Call for upgrade to St Albans Abbey Flyer line
- Credit: Archant
Passengers on a St Albans branch line are suffering a Cinderella service and should see it upgraded to London Overground-style levels of service.
The Abbey Flyer Users’ Group (ABFLY)is calling for an upgrade on the Watford to St Albans line which would include a more frequent service and a passing loop to allow two trains to pass.
The Abbey Line currently operates a single train at 45 minute intervals, serving five intermediate stations between Watford Junction and St Albans Abbey.
Although end-to-end journey times are only 16 minutes, the 45-minute service limits the number of good bus and train connections. The last trains from Watford Junction and St Albans Abbey also depart too early to be of practical use for the evening leisure market.
ABFLY has long been campaigning for a better service to meet passenger demand, the growing population and to relieve road congestion in the area.
The group believes that the answer to the ‘45 minute problem’ is to provide a ‘clock-face’ 20 or 30min frequency service.
London Midland, which currently operates the line, is due to hand back the keys to their franchise in June 2017. ABFLY believes that because of the nature of the franchising system, it could be the only chance in the next 15 years to achieve real improvements to the service.
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David Horton, spokesman for the Abbey Flyer Users’ Group, said: “The government must grasp the opportunity of the new franchise to bring essential investment into the line. Passengers now look enviously at the London Overground network and see bright new, air-conditioned trains, well-maintained stations that feel welcoming and secure, friendly motivated staff, blanket Oyster card coverage and a much higher frequency timetable than it used to be.
“Because of this, passenger numbers on London Overground have quadrupled – in just five years.
“At this time of record investment in the rail industry, why should the Abbey Flyer continue to be such a poor relation?”
David urged anyone who shares the view to write to local MP Anne Main and/or the Department for Transport, or join ABFLY on www.abfly.org.uk.