London Northwestern aim get train services to London back on track
Beleaguered train bosses are starting a raft of timetable changes more than two months early in a bid to improve London Northwestern Railway services from Hertfordshire into and out London Euston.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps gave the operator an ultimatum to cut delays and cancellations or face being stripped of their franchise to operate services from Tring, Berkhamsted and Hemel Hempstead.
But the number of northbound off-peak journeys stopping at Cheddington will be cut by half from Monday (March 2) in a bid to boost reliability. trains heading towards Birmingham will stop every hour instead of half-hourly between 8am and 5pm.
The cuts are due to last for 11 weeks, until the new timetable is introduced in May. But LNWR gave no indication if the services will be re-instated after that.
LNWR has pinned hopes on a major rewrite of their problematic timetable in May. But some of the planned changes will now be up and running on Monday.
Timing of trains through Hertfordshire will be unchanged but cutting out stops at Cheddington from Monday and north of Birmingham after March 16 will improve reliability on services to and from London Euston.
A spokesman for LNWR said: "Due to the complexity of the planning processes involved, changes to railway timetables can usually only be made twice each year, in mid-May and mid-December.
"However, as part of our improvement plan to improve reliability, the operator has won the agreement of Network Rail to make a number of important alterations starting from next Monday.
"These changes will build on improvements made in December 2019 and will lay the groundwork for more substantial alterations in May 2020."
LNWR's parent company West Midlands Trains launched a major recruitment drive after a shortage of drivers and conductors caused issues with the May 2019 timetable.
And a planned refurbishment programme was halted earlier this month in an attempt to solve problems issues surrounding the reliability of its 16-year-old rolling stock while a fleet of 225 new carriages is being built in Derby.
Cancellations on the route are down 80 per cent and the number of trains arriving on time has risen from 68.1 per cent in November to 83.1 per cent last month according to the industry-standard Public Performance Measure.
London Northwestern managing director Julian Edwards said: "Negotiating to bring these amendments forward by more than two months has not been easy but improving the experience for our passengers as quickly as possible is our top priority."