British Timetable Review May 2019


On 20 May 2018 took place the greatest change in the timetables of Britain’s railways at any one time in the 20+ years since privatisation. As readers will know, this did not go well because of ‘timetable melt down’ at both Govia Thameslink and at Northern. This led to a near complete freeze of changes for a year. Only in May 2019 has it been deemed practical to make further significant timetable changes including electrification in London, the West Midlands, the North-West and especially Scotland. The most extensive changes are again on Northern, Govia Thameslink and the electric services of London Northwestern / West Midlands Railway. Further deliveries of a large number of new types of trains will make timetabling quite volatile for the next 2 or 3 years at least.

c2c (emus)

On Saturdays and Sundays there is a new hourly train stopping only at Barking between Fenchurch Street and Benfleet. At the same time weekend trains from Fenchurch Street via Chafford Hundred which previously terminated at Southend Central continue to Shoeburyness.

Chiltern Railways (dmus and diesel loco-hauled)

Branch trains between Leamington Spa and Stratford-upon-Avon have mostly become extensions of trains from Marylebone to Banbury.

CrossCountry (dmus and HSTs)

On Mondays to Fridays three Manchester – Bristol Temple Meads trains are extended to Exeter St. Davids. 4 minutes has been added to the schedules of Nottingham – Birmingham – Cardiff trains for the future new station at Worcestershire Parkway.

East Midlands Trains (dmus and HSTs)

There are some shuffles of the timings of peak InterCity trains.

Great Western Railway (IETs, emus, dmus and diesel loco-hauled)

Great Western Railway (GWR) is preparing a largely new timetable from December 2019 to reflect electrification works from Didcot to Cardiff and to Chippenham. New hybrid IET trains already delivered have already replaced HSTs on express services from Paddington without change of timetable. In the meantime GWR have introduced one additional train from Cheltenham Spa to Paddington and back on Mondays to Fridays and added about 4 minutes to the schedules of most trains between Oxford and Worcester in anticipation of the opening of the new station at Worcestershire Parkway.

There are two changes in the West of England. After installation of extra signalling sections, on Mondays to Saturdays there are about half a dozen extra trains between Plymouth and Penzance filling in the gaps of the present irregular services. On the St. Ives branch the previous park and ride site at Lelant Saltings has been replaced by one at St. Erth. The halt at Lelant Saltings now has just a nominal service.

(Abellio) Greater Anglia (emus, dmus, and electric loco-hauled, plus possibly diesel)

Greater Anglia has ordered a completely new train fleet but none had entered service in time for the new timetable. On Mondays to Saturdays there are additional ‘Norwich in 90’ trains leaving Liverpool Street at 11 00 and 19 00 returning at 09 00 and 17 00. This has somewhat disrupted the pathing of other trains.

The timetable now reflects the temporary closure of the line between Reedham (Norfolk) and Great Yarmouth for engineering work. The few trains concerned now run via Acle. A new station in the Lea Valley at Meridian Water has replaced Angel Road. From September 2019 it will also be served by a half-hourly shuttle from Stratford all 7 days of the week. On Sundays the Liverpool Street – Southend Victoria trains which previously ran slow from Romford are now fast from Romford to Shenfield

London Northwestern / West Midlands Railway (emus, dmus and gas/flywheel)

In this timetable change the TOC has made widespread changes and improvements, mainly to electric services but diesel serves haven’t been forgotten. One important operational change was to link services north and south of Birmingham New Street on Mondays to Saturdays. The linkages aren’t symmetrical so one train per hour from Rugeley TV terminates at Birmingham International but returns to Liverpool. They offer through services from Euston, Watford Jn. and Milton Keynes to points beyond Birmingham such as Walsall, Wolverhampton and and Liverpool at fares often much cheaper than the faster express services of Virgin Trains.

Emu service via Stafford

The hourly service all 7 days from Euston via Nuneaton and other Trent Valley stations to Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent and Crewe is diverted to run direct between Stafford and Crewe. On Sundays this service used to run via Northampton as well but now runs direct except on Sunday mornings. An alternative service for Stoke-on-Trent runs hourly from Birmingham via Wolverhampton, Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent to Crewe with trains originating south of Birmingham on Mondays to Saturdays.

Emu service Euston to Milton Keynes, Northampton, Coventry and Birmingham

This is changed in detail with some extra peak short workings from Euston. On Sundays there is an extra hourly service from Euston to Birmingham via Northampton; south of Rugby this replaces the Euston – Crewe via Trent Valley service now running direct to Rugby.

