Commuters brace themselves for travel chaos as train companies launch ANOTHER new timetable, after last one brought misery for thousands
- Timetable premiered yesterday but today is first weekday of new schedule
- Rail firms are promising 200 extra trains across Thameslink and Great Northern
- May’s timetable changes caused a large number of routes to be cancelled or delayed
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Rail passengers were today braced for fresh disruption following launch of the most recent new timetable.
The last time major changes were made, in-may, commuters were left stranded as a large number of services were cancelled or delayed.
And although network bosses stressed that they had planned fewer changes these times, they warned there might be ‘pockets of disruption’.
Worst-hit in-may were 8,000 Great and Thameslink Northern services – run by Govia Thameslink Railway – and 5,000 run by Northern, that have been cancelled or delayed severely.
Both companies could face fines in the brand new Year following a study into if they breached their operating licences.
Rail passengers are bracing themselves for delays today after train companies introduced another new timetable yesterday. File image of chaos at St Pancras Station used
The fiasco resulted in the introduction of emergency timetable services where trains were cancelled or replaced by buses for weeks at a time.
In one case, trains were delayed by way of a insufficient drivers qualified to take them by way of a newly-built tunnel in North London.
The winter timetable was officially launched yesterday without incident but today may be the first weekday the revamped service will undoubtedly be used by an incredible number of commuters.
Anthony Smith, leader of passenger watchdog Transport Focus, said: ‘This time around passengers expect the rail industry to operate a vehicle a smooth group of timetable improvements.
‘Passengers paid a hefty price for the catalogue of over optimism, missed deadlines and blurred accountability that resulted in a summer of timetable crisis and ensuing chaos.
‘To regain their trust, passengers have to note that lessons have already been learned.
‘Looking forward, someone should be put into charge of major timetable changes in future clearly, to make sure robust oversight sufficient reason for the power going to the stop button when something won’t work.’
The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operating companies, said changes for the wintertime timetable have already been ‘smaller than those seen earlier this year’ to minimise the chance of problems.
When timetable changes came in in-may the worst-hit were 8,000 Thameslink (pictured) and Great Northern services – run by Govia Thameslink Railway – and 5,000 run by Northern, that have been cancelled or severely delayed
Improvements are the introduction of 200 additional weekday services on Thameslink and Great Northern.
But Northern, which includes had around 10 % of its trains out of action because of wheel damage due to leaves at risk, admitted its service would still not be to scratch up.
Hundreds of the business’s trains experienced fewer carriages than usual, causing severe overcrowding sometimes, also it said the issues could ‘last until at the very least next May’.
In the month to November 11, 1,162 of Northern’s trains lacked the standard amount of carriages plus some were axed altogether.
Later last month, week services on the Preston to Ormskirk line in Lancashire were cancelled for a whole.
Raj Chandarana, stakeholder manager for Northern, told a public meeting in Manchester that May’s timetable crisis had resulted in a ‘horrendous’ shortage of trains – worsened by the wheel damage issue.
The last time major changes were made, in-may, commuters were left stranded as a large number of services were delayed or cancelled. File image of delayed passengers at London Waterloo used
He said: ‘We are doing what we are able to however in reality before infrastructure improvements happen we have been unable to utilize the trains which are fit for purpose on electrified tracks also it will not be until May next year at the initial that we’ll maintain a position to state at peak there will not be short-formed trains.’
Northern blamed Network Rail for delays on electrification projects on major lines, which meant diesel trains on those routes cannot be released for use elsewhere still.
Mr Chandarana said: ‘We’ve tried to plug the gap with existing stock and by borrowing trains from other operators.’
‘The situation we face is one which is hugely regrettable.’ Greater Manchester authorities estimate a 5 % rise in traffic getting into the town has been generated by the rail disruption, saturday which also contains Northern guards striking every.
Robert Nisbet, regional director of the Rail Delivery Group, admitted there may be ‘some pockets of disruption’ on the network today and urged passengers to check on the brand new timetables before they travel.
It employs a written report into May’s timetable chaos by Professor Stephen Glaister, chairman of watchdog body any office for Road and Rail, warned train companies had a battle to revive ‘trust and confidence’.
Mr Nisbet said: ‘Over another few years, we have been focused on delivering a step change in the product quality and reliability of rail services through huge investment in infrastructure in order that a large number of extra services can run.
‘We understand that people in a few areas may be worried about another timetable change but because the Glaister Review acknowledges the rail industry spent some time working together to start out learning the lessons from May.
‘As with the introduction of any new timetable, there could be some pockets of disruption as people get accustomed to new train and journeys times, so we advise visitors to check before travelling.’
He added that improvements on the next 3 years would include introduction of 7,000 new carriages and a huge selection of refurbished trains fully, supporting 6,week by 2021 400 extra services a.
Sir Peter Hendy, chairman of Network Rail, said: ‘The railway industry (took) an extended hard look at its plans for the timetable change in December and, considering recent painful lessons, the has scaled back its ambition and tempered it with a far more cautious, phased approach.
‘The railway is too vital for medical and wealth of our country to risk a repeat of the mistakes of May which more balanced approach of ambition and caution is completely the right move to make for the millions who depend on our railway each day.’