Train services return after Sunday stay-away

Rail services returned to normal today on London Midland lines following the cancellation of all but one of the firm's trains yesterday because of staff shortages.

Thousands of rail passengers suffered delays and disruptions to their journeys after the company cancelled all its trains except those on the Birmingham to Liverpool line.

London Midland, which operates more than 1,200 services a day to 149 stations, was criticised after revealing its drivers usually worked on a voluntary basis on Sundays and not enough staff volunteered to work yesterday.

Talks will be held this week between the company and union leaders in a bid to avert a repeat of the chaos.

The company said an agreement to increase overtime pay on Sundays from time and two thirds to double pay ended on August 30.

National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) leader Bob Crow said it was simply a case of staff exercising their contractual right not to work on Sunday.

"This is a voluntary arrangement. Rather than pleading ignorance and blaming their staff, the company should focus their energy on resolving the issue," he told the Press Association today.

A London Midland spokeswoman said: "We have scheduled meetings with the unions this week and we will be contacting them today to discuss the fact that in their comments to the media they raised the issue of overtime payments as a reason for staff not volunteering.

"They have not previously advised the company they wanted to discuss the continuation of the short term, double-time agreements."

The Birmingham-based company runs train services throughout the heart of England, serving major cities including London, Birmingham and Liverpool, and linking scores of towns across the midlands.

Conservative MP Mark Pritchard has asked Transport Secretary Lord Adonis to investigate the disruptions.

Speaking for the Northampton Rail Users' Group, one of the largest towns served by the network, Shaun Hope said: "It's a shambles. How can they run an essential service on a voluntary basis? It's an astonishing way to operate a train service."

London Midland made arrangements for other companies to honour their tickets and also put on some bus services yesterday.

Operations and Safety director Andy Thomas apologised for the disruption.

He said: "Where we have had staff coming to work we have run services and also ensured we prepare the trains and operations behind the scenes to start Monday morning services overnight."

He added the double pay deal for Sunday working was on top of existing overtime and was "time limited".

He said: "These extra payments were always temporary and it was clear they came to an end on August 30. This week London Midland drivers and conductors would have earned the usual, agreed level of overtime for working a Sunday shift."

Shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers said: "London Midland needs to get their act together. They really should have contingency plans for a situation when their regular drivers don't put their names down for Sunday shifts."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine