First Capital Connect facing investigation

PUBLISHED: 07:47 18 June 2011

First Capital Connect.

First Capital Connect.

Archant

FIRST Capital Connect is being investigated by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) after 470 passengers got trapped on a train last month and the inspectors are calling for information from passengers.

They are keen to speak with any of the estimated 20 passengers who jumped from the stalled train on May 26 when it got stuck between London St Pancras and Kentish Town to help them with their investigation.

The train got stuck partly in a tunnel after power problems during rush hour. Passengers endured sweltering conditions onboard the carriage for over three hours with barely any communication from the driver.

Frantic passengers, some of whom were in the dark, were forced to communicate with FCC via their Twitter page and the Herts Advertiser revealed how a pregnant lady was so overcome she jumped from the train.

The mum-to-be, who was five months pregnant, had asked for help several times via the Twitter account but eventually took matters into her own hands when a fellow passenger forced a door open to get air into the carriage.

Inspectors leading the investigation ask that any of those who left the train contact them at enquiries@raib.gov.uk

Meanwhile, customer concerns about First Capital Connect (FCC) train services are set to be aired at a meeting of a district council scrutiny committee next month.

Both representatives of FCC and Network Rail have been invited to the meeting at 7pm on Wednesday, July 13, which will focus on the quality of passenger information and other key concerns.

They will include FCC managing director Neil Lawson and Network Rail’s route director for the East Midlands, Martin Frobisher.

Local residents have until next Friday, June 24, to submit questions for councillors to put at the meeting which should be sent via email directly to scrutiny@stalbans.gov.uk or to the scrutiny support officer, St Albans council, Civic Centre, St Peter’s Street, St Albans AL1 3JE.

Scrutiny chair, Cllr Robert Donald, said: “This is a welcome opportunity for elected representatives to raise concerns, especially about First Capital Connect’s recent poor performance and communication on behalf of many residents who commute to London daily.

“I want to hear what steps are being taken to improve both performance and communication immediately because this is far from the first time that St Albans and Harpenden commuters have suffered in this way – remember the problems caused by snow just before Christmas and overtime working in the new contract to name but two in the last 12 months.”

He added: “If the senior company executives attending the meeting fail to convince the committee that communication with the public will improve very shortly, I will seek their approval for an all-party scrutiny group to meet the Transport Minister Norman Baker to discuss revoking First Capital Connect’s franchise.”

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