Transport Secretary apologises for timetable change delays

PUBLISHED: 18:16 23 May 2018 | UPDATED: 18:17 23 May 2018

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. Picture: Chris McAndrew. Licence available at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. Picture: Chris McAndrew. Licence available at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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The Transport Secretary has apologised to passengers whose train journeys have been disrupted by timetable changes.

Chris Grayling was speaking in a House of Commons debate on the East Coast railway, which was nationalised last week before Thameslink brought in timetable changes across their network, including St Albans, Harpenden and Radlett.

Commuters have reported trains being cancelled or very full following the introduction of the new schedule on Sunday, May 20.

Mr Grayling said: “What we have seen in the last few days has not been good enough.

“No one should underestimate the logistical challenge of introducing a timetable change. The changes have been made for a very good reason: they mean a big expansion of services across the country. A timetable change of such a scale involves reorganising staff rotas, training staff for new routes, and reorganising how we deploy our trains.

“It needed months of preparation, and I am afraid that a number of things went wrong, but most particularly the fact that for the second time in six months, Network Rail was far too late in finalising planned timetable changes and left the rest of the industry struggling to catch up.

“I am not happy with that at all and I have told the leadership of Network Rail that it cannot happen again.

“I know many passengers have had disrupted journeys; that is not good enough. I am sorry that that was the case, and everyone in my department and people elsewhere are working hard to get the problem sorted out.

“But this has been a major teething problem in what will be a step forward for the railways. Even with the unwanted cancellations, at the start of this week far more services were running than before the timetable change happened.

“I know that some people have experienced change that they are not happy with. We cannot deliver everything for everyone, but this is going to mean better journeys for thousands of people up and down the country.”

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