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Thursday, 24 December 2009

Thameslink - news for passengers

The Hendon Times reports the positive outcome of my talks with First Capital Connect about Thameslink. As the paper says, the company informed me of a new plan to compensate passengers on its Thameslink route, which covers Hendon and Mill Hill Broadway stations.


Larry Heyman, a senior manager at First Capital Connect, told me that, in January, the company will inform regular passengers of how to claim a voucher equating to five days' free travel anywhere on First Capital Connect's network. The five-day travel vouchers will be available to holders of season tickets and weekly, monthly and annual travelcards. He also said that a normal service is expected to be resumed on Thameslink on Monday 18 January, assuming that Aslef members vote to accept First Capital Connect's latest offer.

I had arranged to meet Mr Heyman after local people had informed me of appalling problems using Thameslink. Thameslink passengers have suffered an emergency timetable (with only half the usual number of trains) since November, due to a dispute between First Capital Connect and trade union Aslef.

My talks with First Capital Connect were most constructive. This dispute has caused terrible inconvenience to Thameslink’s passengers. I shall continue to work with the company to ensure that it delivers on its promises. Mr Heyman pledged to write to me in detail after Christmas and has suggested meeting to review progress in the New Year. I am most grateful to him for his help with this matter.

Incidentally, passengers can already claim compensation if they are delayed for thirty minutes or more according to Thameslink’s regular timetable.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Mayor questioned on Thameslink

My Lib Dem colleague Caroline Pidgeon, who chairs the London Assembly's Transport Committee, has raised Thameslink's recent problems with the London Mayor. Hopefully, Caroline's question will add to the pressure to sort these problems out. I look forward to my meeting on Monday 21 December with a a senior manager at First Capital Connect to discuss these problems and how to solve them. The recent dispute has caused great inconvenience to passengers using Mill Hill Broadway and Hendon stations.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Northern Line split - questions still need answering

In October, I emailed the London Mayor to oppose a permanent split between the Bank and Charing Cross branches of the Northern Line, which had been mooted. I have received an email from the General Manager of the Northern Line in response. I have replied with some further queries, as it still appears that Transport for London could be planning to split the branches at certain non-peak times of the day - a really bad idea.

At the moment, you can get trains in and out of town on the Edgware branch via either Bank or Charing Cross. If the line was split so that all Edgware trains were via Bank at certain times of the day, you'd ALWAYS have to change trains at Camden Town to get a Charing Cross train at those times of the day, which would cause great inconvenience to regular passengers. The same would be true if all Edgware trains were via Charing Cross, which could also happen if the line was permanently split - either way, I think it is a really bad idea.

Signing the Cancer Commitment

I have just signed Cancer Research UK's Cancer Commitment, which was drawn to my attention by a number of people in Hendon. The charity invited me (and all other Parliamentary candidates) to pledge that, if elected, I "will seek to help make the UK’s cancer outcomes among the best in Europe in the next ten years and will support measures to:
  • Detect cancer earlier
  • Provide world-class cancer treatments
  • Prevent more cancers
  • Tackle cancer inequalities
  • Protect the UK’s research base."
Having sadly lost both of my grandmothers to cancer, I strongly support this - why should the UK's cancer outcomes not be the best in Europe, if not the world? If we can run a world-class Olympics in 2012 and if we can provide some of the best brains behind the Large Hadron Collider, then we can be the best at this as well.

First Capital Connect: progress report

I am pleased to report that First Capital Connect have been good enough to reply to my email in a timely fashion, with a relevant manager having kindly agreed to meet. I'll set this up and report back after it has happened. Obviously, the current state of affairs on the former Thameslink route is deeply unsatisfactory for passengers. At the meeting, I shall be seeking the company's assurances that their talks with the unions will soon have reached a positive conclusion - so that passengers stop suffering the awful inconvenience to which they have been subjected on this line. We need to know what action is being taken to end the current problems and prevent a recurrence in the future.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Resolving problems with First Capital Connect

Many residents have been greatly inconvenienced by ongoing problems involving First Capital Connect's service on the former Thameslink route. In light of this, I have approached First Capital Connect and requested a meeting with someone senior to discuss what is being done to improve the service and solve the problems. I am pleased to report that the company has emailed to say that they will arrange for me to meet one of their directors soon. I'll report back on that when there is news. Do please get in touch if you have anything in particular to report about your experiences as a customer on this line.