Performance of the Thameslink rail service has improved since the end of last year, St Albans City and District Council’s Local Services Scrutiny Committee has heard.
At its last meeting, Councillors questioned senior management from Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and Network Rail on the performance of the service.
They heard that, while the service had improved since the end of 2014, almost 15% of trains were more than 5 minutes late in May and June. Govia has a long-term internal target of reducing this to 8%.
Councillors were updated on Govia’s plans to improve the service by rolling out new trains with more carriages and introducing additional late night services. These improvements will help increase passenger capacity by 60% by May 2018.
Councillors also heard that Govia had embarked on its biggest ever recruitment and training programme to ensure sufficient drivers to deliver its current time-tabled services.
In addition, Govia outlined to the Committee plans to develop the Ridgmont Road entrance to St Albans Station. The plans include more ticket machines, wider ticket gate lines, a cycle hub, and improved retail and toilet facilities. The Committee asked for a full presentation of current plans to be given to one of its Autumn meetings. Longer term, Govia is looking to install an additional footbridge in 2019, subject to funding being forthcoming from Network Rail.
At Harpenden Station, Govia is developing plans to extend the car park to provide additional places, subject to funding being approved by the Department for Transport.
Councillor Anthony Rowlands, Chair of the Local Services Scrutiny Committee for St Albans City and District Council, said: “Committee members noted that the performance of the Thameslink service had improved a little. However, performance targets are still not being reached. With many commuters forking out over £4,000 per year, it is not acceptable that one in six trains is over 5 minutes late.
“We were pleased to hear that Govia is recruiting and training extra drivers to help ensure that services run to schedule. However, these won’t all be in place until the end of 2016. And only a day after the meeting, trains were still being cancelled because of driver non availability.
“We have asked representatives from Govia to present the proposals to improve St Albans Station to the Committee. Our meetings are open to the public and webcast. It’s important that these proposals get a full airing. To all intents and purposes the station is a public building and local people are entitled to have their say.”