PLANS to cut Chesham's direct peak hour train link with London could be the beginning of the end for the town's train line, commuters warn.

London Underground (LUL) is consulting on the possibility of axeing direct services to London in the morning and evening rush hours, forcing passengers to use a shuttle service to and from Chalfont and Latimer which already operates during off-peak hours.

Commuters say the Chesham branch line suffers from chronic under-investment.

Chesham town and district councillor Chis Spruytenburg said: "London Underground wants to drop through trains to allow flexibility to link up with Chiltern Railways trains, but if the through trains stop, people will drive up to Amersham and clog it up.

"Chesham will become run down as fewer and fewer people use it. London Underground refuses to do anything on the line as it is, and it really is a boneshaker.

"It's in an appalling state and some people are already not using the line for that reason alone."

Chiltern District Council voted on Tuesday to reject the proposals, and is to tell LUL it wants to see the through trains preserved.

Gordon Dixon, president of the Federation of Metropolitan Line Users' Committees, said: "The Chesham fight to keep through trains goes back about 30 years.

"The danger is that if you stop through trains it won't be long before they stop the shuttle and tell people they can use the bus instead."

LUL bosses will make a decision on changing services within three months, and any timetable changes will take effect from September 2003.

A spokesman for London Underground's Metropolitan Line was unavailable for comment as we went to press.

Tube bosses did face the public at an angry protest meeting about poor services in Chesham in February

At that meeting London Transport said it was committed to keeping the Chesham branch line open but Met Line Services manager Kevin Hafter admitted it was not a high priority for investment even though the track was rough and old.