Towards the end of last Year, Stagecoach delivered a nasty surprise to Bedford’s rail users with proposals to introduce detrimental timetable changes from May 2018, removing East Midlands peak services travelling South, and into Bedford from the North.
These proposals will leave rail users in Bedford without an East Midlands peak time service for at least two years. Constituents travelling in from the North will have to make do with a rail replacement bus service for the duration of this suspension of peak time services. These changes would be completely unacceptable to me and to my constituents if implemented.
For so many of the people who have contacted me, the shorter journey times on EMT, and vastly better facilities than those offered by Thameslink, are what makes balancing a daily commute with family life and other commitments possible. For those who travel in from the North each day – a not inconsiderable number, these timetable changes will probably make it impossible for them to use Public Transport – maybe even to maintain their jobs. Furthermore, the Department for Transport’s proposal to introduce yet more polluting traffic onto Bedford’s already congested road network in peak hours are extremely unwelcome.
I am astonished that the Department for Transport would consider such detrimental changes only 3 months from having concluded a public consultation into the East Midlands Franchise – the responses to which would have told the Government very clearly how important these fast trains running both North and South are to the people of Bedford & Kempston. No doubt the Department for Transport will also have heard many similar representations from those living in the North East Beds and Luton constituencies. I am saddened that the views of my constituents, all of which participated in the East Midlands Franchise consultation in good faith, have been so completely ignored when these latest decisions were taken.
You can read the text of the recent Westminster Hall debate on Rail in Bedfordshire here :
The fight continues. Last week I met with Rail Minister Jo Johnson, along with representatives of the Bedford Commuters Association and Save our Trains campaign , and will continue to press for this decision to be reversed. Additionally I have asked for the existing Thameslink Rolling stock to be retro-fitted with tables, wifi and plug sockets, and have requested that consideration to be given to the needs of commuters travelling with Full-Sized bikes, who will not be able to use their bikes on Thameslink trains in the peak.