Rail commuters join forces in Essex

FED up commuters from across Essex have joined forces to lobby for a “fair deal” for rail passengers.Representatives from nine different rail user groups met this week to form the Essex Rail Users' Federation which has already called for profits to be ploughed back into the local network.

FED up commuters from across Essex have joined forces to lobby for a “fair deal” for rail passengers.

Representatives from nine different rail user groups met this week to form the Essex Rail Users' Federation which has already called for profits to be ploughed back into the local network.

The launch comes as train operator One was commended for providing “excellent” customer service at an industry awards event.

The company, which took over the franchise last year, was praised for introducing a range of new products and services including improved first-class level of service through to better and more reliable ticket machines.


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But according to Derek Monnery, a spokesman for the newly formed federation, 90% of peak time travellers have now experienced a decline in service since One took over.

He said: “I think One may deserve praise in certain areas but not in others.

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“They are trying hard, but the new timetable is a big problem. For 90% of peak-hour travellers the situation is worse - more overcrowding and fewer carriages on trains.”

Mr Monnery added if trains from Norwich were late or had fewer carriages than expected many people were having to stand.

“It is not pleasant, people are paying £4,000 a year for that sort of thing and it makes people's blood boil,” he said.

The federation includes members of rail user groups from Colchester, Manningtree, Walton, Frinton, Thorpe, Alresford, Kelvedon, Chelmsford and Ingatestone.

The federation has already said there should be an extra mainline into London from the east to absorb the spiralling population.

Last night a spokesman for One said it paid a premium for the franchise to the Government with some of the profits they made invested back into the company with new rolling stock coming on line.

“As far as overcrowding, in the early stages of the new timetable there were overcrowding issues for the first few weeks.

“Most of those initial problems have now been sorted out and in most circumstances there is the correct carriage formation of trains and, as Derek knows full well, have had additional stops.

“The changes are in response to customer feedback and we are looking at further adjustments to the timetable in June and September.”

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