Thameslink announces Luton will keep full train timetable as giving services to Harpenden would be 'irresponsible and unfair'

Campaigners have reacted with delight after Govia Thameslink announced Luton train station will keep its full timetable until the end of 2020.

A grassroots campaign, 'Luton Station Action Group' formed in the town when the firm launched a consultation proposing to axe Luton services in favour of Harpenden.

Today, there was relief after Thameslink wrote to MP for Luton South, Gavin Shuker, announcing they were scrapping the proposed timetable changes.

Thameslink managing director Tom Moran said nearly 7,000 people had filled in the survey during the consultation.

Mr Moran wrote: "Our final decision is to maintain the current timetable until December 2020. We could only provide extra services at Harpenden by removing them from Luton and the consultation has made very clear that doing so would cause real hardship to the passengers who currently rely on the Luton services.

"We believe that to knowingly cut those services would be irresponsible and unfair.

"We want to stress that we are not removing any services – Harpenden’s services will remain unchanged and no-one’s current journey will worsen because of this decision.

"In December 2020, there will be 5 more fast trains than there are now between Harpenden and London for both the morning and evening peaks. In the meantime, Thameslink will continue to work tirelessly, with our partners at Network Rail, to improve our service for all customers by making our trains more punctual and reliable.

"We know that this decision will disappoint some of our passengers who use Harpenden.

"Any decision we make would leave some groups feeling their concerns have not been addressed.

"Iwould like to assure everyone that we have considered all responses to the consultation, and explored all options suggested, before reaching a final decision.

Scott Eastwood, of Luton Station Action Group, posted: "This is a huge win for this group, however, now expect an increase in anger from Harpenden users.

"Moving forward we need to formally form a user group covering the 3 stations in Luton.

"This will give us more sway with the rail companies and Network Rail. As such we will set up a meeting soon to appoint reps for each station. In the meantime, let's take this win to cheer up your commute tonight!"

Independent Luton South MP Gavin Shuker was the lone voice opposing the proposed changes during a "brutal" parliamentary discussion in February, attended by Harpenden commuters as well as their town's MP.

Today, Mr Shuker said: "This has been a hard-fought result for my constituents and I'm glad the services are to stay here in Luton.

"Rest assured, if the threat of removing services from Luton's residents returns, I promise to use all options available to me as your Member of Parliament to stop that from happening.

"I'm also really pleased that a new rail users group for Luton has been established as a result of this whole process.

"That's such an important piece of the jigsaw in any future discussions."