Two rush hour trains were cancelled when ticket collectors were stranded in a taxi and were BANNED from walking to the station just yards away – because of HEALTH AND SAFETY fears.
Barmy London Midland bosses scrapped the busy commuter trains from Birmingham to Herefordshire on Tuesday after two conductors failed to make it to the station on time.
The staff members had been making their way between the city’s Snow Hill and New Street stations – a half-mile walk which takes less than 10 minutes.
But when the taxi they were in broke down the company decided to abandon the 17.49 to Hereford and 17.59 to Great Malvern services leaving hundreds of commuters stranded for up to an hour.
Astonishingly, train bosses deemed the walk “too dangerous” for their two conductors because they were carrying money.
The journey would have even been QUICKER on foot due to the pedestrianisation of Birmingham city centre as cars are forced to make a two-mile detour.
Train passengers slammed the decision to cancel the trains – branding it “health and safety gone mad.”
PR executive Paula Yates, 30, from Bromsgrove, Worcs., was stranded at New Street station for 45 minutes.
She fumed: “You couldn’t get two train stations closer to each other. It wasn’t like they would be asking the staff to walk down a back alley in the middle of the night.
“This was a short walk across a safe city at a busy time of day and you would expect them to be able to make a logical and sensible exception to their rules.
“But because of ridiculous red-tape yet again we see an absurd example of health and safety rules gone stark raving mad.”
Another passenger Freddie Gundersen, 38, an IT consultant, from Birmingham, added: “At 5pm the traffic in Birmingham is a nightmare and because of pedestrianised streets it would have been much quicker to walk.
“It is absolutely disgusting that they would cancel two packed trains because of so-called company policy.
“The thing that gets me with these sort of companies is why common sense never seems to prevail. It is just baffling that they can treat customers this way.”
Computer science student Daniel Mander, 19, was stuck at University station and his journey home to Bromsgrove was delayed by around 40 minutes.
He wrote to London Midland on Twitter: “Could you please pass on that it is generally quicker to walk between the two stations!”
Daniel, who pays #275 for a three-month rail ticket, said: “The two stations are a five minute walk apart.
“With the traffic in the city centre I would imagine that it takes longer by taxi.
“I know that myself and a lot of other commuters are getting extremely fed up of the poor service from London Midland.’’
A spokesman for Passenger Focus, a commuter support group, added: “Clearly this was irritating for passengers, so we’ll establish from London Midland why its staff were unable to walk.”
A London Midland spokeswoman defended the move and said it was company policy to provide taxis for conductors travelling between stations for their “safety and protection”.
She said: “We apologise to passengers who were affected by the cancellation of the 17.49 Birmingham New St – Hereford and 17.59 Birmingham New St – Great Malvern services.
“The two conductors who were due to work these trains were stuck in a broken down taxi in Birmingham city centre.
“For the safety and protection of its employees, it is London Midland’s policy to provide taxis for conductors travelling between stations as they carry cash and card reading equipment.”
* London Midland has previously suffered a huge commuter backlash over the staffing shortfalls, which saw almost 1,000 services cancelled or delayed between October and December in 2012.