First-class row

PUBLISHED: 10:37 13 November 2008 | UPDATED: 13:43 06 May 2010

SIR, — Firstly, could I pass comment on your headline First-class row on overcrowded trains (Herts Advertiser, November 6). First-class accommodation was never provided on Bedford-line trains prior to the introduction of Thameslink services due to the h

SIR, - Firstly, could I pass comment on your headline "First-class row on overcrowded trains" (Herts Advertiser, November 6). First-class accommodation was never provided on Bedford-line trains prior to the introduction of Thameslink services due to the high demand for standard-class accommodation during peak periods and the relatively-low demand for first-class accommodation between Bedford and London. Hence, as you describe, first-class areas remain largely empty while there is severe overcrowding in standard class. Also, for passengers buying a first-class ticket, there is no guarantee that first-class accommodation is provided on the train they travel on.

Secondly, another correspondent points out the unacceptably-long tube interchange at St Pancras. I have travelled forward from Farringdon to Moorgate on a number of occasions and the change is not as quick and easy as we are told. I have experienced waits of eight minutes for Eastbound Met/Circle line trains as well as high levels of overcrowding when trains arrive.

Clearly we are not being told the truth about the "Thamelink upgrade". The Corporation of London issued a press statement some years ago stating that Bedford-line rail users would experience longer journey times to the City and West End when the Thameslink 2000 service was introduced. For Thameslink upgrade read Bedford-line downgrade. Twelve-car trains?. You don't think they're serious - just an excuse to get rid of Moorgate.

In 1976, we were promised a fast, reliable electric service to St Pancras and Moorgate at a cost - reported in your newspaper at the time - as equal to a Range Rover for each rail user. The original project had plenty of capacity for expansion with two platforms at Moorgate and seven at St Pancras. Ken Livingstone was the man behind the Thameslink project which has effectively been a downgrade by stealth of the original project delivered late in the 1980s. Barely a month has gone by without some kind of service breakdown or delay.

The main loser in the closure of the Moorgate line will be the City of London and its role as a leading world financial centre.

Can you imagine the Germans shutting a line to the heart of their financial centre? I think not. The Corporation of London and the new Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, would be wise take some positive action. Conservative MP John Redwood is on record as saying he would like to attract private capital into rail infrastructure projects, so perhaps between them all they would like to make a start on looking at the Moorgate line, which could be re-engineered to exist with the Thameslink project, and could perhaps include a more appropriate tube interchange at Kings Cross.

Some years ago, several City institutions joined forces to assist in financing an extension of the DLR to Bank, including a new interchange. With many new homes planned in the Herts/Beds/Northants areas, perhaps a levy could be charged on builders to upgrade the link. Deutsche Bundesbahn, the German rail operator and holder of the Chiltern Rail franchise, has indicated that it would like to finance rail projects, while BAA proposed to finance a Heathrow-Moorgate service, only to be turned down by Railtrack. Surely having a separate franchisee to run the Moorgate line independently from the Thameslink franchise would be an idea too.

So come on politicians, the Bedpan line has been a Cinderella line for too long.

PAUL JOHNSTON

Down Edge, Redbourn.

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