No Christmas cheer for First Capital Connect commuters

PUBLISHED: 11:50 23 December 2009 | UPDATED: 14:47 06 May 2010

FESTIVE spirit among commuters on the Thameslink line is dwindling after a raft of delays and cancellations caused by the freezing weather. A broken-down train near St Pancras meant First Capital Connect (FCC) passengers trying to get back to St Albans, H

FESTIVE spirit among commuters on the Thameslink line is dwindling after a raft of delays and cancellations caused by the freezing weather.

A broken-down train near St Pancras meant First Capital Connect (FCC) passengers trying to get back to St Albans, Harpenden and Radlett were delayed for more than an hour in yesterday (Tuesday) evening's rush hour.

District councillor David Poor, who works for a medical research company in Mill Hill, was one of those left frustrated by the problems. Unable to face the long wait for a crowded train, he resorted to paying £28 for a taxi to get back home to St Albans.

He said: "I didn't even bother to try and get on a train as they would have been so grossly overloaded so I had to get a taxi home. I pay £860 a year for a 15 minute journey from St Albans to Mill Hill and I've had problems for at least two months but yesterday was the worst."

The problems didn't end there - Cllr Poor faced yet more delays to get into work this morning (Wednesday.)

He continued: "There were more delays due to problems with the lines and the trains, and - just to really cheer up the beleaguered commuters - they had the cheek to send two empty trains through St Albans which didn't stop or pick up passengers even though the platform was packed."

Cllr Poor added: "This company doesn't understand the concept of customer care and we must really be looking at their franchise and why they should continue to hold it."

A spokesperson for FCC said the icy conditions caused a technical fault on one of their trains last night and that two, including a train belonging to another operator which shares the line, were also affected this morning.

The problems are also having a knock-on affect through today's services.

He said: "We apologise for any disruption caused by these icy conditions but we are doing all we can to run the best possible service. Some operators aren't running today at all."

A statement from the Association of Train Operating Companies read: "Train companies are working with Network Rail around the clock to keep as much of the network as possible open. De-icer trains have been out over the night to clear ice where problems have occurred.

"A combination of rain and very cold conditions may cause further disruption tonight and tomorrow morning in a limited number of areas.

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