Herts Ad Comment: Thameslink in crisis again

One of the new Class 700 Thameslink trains.

One of the new Class 700 Thameslink trains. - Credit: Archant

Shunted into cramped carriages after waiting in all weathers on unforgiving platforms, the life of a commuter cannot really be described as a happy one.

But needs must, and most rail users resign themselves to the hefty ticket prices and often uncomfortable travelling conditions because they accept this is the only way to get to work in the capital.

So when something changes which threatens to upset their finely balanced daily routine, then who can blame them for reacting vociferously?

The newly formed Harpenden Thameslink Commuter Group has been established in response to one such change, alterations to the timetable which will see fewer peak time trains calling at the town’s station.

They have condemned a perceived lack of transparency and accountability from the train operator, claiming the changes will have a devastating effect on their daily lives, from child care arrangements to getting home in time to see their sons and daughters before bed.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has said there will only be a loss of one train in peak times, all at 12 coaches long, but HTCG says that fails to take into account the loss of East Midland Mainline trains calling at Bedford or Luton, and there will actually be 52 fewer carriages on fast trains.

The crisis is a huge PR blow for the train operator, which has been promising improved services to Harpenden following the eventual completion of the much-delayed Thameslink Project, and now face a backlash over the lack of consultation surrounding the new timetable.

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Once again the company faces calls for its franchise to be stripped away, and the issue is even set to be debated in Parliament over the coming weeks.

For years, this newspaper has highlighted communication shortfalls as one of the biggest problems surrounding GTR, and yet again we see the company failing to adequately engage with its passengers over a major issue.

We wait with interest to see whether Transport Secretary Chris Grayling takes an active role in resolving the dispute, and encourage any commuters unhappy with the changes to contact us so their comments may be included in future editions of the newspaper...