Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, has called for a major rethink of Thameslink 2000. The project, which is to be completed by 2008, was given high priority in the long-awaited Strategic Rail Authority?s ten-year plan announced yesterday (14th January).

    Following the announcement of the SRA Plan, Mr. Lilley listed several concerns:

    “We had been assured that the Thameslink 2000 project would massively increase capacity and end the overcrowding on services from Harpenden and Hitchin to London.

    “Yet I am astonished to discover that ?2 billion of extra investment will result in no extra trains at peak periods. It looks as if all that the extra investment will achieve is to allow Hitchin trains to go beyond Kings Cross to other central London stations and further south. Harpenden trains currently going to Moorgate will instead go on through Blackfriars. There is little point in opening up more attractive routes ? which might attract more passengers ? if there are not going to be any more trains to carry them.

    “Much of this became clear during the public inquiry. Yet the Government?s ill-considered re-nationalisation of Railtrack seems to have paralysed the ability of railway management to respond to the evidence.

    “I am writing to the Government appointed Strategic Rail Authority to ask the following questions:

    1) In the short-term, couldn?t capacity be increased by making all rush hour trains at least 8 cars with no new investment in stations or track?
    What action do the SRA propose to take to transfer back rolling stock suitable for the central London tunnels currently dispensed on other lines?

    2) Can the capacity of the ?Bedpan? line be substantially increased ? again without infrastructure investment ? by co-ordinated scheduling of Thameslink and Midland Mainline services? Is that not the job of the SRA?

    3) Should not the redevelopment of St. Pancras allow shuttle services between Harpenden, St Albans and St. Pancras to be reinstated in addition to the current through trains?
    4) Why is it necessary to stop services running into Moorgate?

    5) Is not the top investment priority to order more rolling stock suitable to run additional commuter services into and through central London