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'Disappointed' rail industry reacts to scrapped December timetable changes

The rail industry has reacted to news yesterday that some major TOCs will not be introducing new timetables in December, in an effort to prevent another rail schedule fiasco like the chaotic implementation of new timetables in May.

Released by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) yesterday, Network Rail have prevented TOCs including Northern Rail, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), and West Midlands Railway from introducing the new timetables to reduce the chance of disruption caused by new timetables.

The RDG has said the industry has taken into account “recent painful lessons” after new timetables introduced on 20 May were found to have “failed passengers” due to delays, cancellations, and disruption caused by the schedule changes.

Since then, Chris Grayling has ordered an inquiry to be launched by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) and for passengers to receive compensation.

Now, Network Rail have limited certain providers from introducing new timetables to prevent disruption from occurring again— CrossCountry, GTR, Great Western Railway, London Overground, Northern, South Western Railway, TransPennine Express, and West Midlands Trains will all continue with current May timetables through to next year.

West Midlands Trains said they were “disappointed” by the move from NR, adding: “We have already put a lot of work and preparation into the timetable improvements planned for December this year, and our preparations are on schedule. 

“We are therefore disappointed that we will not be able to go forward with these plans until May, but understand that these decisions have been made to reflect the network wide situation. The new West Midlands Trains timetable, when it does come into effect, will benefit thousands of passengers with extra trains and new journey opportunities, and is designed to support the progress and prosperity of the regions we serve.”

Anthony Smith chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: “Following the disruption and misery passengers have faced from the May timetable changes, the gradual introduction of timetable changes is a pragmatic step to help maintain a more dependable service for passengers.

“However long-suffering passengers who have put up with much inconvenience in the expectation of a better, more reliable, and more comfortable rail service will be disappointed that promised improvements may be delivered more slowly.

“What passengers will want now is a dependable plan, setting out exactly when Network Rail and train operators will get things back on track to restore trust in the service.”

A TransPennine Express spokesperson said, “We note today’s announcement and will now work with Network Rail, the Department for Transport and Transport for the North to finalise the detailed implications on our services across our network over the coming year. 

“We will continue to work alongside the rest of the rail industry to deliver the best possible service for our customers.”

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Image credit: Nick Potts, PA Images


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