We say ‘No’ to East Mids Trains/Thameslink overcrowding and service cuts from May
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On 7th Febuary 2018, Jake Kelly, Managing Director of East Midlands Trains said "A lot of these trains will be much shorter" (talking about services on the main line from May). He told us this as an 'explanation' for why on 11th December 2017 it was announced that from May, East Midlands services would no longer call at Bedford or Luton in the peak, until the end of the franchise. Despite this, most trains will be slower. We call on the Secretary of State for Transport to ensure this decision is reversed.
There will be detriment to passengers who catch trains from Kettering to London, from Wellingborough to London, from Bedford to London, from Flitwick to London, from Harlington to London, from Leagrave to London, from Luton to London, from Harpenden to London, from St Albans to London, and from each of Radlett, Elstree & Borehamwood, Mill Hill Broadway, Hendon, Cricklewood, West Hamstead and Kentish Town to London. This would be because stations closer to London will suffer as St Albans passengers will switch to slower services, because in turn their current faster services will be full up of passengers from Luton and Bedford, forced onto them by lack of choice. West Hampstead Thameslink, Mill Hill Broadway, Elstree & Borehamwood, Radlett, Harpenden, Leagrave, Flitwick and Bedford would all also suffer from a reduction in the number of trains to/from London, while passengers between London and Wellingborough (and stations further north) will have to pay more as split ticketing becomes impossible.
The decision would mean that passengers who currently commute into Luton or Bedford from Wellingborough or further north will have no train service at all. A passenger from Kettering to Leagrave would be expected to catch a train to Wellingborough, sit on a coach in rush-hour traffic to Bedford station, and then catch a Thameslink train from Bedford to Leagrave. A journey which currently takes 30 minutes will take much more than double that time.
In reality, this will make congestion on the roads into Bedford from the north worse in the morning rush hour, as people who can start to drive on journeys where they currently use the train. This will cause even bigger problems for the large numbers of people who try to get into Bedford from the north/west every morning, sitting in traffic jams on the A6 and A428.
We call on the Secretary of State to ensure that alternative plans are drawn up for the train service from May 2018, which maintain or reduce current journey times, and maintain the current Wellingborough-Bedford half hourly and Wellingborough-Luton hourly train services, even during peak hours. As part of this, we call on the Secretary of State to ensure that a pattern similar to the current half hourly off peak service Kettering/Wellingborough -> St Pancras is maintained in both directions. The proposed timetable where one gap between trains far more than four times as long as the next gap is not acceptable to us.
We also call on the Secretary of State to ensure that the following East Midlands franchise means better services than at present for all. The extra train compared to current timetables should be an hourly train London/Luton (or Airport)/Bedford/Wellingborough/Kettering/Leicester/East Midlands Parkway/Long Eaton/Derby, sometimes going on to Manchester. We also believe there should still also be hourly trains London/Luton Airport Parkway/Bedford/Wellingborough/Kettering/Market Harboro/Leicester/Loughborough/Beeston/Nottingham. Improving the "door-to-door journey experience" can only be acheived by increasing, rather than reducing the number of through trains, requiring all existing through services to be retained.
Rather than cutting stops and services, we consider that since the next operator is to "come forward with plans for modern, fast, efficient and comfortable trains...including...Intercity trains", that those trains should be specified with enough/wide enough doors, specified for positions within the coaches that enable quick entry and exit. We consider this to be a better overall approach to reducing delays by calling at intermediate stations, and call for all existing intermediate stops to be retained.
In addition, we call on the Secretary of State to ensure that railway station lifts are adequately maintained: the recent sequence of failures at Bedford station are unacceptable to us.
Today: Ben is counting on you
Ben Foley needs your help with “#SaveOurTrains ! We say ‘No’ to East Mids Trains/Thameslink overcrowding and service cuts from May. No buses for Wellingborough-Bedford! Don't make trains slower while cutting out stops! Keep half hourly EastMids trains for Beds and Northants.”. Join Ben and 3,867 supporters today.