Herts and Cambs MPs press Jo Johnson on compensation for carnet tickets and interim timetable

PUBLISHED: 07:00 24 July 2018

A Thameslink train

A Thameslink train

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MPs have been questioning the lack of compensation for carnet ticket holders on Thameslink and Great Northern services and the problems with the new timetable.

Last week, it was announced Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which runs Thameslink and Great Northern, would help pay compensation to season ticket holders.

This followed months of disruption on services, including delays, cancellations and overcrowding, following a botched timetable change in May.

Answering an urgent question posed by Labour in the House of Commons last week, rail minister Jo Johnson said: “The Department for Transport is closely monitoring for sustained performance improvements by GTR, and we will be holding it and its new chief executive officer to account.

“At the same time, the department has been working hard to make sure passengers receive compensation and an explanation for the disruption they have suffered.”

However, GTR specified this compensation scheme would only pay out to season ticket holders, not to any day ticket holders who were affected by the disruption.

They would instead be expected to claim under the Delay Repay scheme. Day tickets include anytime, off-peak and carnet tickets, which are multi-packs of single tickets.

North East Hertfordshire MP Oliver Heald asked Mr Johnson: “He will recall the assurance given to me by the Prime Minister that nothing is off the table if the interim timetable fails.

“He is monitoring GTR’s performance carefully, but so far this week it has been less good on the Cambridge line than in some other parts.

“Will he continue to put pressure on GTR for a proper service for my constituents, who have suffered so ​badly over recent weeks? Will he also look into compensation for carnet holders as well as season-ticket holders?

To which Mr Johnson responded: “We want to see an even higher standard of service on Great Northern, which serves his constituency, than there has been.”

The minister highlighted how on Tuesday, 84 per cent of Thameslink trains and at 86 per cent of Great Northern trains arrived at their terminating station within ten minutes of their scheduled time.

South Cambridgeshire MP and former St Albans district councillor Heidi Allen also pressed the minister about compensation for carnet ticket holders: “Like a lot of people I remain deeply dissatisfied compensation is only for season-ticket holders, with other people having to use Delay Repay.

“On the lines in my area, which also run through Royston and St Neots stations in the constituencies of the members for North East Hertfordshire and the Huntingdon, the new timetable did not go live to all intents and purposes — most certainly not on Sunday — and we still had lots of cancellations on our lines on Monday.”

Mr Johnson responded: “I recognise services in her constituency have not been running perfectly, by any means. Some technical operational difficulties that were Network Rail’s responsibility have been at fault.

“There was a signal fault between Cambridge and Royston, which was a Network Rail issue, and there was a double track-circuit failure at Foxton, which was also a Network Rail issue and which has played a particular part in the difficulties her constituents have been experiencing today.

“On her point about compensation, the package has been designed to compensate the worst-affected passengers who travel every day on season tickets bought in advance.

“As I said, it is similar to the compensation that was offered to Southern ticket holders following the industrial action last year. Passengers who travel less frequently can claim Delay Repay compensation for the disruption that they experience, and we encourage them to do so.”

Bedford MP Mohammad Yasin later suggested reinstating the East Midlands Trains service from Bedford, which caused GTR to have to change its timetable in May, as a quick fix.

Mr Johnson responded: “We are working hard with EMT to see what can be done. There is no easy solution, given the constraints, and I would caution him against thinking there is a quick fix.

“If there were, the amount of effort that the department and the train operators have been putting into finding a solution would have produced one by now.”

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