MP for Hertsmere meets Transport Secretary over ‘appalling’ train service

Oliver Dowden and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.

Oliver Dowden and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. - Credit: Archant

Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden, whose constituency covers Potters Bar, met with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to raise concerns about the service provided by Govia Thameslink.

Oliver Dowden and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.

Oliver Dowden and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. - Credit: Archant

Mr Dowden used the meeting, on Monday, December 5, to present a dossier of more than 100 complaints, describing constituents’ frustration and despair at the service.

He said: ‘Since I stood for election in 2015 I have been inundated with a wave of phone calls, letters, emails and messages about the appalling service.

“I use the service every day and know all too well the horrendous commutes they describe – every day frustrated by missed stops, delays and cancellations.

“Birthdays, anniversaries and precious time with the family have all been missed. Perhaps most worryingly, two businesses have taken the decision to leave Borehamwood to avoid the service.

“I was glad he shared my concern and that he undertook to investigate the causes of the problems – both with Govia Thameslink and Network Rail, which is responsible for rail infrastructure.

“He also pledged to look at the relationship between the operator of the railway infrastructure and the train operating company to see whether there was room for improvement.”

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A spokesman for Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) said: “We apologise to our passengers and are determined to make things better.

“The service has been hit most heavily recently by the effect of wet leaves, crushed into a Teflon-like substance, causing slippery rails which is delaying trains across the network.

“This amplifies the effect of the signal failures and overrunning engineering work that passengers will have experienced as well.

“We are also in the middle of a massive programme of change, replacing 75% of the train fleet on Great Northern to give passengers new air conditioned carriages and better services.

“That has, we acknowledge, has caused some cancellations because we have to take our drivers away from their normal duties for additional training as we bring in new trains on to the network.”

Later in the day Mr Dowden also chaired a conference call with Charles Horton, chief executive of Govia Thameslink, and a number of senior executives from the company to raise points from letters he has received, and to hear an update on performance.

Mr Dowden said: “As your MP, I can’t directly control the performance of Govia Thameslink but I can use my position as your elected representative to represent your anger over the service to Govia executives and ministers.

“Both these meetings have left them in no doubt about the strength of anger.”