Lynne Featherstone call for urgent improvements to local rail services

Lynne Featherstone has contacted local rail service providers, Govia, following weeks of disruptions on the Thameslink & Great Northern route.

Trains to and from Bowes Park, Alexandra Palace, Hornsey and Finsbury Park station have been delayed and sometimes cancelled, causing overcrowding, inconvenience, and frustration for commuters and other rail users.

Govia have agreed to meet with the Liberal Democrat MP to discuss the concerns in more detail. They have also provided the MP with a response, saying that over-running engineering works have adversely impacted on their ability to run a good service – and that they have challenged Network Rail on the management of their weekend engineering.

Govia are also consulting on the changes they intend to make to services – including plans to extend operating hours at Moorgate, to allow services to operate there later in the evening and at weekends.

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

Delays and overcrowding are incredibly inconvenient for commuters and other rail users. Alternative travel arrangements can also be costly, and few of us have the time to spare.

“That’s why I contacted Govia last week, and made it clear that the continued delays and cancellations are unacceptable. I’m glad to hear that they are working with Network Rail to prevent further problems.

“I really hoped that services would improve when Govia took over from First Capital Connect – and I will continue to push them until things get better!”

Lynne Featherstone MP takes accessibility petition to the station

Lynne Featherstone MP with Dawn Barnes and Councillor Gail Engert, campaigning for step free access at Alexandra Palace Station

Lynne Featherstone MP and the Haringey Liberal Democrats were at Alexandra Palace rail station this morning, talking to commuters about the campaign to improve accessibility.

Local stations such as Hornsey, Alexandra Palace, Bowes Park and Harringay are all very difficult to access for many disabled and elderly people, or those with pushchairs, bikes and heavy bags.

The Liberal Democrat MP launched the campaign – which calls on Network Rail to undertake a study into making the stations ‘step-free’ – last month, and has already attracted over 500 signatures in support.

The MP for Hornsey and Wood Green has also arranged a meeting with Network Rail in September, to present the petition and push for the study into our local rail stations.

Commenting, Lynne Featherstone MP said:

“It is just not acceptable in this day and age to have such useful local services which are not accessible to everyone.

“At Alexandra Palace, work has been done to make the bridge accessible and step free. But then there is no step-free way to get down on the platform. It is clear that an elevator is needed, as soon as possible. This is the kind of improvement the study could look into.

“I hope residents will get behind this campaign. Even if they are not directly affected by the access problems – I am sure they all know someone who is. The more signatures we get, the stronger our case to Network Rail will be.”

Lynne Featherstone MP launches campaign to improve local rail stations

Lynne Featherstone MP demonstrates the accessibility problem at Alexandra Palace StatiLynne Featherstone MP has launched a campaign to make local rail stations like Bowes Park, Alexandra Palace, and Hornsey more accessible, and is encouraging residents to get involved.

During the local MP’s recent campaign to protect rail services at local stations, many residents commented on how difficult the stations are to access, particularly for the elderly, the disabled, and those with heavy pushchairs or bags to carry.

The Liberal Democrat MP is calling on Network Rail to meet with her to discuss the issues, and to undertake a feasibility study, which would determine what improvements need to be made and how much they would cost.

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

“Getting on to a platform at Hornsey requires walking up and down two long staircases. At the others there are slopes into the stations, but no lifts down on to the platforms. This makes it dangerous – and in some cases impossible – for disabled or elderly passengers, or those carrying big bags or young children to access the rail services.

“I have made enquiries with Network Rail and our new rail service provider, Govia. Shockingly, there are no current feasibility studies on providing step free access at our local stations. This is just not right.

“That’s why I am asking residents to join me in campaigning for this study, to help improve our local rail stations and make them accessible for everyone.”

Lynne Featherstone MP calls for more accessible local rail stations

Lynne Featherstone with transport campaigners at Bounds Green stationLynne Featherstone MP last week met with a representative from Govia, the company who will shortly start managing Thameslink rail services in and around the local area.

The representative from Govia confirmed their commitment to improving local services, including evening and weekend services to Moorgate from December 2015, and newer, more modern trains with extra space from 2018.

Other changes include the introduction of permanent staff at rail stations from September 2015, and the installation of ticket gates at Hornsey and Alexandra Palace stations. This news follows a long local Liberal Democrat campaign to keep and improve local rail services.

