Wednesday 12 November 2014

Guest Blog - Govia Thameslink consult...but won't tell us what they are consulting on - By Richard Logue

By Richard Logue (Chair of Mill Hill Residents Association),

It is no secret that since Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) took over from the much loathed First Capital Connect on the Thameslink route that they have taken the level of service on our trains down to an even lower level than First Capital Connect ever did. Late trains, cancelled trains and shorter trains are what we long suffering Mill Hill Broadway commuters have had to put up with.

We are even now at the point where Charles Horton the Managing Director of GTR even tells the Evening Standard that his priority is to make it easier for us to stand on Thameslink's sardine can trains. What else could GTR possibly throw at us to make our train journeys even more unbearable?

A botched consultation exercise perhaps? 

I received an email yesterday from Andrew Dismore drawing my attention to a consultation exercise that GTR have launched concerning their December 2015 timetable. That may seem a long way off, but once that timetable is set, we will not see many more significant changes to our train service until 2018, when the new trains enter service and the link from the Peterborough and Cambridge lines to St Pancras International opens. 

So what are GTR proposing for Mill Hill Broadway in this consultation? 

At present Mill Hill Broadway is served overnight by an hourly service that starts at Three Bridges, just south of Gatwick Airport, and terminates at Bedford. These trains run until the early morning, at which the normal commuter service kicks in. GTR are proposing to run these trains non-stop between West Hampstead and St Albans, which means that Mill Hill Broadway will not be served. However, GTR propose to run an extra hourly service from Luton to Blackfriars, stopping at Mill Hill and all other stops. 

That does not sound too bad as in effect we would not lose a train, but the GTR consultation document does not tell us anything else about the proposed extra Luton to Blackfriars service, not even to tell us what times these trains would run.

How is it then possible to respond to a consultation document without the whole picture of what is being proposed? So I called GTR. Big mistake. It took me about 40 minutes to actually connect to a human being rather than a voice menu. Only problem was that when I did speak to a human being she was in an overseas call centre and I was definitely not sticking to her script.

I was first told that the Brighton line timetables were online. When I told the lady from the call centre I wanted to see what the proposed timetable for Mill Hill Broadway was I was told that was online too. I asked where? I was told it was in the consultation document. Only problem is that the proposed timetable isn't in the consultation document, and how can I respond to the consultation without the timetable I am supposed to be consulted on?

Well, you too can be bamboozled by the GTR consultation document too. It's available at

If I do get any clarity from GTR regarding what they are proposing I will of course let you know. The consultation closes on 30 January 2015.
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