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Travel News Changes to British train schedules from Dec 11th

Changes to British train schedules from Dec 11th

Discover what is and, perhaps more importantly, what is not changing, on railway routes in England and Scotland at the next timetable change.

| Last Updated: 23 days ago
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When the UK rail timetables are updated on December 11th, some of the train operating companies are either revamping or enhancing their schedules, but most aren't seemingly planning major changes.
New opportunities for journeys by direct train are pretty much absent, but what's particularly disappointing is that many of the services which were available on the pre-Covid timetables, which came into effect in mid-December 2019, still haven't been restored.

Avanti West Coast

Though this isn't universal, as some welcome news is that some Anglo-Scottish services which were taken off the post-Covid timetables, have returned.
Many travellers will benefit from the return of direct trains between Glasgow and Birmingham New Street on the route via Carlisle and Preston.
These Avanti West Coast trains are cheaper than CrossCountry's less frequent services on the longer route via Leeds and they cut down the number of connections required on many journeys.

Avanti West Coast has also restored some other services to its planned schedule, which leads to an assumption that its current much-reduced timetable will indeed be temporary.
The evident plan is that from Dec 11th, the London to/from Manchester route is back to three trains per hour.
There will also be a significant increase of trains on the London ↔ Chester route, which comes close to matching the hourly service, which was available back in 2019.

GWR and LNER - no significant changes

GWR, which operates the trains between London and Bristol, South Wales, Devon/Cornwall and The Cotswolds, has pretty much retained its current service pattern.
So the once promised service of three trains per hour between London and Bristol with one faster train per hour, has still to be introduced.
LNER, which operates the routes between London and both Leeds and Edinburgh, is evidently also not planning any significant changes from December 11th.
Therefore what had been a long-established pattern of three trains per hour between London and Newcastle, with some of those services extended to provide three hourly trains between London and Edinburgh, won't be available.
On the new timetable the twice per hour London - York - Newcastle - Edinburgh is still the core Anglo-Scottish service provided by LNER, with the same pattern of trains which serve destinations north of Edinburgh.
Although SMTJ has read reports that LNER may have, in effect, held over sweeping changes to its schedules, including fastest ever London ↔ Edinburgh services, until the next major update to British train timetables on May 20th.

CrossCountry's services:

Another train operating company which still won't, evidently be restoring its pre-Covid schedules is CrossCountry.
Its north <> south timetable back in 2019 had continued an established service pattern which can be summarised as:

  • Bristol - Birmingham - Sheffield - Leeds - Newcastle - Edinburgh = 1 x train per hour with some services extended at both ends of the route
  • Bristol - Birmingham - Stoke - Manchester = every other hour
  • Exeter - Taunton - Bristol - Birmingham - Stoke - Manchester = every other hour
  • Bournemouth - Southampton - Reading - Oxford - Banbury - Birmingham - Stoke - Manchester = every other hour
  • Reading - Oxford - Birmingham - Stoke - Manchester = every other hour
  • Southampton - Reading - Oxford - Banbury - Birmingham - Sheffield - Newcastle = every other hour
  • Reading - Oxford - Banbury - Birmingham - Sheffield - Doncaster - Newcastle = every other hour

During 2022 the services in bold were retained, but the services between both Bristol and Exeter with Manchester were in effect merged into an hourly Birmingham ↔ Manchester service, with just three trains per day in each direction extended to provide a service between Bristol and Manchester.
The Reading ↔ Newcastle via Doncaster service was reduced to two trains per day on a Banbury ↔ Newcastle via Doncaster route, but the Southampton ↔ Newcastle service had been cancelled completely.
The Reading ↔ Manchester service, which had enabled an hourly service between these two points, when combined with the retained, Bournemouth ↔ Manchester service, has come down to 1 x train per day.

It looks very much like this pattern will be retained on the new timetable.
Pre-Covid two fast trains per hour were available between Birmingham and a swathe of other destinations including Bristol, Manchester, Reading via Oxford and Sheffield
Instead these routes now, and will on the new timetable, only have an hourly service in many hours during the day; though the Birmingham ↔ Reading route falls short of even having hourly schedule.
Therefore Exeter, Bristol and Southampton will also continue to have a much reduced service when travelling by train to/from destinations north of Birmingham.

Scotrail services:

Thanks to a program of electrifying some of its most used routes, plus an associated acquisition of many additional trains, Scotrail had increased its services on many routes, back on that Dec 2019, pre-Covid timetable.
Stealing the headlines back then was the doubling of the services on the fastest EdinburghGlasgow route to 4 x trains per hour during the day.
The inevitable post-Covid reduction in demand, cut this back to 2 x trains per day, but from December 11th, this 4 x trains service is coming back in peak hours.

Major Changes to TransPennine Express services

One train operating company is introducing a significantly revamped schedule from December 11th, and that company is TransPennine Express (TPE), hence an image of one of its smart new(ish) Nova 1 trains at the top of the page!

It's new core service pattern on its east <> west routes will evidently be:

  • Liverpool - Manchester Victoria - Huddersfield - Leeds - York - Darlington - Durham - Newcastle = 1 x train per hour
  • Manchester Airport - Manchester Piccadilly - Manchester Victoria - Huddersfield - Leeds - York - Middlesbrough - Redcar - (Saltburn) = 1 x train per hour
  • Manchester Piccadilly - Huddersfield - Leeds - York - Darlington - Durham - Newcastle = 1 x train every other hour
  • Manchester Piccadilly - Huddersfield - Leeds - York - Scarborough = = 1 x train every other hour
  • Liverpool - Manchester Victoria - Huddersfield - Leeds - Hull = 1 x train per hour
  • Liverpool - Manchester Piccadilly - Sheffield - Doncaster - Grimsby - Cleethorpes = 1 x train per hour

It's existing, post-Covid core service pattern on its east <> west routes is:

  • Liverpool - Manchester Victoria - Huddersfield - Leeds - York - Darlington - Durham - Newcastle = 1 x train per hour
  • Manchester Airport - Manchester Piccadilly - Manchester Victoria - Huddersfield - Leeds - York - Middlesbrough - Redcar - (Saltburn) = 1 x train per hour
  • Manchester Piccadilly - Huddersfield - Leeds - Hull = 1 x train per hour
  • York - Scarborough = 1 x train per hour
  • Manchester Airport - Manchester Piccadilly - Sheffield - Doncaster - Grimsby - Cleethorpes = 1 x train per hour
    Note that is the usual schedule, which TransPennine Express intends to operate.

Therefore compared to the current services, the following improvements are planned.

  1. Two additional fast hourly trains will be available between Manchester and Liverpool.
  2. An extra hourly service will be available between Manchester and Leeds and between Manchester and York.
  3. Liverpool will gain an extra hourly service to/from Leeds.
  4. Significantly more trains will be available when travelling between Manchester and Darlington, Durham & Newcastle.
  5. Scarborough will have its regular service of direct trains to/from both Leeds and Manchester restored.
  6. Liverpool will gain an additional hourly service to/from Sheffield.

In effect this will restore many frequencies between cities, which had been briefly available when TransPennine launched a much enhanced timetable back in 2019.

Author

Simon Harper

I wanted to share my passion for train travel and explain how anyone can take the fantastic journeys I have taken.

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