Train axe plans are way off track, say commuters

PUBLISHED: 13:23 26 October 2006 | UPDATED: 14:52 12 May 2010

MEMBERS of the Ashwell and Mordens Rail User Group grilled a rail company chief over a controversial plan to axe some fast services to King s Cross. Managing director of First Capital Connect (FCC), Elaine Holt met more than 50 residents from Ashwell, St

MEMBERS of the Ashwell and Mordens Rail User Group grilled a rail company chief over a controversial plan to axe some fast services to King's Cross.

Managing director of First Capital Connect (FCC), Elaine Holt met more than 50 residents from Ashwell, Steeple Morden, and Guilden Morden at the Parish Church Room in Swan Street, Ashwell last Thursday.

The debate stemmed from FCC's decision to cancel the 7.03am train from Ashwell Station from December 10, because of overcrowding.

The train, from Cambridge, will also not stop at Baldock.

And there are plans to replace the 8.03, 18.15, and the 18.45 fast trains with slower trains.

FCC has already abolished off-peak fares for passengers on trains leaving King's Cross between 4.30pm-7pm for passengers travelling between Stevenage and Cambridge.

Commuter Sarah Duckett, 41, said: "I feel like a rug has been pulled from underneath us.

"People chose to live in Ashwell because it's a good place to bring up children and previously had good train services, but now they are making it extremely hard for us to commute.

"This is a going to affect hundreds of people. A lot of us have young children and it's vital that we spend time with them in the morning and evening - adding extra time to our journeys will mean less time with our families."

At the meeting, Mrs Holt said: "We are talking about some of the busiest trains in the country, and the bottom line is to solve the overcrowding problems. Changes have to be made which means there will be winners and losers.

"This is not just an Ashwell issue and we are trying hard to tackle a very difficult situation.

"We are committed to improving the capacity situation which is a very big problem."

Mrs Duckett added: "This will not help with overcrowding issues as people will just drive to Letchworth and get on there.

"In the long term it could potentially force people to move from the villages to Cambridge."

Gregor Campbell, 52, said: "The meeting was good and I am optimistic about the future. They have listened and they may act on what they have heard."

Mrs Holt said: "I understand what residents are saying and we will go away and have one last look. There is no reason why changes can't be made next year, but as far as plans for this year goes it doesn't look like there is much room for manoeuvre.

"But we've had good feedback and we have a few weeks to reassess.

"I will come back again before a final decision is made and specifically look at the plans. It is important that we work together."

Mrs Duckett added: "We've raised our concerns and there is very little that we can now do.

"I just hope that she has listened and that the trains remain.

"I'm optimistic that something can be done and we must respond again at the next meeting.

"We need to pull together as a community and see that improvements are made next year.


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