Train delays were symbolically slashed as Leighton-Linslade’s MP and the boss of London Midland wielded ‘chainsaws’ at the town’s station last week.
South West Beds MP, Andrew Selous, and the managing director of the train operator, Patrick Verwer, were joined by council officials and community groups to celebrate a significant government investment in the West Coast Mainline.
The duo cut in half a replica of a train departure screen saying delays with their replica chainsaw.
Network Rail is investing £81 million in upgrading signalling in the Watford area, upgrading the track, and improving fencing along the line. Signalling problems, cable theft and trespass have been causing huge delays for passengers between Milton Keynes and Euston which is the busiest mixed traffic railway in Europe.
The work is taking place over a series of weekends in 2014 and 2015, with May 3-5 being the start ofwork
Victoria Harvey, chairman of Leighton Buzzard Station Travel Plan said: “ This is short term pain for long term gain. Many of us have experienced those horrendous delays at Euston due to signal failure, cable theft, trespass etc, but this work taking place over a series of weekends will hopefully put an end to these delays. Improvements to the line really helps the local economy in Leighton Buzzard as it means close reliable links with London. Improving train travel gives people a real alternative to car travel so less carbon emissions and less congestion.”
The Leighton Buzzard station building itself is also benefiting from a refurbishment due to the National Stations Improvement programme which has replaced the ceiling, refurbished the toilets, and added new doors.
This programme also provided new flowering tubs made of railways sleepers to be looked after by the award winning station adoption group off The Rails. There is also ongoing work on building new lifts at the station which will be ready in the summer.
Daphne Walker, chairman of Off The Rails LB, said: “We are seeing huge investment in our local station, due to the National Stations Improvement Programme. Our station building is being refurbished and we have been given the new tubs which we will fill with flowers to cheer up our travellers, and of course the new lifts are being built.
“ Many commuters have remarked on the attractiveness of Leighton Buzzard station, but these improvements will make Leighton Buzzard station fantastic.”
Mr Verwer said: “We are delighted with how the National Stations Improvement Programme works at Leighton Buzzard are progressing. Our passengers will soon be able to enjoy an attractive, refurbished station, coupled with a more reliable train service.
“The improvement work over the May Day bank holiday weekend was the first step in a long term development plan to provide a more reliable and robust railway between Milton Keynes and London.
Mr Selous MP added: “I am delighted to welcome this new investment in our railways. An efficient railway is vital for the prosperity of Leighton Buzzard and the surrounding area.”