A campaign group has formed to stop Govia Thameslink from pulling any more services from Luton Railway Station, as well as to lobby for much-needed improvements.
Luton Borough Council is calling on rail users and the rest of the public to join them in opposing GTR’s proposal to reduce the number of trains stopping at Luton.
The rail company has launched a consultation over its plans to boost the number of stops at Harpenden Station, which they claim is only “practically achievable” by taking services away from Luton.
The consultation is available at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LUTHPD.
In response, LBC’s Deputy Leader Cllr Sian Timoney has set up a campaign to mobilise Luton residents and rail users to have their say on these proposals and other issues they want addressed at Luton Station.
Cllr Timoney said: “Luton station is one of the busiest stations in the country and we are fed up with losing services and seemingly always being at the back of the queue when it comes to long overdue improvements to the station.
“I encourage as many people as possible to take part in the consultation and tell Govia Thameslink that we don’t want this to happen.
“I started a petition about the state of Luton station a couple of years ago which led to over 2,000 signatures in just a couple of weeks. I’m hopeful we can get a similar response this time around... GTR has said their decision will be based on responses to the consultation, so we need to make ourselves heard.”
Cllr Timoney has also created a new Facebook group ‘Luton Station – fed up’, which she hopes will attract as many users as possible in order to help save services, as well as put pressure on the government and rail companies to invest in much-needed improvements at Luton Station.
There are 3.7 million passenger journeys in and out of Luton every year, but no lifts to access four of the platforms.
Cllr Timoney added: “We are frustrated with the state of our main station and the knock-on effect it has on the image of the town. The outdated and poorly maintained station is not a fitting positive gateway to Luton, and is in a poor state of repair with insufficient disability access. It has previously been identified as one of the 10 worst stations in the UK, despite it being one of the busiest.”
GTR states the proposals would give Harpenden one more service each weekday, and Luton one fewer.
The firm says that plans to increase services at both stations last year were delayed due to a temporary loss of East Midlands services at Bedford and Luton until December 2020, during upgrading of the Midland Mainline north of Bedford.
The current proposals are being considered by GTR in response to complaints by Harpenden passengers, who have insisted they need more services before the end of next year. GTR adds that any changes would be a temporary arrangement until all stops on the East Midlands services are re-instated in December 2020.
A GTR spokesperson said: “This is an important decision, so we want to ask passengers what impact any such change would have on them before taking any action. We have an open mind and welcome feedback.
“I would like to thank passengers in advance for their contributions, which we value highly. We will provide an update in the autumn.”
Although the online consultation has yet to be launched, GTR senior managers will be visiting Luton Station at the following times to hear passengers’ views:
> Thursday, July 25, from 6.30am to 9.30am.
> Wednesday, July 31, from 4.30pm to 7.30pm.
> Thursday, September 5, from 6.30am to 9.30am.
For details about the campaign group, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/623672241454747/.