Press release -
More services for Hitchin and Stevenage commuters confirmed following consultation
- 50% more fast trains to King’s Cross by end of 2018
- Baldock wins campaign for semi-fast trains
- Double off-peak service to London from Hertford North
- Buses have to run at Watton-at-Stone to deliver wider improvements
Commuters from Hitchin and Stevenage will have 50% more fast trains to King’s Cross by the end of 2018 and new services across central London stopping at Farringdon (for Crossrail and Heathrow), and London Bridge (for Canary Wharf).
Rail operator Great Northern, run by Govia Thameslink Railway, has just confirmed the increase following support of the proposals during phase one of its consultation into a new 2018 timetable.
The rail operator has also responded to calls from Baldock passengers and the local council to keep semi-fast services at their station in the off-peak in light of significant housing growth in the area.
At Hertford North, there was support to double the number of off peak trains from 3tph (trains per hour) to 6tph all day, Monday to Saturday and from 2tph to 4tph on Sundays.
However, buses will have to replace trains between Stevenage, Watton-at-Stone and Hertford North until Network Rail builds a new fifth turnback platform at Stevenage. This platform was to have been finished ready for the new timetable but it was delayed.
Network Rail, the Department for Transport and Govia Thameslink Railway are working together on the development of plans for this new platform with a preferred option expected by this summer.
Since the consultation was launched, last September, three independent studies commissioned by the Department for Transport have confirmed it will not be possible to deliver the service improvements at Stevenage, Hitchin, Hertford North and across the wider Great Northern network and at the same time maintain a train service between Stevenage and Watton-at-Stone. A half-hourly train service will operate between Walton-at-Stone and Moorgate.
Head of Strategic Planning Phil Hutchinson said: “During phase one of this consultation, people really welcomed the increased number of trains we’re planning to bring commuters and off peak travellers from Hitchin, Stevenage and Hertford North and we hope passengers in Baldock are pleased we have been able to accommodate their calls to keep an all-day semi-fast service.
“But, sadly, we can’t do any of this without putting in a temporary bus service until Network Rail builds the new platform at Stevenage. Three independent studies have shown this to be true and everyone is doing their best to get the platform built as soon as possible.”
Hitchin – the proposal, in the three hour morning peak, is to increase the number of trains from the station to London in the morning peak from 22 to 24. This would double from 3 to 6 the number of fast trains into King’s Cross (these go fast from Welwyn North) and increase from 17 to 18 other services that currently go to King’s Cross but would instead run into St Pancras and then across London on Thameslink via Farringdon (for Crossrail and Heathrow), London Bridge (for Canary Wharf via the Jubilee line) and either Gatwick or Maidstone. 12 of these 18 Thameslink trains will run fast from Stevenage to Finsbury Park and then St Pancras; the other 6 will be slower, stopping at many of the stations en route). The 2 all-stations to Moorgate services would be withdrawn.
In the off-peak, there would be 6 trains every hour (up from the 4 currently), all of them running into St Pancras and across central London instead of terminating at King’s Cross but the 1 train an hour all stations to Moorgate will be withdrawn. 4 of the 6 trains an hour would be fast from Stevenage to Finsbury Park and then St Pancras; the other 2 per hour will be slower, stopping at many of the stations en route.
Stevenage – the proposal here, for the three hour morning peak, is for 1 extra service overall into London (from 29 to 30) with the number of fast non-stop trains to King’s Cross increasing from 4 to 6 in that period. 18 trains would transfer to Thameslink giving readers those direct links to central London stations (Farringdon for Crossrail, London Bridge for the Jubilee line) with two-thirds being non-stop to Finsbury Park, then St Pancras and going on to Gatwick and the other third going to Maidstone – this is the same as Hitchin above. The number of services to Moorgate is reduced from 7 to 6.
In the off-peak, the number of trains at Stevenage climbs from 5 to 6 trains per hour. Six will go to St Pancras and Thameslink. Two buses an hour will go to Hertford North for onward trains to Moorgate (we currently have only 1 train per hour on this route).
Notes to editors
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Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services as follows:
Ticket revenue is passed to the government which pays GTR a fee to operate the franchise which is adjusted according to how well the train service is performing.
Southern has the highest passenger growth in the UK with numbers into London having doubled in 12 years - compared with the industry doubling over the past 20 years. To meet this growth and to future-proof the network, GTR is modernising the rail service for passengers.
GTR has introduced more new trains in the past year than all other franchises put together, with 500 new carriages so far.
The transformative £7bn Thameslink Programme will bring hundreds more daily services from 2018, increasing the number of trains though the central London core from up to 15 to 24 trains per hour. Network Rail has also launched a £300m programme to improve resilience across the GTR network
GTR is modernising how it works, with new technology in use at our stations and on our trains, smartcard ticketing and a new, flexible on-board role on many Southern services. This ensures fewer cancellations, and with more staff on board our trains now than ever before, passengers are enjoying a much better level of on-board customer service.
The GTR investment programme for stations includes funding for more CCTV, toilet refurbishments, new retail facilities, help points and car park improvements – as well as plans for increased motorcycle storage and improved transport integration.
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