Commuters keeping up the pressure

PUBLISHED: 12:09 01 February 2007 | UPDATED: 14:59 12 May 2010

THE Ashwell and Morden Rail User Group s battle with rail chiefs continues after a meeting was held to discuss service plans. The meeting was attended by five user group members, a representative from Baldock commuters and First Capital Connect s managin

THE Ashwell and Morden Rail User Group's battle with rail chiefs continues after a meeting was held to discuss service plans.

The meeting was attended by five user group members, a representative from Baldock commuters and First Capital Connect's managing director Elaine Holt and commercial director Hugh Clancy.

The meeting was in response to the release of the railway company's new draft timetable that has been presented to the Department for Transport for approval.

Group member Sarah Duckett said: "People in the village still feel angry about the loss of services and we were at the meeting to represent their strength and feeling.

"It went all right, although there's still a lot up in the air.

"However, it is clear that both parties have a different interpretation of what's going on. They just keep looking at overall issues, whereas we are only concerned about our services."

From the meeting commuters learned that First Capital Connect will not be re-instating its 7.03am service to King's Cross and that proposals to cut a fifth of morning commuter trains will see Ashwell and Morden's 10 morning stopping trains reduced to eight from December 2007.

The changes will include the loss of the 8.03 service.

Mrs Duckett said: "We are still talking to them over December's proposals and we have a lot of support from a number of MPs so there's still a little light at the end of the tunnel.

"They listened to what we had to say and were interested in some of our ideas.

"We will continue to keep up the pressure and just hope they will see sense," she said.

A First Capital Connect spokesman said: "We met with the commuter group and talked through the details of our draft timetable.

"It is important to mention that we are not looking at cutting or reducing services, but easing the current levels of crowding in the peaks and improve the quality of service.

"We will continue to consult with other user groups to ensure that any changes we make will benefit the majority of our customers."

Mrs Duckett said: "First Capital Connect continues to focus on centres such as Cambridge and Peterborough. When it says there will be more trains it is referring to the overall Cambridge to London service.

"But for local stations like Ashwell and Morden, and Baldock the draft changes mean a real reduction in morning trains.

"Additionally, we have already lost one fast train to London and our remaining one will be lost in December.

"We understand that First Capital Connect is trying to reduce overcrowding, but we believe that depriving commuters of the fast service upon which so many livelihoods rely is a disproportionate response to the problem," she said.

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