St Albans MP’s frustration over Network Rail response to freight capacity question

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A fudged response from Network Rail over the accessibility of goods trains into the rail freight depot proposed for Park Street has infuriated St Albans MP Anne Main.

With Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden, she had sought assurances from Network Rail that freight access to the former Radlett Airfield should the depot be built would not adversely affect passenger services on the Thameslink route.

It followed an assurance from current Thameslink operators Govia that in the 2018 timetabling, the line would have priority over freight.

But the two MPs did not feel the assurances went far enough to allay the concerns of local commuters and asked Network Rail to provide them with pledges in the form of a detailed study to assuage those fears.

Their letter said: “If the rail freight terminal is built in Park Street, we need firm evidence that there has been a proper impact assessment done by Network Rail.”

They asked for such an analysis to be provided or an undertaking to properly assess scheduling with freight and passenger services on the line.

But in its replay Network Rail says merely that it is incorporating the emerging requirements of the Radlett Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) into they next repeat of the process of examining the timetable for the Midland Main Line.

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As that is a ‘work in progress’ which processes all the various passenger and freight requirements, the rail company says is not in a position to provide the two MPs with a final position on the matter.

Anne said: “For years I’ve been told not to worry, and that this will be taken care of; and for years I’ve never been presented with concrete evidence that the Thameslink timetable will be protected and prioritised over railfreight.

“What this response shows is that no work has ever been done on the timetabling, and all we have is a vague commitment that it will.”

She went on: “I find it incomprehensible that we can still be faced with a massive rail freight terminal imposed on our area, without the proper preliminary work. This will inevitably impact upon passenger services, and, even at this late stage, Network Rail cannot give us a detailed response to this very important question.”

Anne added: “St Albans commuters deserve better, and vague commitments on timetabling simply aren’t good enough.”