We should press train operator

PUBLISHED: 11:53 09 November 2006 | UPDATED: 14:54 12 May 2010

I HAVE commuted between Royston and King s Cross for nearly 25 years and I fully support the efforts of First Capital Connect to reduce overcrowding, which is unsafe and stressful. Your headline Train axe plans is misleading, because no trains are bein

I HAVE commuted between Royston and King's Cross for nearly 25 years and I fully support the efforts of First Capital Connect to reduce overcrowding, which is unsafe and stressful.

Your headline "Train axe plans" is misleading, because no trains are being axed, but if overcrowding is to be eliminated then some people currently using the most overcrowded trains must inevitably move onto other services.

The first way to do this is through the price mechanism, and FCC's evening peak ticket restrictions have been a useful short-term method of moving travellers with cheap tickets onto less crowded trains.

This has led to a noticeable reduction in overcrowding, especially on the 18.15 train.

The second way is through reducing the number of stops that an overcrowded train makes until the number of passengers matches capacity.

It is inevitable that these will be the stops nearest to London, where it is easiest to provide alternative services. On many trains, such as the 07.28 and 07.58 from Royston and the 17.45, 18.15 and 18.45 from King"s Cross, this should have been done years ago.

I applaud FCC for trying to address this after WAGN allowed overcrowding to reach dangerous levels.

Thirdly, we need better use of the existing capacity. WAGN increased capacity in the morning, with more and longer trains, and FCC has continued this.

A few years ago this gave me the opportunity to give up the undignified scramble for the last seats on the 07.28 for the slightly slower but less stressful 07.14 and 07.44, which both start at Royston.

But nothing has been done to increase capacity to relieve the most overcrowded evening trains. If FCC is going to cut out stops on the fastest trains, then it must provide realistic alternatives, especially in the evening.

The journey home has already been lengthened because of the need to arrive early at King's Cross to get a seat: additional but slightly slower trains that aren't overcrowded would actually cut journey times.

The existing capacity that is not fully used is on the slow services and on the Peterborough line. Instead of quibbling about a few station stops we should be pressing FCC to divert that under-used capacity onto the Cambridge line to give a better service at Royston, Ashwell and all the other stations en route.

MARK CHAPLIN

Green Drift

Royston

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