MPs hit out at First Capital Connect performance

Charles Walker MP

Charles Walker MP - Credit: Nils Jorgensen / Rex Features

Frustrated rail passengers could lose a whopping 230 hours each year because of delays, an MP has told Parliament.

MP James Clappison

MP James Clappison - Credit: Archant

Charles Walker, MP for Cuffley, Goffs Oak and Northaw, as part of his Broxbourne constituency, made the comments following a special report in last week’s Welwyn Hatfield Times into rail operator First Capital Connect’s (FCC) performance.

First Capital Connect train passes through Welwyn North Station

First Capital Connect train passes through Welwyn North Station - Credit: Archant

He joined a Parliamentary debate last week on services from Cuffley and on the rest of the ‘Hertford Loop’. In that discussion he said: “If the trains are not running well, as is often the case, they [passengers] will spend another 230 hours waiting for the train to arrive.”

MP Grant Shapps

MP Grant Shapps - Credit: Archant

The ‘230 hours’ referred to the yearly cumulative delays on the line.

Tory MP for Enfield North Nick de Bois

Tory MP for Enfield North Nick de Bois - Credit: Archant

Enfield North MP Nick De Bois added: “That 230 hours a year is equivalent to about 10 days – or, if we are more realistic, 20 daylight days –which, over a working life of 40 years, is a year spent on a train.

“A commuter from my constituency will pay £1,560 annually for the privilege. Is it any wonder that our constituents rightly consider it a major issue?”

Mr Walker went on to describe a brief put out by FCC as “beyond parody”, for including “10 tweets from customers congratulating the rail service on its wonderful performance”.

Most Read

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “As a regular FCC commuter on the line from Welwyn Hatfield to London, I have to say that I’ve noticed the service has been less reliable this past year.”

And Potters Bar’s MP James Clappison, himself a regular rail passenger, called for more fast services stopping at Potters Bar.

He said: “I think Potters Bar is of sufficient size and usage to justify a faster service, particularly in and out of London at peak times.

“We do have fast trains, but not enough of them.”

A spokesman for FCC said: “In December 2018, the final part of the Thameslink Programme will deliver the following benefits at Potters Bar: up to 20 per cent more trains in the off-peak, 25 per cent more trains in the peak and new direct links across London.”

He added: “The exact stopping patterns of the trains are to be determined by bidders for the new TSGN [Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern] franchise that will replace the franchise we operate today, so we can’t be specific about the stopping patterns.”