To follow up comments raised in her recent local survey, the Liberal Democrat MP then pushed for better accessibility at local stations, to make them more usable for disabled and elderly residents, as well as those with young children and pushchairs.

The Govia representative said that they aimed to deliver station improvements in partnership with network rail, and would find out whether any studies had been done into the feasibility of making stations more accessible.

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

“It was great to meet with Govia and to hear the representative reaffirm the commitment to make improvements to our local services. Evening and weekend services into Moorgate and new, modern, spacious trains will be most welcome.

“But what we also need are huge station improvements, to make them more accessible for everyone. The number of steps and the lack of lifts at our local stations prevent some disabled and elderly people using them, and this is just unacceptable. I will continue to push Govia and Network Rail for these improvements.”

Calling a meeting with new rail bosses

Lynne Featherstone MP has requested a meeting with Govia, the company recently awarded the management contract for the new Thameslink rail franchise – which covers rail stations and services in Haringey.

From 14th September this year, Govia will replace current service providers, First Capital Connect, in running services in and out London, via Haringey. Govia have committed to provide new trains, 50% more capacity and extra services at peak time – alongside promises of free wifi at stations and extended staff hours.

From December 2015, services from Alexandra Palace, Hornsey and Harringay will run in and out of Moorgate from 6am – midnight on weekdays, and also at weekends, to reflect the demand for more Moorgate services.

The changes are funded by a multi-billion pound investment by the Coalition Government.

A campaign by Lynne Featherstone MP and local residents last year secured a guarantee from the Department for Transport that no local services from Hornsey and Harringay would be lost.

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

“Many residents have contacted me over the last few years, expressing their dissatisfaction with local rail services provided by First Capital Connect.

“I of course welcome the Government investment in our local services, and hope to see positive changes as soon as possible.

“I have called a meeting with new providers, Govia, to discuss the timescales for changes made and to make sure they are fully aware of the improvements we need at our local stations. If you would like me to pass on any comments about our local rail services and how they can be further improved – please let me know.”

Lynne Featherstone MP pushes for vital improvements to local rail services

Lynne Featherstone MP outside the Department for Transport, holding the document which confirms there will be no losses of services at Hornsey and HarringayLynne Featherstone MP today contacted all of the shortlisted bidders for the Thameslink Rail Franchise, requesting that they commit to make vital improvements to local rail services in their bids.

In September, the Hornsey and Wood Green MP and Haringey Lib Dems’ campaign to save local services was successful, with the Department for Transport confirming that no services at smaller stations such as Hornsey and Harringay would be lost. Evening services to Moorgate will now run later, and on weekends, too.

Following this announcement, the Liberal Democrat MP contacted local residents and asked what further improvements they would like to see to local rail services. These suggestions have now been outlined in a letter to all bidders, and include concerns about accessibility, capacity, facilities and safety.

The bids are due to be submitted by the 24th December, with the successful bidder taking over management of the Thameslink Franchise and services at local rail stations from September next year.

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

“It was a huge relief when the Lib Dem campaign to save services at our smaller local stations was successful. Local residents really got behind the campaign – and now they have let me know what improvements they want to see under the new franchise.

“Accessibility is a huge issue for our local stations – making it incredibly difficult for the elderly, disabled people and people with pushchairs to use the services. I have therefore asked for lifts or ground level access to be installed.

“Greater capacity at peak time and longer platforms at Harringay and Hornsey would also go a long way to easing overcrowding and we need better facilities, such as toilets and display boards, too.

“I have asked that the bidders take this on board when preparing their final submission, and I look forward to working with whoever wins to ensure Haringey rail users get the best services possible.”

Liberal Democrats and people power in Haringey strikes again!

Our local trains serve thousands of residents every day – including me! It’s great when they run smoothly, but all too often our current trains into Moorgate are overcrowded, delayed or even cancelled.

Last year, the Haringey Lib Dems and I welcomed the coalition government’s announcement of a massive £6billion investment in rail services in and around London – which will mean new, longer trains and more services at peak times.

It’s part of the largest investment since Victorian times – which is great news.

But, at stations like Hornsey and Harringay, platforms are too short for longer trains to stop. We became worried that these stations could end up receiving fewer services, while the new, longer trains whizzed by.

