Network Rail picks up a £2m bill for delays on Thameslink line which affected St Albans, Harpenden and Radlett travellers

A train goes past houses in St Albans

A train goes past houses in St Albans - Credit: Archant

Network Rail has been fined £2 million over train delays and cancellations which have hit Thameslink travellers from the St Albans district and Radlett.

The fine, imposed by the Office and Rail and Road (ORR), relates mainly to delays experienced by Govia Thameslink passesngers at London Bridge station earlier this year where congestion was so bad that some commuters were pictured jumping over ticket barriers to avoid the crush.

It happened as a result of a multi-million pound redevelopment of London Bridge station as part of the Thameslink Programme which is unlikely to finish before 2018.

ORR has fined Network Rail because its performance was ‘below expectations and missed punctuality targets’. It said Network Rail had ‘significantly underestimed the impact on the Thameslink programme on performance which was further exacerbated by a timetable that was not robust’.

The scale of the delays suffered by passengers was crucial to the ORR decision to fine Network Rail according to its chief executive Richard Price.

News of the investigation and fine was welcome by London TravelWatch which has been closely monitoring the performance of services operated by Govia Thameslink.

By keeping a close eye on performance, the watchdog group was able to highlight the problem and feed into the evidence considered by ORR.

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Stephen Locke, chair of London TravelWatch, commented: ‘We are pleased that the ORR’s investigation drew on evidence provided by London TravelWatch, most notably the fact that Network Rail failed to effectively communicate with the train operators about the impact the new timetables would have on passengers.

“The ORR’s decision to fine Network Rail £2m highlights the scale of the problem and the need for remedial action to improve the situation for long-suffering passengers.”

He added: “However, the problems passengers have faced over the past nine months are not all down to Network Rail’s failures – passengers regularly hear about train failures, lack of drivers and other issues which are in the control of the operator and can’t be blamed on the infrastructure provider.

“Passengers will welcome the fact that the ORR has recognised that there has been a problem but will not necessarily differentiate between who exactly is responsible.”