Hemel Hempstead commuter train to London scrapped due to overcrowding pressures

A passenger group representative has warned that removing the service will lead to overcrowding elsewhere
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A popular commuter train between London and Hemel Hempstead is due to be cancelled, Network Rail has confirmed.

Network Rail confirmed plans to remove the 07:31 Hemel Hempstead to East Croydon route and the 18:10 East Croydon to Hemel Hempstead service from June.

Passengers raised concerns on railway forums when Southern Hemel Hempstead services were not showing on train planning apps after May.

Govia Thameslink RailwayGovia Thameslink Railway
Govia Thameslink Railway

Network Rail says having passengers in Hemel Hempstead using this service puts extra pressure on West Coast Main Line, which is the busiest railway in the UK. Adding that the main line has to serve a number of passengers between London and Glasgow.

A passenger group representative has written to the Government warning that the change will cause overcrowding elsewhere, specifically on the peak London Northwestern Railway services.

Network Rail is advising Hemel commuters to take the eight-minute service between Watford Junction and Hemel Hempstead, where trains leave six times per hour.

However, rail forum members have questioned the reliability of the Watford service in the early hours of the morning. One said: “It really sucks there are now two hour gaps to Watford at certain times and the first train out is an hour later."

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Simon Fisher, the West London Line Passenger Representative, said in a letter to the Secretary of State: “Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) wish to continue running their Hemel Hempstead services. However, they are being prevented from doing so by Network Rail on the basis of bogus analysis of recent West Coast Mainline performance data.

“There has been zero consultation with passengers or passenger groups regarding this latest service cut, which follows the withdrawal of West London Line services between Hemel Hempstead and Milton Keynes in May 2022, again without any stakeholder engagement.

“Many Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire West London Line commuters quit their jobs or took to the M25 and A41 following the May 2022 service cut.

“There is no cost saving on unit, operating costs or train crew resulting from the planned withdrawal of the Southern Hemel Hempstead services. Just longer and less convenient journeys for passengers. The Department for Transport should therefore overrule Network Rail.”

A spokesperson for Network Rail said: “The decision to remove these services is due to the turnaround time of a train at Hemel Hempstead utilising over 20% of the hourly capacity of the West Coast Main Line.

"Investment made in the infrastructure at Watford Junction has provided an alternative turnaround route for services, therefore reducing the risk in turning trains around at Hemel Hempstead.

“The passengers affected by this change can take the eight-minute service between Watford Junction and Hemel Hempstead, where trains leave six times per hour.

“We are always looking at ways to improve our services to provide a reliable and efficient railway network for all passengers.”

Some passengers expressed dismay when the change was first rumoured, referencing on rail forums how busy those trains from Hemel Hempstead often are in the mornings.