U Sure Do Strike
19 February 2010, 05:17
The management team from First Capital Connect spent yesterday evening answering questions and taking comments from their customers in Bedford.
As rush hour trains arrived back from London, the train company's Managing Director Neil Lawson and other senior figures were waiting in the entrance hall at Bedford station.
Several passengers questioned them about their service and made comments about their experiences of the disruption they suffered in the run up to Christmas. In many cases First Capital Connect were forced to apologise, and highlight the compensation package available to season ticket holders.
It follows months of emergency timetables due to a dispute with their drivers over working hours and pay, and then the wintry weather which caused further delays and cancellations.
"We're always looking to improve", said Mr Lawson. "We are extremely committed to the passengers and to the franchise, and we're here to learn to improve act on those bits of feedback we get.
"We've let passengers down over that period, we've bounced back quickly but it's still not good enough. We're here to deliver it. We still want to operate this franchise and we will do everything we need to do to make sure we do deliver what the passengers deserve."
The MP for Bedford and Kempston Patrick Hall, and North East Bedfordshire MP Alistair Burt also went along.
Mr Burt said: "I think things will improve and making sure passengers have had their say so management here understand just how concerned they are is a good thing."
There have been calls for the train company, which also operates the Great Northern Line through Biggleswade and Letchworth, to be stripped of its franchise because of its poor performance. But Mr Hall said he believes they deserve a second chance. He said: "If something goes wrong and you react by saying 'off with their head', it makes it look and sound like you're doing something effective, but I don't think that's the answer in this case.
"I don't think FCC has failed it's franchise but of course there are issues which need to be addressed."
You can listen to Mathew Williams' full interviews with Neil Lawson, Patrick Hall and Alistair Burt by clicking the links below: