Commuters have blasted a rail company after it was revealed a Watford line is set to be out of service for a whole week.

Members of the Abfly commuter group, which represents Abbey Line users, have written to London Northwestern Railway's parent company West Midlands Trains to complain after it was revealed that no trains are set to run during an overtime ban.

All services will be replaced with buses between St Albans Abbey and Watford Junction after the train drivers’ union ASLEF announced strike action on Sunday, December 3, and an overtime ban between December 1 and 9.

The letter, from Abfly’s Peter Brooks, said: “Abfly question why is this totally necessary?

“During previous similar situations earlier this year, the number of cancellations on the main line has been minimal.”

He highlighted that when the first overtime ban was called action was not needed and during the pandemic one crew was made available to work the line during morning and afternoon peaks.

The group urged the company to consider similar measures to the pandemic during the upcoming overtime ban.

Watford Observer: The Abbey Line. Image: Nigel CoxThe Abbey Line. Image: Nigel Cox

Mr Brooks added: “We are afraid to have to conclude that LNR now have the mentality of an automatic ‘switch off the Abbey line’ if any crewing or other operational difficulties are arising with no regard for the effect of no trains for over a week will have on the regular users of the line, including the many schoolchildren that rely on it each day.

“The two Saturdays involved will also be bad for people wanting to do Christmas shopping or go to sporting events in Watford and London.

“There have been over 500 unplanned cancellations on the Abbey line so far this year, which does not include the industrial action days.

"Does West Midland Trains think this is acceptable?"

Watford Observer: The Watford Junction Abbey Flyer platformThe Watford Junction Abbey Flyer platform (Image: Abfly)

LNR customer experience director Jonny Wiseman said: “It is extremely disappointing that industrial action is continuing to impact our customers’ journeys, particularly in the run up to the busy Christmas period.

“Action short of strike impacts the number of drivers we have available and means that without pre-emptive action passengers would be left facing an unacceptably high number of short-notice cancellations.

“Suspending the Abbey Line is not a decision we take lightly but we believe it is right to give passengers advance notice so they can plan their travel accordingly, rather than cancelling services on the day.”