British Timetable Review for May 2015

by Alan de Burton

Overview and Timetable Format

Unless otherwise specified, the text refers to Monday to Saturday timetables. There are no major permanent timing changes but two line openings and some new stations. I have included franchise changes since they are complex.

Unfortunately this timetable like some of its predecessors suffers in various places from missing trains, missing tables, missing information on the engineering works lasting for 5 months of the timetable validity around Bolton, table changes not reflected in the station index and and for the first time, missing sections of the station index including London!

Abellio Greater Anglia (emus, dmus, diesel and electric loco-hauled),  London Overground (emus) and TfL Rail (emus)

On services continuing to be operated by Abellio Greater Anglia itself, the two Summer Saturday through trains between London Liverpool Street and Great Yarmouth have not reappeared.  However, there are extra fast trains between Norwich and both Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft on summer weekends.

From 31 May 2015, the stopping service on the ‘Electric Lines’ between Liverpool Street and Shenfield was transferred from Abellio Greater Anglia to TfL Rail as a stage towards incorporating these lines into Crossrail. There were changes to early morning services to eliminate some overlaps between Abellio Greater Eastern and TfL services.

Also from 31 May, services from Liverpool Street to Enfield Town and  Chingford and to Cheshunt via Southbury were transferred from Abellio Greater Anglia to London Overground. This didn’t affect Monday to Saturday services but Sunday services have changed. London Overground services now run to the Monday to Saturday pattern of 2 trains per hour to both Enfield Town and all stations to Cheshunt and 4 per hour to Chingford.

On Sundays Abellio Greater Anglia have replaced the previous half-hourly service from Liverpool Street to Hertford East via Seven Sisters and Southbury by a service from Stratford via Tottenham Hale. They have also replaced the previous hourly stopping service from Stratford to Cambridge by a semi-fast from Liverpool Street.

Arriva Trains Wales (dmus and some diesel loco-hauled)

The Monday to Saturday 2-hourly service from Birmingham International to Shrewsbury and Aberystwyth has been supplemented by 4 extra trains between Shrewsbury and Aberystwyth. On Sundays there are 2 extra trains between Shrewsbury and Machynlleth and 3 beyond to Aberystwyth.

Despite confused information in the printed timetable, trains from Cardiff to Ebbw Vale Parkway were extended to a new terminus at Ebbw Vale Town from the start date of the timetable on 17 May.

On Mondays to Fridays, there are extra early morning trains on the Central Wales line. At the south end there is an 05 20 from Llanelli to Llandovery returning at  06 42 to Swansea and at the other end an 04 45 from Shrewsbury to Llandrindod returning at 06 18 to Crewe. The 4 previous through trains are retimed and some are now linked through to and from Crewe. There are also various detailed changes on the South Wales main line west of Cardiff.

Chiltern Trains (dmus and diesel loco-hauled)

From 25 October 2015 Chiltern Trains will open a new route from London Marylebone to Bicester Village and Oxford Parkway. Trains will be fast and take about an hour and run half-hourly all 7 days. While peak services are partly diversions of existing trains, at other times the Oxford Parkway trains are new and pre-existing trains are retimed to fit. On Mondays to Saturdays, most of the previous through trains from London Marylebone to Stratford-upon-Avon are reduced to a shuttle from Leamington Spa.

On Sundays a Marylebone to Gerrards Cross local service operates for the first time running hourly. One Marylebone – Birmingham train per hour on Sundays now calls at Beaconsfield but not at High Wycombe.

East Coast (HSTs and electric loco-hauled)

From 1 March 2015 this service has been run by Virgin Trains East Coast.

East Midlands Trains (dmus)

The Monday to Saturday hourly service from Matlock to Nottingham has mostly been extended to Newark Castle with over half running semi-fast and the remainder slow. Existing East Midlands trains from Nottingham to Lincoln now omit most stops between Nottingham and Newark.

First Great Western (HSTs, dmus and loco-hauled sleepers)

There are many detailed changes on the Cotswold service between Oxford and Worcester partly reflecting rediagramming the 3 several different kinds of train that operate on the route: 90 mph class 166 dmus, 125 mph class 180 dmus and HSTs. There are also minor changes in London Paddington –  Reading local services. Exmouth to Exeter trains are shown to call at a new station called Newcourt on the outskirts of Exeter, but this hadn’t occured at the beginning of the timetable period.