So, we launched a campaign opposing any service reduction at Hornsey and Harringay. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 98 per cent of residents agreed with us!

We sent all of your responses to the Department for Transport (DfT), and on the day of the announcement, I went down to the department to make one final plea to save our services.

Lynne Featherstone MP outside the Department for Transport, holding the document which confirms there will be no losses of services at Hornsey and HarringayAnd I’m pleased to say that our hard fought campaign has been successful! The DfT have now announced that there will be no service reductions at any local stations, including Hornsey and Harringay.

In addition, the DfT also confirmed that, under the new franchise, evening and weekend services would now run into Moorgate as well as King’s Cross, and that Hornsey and Harringay stations will now be permanently staffed.

This is a great victory for local commuters, rail users and the Lib Dems – our train services will be improved and no services will be lost!

Last week, there was also very good news about Pinkham Way. The local Lib Dems and I have campaigned for years against the North London Waste Authority’s plans to build a huge waste plant on the site, which is situated just off the North Circular.

For years, residents lived in the shadows of this thoroughly unsuitable plan – worried about the effects on the local environment and property prices. The Labour council also turned their backs on us – waving through the plans without question.

Lynne Featherstone and Haringey Liberal Democrats protesting at the proposed site of a waste processing plant on Pinkham WayBut after years of Liberal Democrat and Pinkham Way Alliance campaigning, countless petitions, legal challenges and more, the waste authority has finally seen sense and cancelled plans for the Pinkham Way site!

We still remain vigilant on both issues. We will keep an eye on plans for the rail services and on the Pinkham Way site, to ensure that local residents’ voices are heard.

But for now, the battles have been won. I’d like to thank every single resident who took part in these campaigns. The local Lib Dems and I have worked tirelessly on them – but couldn’t have achieved success without the significant support from local residents.

The combination of Liberal Democrats and people power in Haringey strikes again!

Local rail services saved!

Lynne Featherstone MP outside the Department for Transport, holding the document which confirms there will be no losses of services at Hornsey and HarringayFollowing a yearlong local Liberal Democrat campaign, the Department for Transport (DfT) today announced that there will be no service reductions at any local stations, including Hornsey and Harringay.

The good news was also confirmed by Transport Minister Simon Burns MP in a meeting earlier today with Hornsey and Wood Green MP Lynne Featherstone – who went to the DfT to make one last plea for no loss of local services.

Lynne Featherstone MP and the Haringey Lib Dems launched the successful campaign last year, in response to the announcement of a new Thameslink rail franchise.

Services at Hornsey and Harringay were threatened with reductions, as newer, longer trains would not have been able to stop at the shorter platforms.

While the newer trains will still be in operation, the DfT has specified to franchise bidders that current services to Harringay and Hornsey must be maintained alongside the newer services.

The DfT also confirmed that, under the new franchise, evening and weekend services would now run into Moorgate as well as Kings Cross, and that Hornsey and Harringay stations will now be permanently staffed.

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

“This is fantastic news for everyone who uses Hornsey and Harringay stations. Service levels will be at least kept at current levels, and may even increase!

“Thank you to everyone who filled in our survey and took part in the campaign. A whopping 98% of you agreed with our campaign to oppose loss of services, and we made sure the DfT heard your voices by sending them the results.

“The combination of people power and the Lib Dems in Haringey has paid off again!

“The local Lib Dems and I will now turn our attention to the franchise bidders – and make sure that their bids provide us with the best services possible.”

Lynne Featherstone MP calls on rail bidders to protect local services

Lynne Featherstone MP with local Lib Dem campaigners at Hornsey Rail StationLynne Featherstone MP last week met with some of the rail companies who are currently bidding to run the new Thameslink, Southern & Great Northern Franchise – which covers rail stations in Haringey Borough.

Funded by Government investment, the new Franchise aims to improve services by installing longer, more regular, and more reliable trains in and out of London.

However, concern arose that smaller local stations, such as Hornsey and Harringay, could get fewer services as a result of the new Franchise – as the newer trains would be too long to stop at their platforms.

The Liberal Democrat MP last year began a campaign against any losses of service at the smaller stations. A survey showed that 98% of people agreed with this campaign – though a high percentage also wanted newer, longer trains.

