Your letters to the Herts Ad...

PUBLISHED: 15:12 01 June 2018

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The Thameslink editorial by Fraser Whieldon last week, where does one start following a piece written post a paid trip to Germany? Impartiality may be suspect, accuracy certainly is.

When did our trains last go to Moorgate? Trains or artifacts as they were described that used to go to Moorgate, are happily working elsewhere, even from Brighton.

The 1970s are not old in train terms, the HST 125s introduced from 1975 onwards and running to Sheffield are considered the finest trains ever produced and in-house too by BR.

They are still classified as the fastest diesels in the world.

When finally replaced on our line they go to Scotland to continue service. Some artifacts?

Mild rebuke towards Govia but the gist of the article was to suggest renationalisation was no solution.

Not sure if your staffer knows but the Thameslink route was initiated by BR in 1988 with funding from the GLC.

It ran very well, on trains also built by themselves and it became a success story. The difference then was BR was one organisation. There was a direct chain of command not upwards of 100 disparate sections all wanting a slice of the ticket revenue. We went from the best value railway in the world to the most expensive.

Siemens may have given their visitors an enjoyable time but it is their trains that are less than 100 per cent reliable. It only takes one to delay all those behind. Siemens incidentally promised to supply trains for German railways to run from St Pancras for a valuable new service. Then they discovered they were too busy to actually supply them. What a tease.

Let’s go back to Thameslink, when BR introduced any new service there were always sufficient timetables, printed in-house, distributed to stations often off the same trains. Unlike the shortage experienced last week. Blame? The extended supply chain?

Sensibly a Sunday was chosen to start the new service rather a Monday.

But the line was blocked south of West Hampstead till 9.15 for maintenance work.

A single organisation via internal communications would have ensured that did not happen and sorted it. AND staff would have known there was to be a delay, many did not.

Sufficient train crews would have gained route knowledge in advance rather than have them announce to puzzled station staff at St Pancras that they did not know the way (route) and would go no further.

Senior management would also have been in attendance in case things went adrift, none were visible at St Pancras.

This project is billed as RailPlan2020, originally Thameslink 2000.

It has therefore been a long time coming, but all under a privatised rail industry.

Ironically previous franchise operators on the same routes have had patchy performance. So much so that the current arrangement is micromanaged by civil servants including new train specification.

It is they who must admit some responsibility for mere details like no wifi, preventing one from finding out what was going wrong.

The decision not to have power sockets on an electric train must be the icing on the cake!

But even the seat cushions is on the list of micro management. Not to save money but to reduce passenger boarding and leaving time, passengers mustn’t be too comfortable and cause a micro delay to disembarking.

There are far more comfortable trains elsewhere, the HST 125s for example!

BR withstood lots of music hall jokes, but under them we had cheaper fares, comfortable seats and accountability rather than a chain of responsibility of indeterminate length.


Cravells Road, Harpenden

I wonder how many people have contacted the council to say how good the verges look now they have been cut. Personally I think they look awful, very scruffy and worst of all are the piles of brown dead grass left to rot.

My friend in St Albans says the same contractors have cut her verge and made it more messy that it was before.

Leaving the grass cuttings means that the soil will be enriched and become useless for wild flowers which need poor soil. The only things that will grow will be brambles, nettles and docks.

Check out the charity Plant Life and write to the council about the ideas they are promoting. Our insect life, bird and animal life and eventually our own lives depend on a healthy natural wild life environment.

West Common, Harpenden

I am sorry to read the lengthy tale of nonagerian woe in a recent letter. I rarely seek to enter your columns as I have never wished to tread on the toes of my successors but feel in this case a measure of response is required.

First possibly we should all accept human failings from which of course councillors are by no means free, but equally please allow that of whatever political persuasion and whether we agree with their views or not, those who put themselves forward do so because they wish to service the community.

Secondly, and to me the most valuable, the really uplifting thing to counterbalance the deficits is the scope and depth of voluntary and charitable work which is thriving in the area.

Hours of personal service and dedication are the best evidence of the humanity which motivates so many and is such an enrichment of our society - for all of this we should be very grateful.

