest routes as part of a franchise agreement.
“The Walsall to Wolverhampton rail service was not included in the franchise agreement as the route is lightly used,” a statement said.