Hitchin Trains

On June 28th 2017, Great Northern (run by Govia Thameslink) proudly announced that commuters from Hitchin were about to receive a boost from a new forthcoming train timetable. The rail operator claimed in a press release that there would be a 50% increase in the number of fast trains running between the station and King Cross by the end of 2018. This was then followed in March 2018 by another release promising passengers a 'taste of a vastly expanded service' coming in May. Unfortunately, the expansion in services has not happened. Instead, the new timetable - which comes into force on May 20th 2018 - is about to make life more difficult for Hitchin commuters.

Following its publication on the 24th April (less than a month before the new services rolled out), the Hitchin Rail Commuters Facebook group unearthed the following grim news:

  • The new timetable reduces the number of train services during the morning rush hour at a time when trains are already overcrowded. Rather than running four services between 07:50 and 08:06, the new timetable will only see two running (with none running through central London).
  • There are also cuts to the number of services running out of London. The total number of trains leaving the capital between 17:00 and 18:30 will be down from ten to nine, further reducing the number of seats available.
  • Worst of all, the timetable ends the direct service from London terminals back to Hitchin in the evening. For example, the 17:07 (which took only 24 minutes to get into Hitchin) is now being replaced by the 17:14 (which takes 34 minutes to arrive instead), with similar shifts to the 17:37 and the 18:07.

These changes are problematic for local commuters. The new timetable makes it harder for people to get to work in time for 9am each morning, and will likely increase overcrowding on services like the 7:55. The schedule changes in the evening make it harder for people to get home promptly, disrupting efforts to achieve a healthy work-life balance. And the combination of a reduction in services with increased travel times feels like a kick in the teeth for everyone paying thousands of pounds for the privilege of getting to work.

As a result, we, the North Hertfordshire Liberal Democrats, oppose the timetable as it currently stands. While we do favour Hitchin being directly connected to the City of London, Gatwick and Brighton, we believe that it should not come at the expense of a practical timetable that supports the town's army of commuters.

Sam Collins - our Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Hitchin and Harpenden - is aware of your concerns and is already speaking to relevant stakeholders to rectify the situation. However, if you want to get your voice heard too, we recommend that you oppose the changes by:

  • Writing to Great Northern to express your concerns with the timetable, including personal examples of how it is affecting you. We also recommend asking why they misled commuters by promising an increase in the number of services, pointing them back to the June 2017 and March 2018 press releases.
  • Contacting Sam Collins about the issue so that he can represent your interests in his discussion with the rail operators. You can contact him, or add him on CC to other messages you send, at northhertssam@gmail.com.
  • Sharing this article and a link to the commuters Facebook group on Twitter to inform others about the changes. Use the @GNRailUK tag to include Great Northern in your tweet and @NHDCLibDems tag so we can promote your complaints further.

Many people rely upon prompt services between Hitchin and the capital to get on in life. We believe this timetable will make it harder to do so, and we therefore believe it should be strongly opposed.