St Albans council leader demands meeting over rail timetabling chaos

Cllr Alec Campbell. Picture: James Ward/St Albans council

Cllr Alec Campbell. Picture: James Ward/St Albans council - Credit: Archant

The leader of St Albans district council (SADC) has arranged an urgent meeting with the transport minister to discuss the ongoing train timetable fiasco.

Commuters have been battling against cancellations and delays on the train lines since May 20, when Govia Thameslink Railway introduced a complete timetable change but proved ill-prepared to do so.

As part of the new schedule Harpenden Station has also been impacted by a decrease in services.

Following a public meeting this week, Cllr Alec Campbell wrote to the Minister of State for Transport, Jo Johnson, to request a meeting.

It has been arranged for tomorrow in the afternoon.

He said: “It is clear now that the impact at Harpenden Station has been severe and continues to be so. This is a combination of deliberately reducing the service frequency during commuting hours by 30 per cent and the well-publicised failure to provide an adequate operational service.”

Cllr Campbell said SADC believe the lack of consultation on the changes was unlawful.

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He continued: “Our residents are being severely impacted by the May timetable changes at Harpenden station. At your earliest convenience, my colleague, Cllr Mary Maynard, and I, request a meeting with you to look further at the issues of the reduced trains in Harpenden and to re-examine the decision not to consult.”

He also asked what measures were being taken to restablise the highly disrupted service.

Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami, planning portfolio holder Cllr Mary Maynard and Cllr David Heritage were also at the SADC meeting on June 18.

St Albans MP Anne Main met with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling after two weeks of the chaos, but commuters are still facing a disrupted service.

Mr Grayling has since announced an independent inquiry to investigate the problems and promised affected commuter compensation “in due course”.

Charles Horton, the chief executive of Govia Thameslink, has resigned amid the ongoing problems.

He said: “I recognise that passengers have been hugely frustrated at the significant disruption caused by the introduction of new timetables.

“It is the right time to hand leadership of Govia Thameslink to a new pair of hands.”