Walsall and Cross-City

Walsall to Rugeley Trent Valley has been electrified but with little change of train service. Half of Cross-City emu services except evenings and Sundays used to terminate at Lichfield City; they now continue to Lichfield Trent Valley. The half-hourly evening service north of Birmingham to Lichfield has been increased to 4 trains per hour on Mondays to Fridays to Lichfield City and on Saturdays to Four Oaks.

Dmu services

There are various improvements to peak services through Birmingham Snow Hill. On Monday to Saturday evenings frequencies have been improved to very approximately half-hourly to Kidderminster, Whitlocks End and Dorridge. Between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury there are 2 changes. On Mondays to Saturdays there is a new hourly daytime semi-fast service from Birmingham New Street to Shrewsbury. On Sundays this TOC has replaced the 2-hourly TfW service local service between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury by an hourly service through from Birmingham New Street. Further south, on Mondays to Saturdays the services from Coventry to Nuneaton on one side and to Kenilworth and Leamington Spa on the other are linked into a through hourly service from Nuneaton to Leamington Spa.

London Overground (emus)

The timetable shows that the 7 days stopping service between Euston and Watford Jn. has been increased to quarter-hourly. In practice it is now 3 trains per hour very unevenly spaced. Because of delays in implementing new emus, the 7 days quarter-hourly service between Gospel Oak and Barking was only running half-hourly with extras at the beginning of the timetable period.

LNER (‘Azumas’, electric loco-hauled and HSTs)

Probably from 9 September the Monday to Saturday 2-hourly short working trains from Kings Cross to Newark Northgate are extended to Lincoln.

Northern (emus and dmus)

Northern continues to add services as transfer of additional units from other TOCs and electrification between Manchester, Bolton and Preston make possible.

Broadly east of the Pennines (diesel unless stated)

On Mondays to Saturdays most trains from Lincoln to Sheffield (on to Leeds) now run fast Worksop to Sheffield. The stops between are covered by an extra hourly shuttle Gainsborough Central – Sheffield

The following changes apply on Mondays to Saturdays. The gaps in the York via Selby to Hull service have been filled. The Sheffield – York direct service increased from 2 to 3 trains per day. There is an extra hourly off-peak semi-fast between Leeds and Harrogate, while the Huddersfield – Wakefield Kirkgate service is extended to Castleford. On Sundays the Leeds – ‘Dearne’ – Sheffield and the electric Leeds – Doncaster services increased form 2-hourly to hourly. There is an extra hourly Leeds – York stopping service enabling the Blackpool – York services to omit some intermediate stops.

On Mondays to Saturdays the half-hourly service from Hull to Bridlington continues to Scarborough hourly rather than every 1½ hours. On Sundays the hourly service to Bridlington continuing 2-hourly to Scarborough now runs through hourly. On Mondays to Saturdays there is an additional semi-fast from Newcastle to Carlisle operated as an extension of the Morpeth to Newcastle shuttle. Further south the service from Skipton to Lancaster and Morecambe is improved with changes in the ‘triangulation’ between Lancaster, Morecambe and Carnforth.

The North West (emus and dmus)

Electrification between Manchester, Bolton and Preston has enabled services to be rationalised, but presumably because of constraints of resources (human or rolling stock?), the new timetable only took full effect on 1 July. Northern’s new hourly service pattern between Manchester and Preston on Mondays to Saturdays is as follows:

Manchester Airport via Wigan to Preston and Lancaster, then 2 in 3 to Barrow-in-Furness and 1 in 3 to Windermere. The gap in hourly service between Lancaster and Barrow is filled by a train from Lancaster via Barrow and the Cumbrian Coast to Carlisle. These trains are diesel at least at present.

Manchester Airport via Bolton to Blackpool North skipping a few stops.

Hazel Grove via Bolton to Blackpool North skipping a few different stops.

Manchester Victoria to Preston all stations from Bolton.

Trains have barely been accelerated. In addition in the off-peak the Manchester Victoria – Bolton – Wigan Wallgate – Kirkby service has been split in two at Wigan Wallgate. Sunday services now follow a similar pattern without the Hazel Grove – Blackpool North train but the Manchester Victoria – Preston stopping train continuing to Blackpool North.

