North East Beds MP Alistair Burt has hit out at the massive disruption to passengers after a major change in train timetables saying it is “unacceptable”.
Thousands of commuters have been hit by the changes, which have seen trains cancelled, arriving late or overcrowded.
The new timetable, for Great Northern and Govia Thameslink through Chronicle Country was implemented last week as part of Rail Plan2020.
The companies stated the changes will bring more trains on many routes and introduce new routes bringing direct services between new destinations.
But so far commuters say they have seen no benefit to the changes. Many have taken to Twitter to vent their anger at cancellations, late trains or changes and their inability to get to work.
On Thursday last week commuters blocked train doors at Hitchin station after an announcement that the train would not be stopping at any of the Bedfordshire stations, including Arlesey, Biggleswade and Sandy and that replacement bus services had been provided.
Twelve days after the changes were introduced people were still taking to social media to vent their anger.
Papa asked: 2@GNRailUK 0904 train removed at Arlesey to stp. So I go to letchworth at my expense to get 0908 and the guy on the turnstyle makes me go and buy an extension ticket. I thought you were doing reasonable ticket acceptance? Are you ?”
And Cameron Brawley said: “@TLRailUK How on earth is a train being cancelled so late on? The 8:04 from arlesey to st Pancras was running until 15 mins ago?! This is happening everyday and bad service isn’t made up for with “delay repay”. I’d prefer to not have the awkward late entrance to work. Shocking.”
Mr Burt has joined with other local MPs to protest to Transport secretary, Chris Grayling over the chaos.
He said: “I have had contact with the Secretary of State over the weekend to confirm that he and his Department are heavily pressing those involved to get this sorted speedily.
“The new timetables have been envisaged for months, and local MPs see no reason for the current excuses covering so many trains. The odd hiccup in a new timetable is understandable; wholescale cancellations and being unable to say whether trains will run or not is simply not acceptable.
“Our first urgent determination is to get trains running to the timetable and end the cancellations which are proving so damaging to people’s arrangements. In the long term there must be an investigation into this debacle and how timetable changes are handled in the future.”
Mr Grayling has confirmed that a meeting will be arranged for next week to allow MPs to be briefed on the detail of what has gone wrong and
how it is being solved.
Mr Burt will keep his social media and website updated with further information as it becomes available. Rail passengers are advised to check the National Rail website for service disruptions before they travel.
A statement from Great Northern said: “We apologise to passengers for the continued disruption linked to the introduction of the new timetable. We are working on a recovery plan with rail industry partners. Meanwhile, as late notice changes continue to be made, we ask passengers to check the service updates for your train on the day of travel. We expect disruption to ease over the coming months.”
Charles Horton, CEO of GTR, said: “We always said that delivering the biggest timetable change in generations would be challenging – but we are sorry that we have not been able to deliver the service that passengers expect.
“Delayed approval of the timetable led to an unexpected need to substantially adjust our plans and resources in an unexpectedly short timeframe. We fully understand that passengers want more certainty and are working very hard to bring greater consistency to the timetable as soon as possible.
“We will also be working with industry colleagues to establish a timetable that will progressively deliver improvement.”