Of the many lessons and pleasures that I retain from my years in office, none is more powerful and lasting memory than these - let us not be downcast!
Chairman Harpenden UDC 1972-74
Mayor of the city and district of St Albans 1974-75
Southdown Road, Harpenden

Residents living in the towns and villages of St Albans district council are sleepwalking into a nightmare through apathy. The district is under attack by proposed industrial developments in the south and north..

News that ‘Rail freight depot is one step closer to becoming a reality’ (Herts Ad May 12) and that Luton Airport, the fifth busiest airport and one of the fastest growing in the UK, has ambitions to more than double in size, should be a wake-up call.

Traffic pollution in some parts of St Albans city already breaks EU rules.

Add to that hundreds of container trucks pouring off the MI and M25 onto the A5 to enter the proposed Park Street freight depot and any fool can see that noise and pollution will only get worse.

St Albans MP Anne Main has campaigned tirelessly to stop the freight depot but was stabbed in the back by former Communities Secretary Eric Pickles when he approval the proposal in 2014.

Let us pray she is not stabbed in the chest by Herts county council which owns the land yet sat on the fence when St Albans district council wasted more than half a million pounds of local taxpayers money in legal fees appealing against the project.

Ironically, SADC’s own councillors who also sit on the county council could have lobbied their Conservative colleagues at County Hall to block the freight depot and instead sell the land for much-needed housing. Watch this space.

At a recent meeting called by the Harpenden Society at Rothamsted Conference Centre a PR team from Luton Council and Luton Airport outlined their plans to increase traffic at the airport from the current 16 million passenger a year to between 36 and 38 million over the next 20 to 30 years.

They estimate growth of up to 240,000 aircraft movements a year (around 50 runway movements per hour) up from the current 135,000 movements a year.

At present, most passengers travel to the airport by road. When questioned about the increased noise and air pollution the expansion would bring, Robin Porter, chief operations officer at London Luton Airport Ltd, admitted that airports were dirty noisy places.

Will the government rubber stamp the plans? Watch this space.

Whether or not these assaults on our environment go ahead, it might make potential house hunters think twice about snapping up £1 million semis in an area already suffering from overcrowded schools, a worsening commuter rail service and congested pot-holed roads.

The district faces becoming a Slough in the south and a Hounslow in the north.

Goodbye leafy St Albans and Harpenden.

What a legacy to leave our children and grandchildren. If you care about the future, write to your MP and councillors while you can still breathe and hear yourself think.



In 2016 my wife and I returned to St Albans having lived in South Devon for the last 20 years.

We discovered that only a short walk away from our new home was Townsend Bowls and Tennis Club.

Tennis was a non starter as the knees no longer allow me to play but bowls struck me as a sport I would love to try.

It was a bit of a leap into the dark but I sent an email enquiring about joining, and from the really nice response we received we could not have been made more welcome from everybody connected with the club.

The club has two qualified coaches where their patience and expertise were invaluable, not only from how to deliver your bowl towards the jack but also the tactics, rules and etiquette involved.

We were encouraged to enter competitions but there are plenty of less serious events which are great fun.

The green is kept in magnificent condition, looked after by a professional green keeper and is surrounded on two sides by well tended flower beds which in summer are a riot of colour.

The third side is a magnificent yew hedge and the fourth side is the club house, which is a great facility for numerous reasons. On a sunny day I cannot think of anywhere I would rather be.

Next year is the centenary of the founding of the club and in 1919 the winner of the men’s championship was a Mr G P Skeet.

I wonder whose name will appear in 2019 and will remain for the next 100 years? You have got to have a dream!


St Albans

I have met my MP Bim Afolami three times, he is always polite, sound understanding and at first seems to want to help. Yet after these meetings, the last one of which was in early March of this year, I am still awaiting a reply.

I have sent follow up emails, receiving a reply confirming that I will receive a reply in 10 days, if only this were true.

I then contacted his office where the senior parliamentary assistant promised certain details would follow shortly, this was several weeks ago and still nothing.

So, I have gone back to Mr Afolami’s office and suggested that maybe a letter to the local press may help?

Has anyone else suffered the same problems with Mr Afolami since he took office?

Leasey Bridge Lane, Wheathampstead

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