Stopping patterns hold solution to Harpenden Thameslink chaos, councillor says

Passengers waiting for trains at Harpenden station. Picture: Josephine Cumbo.

Passengers waiting for trains at Harpenden station. Picture: Josephine Cumbo. - Credit: Archant

A solution is at hand for the chaos which has engulfed rush-hour Thameslink services stopping at Harpenden station.

Commuters have complained of cancellations, delays and overcrowding on trains following a timetable change in May.

In a letter to rail minister Jo Johnson, district councillor Mary Maynard wrote: “Harpenden commuters are angry. They have been promised an improved service for decades, have faced above average increases to their cost of travel to pay for these improvements, and have then had their service substantially reduced with no consultation.”

Following a meeting on the subject with Mr Johnson, Cllr Maynard has told him the Department for Transport must reinstate all the fast and semi-fast services which were lost in the timetable change.

Alternatively, she has highlighted a proposal by the operator, Govia Thameslink Railway, and the Harpenden Thameslink Commuters group to change the stopping patterns to redistribute trains more evenly between Luton, Harpenden and St Albans.

Instead of a stopping pattern of 5/0/5 at Luton, Harpenden and St Albans, the pattern could be 4/3/3 or 3/3/4, which would still improve the service for St Albans, but would also mean Harpenden enjoys the same level of service it had before the timetable change.

The Harpenden East councillor also wrote: “Clearly the ideal solution would be to have all of the Harpenden ‘fast’ services reintroduced in the July timetable. Instead of running through Harpenden, trains would stop there as they have always done.

Most Read

“The reason this is not happening is because of the edict to Thameslink from your department that services should run from Bedford to London in 47 minutes.

“This would add three minutes to the journey time, which could easily be absorbed by removing the buffer which has been added to journey times to London in the new timetable.”

Harpenden Thameslink Commuters’ representative Emily Ketchin said: “Having highlighted these very obvious solutions ourselves in our letter to Chris Grayling on 4 May we are disappointed they have not already been implemented.

“The perfect opportunity to do so was in this new emergency timetable, but the Dft and Thameslink have failed to deliver, thereby perpetuating the Harpenden train problem. This has left commuters stranded whilst fast trains half loaded whizz by. “It is high time that the council takes the legal action it has threatened.”