The railway operator responsible for services between London and Birmingham Moor Street station has been fined £350,000 for breaking its franchise agreement with the Government.
Chiltern Railways has been ordered to pay up after an inquiry found it had failed to make two improvements to stations as promised, and made changes to its timetable without consulting the Department for Transport.
The penalty was announced by Transport Minister Norman Baker, who said the Government “very rarely” imposed such fines.
He told MPs the breaches involved “late delivery of two station improvements, and two timetable changes which were not properly authorised by the Department for Transport and which could, if unrectified, have significantly reduced the value of the franchise to the department”.
He added: “These breaches were in the context of the company’s poor performance in meeting a number of its detailed contractual obligations over a substantial period.”
The fine, which was reduced from the proposed level of £500,000 following a consultation, will be received by the department and added to its budget.
Mr Baker welcomed Chiltern's “clear assurances” that it had stepped up oversight at senior management level to ensure compliance with the terms of the franchise agreement.
The timetable changes involved Chiltern reducing services from Leamington Spa in Warwickshire to London so that its sister company, Wrexham, Shropshire and Marylebone Railway Company Limited, could operate the trains instead.
Although the service offered to passengers was effectively the same, it meant that the sister company - which has now closed down - was receiving the fares while Chiltern was receiving a Government subsidy to run a franchise which was supposed to include the services.
The company also failed to fulfil promises to build new shelters at a station in Oxfordshire, and a lift at a station in Buckinghamshire.