After a long-standing campaign, MP Grant Shapps has secured an Additional Compensation package for non-season ticket holders, following months of chaos along the Great Northern line.
The timetable change of 20th May by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) saw with it months of disruption culminating in numerous cancelled and delayed trains along the Great Northern line. With thousands of commuters from Welwyn Hatfield negatively affected by the changes, MP Grant Shapps sought answers, accountability and a fair Compensation package.
Although a compensation scheme – involving one month’s free travel – had already been announced for those with season tickets, part-time commuters who may work from home one or two days a week, were not due to be compensated.
Pressing the issue during a series of meetings with the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, Welwyn Hatfield’s MP made the case for those who might not travel every day, but nonetheless were still regular users of the service. Grant argued that they should not miss out on an equivalent month of recompense for the rail chaos they had experienced too.
Explaining the campaign, Grant said, “I was concerned that people who might, for example, drop the kids off at school and then travel to work by train three days a week, should not be curved out of the compensation deal. Someone in this position may not choose to purchase a season ticket because if you’re only travelling three days that wouldn’t make financial sense, but this doesn’t prevent them from being regular commuters. I just couldn’t see any argument for them not being compensated for the horrendous service experienced in recent months. The more I looked into it, the more I felt that it was more vulnerable commuters who were missing out and I wasn’t prepared to take no for an answer.”
Initially rail bosses reacted sceptically to the MP’s campaign, saying that such a part-time user compensation scheme had never been provided before – during the Southern Rail crisis for example – however Shapps took his campaign all the way to the Secretary of State, repeatedly citing constituent examples and arguing for a fairer solution for his constituents.
Shapps continued, “I was very impressed with Chris Grayling’s attitude. Although he knew it would be difficult to convince everyone, not least the rail companies and the Treasury, to introduce a scheme for part-time commuters, he did undertake to do everything in his power to make it happen. I am absolutely delighted that we have finally won this compensation for everyone who has suffered from Govia Thameslink Rail’s appalling service since the new timetable.”
The Hatfield Association of Rail Travellers hailed the announcement of additional compensation on their Twitter account as “great news”.
Outrage over rail chaos has been widespread, and Grant has been ensuring the opinions of Welwyn Hatfield have been heard at the highest levels. After meeting with Govia bosses, Grant has also secured the promise that the timetable will be reviewed in December 2018 and he is demanding that journey times to London are improved to at least the same as pre-May. In the long-term, Grant is calling for Govia to be stripped of the franchise and for the line to be taken over by Transport for London (TfL).
The announcement of the additional compensation package sees both season and non-season ticket holders most severely affected between 20 May and 28 July 2018 able to claim back one month’s worth of travel. All those who travelled at least three times a week on the service will be eligible to claim. This is in additional to the usual Delay Repay compensation. Please see further information on Govia’s website at https://railcompensation.thameslinkrailway.com.