Commuters suffer delays and cancellations on first day of new timetables

16 December 2019, 10:13

File photo: A Great Western Railway mainline train
File photo: A Great Western Railway mainline train. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Fuming commuters suffered heavy delays and cancellations on the first day of the new train timetables after a signal failure near London.

Passengers travelling from the Reading area to Paddington on Great Western Railway services faced long waits and packed trains after the failure early on Monday morning.

Disruption was expected to continue until lunchtime, with delays of up to 30 minutes and further cancellations expected.

Due to strike action by the RMT union, travellers on South Western Railway have been warned of fewer trains, earlier finishes and some replacement buses throughout December.

Services are expected to be affected every day until January 2.

Elsewhere on the network, a landslip between Epsom in Surrey and Motspur Park in south-west London left all lines between the two stations blocked.

The disruption was expected to last until the end of the day, with services being altered and replacement buses running.

Some early-morning trains operated by Northern Rail were also cancelled due to a shortage of drivers.

The operator's website listed the issue as affecting a number of services, including between Blackpool North and Manchester Airport, Leeds to York and Sheffield, and Darlington to Saltburn.

As of 8am on Monday, the Transpennine Express had 24 cancellations listed for throughout the day due to a shortage of crew or train faults.

Affected services included those linking Manchester Airport with Edinburgh and Newcastle, and trains from Liverpool Lime Street to Scarborough.

Passengers on Great Western Railway were being warned to expect cancellations, delays and fewer trains between Reading and London Paddington due to a fault with the signalling system at Maidenhead.

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.

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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