Royston and Letchworth rail user groups ‘pleased’ with latest timetable
PUBLISHED: 07:03 19 March 2018
Two rail user groups serving North Herts say overall they are “pleased” with changes made to the new Great Northern train timetable, which was released to them yesterday.
The Royston & Villages and Letchworth rail user groups have been in negotiations with line operator Govia Thameslink after problems were found in the original draft timetable last summer.
The two groups said in a joint statement: “We are pleased with the overall progress and consider that the improvements go some way to addressing the problems with the original draft timetable last summer.
“There is however more work to do for the 2019 timetable. As part of the negotiations we have secured an undertaking from Govia that all the improvements below will be retained in the 2019 timetable and so the service will only improve.”
For Royston, the groups have secured more resilient seating capacity in the starting services at 6.36am and 7.38am, stops on the fast services to London King’s Cross at 8.54am, 9.38am at 10.03am, and restoration of all fast services from London King’s Cross to Royston in the evening after 7.12pm, other than 8.42pm.
It has been agreed that this can be provided to Letchworth. The operator will also bring back the hourly direct services between Royston and Cambridge North.
In Letchworth, there will now be stops on the morning fast trains to London King’s Cross at 6.04am, 8.29am and 9.06am, arriving at 6.32am, 9.09am and 9.38am, and an additional semi-fast train service back from King’s Cross in the evenings.
Ashwell & Morden will see a stop on the London-bound semi-fast service at 8.13am – arriving into St Pancras at 8.59am – and seating provisions. It will also have a stop on the service leaving King’s Cross at 4.12pm and arriving in Ashwell & Morden at 4.45pm.
The additional fast and semi-fast services to Letchworth will provide connection options for Ashwell & Morden commuters too.
A Govia spokesman said: “Our new timetable, that will be introduced progressively from May, will create more capacity for passengers and great new connections with the Thameslink route across London to destinations such as Blackfriars for the South Bank, London Bridge and Gatwick Airport.
“During our 18-month-long consultation into our proposed changes, we listened carefully to what people had to say and worked hard to accommodate suggestions. We’re pleased we have been able to do so much for the local groups.
“We must ensure the timetable is robust, reliable and punctual for our passengers across the network with capacity targeted to where it is most needed. This does mean it is not possible to incorporate everyone’s aspirations but we constantly review our timetables and will keep the groups’ requests in mind as we do.”
Govia says that by December next year, the new timetable will give Royston over a third more carriages and seats – more than 2,300 more – during the morning peak times into London.
It adds that Letchworth will have almost a third more carriages and more than 20 per cent more seats – 1,500 more – while Ashwell will have 93 per cent more carriages and 70 per cent more seats, which equates to more than 2,400 more seats.
Stevenage will also have a third more carriages and a quarter more seats, the operator says.
However, the groups’ work is not complete – they highlight a number of outstanding needs, such as further stops on the fast services for Letchworth, a night-time semi-fast service from London to Letchworth, a semi-fast service from London to Ashwell in the evening after 7.12pm, and more.
The two groups said in a joint statement: “Govia have undertaken to work with us on the 2019 timetable to address these problems. Govia will be collecting intensive feedback in the months after implementation of May 2018 timetable. Please use the Facebook pages to share all your feedback with us.
“We would like to thank all the members of the rail user groups for their enthusiastic support. Our stations gathered among the highest response rates on the entire Great Northern, Thameslink and Southern networks – a remarkable achievement given the many much larger places on those networks.
“Our petition secured over 1,500 signatures. Your support gives us a loud voice. We hope you will all continue to support us as we negotiate the 2019 timetable.”