Thameslink passenger growth hit by economic crisis

PUBLISHED: 09:11 22 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:51 06 May 2010

DESPITE a sharp slowdown in passenger growth, train operator First Capital Connect (FCC) says it has no plans at present to cut back on services or staff. The rail operator, which runs the Thameslink line through Harpenden, St Albans and Radlett, has repo

DESPITE a sharp slowdown in passenger growth, train operator First Capital Connect (FCC) says it has no plans at present to cut back on services or staff.

The rail operator, which runs the Thameslink line through Harpenden, St Albans and Radlett, has reported a fall in revenue growth at its four rail franchises - with London services the worst hit.

Its FCC franchise is heavily dependent on commuter traffic and the firm admitted that the downturn - with high numbers of City workers being made redundant - had dented its growth.

It said revenue growth was 7.2 per cent in the final three months of the year, against 10 per cent for the same period last year.

A FCC spokesman said: "In line with the rail industry, the strong growth rates we had experienced are being impacted by a weakening economy, particularly in central London.

"At this stage we don't anticipate cutting services or reducing staff numbers."

FCC is currently recruiting around 120 extra staff to support its Thameslink programme with extra trains coming on stream in March and the spokesperson added: "It's very much watching what happens in the market and seeing how it progresses, like a lot of businesses are. The aim is to ensure that we can emerge from the current challenges, stronger and better able to serve our customers well into the future."

The FCC franchise agreement in 2006 was for £808 million to be returned to the Government in growing increments up until 2015. That takes into account the inflation figure on which regulated fares are based.

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