BRITISH TIMETABLE REVIEW – May 2016
by Alan de Burton
Overview and Timetable Format
Unless otherwise specified, the text refers to Monday to Saturday timetables. Major changes this time are limited to unplanned temporary line closures between Appleby and Carlisle and Folkestone and Dover because of earthworks failures, planned electrification works between Gospel Oak and Barking, through the Severn Tunnel and at Glasgow Queen Street High Level, and finally reconstruction at London Bridge for Thameslink.
The December 2015 issue appeared at one time to be the last for a complete Network Rail paper timetable. Middleton Press initially decided to publish no more than the British section of the European timetable (previously ‘Cook’s’) because of poor data quality. After pressure on Network Rail from the regulators Middleton Press was finally able to publish the May 2016 timetable in usual format at the end of August. I compiled much of this summary originally from a combination of operator publicity backed up by timetable articles published in the relevant railway magazines. The eventual ‘May’ issue is in 2 volumes of enormous bulk, partly because it includes major duplication or triplication of tables for the engineering work already mentioned.
Abellio Greater Anglia (emus, dmus, electric loco-hauled and diesel loco-hauled)
In recent years the company has operated summer Saturday extras between Norwich and Great Yarmouth; this year they run on Mondays to Fridays as well. A new station has opened at Lea Bridge, on the line between Tottenham Hale and Stratford.
Arriva Trains Wales (dmus and some diesel loco-hauled)
Although too late for any publicity, the company was able to extend its Monday to Saturday trains from Llandudno to Manchester Piccadilly on to Manchester Airport at off-peak times on Mondays to Fridays and all day on Saturdays. Since the timetable only shows the extension by footnote, it doesn’t actually give departure times from Manchester Airport.
Chiltern Trains (dmus and some diesel loco-hauled)
There is the usual array of minor changes.
C2c’s ‘start again’ timetable on Mondays to Fridays introduced in December 2015 hasn’t worked well and has been subject to frequent changes. They have promised a new timetable in December 2016 and I won’t comment further till then.
East Midlands Trains (HSTs and dmus)
The service from Matlock to Nottingham already extended to Newark (Castle) on Mondays to Fridays has been extended on Saturdays too.
Great Western (HSTs, dmus and diesel loco-hauled sleepers)
The timetable is largely ‘marking time’ while electrification work is in progress. From September, a few peak dmu services between Paddington and Greenford will be diverted to Hayes & Harlington as emus and replaced by shuttles between West Ealing and Greenford. There are stock changes on Paddington to Oxford fast services between HSTs and class 165 / 166 and class 180 dmus to better balance train capacity against train loadings.
Stops at Didcot on Paddington to Bristol and South Wales services have been shuffled somewhat. GWR have supplemented the basically hourly Sunday service from Paddington to Bristol by a number of off-interval extra trains.
The route through the Severn Tunnel will be closed between 12 September and 23 October for electrification work. Paddington – Swansea trains will be diverted via Gloucester adding 30 – 40 minutes to the journey. The additional Monday to Friday service from Paddington to Cardiff will be cut short at Bristol Parkway. Trains from Portsmouth Harbour and Taunton to Cardiff will be diverted to Bristol Parkway for bus connections to Newport.
London Overground (emus and dmus)
The line between Gospel Oak and Barking is closed for most of the timetable period for electrification works. East London services after 22 00 in the evening have been improved on Mondays to Saturdays.
Northern Trains (emus, dmus and diesel loco-hauled)
Remapping of franchises between TransPennine and Northern took place on on 1 April 2016. Northern now have full responsibility for trains from Manchester to Blackpool, Barrow-in-Furness and Windermere, although at first continuing to hire stock from TransPennine Express. Stock changes have led to significant detailed alterations to train services.
A new station opened at Kirkstall Forge on 19 June between Leeds and the new station at Apperley Bridge itself opened at the previous timetable change. However, Kirkstall Forge is only served hourly, mainly by Ilkley trains. The Settle & Carlisle line between Appleby and Carlisle has been closed since February because of a serious embankment slip, and will remain closed at the Carlisle end for the rest of this timetable period. The timetable book shows most services extended from Appleby as far as Armathwaite from 1 August although the extension actually occurred on 27 June.
ScotRail (emus, dmus and diesel loco-hauled)
There were major changes to services from 20 March 2016 till 8 August 2016 when the High Level platforms at Glasgow Queen Street were closed for major engineering work. Services from Edinburgh via Falkirk, Stirling and the West Highland Line were diverted to the Low Level platforms at Glasgow Queen Street, while services from Inverness and Aberdeen were diverted to Glasgow Central.
Some of the changes were in effect permanent. On Mondays to Saturdays, electric services via Glasgow Queen Street Low Level and to a lesser extent via Glasgow Central Low Level were extensively revised in detail, for example in stopping patterns and service linkages across central Glasgow. The Monday to Saturday service from Cumbernauld via reversal at Springburn through to Dalmuir was extended to Dumbarton Central. In the evenings an extra half-hourly service from Airdrie to Dalmuir has enabled the Edinburgh – Helensburgh services to be speeded up by omitting many wayside stops.
With the previous timetable change, a new station west of the old replaced the previous station at Rochester. However, various essentially temporary timetable changes had to be made pending resignalling which took place at Easter 2016. Further changes took place then including reversal of a few peak trains at Sole Street and at Rainham (Kent) for the first time.
During the 2015 Christmas period, the line between Folkestone Central and Dover was severed by a serious collapse of the sea wall which closed the line for over 8 months. The main change was to terminate all trains from the Ashford direction at Folkestone Central and introduce temporary service patterns between Dover and Ramsgate. While Network Rail restored service from 5 September, this was rather ahead of publicity which shows the blockage extending till December.
Major engineering works related to the Thameslink project took place in the London Bridge area over the August Bank Holiday period. All the comments hereafter refer to the service after the Bank Holiday. Trains from Cannon Street are now unable to stop at London Bridge but trains from Charing Cross resumed calling except in the Down direction in the morning peak and in the Up direction in the evening peak. While the beginning of the blockage in January 2015 had surprisingly little impact on service structures, Southeastern have taken the opportunity to make much more extensive changes and improvements including the use of some 12-car suburban services. They intend this timetable to last until final Thameslink services are implemented probably in 2018.
There are varying changes on the routes to Dartford and beyond. Some morning peak trains run fast against peak flow. There are changes in the peaks to route linkages east and west of Dartford. On Sunday mornings the stopping service starting at Gravesend commences 2 hours earlier. Most stations on the line via Woolwich now have a peak flow service to and from Charing Cross. The Sidcup line benefits in 2 ways; on Mondays to Saturdays the reduction in evening services from 4 to 2 trains per hour takes place 2 hours later, while the 4 trains per hour service on Saturday mornings starts 2 hours earlier.
Previously the 4 trains per hour off-peak Hayes service was divided 2 and 2 between Charing Cross and Cannon Street. It now all runs from Charing Cross, except on Sundays when it all runs from Cannon Street. The Bromley North service starts an hour earlier on Mondays to Fridays and ends an hour later on Mondays to Saturdays; Sundridge Park has lost from an increase in the peak service from 3 to about 4 trains per hour since it is then skipped by some trains against peak flow. The off-peak Sevenoaks service runs from Charing Cross rather than Cannon Street on Mondays to Saturdays, but as with Hayes continues to serve Cannon Street on Sundays. The late evening frequency break on Mondays to Saturdays is now 1½ hours later.
The Victoria – Orpington 15 minute stopping service continues for another 3 hours almost to end of service on Mondays to Saturdays. The Medway Valley line runs an hour later on Sundays, when there are also a couple of extra trains between Faversham and Canterbury East. Finally the off-peak Cannon Street – Tunbridge Wells service on Mondays to Saturdays is rerouted to run from Charing Cross.
South West Trains (emus and dmus)
There have been some further improvements to diesel services around Yeovil. South West Trains operated 2 return workings between Yeovil Junction and Weymouth with a reversal at Pen Mill on summer Saturdays. Some of the recently introduced extra Sunday evening fast trains from Waterloo to Salisbury call additionally at Andover.
Virgin Trains East Coast (electric loco-hauled and diesel HST)
On Mondays to Fridays most of the daytime trains from Kings Cross just to Newcastle have been extended to Edinburgh leaving only about 3 gaps in a 2 trains per hour service.
Virgin Trains (i.e. West Coast) (emu and dmu)
The ‘flagship’ Monday to Friday 16 30 from Euston to Glasgow in 4h 08m now follows the normal stopping pattern and takes 4h 31m. There are a number of shuffles and extra intermediate stops at Rugby and the Trent Valley stations and post evening peak on Fridays.