No Happy New Year for Thameslink commuters

PUBLISHED: 06:00 12 December 2016

Oliver Dowden and Chris Grayling

Oliver Dowden and Chris Grayling

Archant

Thameslink passengers can expect to face an average 1.8 per cent fare rise from January 2 - slightly below the national average of 2.3 per cent.

Oliver Dowden and Chris GraylingOliver Dowden and Chris Grayling

Although Thameslink operators GTR have decided not to comment on the annual fare increase, the umbrella Rail Delivery Group has stressed that around 97p in every pound that passengers pay goes back into running and improving services.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, commented: “We understand how passengers feel when fares go up and we know that in some places they haven’t always got the service they pay for.

“Fares are influenced by government policy, either through government-regulated fares such as season tickets or as a result of the payments train companies make to government. This money helps government to support the biggest investment in our railway since Victorian times.”

To soften the blow for Thameslink passengers, an enhanced compensation scheme for delays on the route has been announced at the same time as the fare increase.

From this Sunday (11) the new Delay Repay 15 scheme will be introduced, enabling passengers to complain compensation for delays to their journey of 15 minutes or more rather than the current 30-minute threshold.

GTR chief executive, Charles Horton said: “It is something that our passengers have been telling us they wanted for some time so I am delighted we are able to deliver it to them.

“Our aim is to get passengers where they want to go on time but if we don’t, it is right that they are compensated.”

* A dossier of more than 100 complaints about the Thameslink service has been presented to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling by Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden.

It was the second meeeting between the two in which Mr Dowden raised the service north of the Thames which has been overshadowed by the well-publicised problems on Southern Rail.

The MP said: “Since I stood for election in 2015, I have been inundated with a wave of phone calls, letters, emails and messages about the appalling service.

“I use the service every day and know all to well the horrendous commutes they describe - every day frustrated by missed stops, delays and cancellations.”

Later that day, Mr Dowden chaired a conference call with Mr Horton and senior members of GTR, to raise points from letters he has received in recent weeks and to hear an update on performance.

The MP said: “Both these meetings have left them in no doubt about the strength of anger.”

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