The timetables they are a-changing!

Improvements could be made to Stone Station if a station adoption scheme gets the go-ahead.

Anyone using the trains at Stone Station after the middle of May needs to check the new timetables very carefully, says North Staffs Rail Promotion Group Chair Jon Heal. While travel to Birmingham becomes much easier, journeys to London are going to take much longer.

From May 19th the London Northwestern Railway trains that call at Stone will no longer go down the main line to London, but will become a new service that calls southbound atStafford, Wolverhampton and Birmingham New Street.

Stone will actually gets more trains than now, and the service will run later into the evening.

But to go to London, passengers will need to change trains at Stafford, because the familiarLondon service – once run by London Midland, and now by West Midlands Trains – will now go direct from Crewe to Stafford, missing out the Potteries. This is why London journeys will take longer. Alternatively passengers can stay on the Birmingham train, which does eventually carry on to London, if they fancy a further hour of train travel.

Said Jon, “I recently met with the Managing Director of West Midlands Trains, Jan Chaudhry van der Velde, and made the point that the early morning connections at Stafford are very poor, making it much harder to make a day trip from Stone to London.”

“I also explained that the Sunday timetable for people coming back to Stone included a long wait at Stafford Station. He accepted that this was not good for passengers, nor for their business, and has asked his team to find ways to improve this.”

However it is too late to change the timetable in May, and it looks unlikely that much can be done in December. It could be May 2020 before the easy journeys to London from Stone, used by many people over the last 10 years, become convenient again.

Rail users are encouraged to check their journeys well in advance, and to pass on complaints to Customer Services, giving details of their journeys which have become more difficult.

They can also contact NSRPG at jhnorthstaffsrail@hotmail.co.uk who will pass on their comments to the train company.