Rail timetable changes scrapped after travel chaos

Operators delay new services after hundreds of thousands of commuters left stranded in May

Commuters wrestle for space at Clapham Junction
(Image credit: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images)

Plans to introduce the next round of rail timetable changes in December have been scrapped in an effort to avoid a repeat of the travel mayhem that affected large swathes of the country in May and June.

What was billed as the biggest shake-up in rail timetabling in a generation quickly descended into chaos as hundreds of thousands of commuters were delayed or left stranded after a huge number of services on Govia Thameslink Railway and Northern failed to run.

It prompted the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, to criticise rail companies for “wholly unsatisfactory levels of disruption” following the changes.

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It now appears that criticism has been taken to heart, with Govia Thameslink and Northern among eight rail franchises that will abandon plans to add new services in December and leave timetables unchanged, according to The Guardian.

Network Rail chairman, Sir Peter Hendy, said: “The railway industry has taken a long, hard look at its plans for the next timetable change in December and, taking into account recent painful lessons, the industry has scaled back its ambition and tempered it with a more cautious, phased approach to introducing the new timetable”.

The delay means train times across the network, including alterations for scheduled engineering works, will now not be confirmed to passengers at the standard 12 weeks’ notice until mid-2019.

This could affect the ability of passengers to buy cheap tickets in advance.

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