Written by JENNY MOODY
UTTOXETER’S MP has spoken out against the lack of train service covering the town before his peers.
Andrew Griffiths has raised the problems facing Uttoxeter Railway Station and commuters, particularly on race days at Uttoxeter Racecourse, to the Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin.
The MP said the station was actually becoming a danger to the public on busy days, with not enough carriages to take the visitors to their destination.
He said: “I have been pressurising East Midlands Trains for many years to improve the rolling stock.
“Uttoxeter Racecourse is being severely disadvantaged because at weekends East Midlands Trains do not have enough rolling stock on their network to run enough carriages for the passengers who want to use the line on a race day.
“Add to that a signal box on the line that doesn’t open before 2pm on a Sunday, so no trains can run, meaning that race goers are unable to get to the racecourse before the meeting has started.
“This obviously puts people off and means fewer punters come and less money is spent in Uttoxeter as a result. In addition I have grave concerns that because of the lack of trains the crowds of people queuing for trains after the races is putting public safety in danger.”
His concerns were echoed by David MacDonald, executive director of Uttoxeter Racecourse, who for years has been asking for improvements to help race-goers.
He said: “For many years now we have been bringing the inadequate train service at Uttoxeter to the attention of East Midlands Trains and Network Rail.
“On Saturday we will have 8,000 people attending the racecourse for a UB40 concert that finishes at 10.45pm.
“There are no trains after the concert which is both disappointing and embarrassing when we have to tell people visiting from outside the area. I requested an extra service but did not get a reply.
“On Sunday racedays we start racing at 2pm and there are no trains before the first race meaning that nobody can come racing if they intend to travel by train. These issues have a huge commercial impact on both the racecourse and the town.
“However, my biggest concern relates to safety. The rail authorities have spent millions on a new railway bridge but seem unconcerned by the scenario of thousands of rail passengers flocking onto the platform after racing only to be confronted by a four carriage train that is already full.
“Last Saturday this very scenario occurred and when our local police tried to get support from British Transport Police. They were told that they were tied up with the Stoke City game. Thankfully our local Uttoxeter Police dealt admirably with the situation.
“We are very grateful to Andrew Griffiths for bringing the matter to the attention of Parliament. I hope we do not have to wait too long for commonsense to prevail.”
After raising his concerns, Mr Griffiths said the secretary agreed there was a problem and said he hoped to see an upgrade ‘in the not too distant future’.