BIM RAISES ISSUE IN PARLIAMENT
BIM MEETS WITH JO JOHNSON AND TRANSPORT OFFICIALS
I have now had a meeting with Jo Johnson, the Rail Minister, and a number of officials from both the Department for Transport and Govia Thameslink. During this meeting, I raised concerns expressed to me from constituents about proposed timetable changes that will affect morning, and evening, commuters. See the letter here that I sent to the Minister after our meeting [View: Page 1, Page 2].
I spoke to the people who put this proposed timetable together, and they talked me through the technical reasons behind the decisions and why they are unwilling to change the May timetable due to practical constraints.
Overall, the big loss to Harpenden is going to be the 8.10 fast train, as well as the 7.12 fast train. I challenged this, raising concerns many have had about the impact on working parents. See the spreadsheet showing the timetable in detail attached. Thameslink claimed that they had fully considered the impact on Harpenden – I made clear that I’m not sure that they fully understand the real difficulties many commuters, taking the train at peak times, will face.
Thameslink said they will be reviewing these timetable changes this autumn, and monitoring the impact. They did try to stress the positives of the changes, and said we will have an indisputably improved service by 2020, with those improvements starting in December 2018 (this can be seen in the spreadsheet).
To be completely honest, I find it hard to be 100% confident in their claims about an improved service in the future, given their performance in recent years, with so many promises not being delivered.
I am continuing to put pressure on for a decision change publicly in Parliament, whilst also lobbying ministers personally. I am also petitioning the Speaker for a public debate in the Commons. As attached above, I have also written to the Department for Transport raising a number of questions brought up in the meeting. We need to await their response for more detailed explanations.
Your views and concerns have been invaluable in shaping the approach to the Department and Thameslink, so please continue to send them in to the addresses below. They say they are listening – let’s keep making our voice heard and force a change.
Last night I met with the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, and had to opportunity to raise concerns about Thameslink services from Harpenden.
My main point was that the proposed changes are completely unacceptable to Harpenden commuters, especially working parents. He tried to reassure me that as the proposed timetable is not finalised, it is still subject to change, and is fully aware of how busy the service between Harpenden and London is, and how many people it will affect.
Mr Grayling also told me he will try to ensure that morning peak capacity is “broadly comparable to today”, and that evening peak capacity is increased. I was firm (but polite), and said the detail here is very important, because frequency is as important as capacity.
Additionally, I stressed the legal issue of Thameslink not consulting on changes that will have a “material adverse impact” to services – and made clear that locally people are willing to challenge Thameslink and the Department for Transport if necessary.
A meeting with the Department for Transport officials is being arranged for next week.
I am taking this to the highest possible level with senior civil servants in charge of overall timetable to make sure your concerns are heard as they finalise their decisions.
ATTENTION HARPENDEN COMMUTERS
Thanks so much for the many people who attended the meeting last night with me, and Thameslink representatives, to discuss the new timetable. It was an incredibly useful meeting – it gave us all an ability to question Thameslink on the decisions that they have taken without any consultation with local people (or with the local MP or Council).
To put it bluntly, Thameslink confirmed that peak morning services are going to be reduced from Harpenden. There is still some uncertainty about exactly by how much (despite several attempts by me and by other residents to do our own analysis) as Thameslink still has not published the official timetable!
In short, Thameslink stated that the timetable changes were done as a result of direction from the Department of Transport. I have arranged a meeting with the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, on Tuesday night, which is to be followed up by meeting Department of Transport officials to discuss the changes to see what can be done. They need to understand the real impact on Harpenden. I know how important this is – that is why I arranged the meeting, and that is why I am determined to try and get these changes amended.
I will be reporting back next week after my meetings with the Department of Transport, and advise on next steps.