Bedford morning train among UK’s busiest

Bedford Railway Station.
Bedford Railway Station.

A new report has confirmed what weary train commuters already knew – the 7.34 First Capital Connect (FCC) from Bedford to Brighton is one of the most crowded services in the entire country.

The route through London St Pancras has been confirmed as jam-packed following statistics from the Department forTransport naming and shaming the service as the second most overcrowded in England and Wales.

The 7.34 runs at 71 per cent above capacity.

FCC’s Roger Perkins said: “It has seats available as far as Harpenden where it becomes very busy so there is space for Bedford commuters.

“From 2016 when new trains arrive this service will be lengthened to 12 carriages providing relief for passengers further down the line.

“We know overcrowding is a real issue for our passengers and we’ve been working hard to address it.

“Since 2006, we’ve brought in 50% more trains as an interim measure, adding 29% more seats at the busiest times.”

FCC will stop running the Bedford and Flitwick Thameslink line from 2am on Sunday handing the franchise to Govia Thameslink Railway.

FCC has faced criticism by commuters over the course of its franchise period. It has included a dedicated Facebook page called ‘I hate First Capital Connect’.

FCC’s managing director Mr David Statham, who revealed he failed to receive a bonus for FCC train punctuality, this week told the T&C: “We’ve done a lot of work to get customer feedback. Sometimes it’s not particularly kind or easy listening but we had a lot of problems when we first took over.”

Mr Statham admitted he used FCC services daily and did not always get a seat.

When asked if a peak time fare of £39 return from Bedford to London, or an annual season ticket of £4,300 was good value, Mr Statham said: “We provide value for money. It’s been an exciting time. Not without its challenges for us and our passengers but with massive capacity improvement schemes on both routes and other improvements.”

A spokeswoman for Govia said: “In the coming years the £6.5 billion Thameslink programme will make a big difference to passengers on the 7.34 Bedford to Brighton route.”

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