Welwyn Garden City independent coffee business hit hard by rail chaos

19th July 2018

The manager of a coffee shop at Welwyn Garden City railway station says he has lost thousands of pounds since the timetable changeovers.

Next time your train is delayed or cancelled, spare a thought for the people who fuel your commute with some much-needed caffeine – Marchio’s coffee on Platform 2.

Since the May 20 timetable changeover, manager Frank Marsh says that business has been badly hit by the chaos.

“We were told initially that the change would benefit us because it will mean more fast trains on Platform 2,” said Frank, who took over the small independent cafe in February and sells teas, coffees, breakfast baps and snacks.

A large proportion of Marchio’s business comes from catching the rush hour commuters between Welwyn Garden City and London, who previously would gather on Platform 2 to catch the fast service.

However, statistics show that a total of just 15 fast services ran to King’s Cross between the 6am and 10am rush, during the entire two months of the May 20 timetable.

Frequent unexpected platform changes has also caused confusion and often robs customers of the precious five minutes needed to grab a coffee.

“Passengers didn’t know which way to go, so they stand on the bridge, which means less business,” said Frank. “It’s quite understandable. It’s taking roughly twice the time it would to get to work on time.”

Frank estimates he’s lost between £100 and £150 per day since the May 20 timetable. “That’s a conservative estimate,” he said ruefully.

Frank has discussed the issue with station staff. “They’re aware of the situation, they’ve apologised and they’ve reported it to the senior people.

“We can’t blame the staff, it’s down to management,” he said, adding that he’s seen station staff take a lot of abuse from the public.

Since the new interim timetable came in on July 15, he says the situation has improved, “but there have been cancellations and unexpected trains”.

He’s now looking to see if this timetable will help, or will even produce the increased business he first hoped for.

Frank calls on Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps to challenge Transport Secretary Chris Grayling about the issue, even if it’s behind the scenes.

Mr Shapps has been vocal about the issue, calling himself the “angriest MP”, but has held back from blaming the minister.