RENEWED calls are being made for improvements to Uttoxeter’s rail service after tempers flared on the packed station platforms last week when a train with just one carriage turned up.
The incident happened on Thursday night during peak time at the railway station following the end of Support the Forces Day at the neighbouring Uttoxeter Racecourse.
Advertiser reader David Scorer witnessed the chaos and said he felt the train company had not prepared for the extra intake of passengers from the major race meeting.
He said: “There was only one coach on the 17.58 to Derby and as a result there was chaos at the station, with tempers fraying after passengers were turned away from the train.
“It seems East Midlands Trains’ only response to the extra passengers normally expected on a race day was to put extra stewards on to keep passengers boarding the trains.” Executive director at Uttoxeter Racecourse David MacDonald said he was frustrated that incidents such as Thursday’s were still happening.
He told the Advertiser: “If they only had one coach for a service on a race day then it is of some concern.
“We always make sure that East Midlands Trains are aware of our fixture list and we hold regular meetings with them to make sure that our bigger days, such as the Midlands Grand National, run smoothly.
“It is frustrating that there are still occasional incidents like this and they need to be taken seriously from a safety perspective.
“I have spoken to East Midlands Trains’ security manager to express my concern about the incident.” Mr MacDonald has also contacted Uttoxeter MP Andrew Griffiths about the train services to and from the town.
He said he was particularly concerned about the lack of services on Sundays which he said must be costing the Uttoxeter economy ‘tens of thousands of pounds’.
He said: “I have contacted our MP Andrew Griffiths recently to express my concern about the Uttoxeter train service and in particular the lack of any service at all on a Sunday before our first race times.
“The Uttoxeter economy must be losing tens of thousands of pounds because thousands of rail travellers are unable to get to the town in time for racing on a Sunday.” An East Midlands Trains spokesperson told the Advertiser it was planning to strengthen services for the James Bond Raceday on Friday, November 2, at the racecourse.
However, it will still only mean trains with two carriages being in operation rather than one.
It said: “We work in close liaison with Uttoxeter racecourse on planning for large events such as the Midlands Grand National and we will provide as much extra capacity as possible for major events such as this.
“We do have an ongoing dialogue with the racecourse and are aware of other events taking place throughout the year.
“Wherever possible, we will look to provide additional capacity on our services for these events. However, we also need to balance the needs of other passengers across our network in utilising our train fleet to provide the optimum service for all of our passengers.” Uttoxeter Community Action Group is also looking at the current state of rail services in the town.
Member Jon Titlow said at its meeting last week that the current service was ‘woefully inadequate’ if the town was expected to grow as a ‘commuter town’ in the coming years.