Thameslink consulting Harpenden residents on further train timetable changes
PUBLISHED: 11:19 22 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:06 22 July 2019
Harpenden passengers are being asked for their views on another train timetable change after last year's dramatic "slashing of services".
In May 2018, East Midlands Trains started upgrade work to the Midland Mainline north of Bedford, pulling peak-time services from Bedford and Luton until December 2020.
Govia Thameslink Rail (GTR) filled the deficit to those stations by fast-tracking some of its services from Bedford and cutting the number stopping at Harpenden.
This came at the same time that commuters endured delays, overcrowding and cancellations because GTR were ill-prepared for the new timetable, although that was a separate issue.
Since then, the Harpenden Thameslink Commuters group has been lobbying to restore the station's service and GTR is now consulting passengers on a temporary timetable change which would see Harpenden receive more weekday services and Luton fewer.
The company is also asking for suggestions on other ways to increase capacity.
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Spokesperson for the commuters group, Emily Ketchin, said: "Fifteen months ago Thameslink slashed key Harpenden services by a third. Finally they are 'consulting' on whether they made the right decision.
"It is vital that everyone in Harpenden makes clear to them the impact fewer trains at higher prices has had. Let's make sure there is no excuse for Thameslink to continue favouring stations with fewer passengers than Harpenden. Everyone in every household is entitled to express their view and I encourage you to do just that."
GTR is hoping to implement the changes for December this year. They would all be temporary until East Midlands services are reinstated in December 2020.
Managing director at GTR, Tom Moran, said they welcome feedback: "This is an important decision, so we want to ask passengers what impact any such change would have on them before taking any action."
Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami said: "We all know that Harpenden needs more frequent trains at rush hour. I encourage everyone to take part in this consultation - let's work together to find a practical way forward to achieve the necessary results."
The survey is available at www.thameslinkrailway.com/about-us/our-commitments/improving-your-railway.
Thameslink managers and timetablers will also be at Harpenden Station to hear passengers' views on August 1 from 6.30am and 9.30am, and September 4 between 4.30pm and 7.30pm.