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Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) have launched the third and final phase of their consultations over new timetables to be introduced in May 2018.  The latest proposals will come as a disappointment for passengers using Palmers Green and other stations on the Hertford Loop, as the planned increase from two to four trains an hour on Sundays is no longer being offered. The online survey form mainly asks questions that are of little relevance to people using trains for weekend leisure purposes.

While phase two of the consultation related to weekday trains, the third phase sees GTR consulting about weekend timetables.  I've summarised their proposals for the Hertford Loop in the box below.

Proposed weekend services on the Hertford Loop

 

Saturdays

On Saturdays the service would be similar to the planned new weekend offpeak service, ie for Palmers Green six trains an hour. There would be four all-stations trains an hour (though only two of them would stop at Bayford and Crews Hill) and two semi-fast trains, not stopping at Bayford, Crews Hill, Grange Park, Bowes Park, Hornsey and Harringay.

GN4.1 Stevenage to Moorgate via Hertford North

  • Stevenage, Watton-at-Stone, Hertford North, Cuffley, Gordon Hill, Enfield Chase, Winchmore Hill, Palmers Green, Alexandra Palace, Finsbury Park, Drayton Park, Highbury & Islington, Essex Road, Old Street and Moorgate.
  • Proposed frequency: 2 trains per hour (every 30 minutes)

GN4.2 Hertford North to Moorgate

  • Hertford North, Bayford*, Cuffley, Crews Hill*, Gordon Hill, Enfield Chase, Grange Park, Winchmore Hill, Palmers Green, Bowes Park, Alexandra Palace, Hornsey, Harringay, Finsbury Park, Drayton Park, Highbury & Islington, Essex Road, Old Street and Moorgate.
  • Proposed frequency: 4 trains an hour, every 12-18 minutes (but only 2 trains an hour would serve Bayford and Crews Hill)

Sundays

The service would be the same as now - two trains an hour stopping at all stations.

GN4.1 Stevenage to Moorgate via Hertford North

  • Stevenage, Watton-at-Stone, Hertford North, Bayford, Cuffley, Crews Hill, Gordon Hill, Enfield Chase, Grange Park, Winchmore Hill, Palmers Green, Bowes Park, Alexandra Palace, Hornsey, Harringay, Finsbury Park, Drayton Park, Highbury & Islington, Essex Road, Old Street and Moorgate.
  • Proposed frequency: 2 trains per hour (every 30 minutes)

In their initial consultation document issued in 2016 GTR stated that they were proposing to double the Sunday service to 4 trains per hour.

What the 2016 consultation said

great northen metro timetable improvements 2018

A short report on the phase 1 consultation outcomes was published in June 2017, incorporating some Emerging Recommendations. One of the recommendations was to implement "Great Northern Metro frequency improvements throughout the day on Welwyn Garden City and Hertford North routes".  Now, without justifying it or even mentioning it, GTR have dropped the decision to improve the frequency of Sunday services on the Hertford Loop.

Two trains an hour is not the "true metro service" that we were promised in 2016, if that is taken to mean a service that runs often enough for people to go along to the station without first consulting a timetable. And a high probability of finding a seat outside the peak commuting times (as GTR themselves say in their promotional video, "You can't squeeze a quart into a pint pot").

Unfortunately (or perhaps by design) the online questionnaire asks questions which are essentially irrelevant for most weekend passengers, who may not make regular journeys on a Sunday, but would greatly benefit from a turn up and go Metro service;

  • How has your journey been affected?
  • Is your new journey a lot more convenient/slightly more convenient/not much different/slightly less convenient/a lot less convenient?
  • What impact would the proposed changes have on your weekend routine?

There is nothing to ask whether or not you are happy with the proposals or have any alternative suggestions, apart from the final question: "Have you any other feedback?"

Consultation Links

The Hertford Loop services are only a small element of the GTR timetable consultation, which covers services branded Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express and a geographical area stretching from Bedfordshire to the south coast.

