timetable led to delays for train passengers Image:GTR

Timetable changes led to delays and cancellations

To cope with the increased demand for rail services, the railway network is undergoing its biggest modernisation since the Victorian era.

As part of this, a new timetable was introduced on 20 May 2018. The timetable changes were to provide extra capacity for tens of thousands more peak-time commuters.

All the new journeys had to be individually approved by Network Rail. The checks were to ensure that the national rail network runs safely and smoothly.

Due to late running of engineering works, and the large number of changes, this process took longer than anticipated. Also, some timetable requests were changed.

This meant that the train companies had much less time to prepare for the new timetable. The additional training couldn’t be completed in time. This specialist training included drivers learning the new routes and for operators to address all the logistical challenges.

Network Rail’s chief executive, Mark Carne, said:

“There is no doubt that the May timetable was finalised significantly later than normal for reasons that were both within and without our control. The consequences of that have been particularly hard for both Northern and GTR to absorb.

“But we are all firmly focussed on fixing this issue as quickly as possible to give passengers the reliable service they need and deserve. At the moment, in some parts of the country, that simply isn’t happening and for that I’d like to wholeheartedly apologise.”

What are they going to do to put it right?

Network Rail, Northern and GTR are working on comprehensive plans to reduce disruption so passengers can better plan ahead. Timetable changes are being reviewed to understand the root causes of exactly what went wrong.

Passengers are reminded that they should apply for Delay Repay compensation for affected journeys.

GTR ceo, Charles Horton, said:

“Delayed approval of the timetable led to an unexpected need to substantially adjust our plans and resources.

“We fully understand that passengers want more certainty and are working very hard to bring greater consistency to the timetable as soon as possible.”

In due course, GTR says that the Thameslink Programme will provide more capacity and reliability, with more trains running more regularly and more reliably to more destinations.

But these services will only be re-introduced when it can be done reliably without any negative effect on the service.