The new December weekday train timetable for Devon, Cornwall and Somerset has been launched today, providing faster journey times, more seats and more frequent services to key locations. Users are being warned to check before travelling to avoid being caught out.
Regular users have been asked to check their new journey times for the biggest timetable change on the network since 1976. GWR’s Intercity Express Trains (IETs) are taking advantage of infrastructure improvements to run to a fully-electric timetable between Newbury and London for the first time.
Train services between Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and London have been restructured to deliver a more consistent service pattern throughout the day, offering faster journey times and more frequent services to key locations.
The planned improvements are so significant, especially for those who travel regularly and are used to catching a particular service every day, that GWR launched an awareness campaign to highlight the changes ahead, and make sure customers are prepared,encouraging customers to find out more at www.gwr.com/timetable2019 before they head to their local station.
Richard Burningham, from the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership, said:
“It is not just the journey time savings in long-distance journeys to London, it is also about the significant improvement to many local trains across the two counties. It is no exaggeration to say that Devon and Cornwall local services will be the best they have ever been.”
Three more services a day will run between Paddington and the south west, running non-stop between Reading and Taunton. GWR expects average journey times to improve by as much as 11 minutes between Paddington and Penzance and seven minutes between Paddington and Plymouth.
A two-hourly semi-fast service between Paddington and Exeter St Davids will call at Reading, Newbury, Pewsey, Westbury, Castle Cary, Taunton and Tiverton Parkway.
GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said:
“This timetable has been a number of years in the making, enabling us to deliver the benefits of new Intercity Express Trains, and modernised infrastructure, for our customers. With the changes we realise that investment in trains and infrastructure, and deliver on the promise we made to customers for more services, more seats and faster journeys.
“More than 350 extra on-board staff have been taken on, more than 1,200 drivers trained, and we will have extra staff at stations throughout our network to help as we embark on this new journey.
“We have worked hard to help people understand how the changes will affect them. We have spoken with our customers as often as possible, possibly annoyingly so, to help ensure a smooth transition, but we all recognise there will be some issues to iron out as everyone gets used to the changes.”
Changes will also take place to branch line services, designed to improve capacity at the busiest times of the day and provide a more consistent service throughout the day:
- longer, more modern trains will operate on the Barnstaple line, giving a 17% increase in seats
- new earlier first train to Exeter with an arrival time at Exeter St Davids of 0731, in line with customer aspirations and an hourly calling pattern throughout the day, including the evening peak
- some intermediate station stops altered or removed to deliver the standard service pattern
- Devon Metro timetable recast to two trains per hour between Exmouth and Paignton, operated by four car services, with all Exeter Central services extended to Exeter St Davids
- Saturday services for Dawlish Warren increased to half-hourly
- timetable significantly recast to enable an hourly service to operate throughout the day between the busiest stations on the line. This will allow 15 round trips throughout the day on the line, in place of 12 currently, with off-peak services operating every two hours at intermediate stations.
“The timetable change this December will be the biggest since 1976 and will mean faster journeys and more frequent services for passengers.
“It follows unprecedented investment in railway infrastructure including electrification, improved signalling, upgraded stations and much more, which together with the introduction of new trains will transform rail travel.”
In the run-up to the timetable change GWR has sent six million emails to customers; put up hundreds of posters at sites across its network, both at stations and in the community; has run 60 meet-the-manager sessions at stations; has met with transport leaders across the network; and secured hours of airtime across the local media to raise awareness.