The deadline for responses is noon on 20 December 2017

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Andrew Stedman posted a reply #3414 07 Dec 2017 09:02

2018 timetables consultation: Govia drop plan to improve Sunday services

Have completed their survey today - thanks for highlighting the changes, and indeed lack of changes on a Sunday for Palmers Green, which is surely not acceptable both in terms of the existing over crowding on some Sunday services already, and the convenience a more frequent service would bring, particularly if connecting with other infrequent services at Kings Cross St Pancras. We all need to make our voices heard. This is an opportunity to bring about change, and if we don't speak now then we will be condemned to suffer 30 minute gaps between services for the foreseeable future.
David Eden posted a reply #3421 12 Dec 2017 14:27

2018 timetables consultation: Govia drop plan to improve Sunday services

Maybe I've always got lucky but in 8 years of living in the area and using either Bowes Park or Palmers Green stations, I've never seen anything close to an over-crowded Sunday train (i.e. standing/no seats).

If trains aren't standing room only, they aren't overcrowded and there isn't demonstrable need for more services.
John Phillips posted a reply #3429 14 Dec 2017 11:11

2018 timetables consultation: Govia drop plan to improve Sunday services

Yes, Dave you've been very lucky. I now do not travel on Sundays as I have missed my connection at Euston so many times through cancelled trains which means the service is, in effect, an hourly one.
I am not surprised at Govia reneging on their promise. It's typical of their attitude to their customers. The tragedy is that the line was not handed over to The Overground like the Chingford line which is now vastly improved.
David Eden posted a reply #3431 14 Dec 2017 13:35

2018 timetables consultation: Govia drop plan to improve Sunday services

presumably it wasn't handed over because it's not a solely london suburban line, goes right out to farthest north hertfordshire.
Basil Clarke posted a reply #3432 14 Dec 2017 16:48

2018 timetables consultation: Govia drop plan to improve Sunday services

David Eden wrote: presumably it wasn't handed over because it's not a solely london suburban line, goes right out to farthest north hertfordshire.


TfL already run services to Shenfield and Cheshunt, and the Elizabeth Line will go all the way to Reading. Not sure how that compares with Stevenage in terms of distance from the GLA boundary, but Reading is well outside London.

At one time it looked as if services might well be transferred, but then there was a reshuffle in the Department for Transport and Chris Grayling became SoS. He wrote to Boris Johnson saying that he couldn't permit a transfer to TfL because there was a risk that a Labour Mayor might be elected.



This letter even led to a Conservative MP, whose constituents would have benefited from a TfL takeover, demanding that Grayling be sacked. Unfortunately, he's still there.

For more information see www.palmersgreencommunity.org.uk/pgc/for...its-the-buffers#2487 and www.londonreconnections.com/2017/overgro...ail-devolution-died/
David Eden posted a reply #3433 15 Dec 2017 10:31

2018 timetables consultation: Govia drop plan to improve Sunday services

Shenfield and Cheshunt are both on the cusp of the M25. Whilst indeed not London suburban, they're on the doorstep still.

Lizzy line is a fairly unique exception, it's not comparable as a line serving a terminal station, however Reading to Paddington is the same distance as Letchworth to Moorgate, if looking a little more like for like.

Remember that letter, wasn't sure what CG was worrying about in particular, we've got a London Mayor now and his transport strategy is so limp wristed it wouldn't make much difference if TfL ran a outer-suburban line as far as I can see. Biggest problem and disruption remains Trade Union action which Khan is an ineffective dealing with as Boris was.
Karl Brown posted a reply #3435 15 Dec 2017 16:36

2018 timetables consultation: Govia drop plan to improve Sunday services

We also long ago gave up travelling local over ground on Sundays such was the never ending shambolic and typically hourly service. Multiply that experience up quite a few times and it may explain why the Sunday trains are not rammed. Doubtless as well as the unnecessary inconvenience there will be some adverse impact on local businesses too.
And only yesterday a mid-day train was cancelled due to a “lack of a driver” as i sat at Highbury. Six trains an hour next year looks like some stretch.
Karl Brown posted a reply #3458 02 Jan 2018 08:51

2018 timetables consultation: Govia drop plan to improve Sunday services

Basil posted a government letter highlighting the wish to keep rail services, such as the one serving PG, "out of the clutches of a ... Labour Mayor". So never mind what may be optimal for the rail user, instead let’s determine strategy based on party political benefit. Interestingly the posted letter came from the same Chris Grayling who has been pressured to resign only last week by an extremely transport-savvy peer including on the basis that he put “party before politics” when addressing the failed East coast main line franchise holding. A position taken not for the first time it would seem.

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