Thursday, 23 April 2015

Thameslink - The train company from hell strike again

Yesterday I was up in Edinburgh. As usual I flew Easyjet from Luton Airport, as this is easy, cheap and convenient. I took the 17.55 flight back and by 19.15 I was back at Luton Airport Parkway station. Sadly whilst the flight was seamless, I arrived to find a scene of chaos at the station. The notice boards were simply saying that there were problems. There were no announcements and people were completely in the dark as to when or even if a train was coming. I waited for nearly half an hour and eventually I went back to the office. I spoke to a Thameslink employee who informed me that there would be a train to London in three minutes (19:46), so I made my way back to the platform. Sure enough at 19:46 there was a train to London. It sped straight through at 100mph despite the indicators saying it would stop. At this I gave up and got a cab back, costing me £35 despite having a ticket.

The cause of the problem was a fatality at Hendon. Now I understand that such things happen and the line may need to be closed. What I don't accept is that companies such as Thameslink, which make millions of pounds of profit, should be allowed to leave people high and dry. There is no excuse for the lack of announcements. As the blockage was at Hendon, why couldn't they run a  shuttle to Mill Hill and then let people transfer to buses to get to the Northern Line? This would not be great, but it is better than nothing at all, which is what we got. That would also allow people travelling from London to St Albans and Luton to get home.

There seems to be contingency plans of any sort for any problems. the network simply grinds to a halt and people end up being stuck.

I had hoped to attend the hustings in Mill Hill. I made it for the last few questions. The last one was about Thameslink. Andrew Dismore proposed that the line become part of the London Underground. This is a sensible suggestion. Matthew Offord who previously has been a fan of privatisation and Govia accepted that the service is awful, although did not seem to have a plan.

The chaos is a direct result of the John Major Conservative government and its crazy rail privatisation program. Sadly neither the Labour Blair/Brown govt or the Coalition have done anything to fix the problems. All that happen is that foreign companies rake in huge profits and passengers suffer. When considering your vote, consider Thameslink. If we can get it sorted out, thousands of commuters will benefit. Dismores plan to bring Thameslink under the London Mayor and London Underground will at least give some democratic accountability to the network. Since taking over the North London Line, services have improved considerably. Matthew Offord needs to get a plan together urgently if he wants to be considered a credible candidate.

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