Hitchin MP Peter Lilley slams ‘appalling, substandard and incompetent’ Govia franchise for burying Great Northern rail fare rises in new compensation rules

Hitchin MP Peter Lilley has labelled Govia 'appalling and incompetent' as fares are set to rise agai

Hitchin MP Peter Lilley has labelled Govia 'appalling and incompetent' as fares are set to rise again. - Credit: Archant

Hitchin MP Peter Lilley has launched a scathing attack against train operator Govia Thameslink after the under-fire franchise announced its fare increase at the same time as a new compensation scheme.

Hitchin MP Peter Lilley has launched a scathing attack against train operator Govia Thameslink after the under-fire franchise announced its fare increase at the same time as a new compensation scheme.

The long-serving Conservative MP for the town noted changes to the ‘delay repay’ scheme will come into effect on Sunday for Great Northern services, but the politician believes the timing of the news was intended to ‘bury’ the fact fares are to rise by 1.8 per cent in 2017.

He also called on Govia and Theresa May’s Tory government to allow retrospective compensation for past disruption – as they are giving to Southern Rail passengers.

Slamming the frequently-criticised Govia Thameslink operator, he thundered: “It is a bit rich for Govia to think passengers will put up with a fare increase in return for an enhanced compensation scheme.


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“Of course compensation is necessary – but what my constituents want is an end to the delays.

“There can be no justification for increasing fares next year.

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“Other train operators may be raising fares, but they are not running such an appalling, substandard service.”

He also said that while hard-pressed commuters who use the Southern Rail franchise will be able to claim compensation for their season tickets from last year – in some cases more than £369 – their commuting counterparts in Hitchin and North Herts are prevented from doing so.

Criticising the inconsistency, he added: “It is hugely unfair that this one-off compensation scheme is not available to Thameslink passengers, who have also suffered enormously as a result of Govia’s incompetence and union intransigence.

“I am writing to both Govia and the Department for Transport to demand that they extend this retrospective compensation scheme to Thameslink passengers.”

The limit for angry passengers claiming money back from rail operators is half and hour, but from Sunday people using Great Northern services will be able to claim money if they are delayed by 15 minutes.

A spokesman for Govia told the Comet: “We highlighted both pieces of news on Friday and made no effort to hide either one behind the other.

“The upgraded compensation scheme is a big deal for passengers who don’t travel long distances and whose services may not trigger the old 30-minute delay threshold. It’s something they have been demanding for years.

“Under our contract with the Department for Transport, money from our ticket sales is passed to the government which in any case also regulates season ticket prices and the cost of other major tickets.

“Unregulated tickets such as off-peak fares, have been pegged to the same 1.9% rate of inflation rise used to determine season tickets.

“By rounding down rather than up to the nearest 10p, the average increase is 0.1% less than the rate of inflation – and quite a lot less than the national average increase of 2.3%.”

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