Train operator London Midland has been warned it will face ‘punitive action’ from the Department for Transport if it fails to fix a driver shortage chaos.
The troubled operator cancelled or cut short 25 services on Friday, and has cancelled more than 500 trains since October 7.
It blames what it calls “a temporary shortfall of qualified train drivers”, and claims it is currently training new drivers who will begin work in December.
But Cabinet Minister Andrew Lansley told the House of Commons that the Government was ready to take action.
Rail Minister Norman Baker has already spoken to London Midland’s managing director to demand an explanation for the cancellations which have affected thousands of commuters.
The lack of progress restoring reliable services was raised in the House of Commons by MP Mark Garnier (Con Wyre Forest), who asked: “There have been a number of questions asked about the poor performance of London Midland trains. Despite that, their performance continues to be absolutely atrocious.
“Given London Midland’s habitual under-performance, will the Transport Secretary make a statement on how that pitiful situation can be resolved?”
Mr Lansley, leader of the Commons, said: “London Midland is not yet technically in breach of its obligations, but if improvements are not seen in very short order, the Department for Transport will need to consider taking action against the train operator.”
Government Minister Earl Attlee echoed the comments in the House of Lords, telling peers: “If the situation continues and cancellations increase, the department has a range of actions available.”
The firm could face “severe penalties” if it was found to have broken the terms of its franchise, he said.