Hertsmere MP criticises ‘absurd’ decision to cancel train

Oliver Dowden speaking at the House of Commons

Oliver Dowden speaking at the House of Commons - Credit: Archant

Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden, who is the MP who covers Potters Bar, blasted Govia Thameslink Railway’s decision to cancel a service because of offensive graffiti on the side of the train.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Thursday, October 13, Mr Dowden raised a question criticising the decision, which he described as ‘absurd’. He also raised the subject later that day on BBC Three Counties Radio.

Mr Dowden said: “Constituents in Potters Bar, Borehamwood and Radlett rely on Govia Thameslink railways.

“They are used to endless excuses for its lamentable performance. But yesterday we discovered they are cancelling services when they discover graffiti that they deem offensive.’

“This is absurd. The company should instead focus on getting passengers to work and home on time”

The leader of the House of Commons, David Lidington MP, praised Mr Dowden’s ongoing campaign for better train services and agreed that Govia Thameslink should put the needs of passengers first.

His criticism came as the Government announced a new compensation scheme for passengers who are delayed by more than 15 minutes.

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Mr Dowden said: “I am glad the Government has this month introduced the new compensation scheme for passengers. I lobbied for this and urge all passengers to take advantage of the improvement.

“This does not, of course, detract from my efforts to bring about improvements to the service we often receive.”

A Govia spokesman said: “We are sorry passengers were inconvenienced but we simply cannot have our trains running with offensive sexually explicit words on them.

“We only do this with a heavy heart when we have no other choice because as a responsible train operator we had to take the train out of service. It is not something we like to do and this is very unusual we have had to take these steps.

“Our policy of removing trains from service when covered with offensive graffiti, as this one was, is absolutely the right one.

“Graffiti vandals seek maximum exposure for their selfish activity, and all the evidence shows that a zero tolerance approach is the most effective way to reduce graffiti in the long-term.”