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Govia Thameslink and Northern Rail abandon timetable changes following travel chaos

Rail timetable changes proposed for December are to be discarded in an effort to avoid a repeat of the travel chaos that swept the country in May.

A huge number of services failed to run on Govia Thameslink Railway and Northern due to timetable amendments, resulting in commuter misery for thousands of passengers.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling criticised rail companies for “wholly unsatisfactory levels of disruption” following the changes.

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The much-maligned rail operators are among eight rail franchises that will leave timetables unchanged, according to The Guardian.

Other services are reported to be prioritising reliable services over additional trains, with only minor changes planned.

Companies who had planned to introduce more services this winter are deferring this until 2019 in an attempt to minimise further disruption. 

The Network Rail chairman, Sir Peter Hendy, said: “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. 

“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.”

Both Thameslink and Northern rail services are expected to run the full May timetable by the end of the year. 

Great Western Railway and services that intersect with Thameslink and Northern will also remain unaltered.

Paul Plummer, the chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: “Our ambition to deliver a once-in-a-generation step change in the quality of rail services is right, but reliability for customers must come first, and that’s what today’s announcement aims to ensure.”

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