“Cattle-truck” Thameslink trains condemned by St Albans MP Anne Main

Anne Main.

Anne Main. - Credit: Archant

“Cattle-truck conditions” on Thameslink trains have been condemned by St Albans MP Anne Main in Westminster.

Mrs Main again raised the rail service issue in Parliament last week, noting that “nothing has changed” since she first debated the problem in 2012.

Value for money, punctuality, size of carriage, and delay compensation are some of the problems that Mrs Main cited - she said some commuters have had to give up their jobs because of constant problems with the service.

Improvements should include a more consistent and user-friendly refund system, more efforts made to ease platform congestion, and more communication with passengers.

Additionally the Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) planned for Park Street will only exacerbate these troubles, should it be built on the passenger line, she argued.

This comes after news a timetabling restructure has shaken up established journey lengths - the trains from St Albans and Harpenden will take five minutes longer than commuters are used to. However, the service will be more frequent, with 20 per cent more fast trains into London from the two stations.

Afterwards, Mrs Main said she was encouraged by rail minister Paul Maynard’s responses: “He was well briefed and is clearly taking this matter very seriously.”

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She also welcomed the introduction of a rail ombudsman, so “passengers have a direct channel to hold the franchises to account” but “ultimately passengers just want the good service that they pay so much to have”.

She added: “The minister has offered to broker a meeting between Network Rail, Oliver Dowden and I to discuss our continued concerns about the impact the proposed rail freight site will have on passenger services, which I hope will be beneficial.

“This is important, as I remain sceptical about the viability of Network Rail’s plans for the site.”

If SRFI cannot work alongside passenger trains, campaigners fear the proposals will transform into a lorry terminal - further clogging and polluting St Albans roads. St Albans district council fought SRFI’s planning permission up to High Court and developers Helioslough have not yet bought the land from Herts county council.