YOU may be aware that Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) is currently consulting on the detail of their revised timetable for the addition of Peterborough and Cambridge services to the Thameslink network next year.
Stevenage, in Hertfordshire, will be one of the principal beneficiaries of these changes, with direct links to central London, Farringdon, Gatwick, Brighton and Maidstone being opened up for the first time. Stevenage Borough Council has championed the improved business and leisure opportunities that becoming a part of the Thameslink network offers the town.
Direct platform-to-platform access to intercity services on the East Coast Main Line will be one of the principal advantages that will be available for longer-distance travellers: the only station south of Peterborough that will offer this opportunity.
However, we are deeply disappointed to learn that train services between Stevenage and Hertford will be abandoned indefinitely in May 2018. These are vital services. The proposed replacement bus service is not an alternative – journey times will be considerably longer and journeys more difficult, particularly if passengers are making connections to go either further north on the East Coast Main Line or to go south towards Finsbury Park and Moorgate.
Closing the line sends a terrible message about the future of rail travel in the UK, and it also puts increased pressure on one of Hertfordshire’s already busiest roads – the A602. This is not strategic multi-modal transport thinking.
To put it simply, this cannot be allowed to happen. The Department for Transport needs to work with their contractor – GTR – and Network Rail to ensure that this vital service is maintained, rather than leave hard-working commuters in the lurch.
We call on the Government to come up with a solution that delivers the proposed fifth platform at Stevenage Station to keep one of the country’s thriving towns on the right track.
Councillor Ralph Raynor
Stevenage Borough Council
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