Other changes on Mondays to Saturdays are the re-extension of York – Preston services to Blackpool North, while one Leeds – Bradford Interchange – Manchester Victoria service continues hourly fast to Warrington Bank Quay and Chester. No doubt due to human resource constraints 3 hourly services have been withdrawn for the summer resuming in mid-September:

Manchester Piccadilly – Hazel Grove

Liverpool Lime Street – Wigan North Western

Manchester Victoria – Wigan Wallgate

ScotRail (HSTs, emus, dmus and diesel loco-hauled)

Under the EGIP (Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme) a number of lines have been electrified and with new trains services have been accelerated but without increases in service frequency, for example:

Edinburgh to Glasgow Queen Street High Level via Falkirk High

Edinburgh to Dunblane and Glasgow Queen Street High Level to Alloa in both cases via Sirling

Kirknewton via Shotts to Holytown for service from Edinburgh to Glasgow Central. However trains on this route still observe diesel timings

Frequency improvements can be expected when work at Glasgow Queen Street High Level is completed in 2020. Continued disruptive engineering works are in progress on the route from Aberdeen to Elgin and Inverness for completion in time for the December 2019 timetable change.

South Western Railway (emus and dmus)

South Western Railway took over the franchise from South West Trains in August 2017 with a commitment to making extensive changes. Most previously promised off-peak changes are unlikely to be implemented, but in May 2019 a number of improvements took place mainly to peak and shoulder-peak services. These particularly apply from Waterloo to the Portsmouth Direct line, towards Southampton and Bournemouth and in the suburban / outer suburban area of the Windsor Lines.

There are 2 sets of all-day changes to electric services. Almost all Portsmouth Direct express services join their equivalents on Sundays by calling at Godalming. On Mondays to Saturdays the Ascot – Aldershot – Guildford shuttle service is divided into 2 services. The trains from Ascot now terminate at Aldershot to connect into a new Guildford – Aldershot – Farnham shuttle. Finally for electric services, the Portsmouth Direct line has 3 extra Sunday fasts each way at 16 26, 17 26 and 18 26 from Portsmouth & Southsea to Waterloo and return, plus a single 18 10 from Poole to Waterloo restoring a 100-minute schedule from Bournemouth to Waterloo (a journey time customary when the line was electrified 50 years ago).

There are a large number of improvements to diesel services based at Salisbury. East of Salisbury the service from Waterloo on Monday to Saturday evenings increases to half-hourly. On Sundays there is an extra hourly service from Salisbury to Basingstoke and Reading from 07 52 to 15 52 for connections to Waterloo. West of Salisbury towards Yeovil Jn. there are two daytime ‘infill’ services on Mondays to Fridays to Yeovil Jn. and on Sundays two to Gillingham. There are various complex additions all days of the week on the services through from Waterloo via Salisbury to Westbury and variously on to Bristol Temple Meads, Frome, Castle Cary and Yeovil Pen Mill. There are now sufficient trains to make practical day trips from these stations to Waterloo.

TfL Rail (emus)

On Sundays the half-hourly short workings from Liverpool Street to Gidea Park continue to Shenfield as with the rest of the service. The Monday to Saturday TfL Rail half-hourly service from Paddington to Hayes & Harlington now runs on Sundays as well but not after mid-evening.

(Govia) Thameslink Railway (emus), Southern (emus and dmus) and Great Northern (emus)

Great Northern

On Mondays to Fridays with a few night exceptions, Hertford Loop trains have been withdrawn between Watton-at-Stone and Stevenage for engineering work at Stevenage.


The process of ‘filling out’ Thameslink services continues with the following additions to the hourly pattern through the ‘core’ between St. Pancras International and Blackfriars:

Mondays to Fridays
Up from 15 to 16 trains per hour with the Cambridge – Brighton service up to half-hourly.

Up from 7 to 11 trains per hour:

Extra Cambridge – Brighton hourly

Extra Bedford – Gatwick Airport half-hourly

Kentish Town – Rainham up to half-hourly

Up from 5 to 11 trains per hour:

Extra Cambridge – Gatwick Airport hourly (previously to Kings Cross)

Extra Bedford – Gatwick Airport hourly

Extra Bedford – Three Bridges hourly

Kentish Town – Rainham up to half-hourly

Luton – anti-clockwise via Sutton to Blackfriars extended to Luton

Blackfriars – clockwise via Sutton to Luton now extended from St. Albans but terminates at St. Albans. The oddity of the last 2 entries is that anti-clockwise trains run Luton to Luton but clockwise St. Albans to St. Albans

(First) TransPennine Express (emus and dmus)

Manchester to Edinburgh / Glasgow services via Carlisle serve Manchester Oxford Road again. From 9 September TPE will be running what is in principle a new 4-hourly service between Liverpool Lime Street and Glasgow Central 7 days. Intermediate stopping patterns and routing especially at both ends of the route are somewhat irregular. In various tables extensions are shown of a few trains north of Newcastle to Edinburgh. None are shown in operator publicity and have yet to start.

Transport for Wales (dmus and diesel loco-hauled)

A new service generally hourly has started between Liverpool Lime Street, Runcorn and Chester with odd extensions to Wrexham General.

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