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Cornwall's new rail timetable gets delayed

Cornwall's new rail timetable gets delayed

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 3:07pm 7th August 2018. (Updated at 3:09pm 7th August 2018)

By Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

Plans to introduce a more frequent train service between Penzance and Plymouth have been put on hold for at least six months.

Cornwall had been set to see two trains an hour running through the county from December but that has now been delayed.

Network Rail has ordered all train operators in the country to abandon any winter timetable changes after a fiasco in May saw timetable changes lead to tens of thousands of services being cancelled.

As a result the new services which had been set to be introduced by train operator GWR in December have been delayed until May 2019 at the earliest.

The new services are a key part of Cornwall Council’s new One Public Transport System for Cornwall which is aiming to bring together public transport in the county to make it easier for people to get around the county.

Under the major project the council is aiming to align bus, train and ferry services as well as introduce a one-ticket for all services system, similar to the Oyster card used in London.

These changes are being introduced along with contactless payment for public transport and new technology for people to access timetables and services.

Cornwall Council said that it was disappointed by the delay to the new train services but said that it would continue with the plans to upgrade bus services and other operations.

rail train

So what do officials say?

“Network Rail remain on track to deliver the signalling upgrading works by the end of November 2017, which will enable improved timetables and increased capacity, but we will not see the two trains per hour being introduced until May 2019 at the earliest.

“We are in contact with GWR on what timetable pattern will be introduced in May 2019 and what, if any, changes will come in in December 2018.

“This will have an impact on the One Public Transport System for Cornwall however the changes to the bus operations and upgrades will continue as planned to work around the delay in the introduction of the new rail timetable.”

Cornwall Council

“This will be disappointing news for customers, but as we have seen elsewhere on the network it is important that everyone is confident in the industry’s ability to deliver on timetable improvements as important as these.

“Although the delivery of trains and crew remains on track, it is clear from the recent review that there is some nervousness about the ability of the industry to deliver the new timetable in December 2018.

“Given that position, we understand why Andrew Haines has recommended holding off key aspects of the December 2018 timetable change until May 2019 to protect day to day journeys for customers.

“Changes to track layout and depot access in December will mean the current timetable cannot simply be extended, and some work to re-write timetables will be needed. We will be working with Network Rail to make sure both our planning teams have the support and resource required to ensure a smooth transition.”

GWR

 

 

Railway

 

“The railway industry has taken a long, hard look at its plans for the next timetable change in December and, taking into account recent painful lessons, the industry has scaled back its ambition and tempered it with a more cautious, phased approach to introducing the new timetable.

“While there will still be new services introduced this December, other new services will now be introduced more gradually over the next few timetable changes to help smooth their introduction and maintain a reliable service for passengers and businesses alike.

“The railway is too vital for the health and wealth of our country to risk a repeat of the mistakes of May, and this more balanced approach of ambition and caution is absolutely the right thing to do for the millions who rely on our railway every day.”

Network Rail chairman, Sir Peter Hendy

“In parts of the country, many people have suffered unacceptable disruption following the introduction of the new timetable in May for which we are sincerely sorry. The industry is determined to learn the lessons from what went wrong. After careful consideration, Network Rail and train operators are acting now to make sure people get a reliable service when the December timetable is introduced, which means some improvements will be delivered more slowly than originally planned.”

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group

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