Liberal Democrats compile dossier of St Albans passenger experiences of Thameslink

People attemtping to board an overcrowded Thameslink service. Picture: Daisy Cooper.

People attemtping to board an overcrowded Thameslink service. Picture: Daisy Cooper. - Credit: Archant

The true human cost of the Thameslink timetable chaos has been revealed after a dossier of people’s experiences was passed to the Herts Advertiser.

The document, compiled by Liberal Democrat candidate Daisy Cooper, is being sent to the Transport Select Committee of the House of Commons and includes testimonials from NHS staff, pregnant women and disabled people.

One expectant mother, Sarah-Beth Green, said: “We were rammed closer than a sardine tin and I was travelling while over seven months pregnant with added heat and Braxton Hicks contractions have reduced me to tears.”

Another user, Marine Keane, wrote: “I am profoundly deaf and struggled to hear any announcements last week when trains were cancelled and delayed.

“They would make an announcement over an automated announcement and it was a shambles.

“I don’t feel like they accommodate anyone or make reasonable adjustments - let alone if you are disabled.”

The dossier also includes reports employers are beginning to ask job applicants if they will rely on Govia Thameslink Railway services to commute.

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Mike McCarthy revealed: “I have started a new job and am currently on probation so delays to working time really don’t make me look good.

“I try to do my best to explain it, but worry it’s putting me in a bad light. My wife is seven months pregnant and I worry about her getting to work safely.”

“I am grateful for the flexibility they are granting me, but feel uncomfortable having to make use of it because of Thameslink’s interesting timetabling strategy.”

A number of passengers have attempted to adjust their timetable to catch later trains only to find they still cannot get seats or straight answers.

Frances Longley said: “I was travelling a little later than usual because I couldn’t face the thought of packed trains in the hot weather.

“Should be a fast train, but without warning or apology became slow.

“I sat on the floor because I felt faint standing and there are no seats so people were sitting in the luggage racks.”

Samantha Patel said: “I was on the 9.55 from St Albans which was meant to be fast and turned into a slow train.

“We were turfed off at Hendon and told to wait for the next train after a 20 minute delay then told we could get back on the train! This is an absolute shambles.”

Daisy Cooper told the Herts Ad: “The thing that got me most was when we did a couple of polls asking people about the hidden costs of commuting and the non-financial impact and I was really hit by the scale of both to be honest.

“In addition to hidden costs, people talk about having to get peak-time trains instead of off-peak trains and parents having to pay for overtime for child care and getting fined by schools as much as £10 for a 15 minute delay in picking up your child.

“When we were at the station, we were being told people were doing work experience and being late and it does not leave a good impression, and also self-employed people were losing out on work.

“People were also reporting additional stress and a lack of sleep and general mood and wellbeing problems, so there is a lot of frustration in the station and on the platforms.”

A Thameslink spokesperson said: “We are sorry for the disruption, which we are working very hard to fix. We are doing all we can to improve things for our passengers in the coming weeks.

“This includes working with the DfT and industry partners on the new interim timetable which will operate from 15 July, and on special additional compensation for passengers.

“The interim timetable prioritises peak-hours services and reduces service gaps. This is a key stage in our work to provide a more reliable service to passengers over the coming months.

“In case service information is not clear to passengers we ensure that all our customer-facing teams at stations and on board trains are trained and able to provide assistance proactively, and to be visible and accessible.

“We offer Baby on Board badges and Priority Seating cards to people who need a seat more than others, and we encourage passengers to give up their seats to those less able to stand.”