Posted: Thursday 28th June 2018
Hertfordshire County Council Leader David Williams has written to Rail Minister Jo Johnston this week to urge him to reconsider the scope of the Tender for the East Midlands Franchise. The tender states that the franchise will no longer require intercity trains to stop at Luton, which will have a major impact on rail travellers across Hertfordshire.
Instead of being able to connect to intercity services from Luton, Hertfordshire residents will either have to go south to London to travel north or make a series of connections. Under the new minimum specification included in the tender, a rail passenger from the St Albans or Harpenden area would require two changes (Thameslink to Luton and then Corby commuter service to Kettering) before being able to access what appears to be a limited intercity service from Kettering, and may even require further changes depending on their destination.
This latest rail issue comes following a disastrous timetable change by Govia Thameslink which has left Hertfordshire commuters stranded at stations for hours on end over the past month.
David Williams, Leader of Hertfordshire County Council said:
“Rail services are a key element in Hertfordshire’s economy. Whilst commuter services into London are essential to support the capital’s financial health, local growth in Hertfordshire also requires connections to key centres throughout the country.
“I am therefore particularly disappointed that the Invitation To Tender for the East Midlands franchise has removed the need for intercity services to stop in the Luton area. This is despite the fact that 57% of respondents to the consultation opposed this proposal. Access to intercity services to the Midland Main Line from Hertfordshire is already poor, and the new franchise will be a major regression.
The ITT has come at a time when Harpenden residents are already experiencing a degradation of service due to late changes to East Midlands Trains. Whilst there are other factors in that particular case, it adds to the general impression that the rail needs of Hertfordshire are being ignored by Government.”
Officers and Members from Hertfordshire County Council are encouraging the rail minister to get in contact and discuss concerns about the East Midlands franchise and wider access to intercity services from Hertfordshire in further detail.