Cancellations and delays on first weekday of new Great Northern timetable

PUBLISHED: 08:11 21 May 2018 | UPDATED: 08:16 21 May 2018

The first day of the new Great Northern timetable is going far from smoothly. Picture: Great Northern

The first day of the new Great Northern timetable is going far from smoothly. Picture: Great Northern

Archant

There’s misery for commuters this morning, with trains cancelled and delayed on the first weekday of the new Great Northern timetable.

There have been several cancellations on the line this morning, both southbound towards London and northbound towards Cambridge.

The issues come after an “operational incident” seriously disrupted services on the first day of the new timetable yesterday. There were also cancellations and delays on Saturday due to a “shortage of available train crew”.

Those venting their anger at Great Northern this morning included Seb Leal-Bennett, who tweeted: “I purchased a more expensive ticket to get me to London Bridge from Hitchin. Please can you tell me why both the 6.26am and 7.11am are cancelled?!”

Great Northern apologised and cited “short-term planning amendments”.

Seb has been far from alone in his criticism. Richard Williamson posted: “Certainly it’s a disaster in Biggleswade. The platforms are packed, about four times busier than they ever were. You’ve cancelled one, and the next two are delayed. How?!”

He added: “They don’t even have the decency to turn off their advertising message of the new timetable on station tannoys.”

James Pryce posted a picture of a packed train in Stevenage, decrying the “absolute shambles and disgrace”.

Bob Harris, from Hitchin, said simply: “Come on, be realistic – we all knew it was going to be like this.”

One positive amid all the fury came from Hitchin’s Peter Keegan, who wrote to Great Northern: “Your staff at Hitchin have been very friendly and helpful this morning, they are feeling it too!”

Matt Davies’ sentiments were similar, as he lambasted Great Northern’s new timetable but still praised the station staff at Finsbury Park – saying they were “absolutely brilliant and save the day”.

Knebworth’s Craig Stephenson made the point that the problems weren’t just affecting London work commuters, but were also hitting schoolchildren.

He cited the cancellation of this morning’s 8.04am northbound train from Knebworth, which is used by pupils travelling to secondary schools in Hitchin. “Have to drive now,” he commented.

Great Northern yesterday posted a statement on its website saying it expected disruption to continue until June 8, but this now seems to have been replaced with another.

The new statement says “short-term timetable amendments mean fewer trains are able to run”, and that the new timetable is being “phased in” amid difficulties sourcing sufficient running stock and drivers.

It concludes: “The train operators thank you for your patience and apologise for the inconvenience caused during the upcoming weeks as they work hard to introduce the industry-leading timetable, in so, modernising the railway, creating faster journeys across London and creating space for an additional 50,000 passengers daily into London.”

Reporter Georgia Barrow is getting some first-hand experience of the commuting life this morning, and is travelling south on the 7.38am from Royston to London King’s Cross. Follow @journo_georgia on Twitter to see how she’s getting on.

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