During the meetings, the MP for Hornsey and Wood Green – along with local Liberal Democrat Councillors David Schmitz and Richard Wilson – put forward the views of constituents, and argued strongly for no losses of service at any local station.

The local MP suggested platform extensions at the smaller stations as a means to ensure the newer, longer trains could stop just as regularly.

Lynne Featherstone MP said:

“The Thameslink services currently suffer from reliability problems, overcrowding, and dated trains, so I do very much welcome the huge investment in the Thameslink Franchise.

“However, it is vital that there are no service reductions at our smaller local station – particularly Hornsey and Harringay. Residents have shown that they agree by overwhelmingly supporting this campaign.

“Rest assured that the local Lib Dems and I are pushing both the bidders and the Department for Transport, to ensure that no services are lost at these stations as a result of the new Franchise.”

Gissa Ticket!

YouTube film screenshot - Lynne FeatherstoneHere’s my latest Ham & High column:

A few days ago I met the new CEO of First Capital Connect, the train company which services much of Haringey. I talked to Jim Morgan in particular about the issues arising from their cut backs to ticket office opening hours at Hornsey, Bowes Park, Alexandra Palace and Harringay stations.

Although the previous campaigning by myself and residents helped reduce the extent of the cuts, the opening hours have still been severely reduced. A local resident contacted me about long queues at ticket machines when the ticket offices are closed. Imagine how cross it makes you when you are running for a train – and you have to miss it because of even one or two people buying tickets at the machine. Mind you, that is when the ticket machines are working – and as if on cue when I turned up to film a clip for YouTube about the problems, the ticket machine at Harringay was out of order and the ticket office closed!

When the machine is out of order you’re forced to travel without a ticket which means at best having to explain at the other end that the machine is not working and at worst that they try and give you a penalty fare. It’s a far too common bane of contemporary life – people who want to obey the law find obstacles put in their way because the authorities (rail company in this case) doesn’t do its end of the deal.

Please watch the YouTube clip at – it really demonstrates the problem. In it I also highlight the problems with signs at Alexandra Palace Station. At both Alexandra Palace Station and at Harringay station there aren’t signs in the places that you need them to tell you where to buy a ticket – whether from the ticket office or machines. If you know the stations and know where to go, that is fine. But woe betide the irregular or new traveller, particularly in the dark. You can be left hunting around, up stair and down stair, over platform and along platform for the place to hand over your money – with buggy, children, luggage. How helpful is that?

Imagine a shop behaving like that – hiding away without signs where you pay your money!

So – one message to Mr Morgan was to get the signs improved. On the reliability of the ticket machines – he told me that they were very expensive and didn’t break down very often. Given my visit to film the YouTube video found that the only machine was indeed ‘out of service’ I have asked him to supply me with figures for numbers of hours / days when the Harringay Station ticket machine has been out of service over the last year. We will see whether I just had bad luck or whether ‘not very often’ is actually rather often!

More positively on the signs, for Alexandra Palace Station he agreed with me about the problem and is going to investigate what can be done – including repairing the only sign that is easily visible from one direction – but points completely the wrong way! On the Harringay signs – well, that is really a symptom of the ticket machine being on one platform and so out of the way for people using the other platform. So he’s going to first look at the location of that machine.

When First Capital Connect reduced the opening hours of the ticket offices, they agreed to monitor how the changes at the stations in Hornsey & Wood Green were affected during an eight week period. That time is now up – and I asked Mr Morgan for the results of that monitoring. He did not have the figures to hand but said that they had ‘monitored’ queuing times and volume of sales were still in steady decline. However he said they would not be reducing the hours any further. I should hope not! He said the report would be finalised by the end of next month.

Finally, of course I asked him how Oyster Pay-As-You-Go was going. We’ve been long promised that it would be made available for the train services that serve these stations – but we’re still waiting. Jim Morgan told me, “I am very optimistic that the Train Operating Companies will start accepting Oyster PAYG early in the New Year”. Let’s hope his ‘optimism’ is well founded – but I will be nagging between now and then to make sure that doesn’t change! We’ve waited (as have the installed machines) far too long for TfLand First Capital Connect to get their act together on making life easier for us passengers.

If you’ve got any views on these issues – or other ones related to those train stations – do let me know, particularly as I will be regularly checking with Jim Morgan to make sure the promised progress happened. You can email or write to me at House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA