St Albans MP condemns Network Rail for blaming passengers for service disruption

Network Rail has blamed commuters for travel disruption.

Network Rail has blamed commuters for travel disruption. - Credit: Archant

Implied criticism of passengers who experienced major train delays in November as a result of overhead wire problems has come under fire from the St Albans MP.

Anne Main has hit out at Network Rail (NR) for suggesting that passengers who experienced the delays on the Thameslink line had not helped to ease the disruption.

She had written to NR on behalf of commuters caught up in the three days of disruption - only to be told that passengers made the situation worse by being reluctant to use alternative trains.

A response from NR said that passenger information in the early stages was unclear and even when the disruption was advertised, many passengers were reluctant to use alternative trains - via East Coast or West Coast Mainline - and disruption continued to be too high.

Mrs Main said that, ‘palming off the blame to passengers who were just trying to get home is frankly outrageous.’

In the email, NR apologised for the disruption to services between November 8 and 11 and the impact it had on commuters. The rail company admitted that ‘communication of alternative routes of travel available to passengers and earlier advice for next day service availability’ had to be ‘improved during future incidents and this is something’ that NR ‘are working closely with Train Operating Companies on.’

But Mrs Main said NR, ‘should have had better lines of communication with Govia and passengers. People need to know why they have been delayed and what they can do to avoid disruption as quickly as possible.’

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She has submitted a question in anticipation of the council’s public meeting with rail representatives on February 2, asking about communication and what more passengers could have done.

During the November incident, caused by a loose cable at Luton Station coming into contact with the live overhead line resulting in a subsequent loss of signalling, commuters found their trains were either cancelled or seriously delayed.

The problems lasted longer on the Thameslink line because turnaround facilities at Luton were knocked out as part of the same incident.