17:58 Friday 4th February 2011
Drivetime BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
ANDY BURROWS: The people of Royston can now travel on their own train. The Royston Express was named today, in a special ceremony, which also marked the opening of a longer platform at Royston. Well earlier, I spoke to Roger Perkins from First Capital Connect, and asked him to explain more. (TAPE)
ROGER PERKINS: We have just named today the Royston Express. That was named by MP Oliver Heald. At the same time the Mayor of Royston has opened a longer platform. That’s the northbound platform, so it can accommodate those 12 carriage trains. And this is to celebrate really the fact that we now have two non-stop trains that run from Kings Cross in the evening home to Royston. And that gives us another 2300+ seats for people here in Royston.
ANDY BURROWS: Great. So what’s the form with naming a train then? Does it take a long time? Is there a lot of forms to be filled in before you can have a train named after a place like Royston?
ROGER PERKINS: (LAUGHS) It’s really quite easy. What we do is we have a chat with people here at Royston, see if there’s something they’d like to do. We have a chat with our own people. And we just check that no-one else has named any train exactly the same name. And we’re off really. It’s very, very easy.
ANDY BURROWS: So it’s got a name-plate, has it?
ROGER PERKINS: Yes, it’s got a name-plate now on it that says The Royston Express. And in the local papers you’re going to see pictures of the Mayor, cutting his ribbon on the platform extension.
ANDY BURROWS: For all those train spotters out there, what kind of train is it, do you know?
ROGER PERKINS: It’s a Class 365, which is one of the newer trains on our fleet. And it’s now a 12 carriage. So this was specifically a three units, of four carriages each train, that was in formation, came into Platform 2 specifically on a Special Service. So it wasn’t actually in service for the public. It was done on a Special. It came out of our depot in Hornsey. It ran up, and the assembled group of dignitaries were waiting for it. Had nice speeches from the various people involved. A ribbon was cut for the platform expension. And then we walked down to the front of the train where the MP Oliver Heald pulled a rope and unveiled the name.
ANDY BURROWS: There is a serious side to this, because clearly a lot more people are communting than ever before from Royston then, directly to London?
ROGER PERKINS: Yes. There is a really serious message to all this. Before May 2009, First Capital Connect on this Great Northern route up to Peterborough and Cambridge had six of the country’s ten most overcrowded services. People, we know this, we know that passengers, one of their chief frustrations was to be in a train where they can’t get a seat. Not only can they not get a seat, but they can hardly open a newspaper, they’re so packed in. So working with the Government, and Network Rail, we looked at ways we could improve that. So in May 2009 we had another 20 carriages introduced. And the platforms were extended here at Royston then but on the southbound only. So we had two 12 carriage trains running from Cambridge down to Kings Cross. And normally they can be only 8 carriages long, so half as long again. But the isue for us was then, what about the northbound? So we’ve now got another 41 carriages. So our fleet has increased in size, and the platforms have been lengthened on the Northbound as well.