Dear DRA member,
You will no doubt have received a letter from our MP Grant Shapps, sent to Digswell residents, regarding the possible renaming of Welwyn North station.
This is my response to Grant, but please do feel free to fill in the short survey to state your own views.
Subject: Welwyn North Station renaming
Thank you for your correspondence on the above matter, dated 18th July 2016.
I can confirm that this idea was mooted some 18 months ago by some residents, and also supported by the Welwyn Parish Council, who wrote to me and the Digswell Residents Association DRA), as they felt that Welwyn North was not the correct name as to it's location, as it not actually north of Welwyn, and should be renamed Digswell. It was alleged at that time that there was possible confusion between a passenger travelling to either Welwyn Garden City or Welwyn North not knowing which to alight at. Given that these stations have been thus named for many years, is for me an argument without context.
At that time I liaised with Govia, the franchise holder, who made it clear that the renaming of Welwyn North was not laid down in their current franchise agreement, but could perhaps be included in any future franchise. The local populace here was very mixed as to their ideas, and it was pointed out that Welwyn North Station actually served a much wider community than just Digswell.
Through a Network Rail senior manager friend of mine, I did an assessment as to the cost of simply changing the station name, and we quoted Smitham station being renamed as Coulsdon Town, as an example of total costings for such an endeavour, which came in at circa £200k. There are many aspects to changing a station name, and in today's technological society, many interfaces would have to be amended and updated. The cost for doing this would fall on the TOC, and for no real benefit. I did think at the time that a cheaper option would be to simply advise passengers to change at Welwyn North for Tewin, Digswell and Welwyn, but given the lack of decent onward bus links, this could be counter-productive.
We in the DRA are not opposed to such a name change, but given that we cannot see the TOC wanting to spend that much money when their priority is to run a viable and punctual service, it is unlikely to happen. Our focus as a community has to be on keeping Welwyn North Station open, and fighting to prevent any reduction of service, and we are working closely with our Welwyn Parish Councillor Peter Neville, to achieve this.
If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Digswell Residents Association