Cambridge commuters could be in line for compensation payouts
South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen confronts rail minister over train issues in region
Fed-up Cambridge commuters could be in line for hefty compensation payouts following weeks of rail misery in the region.
South Cambridgeshire Tory MP Heidi Allen met with rail minister Jo Johnson yesterday in Parliament and spelt out just how badly the timetable changes have affected travel across the region.
Ms Allen told the Cambridge Independent: “Compensation was a big part of the debate. The rail minister told us he would ensure that the compensation of the higher level that passengers in the northern part of the network would get would be extended to our area as well.
“I’m not sure what that value would be for school children who have missed exams. The minister was incredibly contrite and totally took it all on the chin.
“It seems the rail operators knew two-and-a-half weeks before going live that the timetables they had planned were not going to be acceptable on the network. Somehow that did not get passed all the way up as it should have been.
“I also had Edward Carder with me, chairman of the Royston and villages rail user group, and he pulled in evidence right across the network as did I.
“I’d like thank my constituents who either emailed or tweeted me with what was late or cancelled and and we presented the minister with a sea of information that clearly shocked him. Our part of the network certainly isn’t getting better. I travelled down to London yesterday and sat in the car for an hour-and-a-half because the first three trains were cancelled.
“But I don’t think renationalistion is the answer. There has been a very poor breakdown of information between the bodies involved in the process.
“The minister took full responsibiilty to deal with this. There was no shirking of that responsibility whatsoever.
“He knows that this situation needs fixing yesterday.
“They are working on getting a reduced timetable as soon as possible and while it is not acceptable, we all agreed that getting something that people could rely upon was vastly more important.”
The recent cancellations and delays this week saw Govia Thameslink Railways and Northern bearing the brunt of commuter anger.
The latest cancellations brought a mixed bag for local commuters.
Ed Smith, who makes a daily commute from Ely, said: “I’ve been fortunate that my train has been OK although the ones before and after it have been cancelled on occasions.”
Phil Joyce, a web developer who commutes from Cambridge to London said: “It has been unpredictable to put it mildly. I just cannot understand why the operators were not ready in time. It’s farcical.”
Charles Horton, CEO at Govia Thameslink, has apologised for the problems.
Passengers can claim back their fares if a train is delayed for more than 30 minutes via the Delay Repair scheme. Visit the Delay Repay section of the Greater Anglia website, the Great Northern website or your train operator’s site for details