MPs Sir Oliver Heald and Heidi Allen urge constituents to have their say in Great Northern timetable consultation

PUBLISHED: 17:01 13 July 2017 | UPDATED: 17:18 13 July 2017

MPs are urging people in North Herts and South Cambs to make their views known over the proposed changes to the Great Northern timetable. Picture: Govia

MPs are urging people in North Herts and South Cambs to make their views known over the proposed changes to the Great Northern timetable. Picture: Govia

Archant

The MPs for North East Herts and South Cambs have stepped in to appeal to their constituents to have their say in the consultation for the proposed changes of the Great Northern timetable.

North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald. North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald.

Sir Oliver Heald and Heidi Allen are calling for Great Northern operator Govia Thameslink to rethink plans which will see off-peak fast trains scrapped and increased journey times for commuters from 2018.

In the proposals, the fast off-peak services to London will be scrapped adding up to 15 minutes to journeys and no morning peak trains will start at Royston. In the evening off-peak fast services after 7.12pm will no longer stop in the town, instead running fast to Cambridge.

Sir Oliver told the Crow: “I’ve been in contact with constituents about their concerns and I am taking the case on.

“I’m meeting the rail minister on Monday, and I have met with officials from GTR and made representations to them about a range of issues to do with timetables, which include the changes to the fast service.

South Cambs MP Heidi Allen. South Cambs MP Heidi Allen.

“We didn’t use to have a fast service in the 1990s, we made representations to get them so now we need to do this to keep them.

“In Royston, and in Letchworth, we have a lot of commuters using the trains, at places like Stevenage you have a case for changes because you have other services, we don’t have that at Royston.”

The North East Herts MP stressed that people should make their views heard as soon as possible.

He continued: “So I would urge people to get talk to your fellow commuter, to those you see regularly on the trains, and find out if they have they have submitted their view, because commuters are in a good position to do that.

“If people haven’t taken part in the consultation, encourage your travel companions to do so.”

There are positives, in that Ashwell & Morden station in Odsey will now boast five non-stop trains to London King’s Cross at peak times in the mornings as well as six non-stop trains back in the evening.

Shepreth, Meldreth and Foxton will now have half-hourly trains throughout the day to both London and Cambridge,

South Cambs MP Heidi Allen said: “For many constituents, the addition of a half-hourly service from our rural villages to Cambridge is attractive.

“However, the knock on effect is that anyone commuting to London or Cambridge will have slightly longer travel times.

“For regular commuters from South Cambridgeshire village stations, this could be significant and worries me greatly!”

Govia is proposing to utilise the cross-London Thameslink network which will be expanded to give passengers at 80 more stations across the South East direct access to St Pancras International, Farringdon for Crossrail, City Thameslink and Blackfriars.

Mrs Allen added: “While I can see the benefits of extending our Royston route services into City terminals, I remain cautious about the extension of a Great Northern service into territory that is currently operated by Great Northern’s sister company, Southern.

“These services have suffered in recent months and I will be asking Govia for assurances that South Cambridgeshire commuters will not suffer a deterioration in service standards as a result of these changes.

“My constituents have already raised valid points about reliability on the existing timetable, so I will be meeting with Great Northern to scrutinise these proposals and the timetable changes further.”

Head to the consulation website www.transformingrail.com/ to take part in the consultation, which closes on July 27.

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