Leighton Buzzard train station to benefit from government funding

There’s hope on the horizon for Leighton-Linslade commuters as London Northwestern Railway (LNR) is to benefit from £20m of government funding.
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The service from Leighton Buzzard train station has long been a point of contention, as it is claimed a timetable change last May caused delays, cancellations and overcrowding.

However, Andrew Selous MP has received good news from the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who has confirmed that LNR will benefit from some of the £20m of government funding that is being given to West Midlands Railway (WMR).

Mr Selous, who received the information in response to a letter of complaint he wrote to Mr Shapps in November, said: “I use London Northwestern Railway (LNR) regularly to get to work and I know that the performance has not been good enough in recent months.

Leighton Buzzard train stationLeighton Buzzard train station
Leighton Buzzard train station

“It was particularly bad before Christmas - stuck at Euston with 45 minute delays, sometimes not getting home until 10 at night. It starts to affect your mental health and wellbeing. I have had people writing to me, and I absolutely know what they mean.

“Last week the train I got in the morning had four rather than eight carriages. By the time it got to Bushy and Watford things became pretty ugly. People were yelling and asking others to move down when they had nothing to hold on to.”

When asked by the LBO, the MP also stated that he’d had to sit on the floor at times whilst travelling on the train.

In his letter to Mr Selous, Mr Shapps confirmed that the spending will include investment targeted at improving the performance of LNR services, including “the simplification of the timetable which hasn’t performed well due to the complexity and consequent inability to recover from delays”.

Mr Shapps said:“The most noticeable initiative will mean that from May this year services will no longer attach and detach at Birmingham New Street. The frequency of the services to and from your constituency will remain the same, but these actions will improve the punctuality and reliability.”

WMR will also be recruiting additional drivers and senior conductors, and “performance improving modifications” will also be given to class 350 and 319 nits.

Mr Selous noted that WMR has been given the £20m to improve services because it breached its performance target. He added: “I will be monitoring the performance closely to make sure we see the improvements promised.”

Lawrence Bowman, head of customer experience for LNR, said: “Our performance in the second half of last year wasn’t good enough. We’ve apologised to our customers and we’re investing an extra £20m in positive changes under our newly published Improvement Plan.

“We know Leighton Buzzard needs more capacity, which is why we ordered a brand new fleet of modern trains for our customers back in 2017. They’re still being built, so in the meantime we added 16 carriages to our LNR fleet before Christmas and have another 24 on the way.

“We’re also hiring more drivers, changing our timetables to boost reliability and have discounted the cost of our season tickets as compensation for our recent poor performance.”