Welwyn Hatfield MP calls for Great Northern to be ‘booted out’

PUBLISHED: 13:58 21 May 2018 | UPDATED: 14:02 21 May 2018

Grant Shapps took to social media today to voice his views on Great Northern. Picture: Danny Loo

Grant Shapps took to social media today to voice his views on Great Northern. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

Welwyn Hatfield’s MP has slammed Great Northern’s performance and new timetable, saying it is a “useless excuse” of a rail operator and calling for Transport for London to take over.

On Friday, May 17, Grant Shapps tweeted: “I’ve met the rail minister and urged him to end Great Northern’s franchise with their appalling new Welwyn Hatfield timetable. I support @TFL London Overground taking over the line and we’re making progress.”

The first two days of Great Northern’s new timetable operations have seen multiple cancellations and delays, particularly on Sunday, May 20.

On May 16, the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, announced that he was considering taking Great Northern back under public ownership.

Since then, Mr Shapps has been vocal in his support for the idea.

Posting on both Facebook and Twitter today (May 21), he said: “Looking forward to this useless excuse of a rail operator @GNRailUK losing their franchise in 2021, because from today they’re worsening services through Welwyn Hatfield.

“But at least the franchise system does mean that they can & will be booted out!”

On the first working day of the new timetable, the Welwyn Hatfield Times spoke to rail users in Welwyn Garden City about their experiences so far.

Julia Carling from London, who was visiting for a meeting, said: “Well it actually worked out for me!” because although she had aimed at taking the 9.21 from King’s Cross, she managed to get on the delayed 8.36, arriving early for her appointment.

The disruption meant that Katherine Gray’s son, who has autism, didn’t get to see his grandmother as planned on Sunday.

“We’ve only just managed to get him to travel by himself,” she said.

But the prospect of an hour’s disruption meant the journey from Welwyn Garden City caused him too much anxiety to leave the house.

“If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” she added.

Sakina Islam, travelling from Hitchin to study at Oaklands College today, also didn’t see the point in the timetable changes.

She had just experienced a minor delay of seven minutes on her train. “I think it’s pointless, I don’t understand,” she said.

But even though Abhay Thakkar had prudently set out 20 minutes early for his journey to work from Stevenage, he urged people to be patient.

“It always takes time to get used to it,” he said. “You’ve got to give them a chance.”

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