St Albans council looking into judicial review of train chaos after Thameslink bosses grilled by committee

New Thameslink train

New Thameslink train - Credit: Archant

St Albans council will look into applying for a judicial review of the chaos wrought by a new train timetable in the district.

This follows a meeting of the planning, resources, housing and commercial scrutiny committee on Thursday, June 7, where councillors decided to ask planning portfolio holder Mary Maynard to look into the possibility.

They also instructed committee chair Roma Mills to write to both transport minister Jo Johnson and Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) about the timetable, which was introduced on Sunday, May 20 and has led to cancellations, delays and overcrowding on services in the district.

Cllr Mills said: “Govia promised a once-in-a-generation timetable change that would transform the Thameslink line.

“The unanimous view of the committee is that this has been completely disastrous. This district’s tens of thousands of rail commuters, particularly those who use Harpenden rail station, have suffered terribly.

“I have written to both the minister for transport and GTR with a series of demands and will also be raising the issue of a judicial review to see if this new timetable, which appears to have been imposed without a proper public consultation, is lawful.”

The call for a judicial review was echoed by Harpenden commuters representative Emily Ketchin, who spoke at the meeting.

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She said Govia had promised the timetable changes would mean fewer fast trains to London from Harpenden at key times, but a similar number of seats.

But prior to the changes, there had been nine fast trains from 7.30am to 8.30am with 88 carriages, while the new timetable only had six trains and 66 carriages.

She also said a judicial review was needed to ascertain whether the Department for Transport had been right to allow the new timetable to be implemented without, what she considered, proper public consultation.

The committee also heard from GTR’s local development manager Larry Heyman, who said he could not discuss the causes of the turmoil for legal reasons as it is now the subject of an investigation.

GTR is hoping to “regularise” the timetable so commuters would be informed of cancellations the night before and to introduce an interim timetable to remove the need for cancellations, but it would not be ready before the end of July.