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Calls to improve the ‘Cinderella service’ Abbey Flyer
Campaigners are calling for the Watford to St Albans Abbey Line to be upgraded to London Overground style of service.
The Abbey Flyer Users’ Group hope the branch line can be improved from a current ‘Cinderella service’ to "a fundamentally better service to meet passenger demand, the growing population and to relieve road congestion".
David Horton, of Abbey Flyer Users’ Group, who have been campaigning since 1995 said: "The government must grasp the opportunity of the new franchise to bring essential investment into the line.
"Passengers now look enviously at the London Overground network and see bright new, air-conditioned trains, well-maintained stations that feel welcoming and secure, friendly motivated staff, blanket Oyster card coverage and a much higher frequency timetable than it used to be.
"Because of this, passenger numbers on London Overground have quadrupled - in just five years and passenger satisfaction has also soared and punctuality is at an all-time high. London Overground have triumphed in attracting new business, getting people to give up their cars, simply by delivering a high quality service.
"At this time of record investment in the rail industry, why should the Abbey Flyer continue to be such a poor relation?"
The Abbey Line currently operates a single train at 45 minute intervals, serving five intermediate stations between Watford Junction and St Albans Abbey. End-to-end journey times are 16minutes.
However the group say the 45 minute service leaves passengers with an unmemorable timetable and limits the number of good bus and train connections.
The group say they are concerned the last trains from Watford Junction and St Albans Abbey depart too early to be of practical use for the evening leisure market.
To answer the ‘45 minute problem’ the group say a ‘clock-face’ 20 or 30minute frequency service should be provided, along with two trains on a ‘passing loop’ trach to allow two trains to pass.
London Midland, existing operaor, are due to hand back the keys to their franchise in June 2017, having been in control since taking over from Silverlink Trains in 2007. The Users’ Group believe this may be the only chance in the next 15 years to achieve real improvements to this ‘Cinderella’ service.
Mr Horton added: "We will be campaigning hard in the next few years to get this on the government’s agenda. We are pleased to say that several local politicians are already backing us, including Watford MP Richard Harrington, St Albans MP Anne Main and Watford Mayor Dorothy Thornhill. And we know that London Mayor Boris Johnson is keen to take over more services in the Greater London area, so we should be pushing at an open door."
"We would encourage anyone that shares our view to express this in writing to their local MP or the Department for Transport."
To support the group visit www.abfly.org.uk.
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