Comment: Does Harpenden deserve best London commuter town title?

Harpenden commuters don't know how lucky they are...

Harpenden commuters don't know how lucky they are... - Credit: Archant

Talk about the lesser of two evils – The Sunday Times has advised fed-up commuters affected by Southern’s dismal performance to move to Harpenden in search of, quite literally, an easier ride.

The town topped a list of 30 favoured alternatives unearthed by property consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), who are hoping to help Southern ‘prisoners’ escape the hell of their daily commute on the beleaguered line. St Albans also made the cut, coming fifth on the list.

Here’s hoping anyone considering a move into Thameslink territory does a bit of research first. Because while Southern’s appalling punctuality record may take the heat off our local line on a national level, season ticket holders can confirm that it’s not without issues of its own.

Ask anyone who’s had to share an Uber from West Hampstead with a group of exasperated strangers on a chilly winters evening, or taken the train to Hatfield out of desperation, before calling a cab or a relative for the last leg home.

While some parts of the Sunday Times story were surprising, others raised a smile - the summaries of what makes St Albans and Harpenden great, for example. The description of Harpenden folk as Barbour jacket-wearing, gluten-free fish and chip-eating 4x4-drivers was a caricature of course – but one not without a grain of truth.

St Albans’ housing market is described as being “as cut-throat as a rush-hour station platform” - spot on, as anyone who’s ever found themselves in a ‘best and final’ situation can confirm.

But after reading of the delights offered up by the Cathedral, Roman amphitheatre and so on, it’s a bit jarring to see the rail link to London labelled the ‘sweetest’ thing about Snorbs.

Most Read

JLL researchers covered 15 criteria before reaching their conclusions, of which travel options, costs and time were just three. Schools, affluence and potential for property growth were also on the list, which must have given both areas a boost.

All we have to worry about now is even more people moving here, making the fight for a school place and a train seat even harder than it already is.