St Albans commuters condemn a week of chaos on Thameslink line

Flooding on the line between Farringdon and St Pancras has caused a quater of Thameslink services to

Flooding on the line between Farringdon and St Pancras has caused a quater of Thameslink services to be suspended this evening. - Credit: Archant

Commuters caught up in this week’s train chaos after two burst water mains ground Thameslink services to a halt have criticised what they claim is a “shambles.”

Delays and cancellations after a ruptured water main in the Clerkenwell tunnel between Farringdon and London St Pancras last Friday wreaked havoc.

Despite services “resuming as normal” on Tuesday, a second Thames Water leak on Wednesday saw delays of up to 40 minutes on the line.

And ugrade work this weekend between West Hampstead and Farringdon via St Pancras will spell further travel misery, with repairs set to begin around 11.45pm on Friday and last until 3.45am on Monday.

Jon Salinger, who lives in St Albans and works in West Hampstead, is a daily commuter who was hit by this week’s events.

He said: “On Friday all of a sudden all systems ground to a halt.

“I’m not too sure what the situation was in St Albans but at West Hampstead they didn’t know what times trains were coming or what platform it was going to be on or where it was going to stop.”

Most Read

“It was a bit of a shambles; you would think a big company like Govia would have a contingency plan in place.”

He added that the journey, which usually only takes him 20 minutes, took an hour and a half. “We pay a lot of money for our season tickets so we expect a good service.”

Fellow disgruntled commuter, Kelly Haddow, who also lives in St Albans and works in Blackfriars, was unable to get to work on Monday.

She said: “I had to ring my boss to say I wasn’t going to make it in.

“The trains are normally every five to 10 minutes but even though I’d seen that there would be a reduced service I didn’t expect it to only be four trains an hour like it was.

“Two express trains came in that were both full and then a slow one which was full as well.”

She also criticised Govia for its lack of emergency planning and general lack of information which she said was “always a killer.”

“The issue happened on Friday so they had the entire weekend to drill down their plan of action. There was information available on the website but you had to download a PDF document so it wasn’t easy to find.”

A spokesman for Govia Thameslink Railway said the company had done its best to keep passengers informed through its website and Twitter but a nationwide fault on Monday morning with train reporting and mapping systems had led to a lack of information for customers.

“Our colleagues at the stations could not see what trains were coming in and relay that information to our passengers which was very frustrating all round.”

Phil Verster, route managing director at Network Rail, said: “Passengers have suffered a lot this week as a result of Thames Water’s burst and leaking pipes. The overwhelming extent of the continued flooding made it unsafe to run normal through services since Sunday.

“We expect Thames Water to reimburse passengers, train operators and Network Rail for the significant consequences of these water leaks.”

Following a meeting between St Albans MP Anne Main, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and a representative of Govia, the company yesterday announced better compensation for those affected.

Anne said: “I am pleased my concerns about the unsatisfactory level of compensation being awarded to passengers were taken on board.

“Local residents have experienced major disruptions to their daily commute which wasn’t suitably recognised in the existing scheme.”