Rail operator told it’s thinning’ service

PUBLISHED: 11:31 08 February 2007 | UPDATED: 14:59 12 May 2010

Cllr F John Smith – demanding a meeting with First Capital Connect

Cllr F John Smith – demanding a meeting with First Capital Connect

COUNCILLORS are expected tonight (Thursday) to call for a meeting with First Capital Connect over the train operator s proposed timetable changes. It is believed that the rail company is seeking changes that would provide more trains from Cambridge and cu

COUNCILLORS are expected tonight (Thursday) to call for a meeting with First Capital Connect over the train operator's proposed timetable changes.

It is believed that the rail company is seeking changes that would provide more trains from Cambridge and cut the service provision for Royston.

The proposed changes have already caused a storm of protest from the Ashwell & Morden Rail User Group.

Protests over the changes are now to be raised by North Herts District Council after members of the Royston area committee called for an urgent meeting with representatives from First Capital Connect.

In a report to the council, it is claimed that the changes were being made "purely because of First Capital Connect's perception that it could make more income from passengers boarding in Cambridge".

Speaking at last week's meeting of the Royston area committee, Cllr F John Smith said that changes to the timetable would mean "a worse service for everyone".

He said it appeared that First Capital Connect was "thinning down" the service.

"This is extremely serious and we ought to take issue with First Capital Connect," he said.

Cllr Tony Hunter said he wholeheartedly supported a move which would see a meeting with the train operator.

He added that consultation on the new timetables appeared to be "mystical".

The proposed timetables were sent to the Department for Transport for ratification before Christmas.

The Ashwell & Modern Rail Users Group said this gave the appearance of First Capital Connect gave the appearance of listening, but clearly had no intention of making any changes," said the rail protest group.

Cllr Peter Burt said the situation meant that Royston commuters would have less seats and less trains. "That's how it appears," he said.

And Cllr Liz Beardwell said it was "shameful" that it appeared the service was being downgraded.

The Royston area committee said it should call on MP Oliver Heald to support the demand for talks.

In a statement, First Capital Connect said: "The whole thrust of our proposals are to ease the current levels of crowding in the peaks and improve the quality of service," it said.

It said: "We are not cutting trains.

"We are, however, changing the calling patterns to make sure that we do not exacerbate overcrowding on the most heavily used services.

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