‘No excuse’ for passengers’ treatment, says St Albans MP

PUBLISHED: 06:34 06 June 2011

First Capital Connect.

First Capital Connect.

Archant

THE ORDEAL of hundreds of commuters stuck on board the trapped First Capital Connect train last Thursday night will be the centre of an independent investigation, the company revealed on Friday.

The news came after St Albans MP Anne Main and County Councillor Chris White both spoke out about the incident.

Cllr White, who has written to the Transport Minister Norman Baker calling for an investigation into the breakdown in the service, called on the Government to consider dismissing the board and transferring the franchise to a company who would remember there are “things other than profit”.

He said: “We are well used to the contempt that First Group shows to its commuters but this was exceptional even by their shoddy standards.”

In communication with Cllr White, FCC have confirmed that passengers will be offered compensation above that normally given through their Delay Repay process.

Mrs Main said there was absolutely “no excuse” for the way the passengers were treated on Thursday night and said she would be demanding answers. She added that it was particularly frustrating for all as FCC had recently promised to address the ways they communicated with their passengers to avoid such instances. “Nothing is more distressing or more frustrating than not being told what is going on. It is simply not good enough.”

Many of the leading figures behind FCC were in a meeting in St Albans on Thursday night as chaos reigned on the line. They were meeting with the Association of Public Transport Users (APTU) to herald their ongoing attempts to improve communication between the company and passengers. But a member of the public informed those gathered, who included managing director Neal Lawson, of the situation near Kentish Town.

Neil Middleton, APTU chairman, said it was clear that the management was not happy with the way the incident was being handled. “It really brought home to them the disruption and the despair that people feel in these incidents. People were able to relay exactly what was happening to their spouses stuck on the FCC network of trains, so they got a real taste of the upset.

“It’s clear that there were two big issues here: one, the time it took for them to rescue the train and two, their communication during major disruptions. They need to be addressed but perhaps seeing things first hand will make FCC much better at dealing with these incidents.”

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