The terrible rail service from Cambridge – London is currently completely unacceptable. I have written to the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, for some answers.
I am writing to you regarding the huge upheaval and inconvenience which has been experienced by my constituents for the past six weeks on their journeys from Cambridge to London. Many of my constituents commute from Cambridge to King’s Cross or Liverpool Street every day, at the huge cost of £4,952 for a season ticket.
Unfortunately, there have been huge problems on both of these lines. There have been signalling problems, amongst others on the Greater Anglia line into Liverpool Street, delaying trains, and resulting in cancellations or very short notice alterations. Additionally, the Govia Thameslink-run Great Northern line from Cambridge to King’s Cross has had numerous cancellations, alterations and delays since the new timetable was introduced at the end of May. GTR states that they are ‘re-planning how we use trains and train crew on Thameslink and Great Northern’. It is unacceptable that this level of disruption has gone on for so long, and that the Department for Transport has not stepped in to improve the service of this train operating company.
For many constituents, spending well over an hour each way travelling to work on a ‘good’ day, these delays and cancellations have eaten into their time with their families, or their leisure time. It has also impacted their work, making them late or unreliable through no fault of their own, potentially effecting their careers. It has forced them to arrange emergency childcare, which can be very expensive. Recently, the media picked up a story of some school children who go to school in Cambridge, and get the train in from Ashwell. Their train home then did not stop (despite reassurances from staff) until it got to King’s Cross, leaving children vulnerable in a large city they do not know, and parents extremely worried. I would like to know the following:
1) How the Department for Transport is going to work with operating companies to calculate and provide compensation to season ticket holders and other commuters.
2) How the Department for Transport is going to improve the service, whether this be by nationalising the line, or setting strict, measurable, time-limited targets for improvement, and nationalising if these are not met. There have been reports in the media from a ‘government’ source that the Thameslink line may be stripped of their franchise due to the poor service; I would like a confirmation of this if it is true.
3) When my constituents can expect a reliable service to resume.
4) How the Department for Transport will stop this happening in the future, and the service performance level checks and balances which will be put in place. What assurances can be given that the redrawn timetable starting on the 15th July will reduce the current levels of chaos?
5) What investment the Department for Transport are planning on putting into the maintenance and improvement of the Greater Anglia line after its recent signalling problems, cracked rail and other infrastructure issues.
I look forward to hearing from you promptly.
Daniel Zeichner MP
Member of Parliament for Cambridge