Transport Secretary condemns performance of Thameslink line

St Albans Anne Main led a delegation of MPs to meet Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin

St Albans Anne Main led a delegation of MPs to meet Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin - Credit: supplied

Complaints about repeated delays on the Thameslink route have brought a rap over the knuckles for rail operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) from Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

On Tuesday (20) he said performance on the route “is not where it should be”.

After being inundated with complaints from local commuters, St Albans MP Anne Main led a delegation of politicians to meet with Mr McLoughlin and GTR chief executive Charles Horton.

Following the meeting Mrs Main said: “With fares up and performance down, commuters have been subjected to unacceptable delays that have been poorly communicated.

“I raised many issues with Mr McLoughlin and Mr Horton including compensation, communication, staff training and driver numbers.

“The dreadful commuter experience of the last few months simply cannot continue.”

Mr McLoughlin said: “Passengers rightly expect a decent rail service with trains that run on time.

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“We are investing record amounts in improving journeys for passengers including the £6.5 billion Thameslink programme which will transform travel on this route when it is completed in 2018.

“With a scheme of this size some disruption is necessary, but I am in close contact with the operators involved, including Govia, to ensure this is kept to a minimum.”

Mr Horton told the delegation that he was committed to improving the service, and was aware of commuters’ concerns.

Govia will shortly start “meet the manager” sessions where commuters can voice their problems directly to the company’s hierarchy.

Commuter Edward Bowden, of Harpenden, has recently called upon Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, also to take up the baton on behalf of locals in Parliament.

Mr Bowden is particularly annoyed that while his daily train trips into London are delayed, because they are usually less than 30 minutes “the pathetic ‘delay repay’ system means I have absolutely no recourse”.

He told Mr Lilley: “Govia get away with running a shoddy service whilst making millions.

“Even if the delay is over 30 minutes I have to remember this and claim for each individual journey and wait to receive silly tokens in the post.

“The train operating companies have passengers over a barrel. Complaining to them has no effect, so please consider raising this in the House.”