Timetable planning has reached ‘crucial’ points, warns ORR

The compilation of future timetables for the East and West Coast Main Lines has reached a ‘crucial’ stage at which important decisions must be made, according to the Office of Rail and Road.

Services in the new timetables are intended to make better use of capacity and also to be less likely to be disrupted. The regulator has written to the Department for Transport and Network Rail, setting out what must be done now. 

In the case of the WCML there are fewer than 40 weeks left before new timetables must come into effect. However, gaps identified by the ORR include a need for Network Rail to make its methods clearer, so that operators and their funders can take appropriate action. Passenger and freight operators should have submitted their proposed timetables by now, and it is essential that infrastructure projects, including those concerning the power supply, are carried out effectively. In producing the timetable, Network Rail also needs to provide its conclusions on capacity and performance for existing access applications. Only then can the ORR settle any disputes.

On the East Coast the proposed timetable from May 2023 has not yet been confirmed, and the options are ‘complex’. They include a decision on platform capacity at Newcastle, the resolution of any clashes in timetable and access applications and additional action by Network Rail to take freight traffic into account.

The ORR commented that the ECML ‘has faced access rights and timetabling issues for several years. Delaying decisions beyond April 2022 risks the same late decision on go/no-go as we saw in 2021. This resulted in uncertainty for operators.’

ORR chief executive John Larkinson added: ‘Industry has worked together well to deliver service pattern changes for recent timetables, but these were not full recasts of services at this level of complexity. Timely decisions are now needed to show lessons have been learnt and to provide passenger and freight operators with certainty when planning services.’

source= http://www.railnews.co.uk/news/2022/04/13-timetable-planning-has-reached-crucial.html