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Bishop's Stortford MP Julie Marson claims 'big win' as Greater Anglia listens to passengers and others on train cuts

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Greater Anglia has reinstated some of its West Anglia line services after passenger and political pressure – but there is no change for train travellers from Stansted, Bishop's Stortford and Sawbridgeworth.

Conservative MP Julie Marson claimed the U-turn as "a big win" for her after she wrote to the operator's managing director Jamie Burles complaining that the new timetable disadvantaged her Hertford and Stortford constituents.

On Monday January 10, Greater Anglia announced "a Sunday-style timetable, with earlier first trains and more trains at peak times, will run on weekdays".

Greater Anglia train (54363942)
Greater Anglia train (54363942)

Passengers from Hertford East, Ware and St Margaret's were no longer able to travel directly to Liverpool Street but instead had to change at Tottenham Hale.

Greater Anglia says passenger numbers are currently at 40-50% of pre-pandemic levels and peak-time passenger numbers are about 30%.

Mrs Marson wrote to Mr Burles on Wednesday January 12: "I appreciate the move is in response to changing travel patterns caused by the pandemic, but it is short-sighted to provide a diminished service."

Julie Marson MP. Picture: Vikki Lince
Julie Marson MP. Picture: Vikki Lince

The next day (Thursday January 13) Greater Anglia announced it had listened to passengers and was revising its timetable again. From Monday (January 17), that included two morning and two afternoon services between Hertford East and Liverpool Street. From Monday January 24, all services from Hertford East to Liverpool Street will operate.

As the first changes came into effect, Mrs Marson said on Facebook: "Thank you to Greater Anglia for all their cooperation in my work to resolve this issue for our community."

And in her fortnightly column for the Indie – unpublished in today's paper because Mrs Marson declined to use it to address the issue of Boris Johnson's conduct concerning lockdown-busting parties at 10 Downing Street – she claimed: "I lobbied train operator Greater Anglia to reverse its short-sighted decision to reduce services from our constituency to London during commuting times – and won."

However, a Greater Anglia spokeswoman told the Indie: "We've listened to feedback and we're making changes to make journeys better for customers.

Hertford and Stortford MP outside the Palace of Westminster. Picture: Nikki Powell www.NK-PHOTOGRAPHY (54365125)
Hertford and Stortford MP outside the Palace of Westminster. Picture: Nikki Powell www.NK-PHOTOGRAPHY (54365125)

"These changes were made following a combination of factors including our own monitoring, feedback from customers and stakeholders, including Julie Marson MP, Hertfordshire County Council and the New River Line Community Rail Partnership.

"We will continue to monitor services and review customer feedback. We will also continue to adjust service levels in line with the wider situation, Government guidance and customer demand."

Mr Burles added: "Our railway has changed as a result of the pandemic. We're seeing fewer commuters and business travellers due to people working from home when they can, and we're now funded entirely by the Government – and ultimately taxpayers.

"We have a duty to our customers and to taxpayers. We want to provide a reliable and punctual service for our customers, which is also good value to taxpayers."

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