Local train user starts petition to bring back fast trains in Hertfordshire

Great Northern train services are being affected by a signalling fault between Finsbury Park and Moo

Great Northern train services are being affected by a signalling fault between Finsbury Park and Moorgate. Picture: Archant/FILE - Credit: Archant

A new petition to bring back fast trains between and London and communities in Herts has been launched. 

Fast trains were temporarily suspended in 2020 due to the pandemic, but now, halfway through 2022, they have yet to return. 

The petition was set up Tara Button, who uses both Knebworth and Welwyn North stations and has asked for route managers Govia Thameslink and Great Northern to bring back fast trains this year. 

Tara said trains are increasingly busy at peak times now and whereas she used to be able to get into London within 19 minutes she now faces an average journey of 43 minutes. “This creates daily round trips that make it feel like a waste of time to go into work,” Tara said. 

Residents have also not been given a timescale or any indication on when fast trains might be returned past a suggestion it will be “when operationally possible”. 

The petition also highlights that train prices have not been reduced despite the service reduction, so residents will be getting far less value for their money. “We are paying the same price for half the speed,” Tara added. 

From personal experience, Tara said,:“I used to be able to get into work in just over an hour. Now, at one hour and 40 minutes door to door, it means 3.5 hours of travelling a day. 3.5 hours when I could be working, or spending time with my son.” 

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The change.org petition also mentions that, “many residents have chosen to live in these areas due to the fast and convenient journeys into London and now face unworkable door-to-door commute times.

"At the same time, many bosses are demanding more attendance in offices, putting residents in the position of considering having to move from the homes they love so they can get into work in a reasonable timescale.” 

The petition adds how train companies have said in the past that they are waiting for passenger numbers to rise before adding more services, but this does not make sense because they are not offering the same journey options. If they want more people to use their trains, it makes sense to bring back the fast trains people rely on to get to work.

A spokesperson for Great Northern and Thameslink said: “Following a sustained period with significantly lower passenger numbers, the railway has seen large losses in revenue over the course of the pandemic and it is clear people will continue to work from home more regularly in the future.  

“The busiest morning train leaves Knebworth with fewer than half its seats taken, and when new cross-London Thameslink services start on 16 May from Welwyn Garden City, there are likely to be even fewer people boarding that train further up the line. 

“We need to balance the choices we make going forward with what’s affordable to run. Our priority is to support passengers by running reliable services, working closely with our stakeholders to support the economic recovery of both local and regional rail. 

“We will continue to prioritise our services in the most efficient way, adapting to what customers need for the future. This will be an ongoing process of review.” 

To sign the petition, go to: https://tinyurl.com/yc7bz3n2