The Anonymous Widower

Three Of The Worst Stations In England

On my trip home from Swansea via the Heart of Wales Line and an overnight stop with friends in Ludlow, I came through three of the worst stations, I have encountered in England; Craven Arms, Ludlow and Shrewsbury.

Craven Arms

Craven Arms station has minimal facilities to say the least.

It certainly fails the Gert and Daisy Test.

Gert and Daisy are two elderly and very independent,  travel-savvy sisters, who live in different parts of the country. Neither drives and they have arranged to go to see their first great-granddaughter, whose parents live a few miles from the station. Train times mean that they arrive within fifteen minutes from different directions and their grandson has arranged to pick them up when they’ve both arrived.

The one problem in this plan is the station, as there is no comfortable place to wait and there is no mobile signal to send a text message to their grandson to announce their arrival.

Luckily it’s a warm and sunny summer’s day.

I would like to see a law, that every station and bus stop in the country has a decent mobile signal.

In my case, I had to wait half-an-hour on a draughty station with nothing to do, as I had read the paper and there was no mobile signal to use for entertainment.

Ludlow

Ludlow station isn’t that much higher up the facilities league table.

All I needed was a taxi and the information was a set of cards on the counter in the Ticket Office.

But there was no mobile signal and eventually a passing taxi-driver took pity on me.

The station was very much an information-free zone, with not even any signs as to how to find a bus.

But surely, the most serious thing about Ludlkow station was that in the morning, the train informastion displays weren’t working, as I suspect the mobile signal they needed wasn’t available.

My phone certainly wasn’t working and it didn’t work until I got to Shrewsbury.

Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury station may have seven platforms and a few trains, but it is definitely short on facilities as I said in Shrewsbury Station.

What Is To Be Done

I have to admit, that I’ve seen stations like these treated with contempt before.

When I moved back to London in 2010, some of the stations like Rectory Road, Clapton and Manor Park, to name just three were a disgrace.

In those days, they were managed by Abellio Greater Anglia from Norwich and any complaints were put down to whingeing Londoners.

Now that these stations are all managed by Transport for London, things have got much better.

All of the three stations are run by Arriva Trains Wales, so I suspect any complaints about the stations are filed under whingeing English.

Probably too, with trains devolved to the Welsh Assembly, Arriva Trains Wales are probably under close control from their paymasters in Cardiff.

I think that the most important thing to be done would be to put the management of these stations under control of Shropshire County Council.

Incidentally, all of the trains, I rode in the area were busy and my scheduling experience probably says that the area needs more services with more carriages.

Wolverhampton To Shrewsbury

Perhaps the solution at Shrewsbury is to up the frequency of trains between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton to create better access between the fast-growing West Midlands and Shropshire.

The service at the moment looks to be about two trains per hour (tph), but it is by no means clock face, which has been shown to increase passenger numbers.

Hereford

Going South from Ludlow, the first major city and station you come to is Hereford.

It is much better served by trains than Shrewsbury, with services to London and Birmingham.

In addition to Arriva Trains Wales, services are provided by London Midland and Great Western Railway.

I also think, that now that a new station has been created at Bromsgrove, that London Midland or the new franchisee might have plans to develop services from Birmingham to Worcester and Hereford.

Hereford, Shrewsbury And The Welsh Marches Line

The services between Hereford and Shrewsbury to Birmingham are vaguely similar , with about 2-3 tph, with trains taking between an hour and ninety m,inutes.

But neither service is clock-face and likely to attract customers on the trurn-up-and-go  principle. They are more likely to drive to Birmingham or perhaps a Park-and-Ride station like Bromsgrove.

But on the Welsh Marches Line connecting Hereford and Shrewsbury, the service is less frequent and if my experiences at Ludlow and Craven Arms are typical, the information systems and the trains, are not conducive to attracting passengers.

  • The trains are fine, but infrequent, crowded and managed by the Welsh Assembly.
  • Mobile phone coverage is not much better that the 1980s in Suffolk.
  • Broadband is not the best.

Perhaps the solution to the trains is to run a loop service from Wolverhampton to Birmingham via the following stations.

  • Telford
  • Wellington
  • Shrewsbury
  • Craven Arms
  • Ludlow
  • Leominster
  • Hereford
  • Worcester
  • Bromsgrove

If it were run by London Midland, it would be a partial solution to the transport problems of those English towns along the Welsh Border.

 

 

October 8, 2016 - Posted by | Transport | , ,

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