The St Albans MP, Anne Main, secured a debate in Parliament to share the continued frustrations of Thameslink passengers commuting in and out of London from St Albans with the Rail Minister, Paul Maynard.
During the debate, Anne said ‘My constituents report cancellations and delays almost every day on the network. Cancellations are often made at short notice. They cause later trains to be extremely busy […] giving rise to what have been called cattle-truck conditions and meaning that trains often cannot stop at their planned stations.’
Mrs Main continued, ‘I have been told of constituents who have given up their jobs’ due to the beleaguered Thameslink service from St Albans.
‘In my first debate on this matter in 2012, I said that [the service] was ranked lowest in the country, including value for money, punctuality, sufficient room on trains, satisfactions with the stations and how the trains operating companies deal with delays.
‘Five years on, despite the change of franchise, nothing has changed. GTR still consistently ranks among the operators with the lowest customer satisfaction and public performance measure.’
Mrs Main also raised the proposed Radlett rail freight site and the potentially ‘catastrophic impact on the already hugely inadequate commuter service.’ The St Albans MP added ‘I am concerned that the significant rail works necessary to deliver the site will mean a protracted period of disruption that cannot be justified by the site’s limitations.’
Anne suggested further improvements that could help to improve passenger services, such as a ‘consistent and user-friendly refund system’, the opening of station ticket barriers when there have been delays to ease platform congestions, improving communication at all levels to keep passengers informed of delays and cancellations.
Speaking after the debate, Anne said ‘I was encouraged by the Minister’s responses, he was well briefed and is clearly taking this matter very seriously. I welcome the introduction of the Rail Ombudsman, it is important that passengers have a direct channel to hold the franchises to account, but ultimately passengers just want the good service that they pay so much to have.’
‘The Minister has offered to broker a meeting between Network Rail, Oliver Dowden and I to discuss our continued concerns about the impact the proposed rail freight site will have on passenger services, which I hope will be beneficial. This is important, as I remain sceptical about the viability of Network Rail’s plans for the site.’
‘I hope the Minister will act on the proposals and suggestions for improvement that he set out during the debate and there is finally some long awaited improvement for passengers using the Thameslink service from St Albans.’