County Hall and train bosses clash at Hertfordshire train meeting

Hatfield Station

Hatfield Station - Credit: Archant

County Hall’s political transport boss failed to persuade train bosses to implement a slimmed down timetable when he met them on Friday.

Councillor Derrick Ashley described his meeting with Govia, which runs trains through Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield and Potters Bar. as a “full and frank exchange of views”, although the company insists it was “constructive”.

The Hertfordshire County Council portfolio holder, who has described the recent level of cancellations as “appalling”, wanted the company to reduce the scheduled service level while it trains new drivers.

After the meeting, Councillor Ashley said Govia had insufficient resources to take on the franchise two years ago, and the Government was partly to blame for its subsequent problems.

A Govia spokesman said: “Our meeting was constructive and we explained how we’re in the middle of a massive programme of change that has, we acknowledge, caused some cancellations.

“However, it’s very soon going to give our passengers new, air conditioned trains and in following years new and better services with greater capacity and we’re working flat out to recruit and train more drivers.

“Councillor Ashley’s call for a contingency timetable to be introduced wouldn’t be in the best interests of passengers who would suffer many more cancelled trains than they do today, because we work to fill missing driver turns right up to the last minute, well beyond the time we would have to upload a revised timetable to the railway systems.

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“We explained our programme of improvements and finished on a positive note of optimism for the future.”

Councillor Ashley and a county council panel will meet Govia again in December to review progress in training drivers and improving services.