Chaos on the railways as first rush hour since the biggest timetable overhaul in decades sees thousands of passengers stranded as trains are cancelled

  • Commuters stranded at stations across UK in first rush hour since the change
  • More than four million trains rescheduled in a new timetable starting Sunday
  • Shake-up designed to increase frequencies and reliability but caused chaos

Outraged train passengers have vented their anger as the biggest timetable change for decades comes into action, leaving commuters stranded at stations in rush hour.

More than four million trains across Britain were rescheduled from Sunday in a shake-up designed to increase overall frequencies and reliability.

But the new timetables on Great Northern, Thameslink and Southern have wreaked havoc at stations as delays and cancellations sweep the networks.

Over-crowding on the central core between London Blackfriars and St Pancras International at about 8.30am this morning. Thousands of passengers across the UK have faced delays and cancellations in rush hour

Passengers try to squeeze onto a crowded Thameslink train this morning departing from St Albans

With one in four UK rail users affected by the change, angry customers have taken to Twitter to complain that their journeys have been severely disrupted.

One frustrated commuter wrote: ‘@SouthernRailUK and @TLRailUK have managed to live up to our low expectations! Delays, cancellations and confused train staff. Well done guys!’

Another posted: ‘We don’t have a hope of getting to work!’

The new timetable extends stop times at busier stations and increases turnaround times at destination stations. 

Stations in London, Surrey, Sussex, Kent, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire have had their train times overhauled.

The major change is that trains across the southeast are being funnelled through a central core between London Blackfriars and St Pancras International.

Between 7am and 8am, 11 trains were cancelled going north and south from St Pancras.

Meanwhile, three trains in a row between East Croydon and London Bridge were axed, with passengers being told it was due to an ‘operational incident’. 

A Thameslink customer posted this picture in an angry message to the operator, complaining about how busy his train was at the peak of rush hour this morning

This commuter managed to get on at Harpenden station this morning at 7.34am – but it was very crowded and scores of passengers were forced to stand

The number of alterations is seven times larger than normal due to the introduction of new trains and services following billions of pounds of investment.

Many of the timetable changes are a result of the £7billion invested in the Thameslink programme in the South East.

This includes rebuilding London Bridge station, as well as introducing new trains and making track improvements.

Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith posted this picture of the central core between London Blackfriars and St Pancras International at about 8.30am this morning

This passenger vented his anger at cancellations across the Thameslink network on the first working day since the changes were implemented

‘We don’t have a hope of getting to work!’: This commuter complained that cancellations on Thameslink had meant later trains were too crowded to board

‘Delays, cancellations and confused station staff’: This passenger was not impressed by Southern and Thameslink this morning

‘Shocking service’: This Northern passenger sent a screenshot from his phone showing the cancellations of trains going to Manchester

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) – which consists of Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express – is the UK’s busiest franchise.

Departure times are changing for every train run by the firm, with almost 400 additional trains every day. 

It says it will have space for an extra 50,000 passengers travelling to London in the morning peak each day.

In addition, 80 more stations will have direct services to the centre of the capital.

But GTR warned that services could be disrupted as the new timetable was introduced.

Timetable changes came into effect on Sunday – the biggest change to be implemented for decades

The train operators said the disruption this morning on the second day of the new schedule was due to a ‘short-term planning amendment’.

When one Twitter user asked what this meant, the Thameslink account replied: ‘With the new timetable being introduced we have a lot of staff and stock in the wrong places. 

‘Some services have been altered/cancelled as a result whilst Control work to get everything in the right place.’ 

A GTR spokesman said on Sunday: ‘We are introducing the biggest change to rail timetables in a generation and, as we have been informing passengers, we expect some disruption to services in the initial stages.

‘This is a significant logistical challenge as we make rolling incremental changes across more than 3,000 daily services.

‘We apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused during the initial stages of the timetable change.

‘The improvements we are making will lead to a significant boost in capacity with a 135 increase in services across the GTR network immediately.’

Rail, Maritime and Transport union general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘The union is picking up reports from both Northern and GTR of a hopeless lack of planning, combined with a shortage of crew and fleet, which has reduced the Monday morning journey to a nightmare for many passengers.

‘It is our members dealing with the anger at the sharp end, not the well-paid top brass from Arriva and Govia who are responsible for this Meltdown Monday on our railways.

‘Both of these companies have sought to compromise safety and access by hacking back on critical staff and it is no surprise to RMT that they can’t be trusted with the massive logistical challenges of bringing in new timetables.

‘Frankly I wouldn’t trust the private train operators to run a bath, let alone our vital rail routes. 

‘After Virgin/Stagecoach were kicked off the East Coast last week, it’s time for the rest of these racketeers to be sent packing as well and for our railways to be run by the public sector as a public service.’

Source: Read Full Article