Commuter’s petition calls on Great Northern to reconsider changes

Commuter’s petition calls on Great Northern to reconsider changes

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An Ely commuter has started a petition, calling on Great Northern Rail to reconsider changes that will see passengers paying more to travel on the same service.

Under the revised timetables, rail users will no longer be able to take full sized bike on the 0858 train – a major blow for bike and train commuter Lauren Thomas.

Lauren says travelling to her job in Cambridge via public transport is becoming “a less appealing option by the day”, accusing Great Northern of having passengers “over a barrel”.

Yesterday she launched a petition, after learning that Great Northern had revised its timetables so that from May, the first off-peak service will leave Ely at 0917 – 21 minutes later than today. Non-folding bikes will no longer be allowed on earlier services.

For the past five years, Lauren’s been catching the 0858 service from Ely to Cambridge, using her full sized bike.

She told Spotted in Ely: “On this new timetable, there will no longer be an 8:58 off peak train. Instead there will be a 8:45 peak train, or a 9:17 off peak train. 

“So commuters are expected to either start work at nearly 10am (by the time the 9:17 train gets in to Cambridge and they get to their workplace), or they have to pay approximately an extra £30-odd a month to get a peak train. And of course I won’t be able to take a bike on the newly formed 8:45, so my options are extremely limited.”

She said fellow commuters were equally shocked, adding that passengers hadn’t been adequately informed or consulted on “something that was going to affect us all badly”.

Lauren said: “GNR have got their commuters over a barrel. Either we pay more (some people won’t be able to afford this) or we hope our employers will be ok with us starting 20 minutes later. 

“We’re all encouraged to use trains to try and reduce the traffic on the A10 but it’s becoming a less appealing option by the day, and will only get worse as Ely continues to grow.”

Lauren’s asking GNR to “either bring back the 8:58 train, or make the 8:45 train into Cambridge an off-peak service.”

However, a spokesman for Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which runs Great Northern and Thameslink, said the changes were part of a “major timetable overhaul” being made to “modernise the service for the sake of passengers across the network.”

He said: “We made an early change last May, giving Ely a half hourly Great Northern service in each direction all day, which added over 3300 or 40% more seats across the day by doubling the frequency in the off-peak and plugging service gaps at this station in the peak.

“This May, further changes will give passengers from Cambridge new direct Thameslink services across central London to the South Bank, Gatwick Airport and Brighton. They will double the number of seats between London and Cambridge in each peak, driving forward the Cambridge economy.”

From December passengers would also be able to reach Heathrow Airport with “one easy interchange” onto Crossrail’s Elizabeth line at Thameslink’s Farringdon station in central London, he added.

“The times of the new trains at Ely have to dovetail in with the new services and improvements we are making across the wider network. 

“This does mean that from May the first off-peak service will leave Ely at 0917 and arrive in Cambridge at 0936, 21 minutes later than today. Non-folding bicycles can be taken on this service but not on the earlier 0845 train because our services are too busy in the peak.”

The changes were made following GTR’s “biggest consultation ever carried out on the railway”, which over 18 months drew 28,000 comments, according to the rail operator.

The new timetables can be viewed at RailPlan2020.

Lauren’s petition can be viewed here.