Sir Oliver has recently received this statement from Katherine Cox of Govia.
The new timetable is being introduced to address the significant growth experienced on our routes over the last 12 years where passenger demand has doubled. We have reviewed all aspects of our timetable and attempted where possible to match this with passenger demand. We have also sought to simplify our services by carrying out a complete overhaul of the timetable and are reducing its complexity to address some of the performance issues which have affected the delivery of our services over a number of years by creating a more 'standard' timetable throughout the day.
The timetable changes are a critical part of RailPlan 20/20, our programme to modernise rail services in the south east, taking advantage of the new infrastructure and trains provided by the Thameslink Programme. This major rewrite of the timetable will provide new journey opportunities, better intervals between trains, improved reliability, and more capacity, responding as mentioned above, to the growth in passenger numbers across the GTR network.
Additionally, current stopping times at many stations are currently too short to reasonably allow for those getting on and off trains. To account for this in the rewrite of the timetable, additional time has been allowed to accommodate the need for additional passengers to board and alight. We’ve also reviewed all the intermediate running times between stations to make sure our timetable reflects reality. We know this may mean journeys are timetabled to take slightly longer in some circumstances, but the overall reliability will be improved as a result of the marginally increased stopping time. Many services also have very short turnaround times at destination stations, so the slightest delay on the route means they don’t start their return journey on time and the delay can multiply. The new timetable has increased turnaround times at stations to help trains stick to their scheduled times.
For Letchworth, the new timetable will give almost a third more carriages and over 20% more seats. However, I appreciate that your main concern regarding the new timetable is the reduction in service. The Off-Peak train service will be increased from two to four trains per hour.
Between 08:00 and 09:00 Letchworth station receives 3 direct trains to Finsbury Park and in the new timetable this will increase to 4. In addition, the new Thameslink service between Cambridge and Brighton will only operate with 1 train per hour until December 2018, when 2 trains per hour will run.
We appreciate that the changes might not fit with everyone’s existing routine or arrangements but we have worked hard to produce a timetable that meets the needs of the majority of people who travel with us and, given the hundreds of thousands of passengers who travel with us daily, we have produced a timetable which provides greater reliability and confidence for those passengers. Furthermore, the timetable itself has been created following one of the biggest consultations of its type ever conducted with in excess of 28,000 comments received and evaluated.”
Sir Oliver is pressing for further information on why the new timetable is not being fully introduced, for example with scheduled trains to St Pancras not running. He continues to press Govia for a better deal for our area in the December timetable and is organising a meeting with Govia and local Rail Users’ Groups, hopefully in July, for a full discussion of these issues.