Welwyn Hatfield MP challenges Great Northern operator on rail timetable changes

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps - Credit: Archant

Welwyn Hatfield’s MP has published a letter to Govia today, outlining his objections to the rail operator’s planned service changes.

Welwyn Hatfield’s MP has published a letter to Govia today, outlining his objections to the rail operator’s planned service changes.

Govia, which runs the Great Northern service that covers Welwyn Garden City, Potters Bar, and Hatfield stations, has invited public comment as part of a two-phase consultation on its timetable changes.

Having talked to constituents, Mr Shapps wrote: “Many of my constituents use Great Northern to commute into central London on a daily basis, including myself, and I believe it is only right that their views are considered on the future of rail services in Welwyn Hatfield.”

In the letter, Mr Shapps names numerous issues affecting local passengers, including increased journey times into London from Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield, and fewer London services at peak commuting hours. The MP wrote: “With overcrowding already extremely high, it makes little sense to me to propose a reduced service.”

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Another concern is a proposed cancellation of a direct service to Peterborough.

“To lose this direct service would, in my view, be a backwards step at a time when central Government rail policy seeks to enhance connectivity, not diminish it,” wrote Mr Shapps.

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Mr Shapps also voiced concerns about reducing the Welham Green and Brookmans Park services from three trains per hour to two, even though other stations on the Metro service will get four trains per hour.

“I fail to see any logical reason why two stations in my constituency should not be served by all Great Northern Metro services during the day,” wrote Mr Shapps. Govia reported in a response paper after the first phase of the consultation that the Metro service proposals and the question of cancelling the direct Peterborough service “need further work” and were neither fully supported nor rejected by survey respondents.

The MP also asked for the rail operator’s plans for a possible expansion to Welwyn North’s car park, and a recent residents’ proposal to rename the station to Digswell, a move that a majority of residents support.

The submission echoes a growing chorus of objections brought about by Welwyn Garden City rail user group in July, and comes soon after inflation figures indicate a possible 3.6 per cent fare increase by 2018.

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