Baldock Trains

Baldock Train StationThe rail network plays a big role in supporting workers throughout North Hertfordshire. According to Transport Statistics Great Britain 2015, published by the Department of Transport, 57% of all trips made by rail are for the purpose of commuting. When you consider how close we are to London, it's easy to see that access to a fast, reliable and regularly running rail link is a major priority for the region.

Baldock's rail connection to London is under threat from 2018. A consultation document from Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has outlined a plan that lead to the ending of all semi-fast services from Baldock outside of peak hours.

By making a change to TL6, which is the name GTR uses to classify the existing semi-fast train service between Cambridge and London, GTR proposes running no fast services to Baldock after 7pm on weekdays or at all on weekends.

This could have an important impact in the North Herts community. First and foremost, the loss of this service will inconvenience the people of Baldock who commute to and from London every day.

The group 'Save Baldock Trains', who spotted the change, note that commuters will no longer be able to get services like the 19:21 out of London that gets them home in 39 minutes. Instead, they will either have to take a train to Hitchin and switch to another to get to Baldock (which takes 47 minutes). Or they will have to take a slow train directly from St Pancras that will take 56 minutes to get home. As a result, commuters in Baldock using the rail network will have to travel for longer than the London average of 45 minutes to get to work. This will have a knock on effect on both their work and personal lives - depriving commuters of valuable time to spend at home.

Furthermore, the cuts to services come at a time when Baldock is likely to need a better connection to London. North Herts District Council is currently consulting on a proposal to build 3,200 new homes in the town, which means that the removal of semi-fast services across the working week and weekend could impact the town further.

But more broadly, the effect of a change on Baldock will be felt throughout the rest of the region too. If the plans go ahead, it will likely mean a large number of commuters from the town changing train at Hitchin. This could lead to problems of overcrowding on the platforms, as Hitchin itself also undergoes expansion.

Finally, it might force commuters from Baldock onto the roads in an effort to reach other stations. An increase in the number of fast services from Stevenage could incentivise commuters to hop in their car to try to cut down journey times, potentially causing transport headaches for the rest of the community.

Therefore, the Liberal Democrats believe that we can begin to solve the problem by:

  • responding to the consultation here, adding notes about the loss of semi-fast services to Baldock outside of peak services to GTR's sections about TL6 (the semi-fast line) and TL7 (the slow stopper);
  • calling upon GTR to publish a clear and understandable draft timetable alongside their consultation document - which will allow for a more open public debate and stop opaque consultation language from putting off feedback into the decision;
  • encouraging a joined up approach between rail timetabling and house building since, if a town like Baldock is set to expand, cutting back rail services makes little to no sense;
  • adopting a common sense approach to off-peak timetabling (with more business people working unusual hours or encouraged to do so to reduce overcrowding at peak hours, punishing them by removing fast services feels unfair and should be avoided).

If you support our stance, then please get in touch with us here so we can take on board your thoughts.