Herts Ad Comment: Thameslink remains tightlipped

Just a few days before the introduction of Thameslink’s new timetable, Govia’s chief executive Charles Horton told the Herts Ad: “The impact on peak time services during the transition will be minimal.” How wrong could he be?

In fact, the impact was nothing short of catastrophic, and continues to cause huge disruption to services, almost two weeks later, with no signs of things improving for the foreseeable future.

Communication is consistently failing, with onboard messages conflicting with announcement boards, and drivers not sure whether their trains are fast, slow or cancelled altogether.

Those services which do run are frequently overcrowded and late, making the journey into London even more uncomfortable than usual, despite the introduction of new trains.

Although it is the line’s passengers which are obviously feeling the brunt of cancellations and delays, one also has to feel sorry for the Thameslink social media team, beleaguered drivers and station staff who are caught up in the whole sorry mess, and find themselves having to deal with the impact of the crisis.

They have been let down in a different way to rail users, but are suffering all the same.

So with Thameslink’s senior management churning out the same stock answers in response to criticism from all sides, we wanted to give them the opportunity to explain in an in-depth interview exactly why the situation had occurred, and what was happening behind the scenes to rectify the problems caused by the timetable change.

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They refused.

Instead we are sent a cursory apology with a promise that the disruption will ease over the coming month. That’s probably the whole of June then.

In the meantime, commuters are merely expected to endure, because that’s what they always do. A captive market forced to pay for a service which isn’t delivering on expectations, because they have no other option if they want to get to work.

Why should passengers be punished because revised working practices cannot be implemented as advertised?

This timetable was supposed to herald a new golden age of reliability, comfort and capacity, but despite all the promises, we’re still waiting for the promised sea change.

The thing is, had Govia been open and honest from the start of the recent problems, then they could possibly have won over the hearts and minds of their customers.

Instead, they attempt to spoon feed passengers excuses from the same old jar, failing to recognise that tomorrow’s expected jam now leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.