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Mayor Dave Writes: Rail Users 'Deserve so Much Better', as Government Decides to Scrap Almost all Intercity Trains from Bedford Under Next Franchise

July 31, 2018 9:53 AM
Originally published by Dave Hodgson - Mayor of Bedford Borough

Intercity and Commuter Trains at Bedford StationIn his July Column for the Bedford Borough edition of the Bulletin, Mayor Dave Hodgson wrote about the 'complete and utter shambles' since the overhaul of Thameslink services in May, and how rail users have been dealt a further 'devastating blow' by the Government's decision to almost entirely remove Bedford from the intercity rail network under the new East Midlands rail franchise from next year.

You can read the Bedford Borough edition of the July Bulletin here, and meanwhile Mayor Dave's column can be read below:

The introduction of the new Thameslink rail timetables since May has been a complete and utter shambles. Its effects are not simply 'inconvenience' for rail users, who have faced the strain of not being able to meet basic day-to-day commitments at home or at work.

I've met with rail bosses and government representatives to press them to do whatever it takes to bring some reliability to the services. What has become clear is that the government was well aware that the system was simply unprepared for the changes prior to their introduction. It allowed them to go ahead, however, and didn't take action to avert the crisis that passengers went on to suffer week after week.

Even worse, it should be remembered that these failing new timetables are for the services we are left with by the government after the removal of peak-time fast intercity trains. If and when the new timetables work as planned, we will still have slower commuter trains to London and rail replacement buses to and from Bedford for many travellers for at least two years.

As if this doesn't illustrate the sheer contempt with which Bedford rail users are being treated clearly enough, the Government has now delivered a further devastating blow. It has chosen to almost entirely remove Bedford from the intercity rail network under the new East Midlands rail franchise.

This will effectively downgrade our infrastructure and harm our local economy. Yet it comes as the government is insisting on a massive rise in housebuilding targets for Bedford Borough.

It also directly contradicts what Bedford rail users told the government via its consultation, despite the fact Bedford rail users responded in far greater numbers than those from anywhere else. Those people deserve so much better, and I'll keep working with anyone in the cause of getting it for them.

Mayor Dave Hodgson