'Appalling': Rail commuters hit as timetable changes kick in

 

Delays and cancellations to rail services have continued on Monday, following major changes to timetables by some operators.

Northern said on Monday morning that it had severe disruption on three lines - Preston/Lancaster to Barrow, Windemere to Oxenholme and Manchester Airport to Blackpool North – and minor disruption on nine others. However, it said: ‘All other routes have a good service’.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, who last week invited Transport for the North and transport secretary Chris Grayling to consider whether the firm’s ‘dire’ service put it in breach of its franchise, tweeted: ‘One word: appalling. Grayling needs to intervene - today.’

A spokesman for Northern said the company was sorry for the delays and cancellations passengers had experienced on Monday morning.

He added: ‘The May 2018 timetable change, which went live today for commuters, has seen around 90% of our services change and an extra 1,300 train services a week introduced across our network – the biggest change to local rail for many years. This remains a significant operational challenge and we continue to expect some localised service disruption, which could happen at very short notice.’

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) changed the time of every train on its network, which includes Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern.

It cancelled trains on Sunday and disruption continued on Monday, when it said that ‘Short-term timetable changes mean fewer trains are able to run’.

The timetable changes saw new trains added to the schedules, including new cross-London services under the greatly delayed £7bn Thameslink programme – previously Thameslink 2000. However other services have been withdrawn and others have had journey times extended.

One commuter tweeted: ‘Turns out “Thameslink 2000” was a reference to the number of trains that would be cancelled.’

Conservative MP Grant Shapps tweeted: ‘Looking forward to this useless excuse of a rail operator @GNRailUK [Great Northern] losing their franchise in 2021, because from today they're worsening services through Welwyn Hatfield.’

He added: ‘But at least the franchise system does mean that they can & will be booted out!’

A GTR spokesperson said: ‘We are implementing over the coming weeks the biggest timetable change in a generation to boost capacity and improve reliability, introducing 400 extra daily trains and space for 50,000 extra passengers in the peak.

‘Greenwich Thameslink now gives passengers from this north Kent route improved connections across central London.

‘Due to the scale and complexity of the task, these changes will be made incrementally. This involves redeploying drivers and trains and changing operating practices to achieve a large increase in the number of services, carriages and station stops.

‘Despite some cancellations, passengers will benefit from an overall increase in capacity with immediate effect. We apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused.’

 

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