What are the key changes to the new UK rail timetable beginning on Sunday?

14 December 2019, 00:24

Britain's railways will undergo a major timetable change on Sunday
Britain's railways will undergo a major timetable change on Sunday. Picture: PA

By Sylvia DeLuca

Here is everything you need to know about the major rail timetable change affecting many trains across the UK from Sunday.

The UK's railways will be impacted by a timetable change this weekend, which includes new non-stop train routes and shorter and more frequent journeys.

What are the main changes?

Good news for those travelling between London and Bristol - the first non-stop trains between these two cities in decades will be on the new timetable.

Journey times will be cut, frequencies increased and new routes added across the country following infrastructure investment and upgraded carriages, the Rail Delivery Group says. It estimates that the new timetable change will feature 1,000 extra weekly services.

"Many passengers should have a greater choice of services with more seats as result of these changes. However, there will also be some who lose out with fewer or slower services," admitted Anthony Smith, chief executive of the passenger watchdog Transport Focus.

Which routes will be affected?

The new non-stop trains between London Paddington and Bristol Parkway will have journey times as short as one hour and eight minutes.

Fastest journey times between the capital and Bristol Temple Meads - near the centre of the city - will be cut by 17 minutes to one hour and 19 minutes.

The frequency of trains on this routes will be increased from two per hour to three during the morning and evening peaks.

There will also be major improvements on the ScotRail network, with additional services in north-east Scotland and extra seats between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

A new station, Robroyston, will open in north-east Glasgow on the line between Queen Street and Cumbernauld.

There will be direct trains for the first time in decades between London and Bristol
There will be direct trains for the first time in decades between London and Bristol. Picture: Getty and PA

Other operators introducing new services are Greater Anglia, London North Eastern Railway, Northern, TfL Rail, Thameslink, Transpennine Express (TPE), Transport for Wales, West Midlands Railway and London Northwestern Railway.

TPE admitted last week that the frequency of its new direct Liverpool-Edinburgh trains will initially be lower than the planned hourly service.

The firm blamed a maintenance backlog and infrastructure problems for delaying crew training, as well as the late delivery of new trains.

Why is there a timetable change? Are fares affected?

Train timetables are changed twice a year, in May and December, but this normally does not affect train fares.

The launch of the May 2018 timetables saw services crippled in parts of the North and the South East, with blame attributed to Network Rail, train operators and the Government.

Anthony Smith said: "This time around passengers need the rail industry to deliver a smooth set of timetable improvements - so they can reliably use both new and existing services."

Mr Smith added that train companies must have plenty of visible staff on hand to guide passengers and answer questions on how the changes will affect them when the new timetable begins on Sunday.