MP hits out at train operator First Capital Connect over staffing problems

TRAIN services in Crow Country have come under fire from MP Andrew Lansley. Mr Lansley, who represents South Cambridgeshire in the House of Commons, has written to Andrew Adonis, Secretary of State for Transport, to ask for action to be taken to assist co

TRAIN services in Crow Country have come under fire from MP Andrew Lansley.

Mr Lansley, who represents South Cambridgeshire in the House of Commons, has written to Andrew Adonis, Secretary of State for Transport, to ask for action to be taken to assist commuters.

Mr Lansley said: "I know from contact with a number of my constituents that the current service has proved entirely inadequate.

"The point of the First Capital Connect franchise is to ensure that a regular service, timetable and system of pricing are established- clearly this is not happening," he said.


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Problems occurred on the great northern route, run by First Capital Connect, on Sunday November 8 because drivers refused to work the overtime required to allow a full service to operate.

This meant timetabled services through Royston, and village stations such as Foxton, Meldreth, and Ashwell, were cut by up to 50 per cent.

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"I have written to the Secretary of State for Transport to ask whether the current lack of services constitutes a breach of the terms of the agreed franchise, and what action will he take," said Mr Lansley.

"Irregardless of fault, it is First Capital Connect who have the obligation to provide regular and efficient services - passengers deserve better."

Larry Heyman, FCC's integration and partnerships manager, said the firm "apologise absolutely" for disruption caused to commuters.

He said: "The drivers' contracts are something we took over from the previous franchise, and we usually don't have any problems covering Sundays.

"However, because there is some dispute at present over pay and conditions, we didn't have any drivers available on November 8. It wasn't industrial action, as the staff all worked their contracted hours.

"We are having a meeting with the Aslef union today (Thursday) to try and sort things out, and hopefully there won't be any more problems on the Great Northern route."

Mr Heyman also said that there was no question of FCC having breached the terms of their franchise.

He added: "Of course we're not happy with this state of affairs, but we have kept the department of transport informed at all times about what has been happening."

Meanwhile, North East Herts MP Oliver Heald is backing a consultation aimed at improving our railway stations.

The consultation, run by Network Rail and called Action Stations will provide an opportunity for the public to have their say about assessment priorities at stations, the service stations offer and the role stations play in the communities they serve.

Mr Heald said: "My constituency has a large number of commuters and I would encourage them all to participate in the Action Stations consultation. This is their opportunity to say what improvements they would like to see at our local stations and how their daily journey could be improved."

The consultation can be accessed through www.networkrail.co.uk/actionstations

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