Stevenage and North Herts stations to get £80,000 in compensation funds
PUBLISHED: 11:11 16 May 2019 | UPDATED: 11:11 16 May 2019
Railway stations across North Herts and beyond will receive £80,000 in compensation after being deemed some of the "worst-affected" by last May's timetable debacle.
Govia Thameslink Railway is asking passengers and stakeholders to suggest how a £15 million pot of money should be invested to help compensate people using the stations, which include Arlesey, Ashwell & Morden, Baldock, Hitchin, Knebworth, Letchworth, Stevenage and Watton-at-Stone.
Govia's deputy chief operating officer, Alex Foulds, said: "We have established a £15 million Passenger Benefit Fund to deliver improvements at nearly 300 stations, in recognition of the difficulties people experienced following last year's May timetable change.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for us to work closely with our customers and make meaningful improvements that will benefit passengers across our network.
"Over the next three months we'll be asking passenger groups to tell us the improvements they think we should make through a new website and survey.
"We are also asking passengers to join our Passenger Panal to tell us how we can invest the money."
The introduction of the new timetable last year created chaos for commuters who battled with daily cancellations, delays and overcrowding.
A member of the Hitchin Rail Commuters Group Jon Cooke created a poll for rail users to vote on how they think the town's compensation should be spent.
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Options included additional waiting shelters, improvements to toilets and increasing cycle security measures at the station.
Most voters decided they would like to see the money spent on additional ticket vending machines.
Jon told this newspaper: "We have no idea the cost of any of these to implement - I have emailed Govia to ask about this.
"It could be that a new tickets machine costs more than £80,000 to supply and install.
"Govia and the government took a very simplistic approach to allocating funds, completely unrelated to the number of passengers impacted at each station.
"Based on this, Hitchin should have received significantly more funding - double what Letchworth has had funding for."
Fellow Hitchin commuter campaigner Rosalind Southward added: "This money does not compensate for the fact that Hitchin still has an inadequate timetable for its passenger numbers, despite the fact that we were one of the stations flagged up in the transport up in the transport select committee report on exactly this.
"It is very disappointing to see other, smaller stations being given preferential treatment in terms of services despite having substantially less passenger demand than Hitchin."
To find out more about the fund or how to have your say, go to www.passengerbenefitfund.co.uk.