First TransPennine Express (dmus and emus)

Most trains between Manchester Airport and Blackpool North on Mondays to Saturdays are now formed by class 156 trains and therefore take a few minutes longer and lack First Class. Consequently some through workings and portions north of Preston to Windermere and Barrow-in-Furness are changed and some have swapped paths with Northern Rail trains. During the period of engineering works on Farnworth Tunnels from 2 May to 4 October these trains are mostly rerouted via Wigan on Mondays to Fridays and all are routed this way at weekends. See also below under Northern Rail.

London Midland (emus and dmus)

The timetable shows the Coventry – Nuneaton mainly hourly shuttle service serving new stations at Coventry Arena and Bermuda Park, but opening isn’t now expected till 21 June at least.

Northern Rail (emus, dmus and some diesel loco-hauled)

New stations will open during the duration of the timetable at Kirkstall Forge and at Apperley Bridge, but train times and opening dates aren’t shown. The hourly all 7 days Manchester – Todmorden trains are extended to Burnley (Manchester Road) and Blackburn. The Sunday trains from Metrocentre which previously ran hourly to Newcastle and Sunderland and 2-hourly on to Middlesbrough now run hourly to Middlesbrough. The previous 2 pairs of Sunday trains between Hartlepool and Darlington have seemingly been replaced but aren’t shown in the printed timetable. On Mondays to Saturdays 4 trains each way between Carlisle and Barrow-in-Furness with some extensions to Lancaster and Preston are now covered by loco-hauled trains. Since these are slower than the previous dmus, there are extensive detailed changes to the service.

As noted under First TransPennine, engineering works at Farnworth Tunnels between Salford Crescent and Bolton take place from 2 May to 4 October restricting line capacity on Mondays to Fridays; the wayside stations on this section are closed for the whole period. In general, only 3 trains per hour each way can run via Bolton: a Manchester Victoria – Blackpool North, a Manchester Victoria – Blackburn – Clitheroe and a Hazel Grove – Manchester – Preston. The Manchester Airport – Southport service runs fast via Atherton saving about 10 minutes! With a total blockage at weekends buses replace almost all relevant trains except the Hazel Grove / Chester – Manchester Piccadilly – Southport service which is diverted via Atherton. On Sundays the Manchester Victoria to Wigan Wallgate via Atherton local service runs from Manchester Oxford Road.

ScotRail (emus, dmus and diesel loco hauled)

On 1 April 2015, the previous First ScotRail franchise passed to two new franchises, mainly Abellio ScotRail but the overnight London sleepers passed to Caledonian Sleepers run by Serco without the services changing.

The prime ScotRail change is the extension from 6 September 2015 of the half-hourly service (hourly evenings and on Sundays) from Edinburgh to Newcraighall on to the Borders at Tweedbank; for the period to 30 August the Sunday service to Newcraighall is new. An hourly Sunday service also now runs from Glasgow Central to Paisley Canal, although this isn’t in the printed book. The Sunday Partick to Cumbernauld services now calls at the intermediate stations between Bellgrove and Springburn. On Saturday mornings there is an extra round trip between Glasgow Queen Street and Oban at 05 20 from Glasgow and 05 21 from Oban.

From 13 June till 26 July Winchburgh Tunnel on the main line from Edinburgh to Glasgow is closed for electrification works. The prime generally ¼ hourly Edinburgh to Glasgow Queen Street service is reduced to a half-hourly shuttle just from Linlithgow to Glasgow. There are 3 alternative routes from Edinburgh to Glasgow of which 2 are already electrified. The Edinburgh to Stirling and Dunblane trains are diverted and generally take an extra 10 minutes.

South West Trains (emus and dmus)

London Waterloo to Exeter trains are shown to call at a new station called Cranbrook on the outskirts of Exeter, but this didn’t occur at the beginning of the timetable period.

Thameslink Southern Great Northern (emus and dmus)

A complicated series of franchise changes described below is taking place. This will put the former First Capital Connect, Southern and a small part of Southeastern franchises into a single Thameslink Southern Great Northern franchise under the control of franchisee Govia Thameslink. For now they will trade under the brand names of Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express.

From 14 September 2014, Govia the present owner of the Southern franchise took over from First Capital Connect as the operator of Thameslink but the franchise remained legally separate from Southern. From 14 December 2014 Thameslink took over the Catford Loop line stations and trains from Southeastern. On 26 July 2015 the Southern franchise will be fully merged with Thameslink.

The new timetables which came into force on 11 January 2015 to reflect restricted line and platform capacity during reconstruction at London Bridge for the Thameslink project have worked very poorly. The peak service continues to be subject to frequent changes and the timetable book doesn’t reflect the present timetabled service, whatever that may be.

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