PRESS RELEASE FROM THE RT HON PETER LILLEY MP
Tuesday January 12th 2010
LILLEY ASKS MINISTER TO STEP IN TO HELP RAIL PASSENGERS
Harpenden MP Peter Lilley has asked the Transport Secretary to warn First Capital Connect that they risk losing their franchise unless they rapidly improve the appalling services for passengers on the Thameslink line serving Harpenden and Luton Parkway.
He said: “I receive a torrent of complaints about the dire situation on these trains which has gone from bad to worse, especially from constituents in Harpenden but recently from Hitchin too.
“I have written to the Transport Secretary, Lord Adonis, spelling out to him the immense level of frustration felt by commuters at First Capital Connect’s inability to provide anything like a normal service. I hope he will make clear to the operator that unless they achieve an immediate improvement they will risk losing their franchise.
“It is unbelievable that, on top of the ongoing problem of insufficient drivers, the company is claiming that trains are out of operation because of the bad weather. Other operators appear to be able to prevent their rolling stock freezing up. The very fact that the cold spell has gone on for so long means the company has had time which they should have used to devise ways of coping with it.
“Yet the company admits that ‘The severe cold has also meant that doors freeze open and coupling is impossible. At one point nearly 75% of the fleet was affected despite the preparations we had made.’
“As a result, one day last week there were only two trains per hour all day, and that was even though a slight thaw had set in.
“I am told that a constituent was overcome by the intense overcrowding on one train and she had to sit on a wet, muddy floor for the duration of the journey into London. That is the most miserable way for anyone to start a working day.
“I have also contacted FCC to ask how long they plan to continue with their emergency timetable and what additional compensation will be available to passengers who are made to endure the most difficult, unreliable and uncomfortable travelling conditions.
“It beggars belief that one of the busiest commuter lines in the country should be operated in such an inefficient and unacceptable way. My constituents are paying thousands of pounds a year for a shoddy, substandard service and I want the government and the train company to recognise this and do something about it.”
Further information from John Allen