The train debate

I thought I would give a hopefully balanced opinion to the continuing battle over the fast trains serving Baldock and Ashwell stations. I work for a different railway company, and as such I tend to know a little about both railways and their customers. F

I thought I would give a hopefully balanced opinion to the continuing battle over the fast trains serving Baldock and Ashwell stations. I work for a different railway company, and as such I tend to know a little about both railways and their customers.

From the point of view of First Capital Connect, they do have to balance demand. The additional train runs only fourteen minutes earlier to the two stations than the previous fast service. Capacity further up the line will be the reason for this timing. Having started at Royston, there is no doubt a few more seats than before. Rather than getting up earlier to travel to Letchworth for the 07.09 train there, why not simply get up for the new train?

From the point of view of the customer, Ashwell and Baldock have always been left out in favour of Letchworth or Royston. As a shift worker I travel on the line at all times of day and night, and have done for 20 or so years. The off-peak traveller generally suffers more. At weekends and during late evening, when the average commuter is not commuting, there are engineering shutdowns. The work is needed, but the closures used to be arranged to limit inconvenience, but are now arranged to suit the budget instead. This is without mentioning the heavily reduced Sunday services offered in this timetable. Or that it now takes 10 minutes by train from Hitchin, when back in the 1980s it took just five.

The solution to this argument is difficult. But maybe FCC could stop both morning services (plus others) at both stations and allow the customer to choose from an enhanced service. Maybe they could remove the evening restrictions. If people have no option but to travel at that time, then they will - except of course this way they have to pay extra. Changing the stopping patterns of many evening services would spread the demand.


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In conclusion, Mr Beahan from FCC is right that the current trains will not be joining the Thameslink line. But of course I am sure I do not have to remind him of the large tunnel sitting to the side of the line just outside King's Cross station. That will (one day in the not too distant future) allow newer rolling stock to travel to the other half of the FCC domain. Then Baldock and Ashwell will be in competition with towns south of the Thames!!

DAREN LUCAS, Park Drive, Baldock

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