Commuters warned to check train journeys as new timetable starts

16 December 2019, 07:04 | Updated: 16 December 2019, 07:07

Passengers are being warned to check their journey before they travel
Passengers are being warned to check their journey before they travel. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Train commuters are being urged to check their journey before they travel as new timetables have come into force over the weekend.

Trains were cancelled across the GWR network on Sunday after three-quarters of trains were re-timetabled, along with Transport for Wales cancelling a number of new services.

Transport bosses referred to the cancellation as "teething problems"

A spokesperson said Sunday's cancellations were due to" an unusually high number of rail staff are not available to work."

The timetable change comes as commuters on the South Western Railway network face chaos across December as workers strike for 27 days as part of the long-running debate over the role of guards on trains.

Industry groups have said the new timetables will lead to shorter journeys and new routes across the country.

The alterations will include the first non-stop trains running between London and Bristol in decades, plus 1,000 extra services each week, according to industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG).

RDG has sought to reassure passengers over the new timetable, saying the industry had put "years of work into drafting, consulting and planning" for the changes.

Robert Nisbet, RDG's director of nations and regions, has urged passengers to check their journey details in advance as many times are changing.

"Train operators and Network Rail will be working together to run a reliable service and respond quickly to any teething problems as people get used to the change," Mr Nisbet said.

Train timetables are changed twice a year, in May and December.

The infamous, botched change of May 2018 led to chaos, and passenger watchdog Transport Focus said travellers would be hoping for a smoother introduction with the latest changes.

The latest amendments represent the most comprehensive timetable change on the Great Western Railway network since the 1970s, taking advantage of Network Rail's electrification of the line between London and Bristol, and the operator's new intercity express trains.

Non-stop trains between London Paddington and Bristol Parkway will have journey times as short as one hour and eight minutes, shaving 12 minutes off the existing quickest services.

Major improvements are also being promised on the ScotRail network, with additional services in north-east Scotland and extra seats between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

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