Northern is calling on rail travellers to prepare for timetable changes as the industry adapts to a ‘new normal’ as a result of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. September will see the introduction of new timetables, delivering more services in many areas and extending operating hours in others.
The timetables don’t represent a return to pre-Covid service levels, but reflect the challenges faced by the operator and the changing demands of customers, many of whom will be returning to workplaces and schools for the first time in several months.
Steve Hopkinson, Regional Director at Northern, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on society and the railway has not been immune from that.
“We are doing all we can to continue to provide the best possible service for customers across the network. Many members of staff have been shielding and the knock-on effects of the virus will be felt for many months.
“With limited resources, the timetables we are set to introduce in September reflect the new normal for Northern and have been designed to provide as many services as possible, at the times our customers need them, without risking punctuality and reliability.
“We want our customers to have confidence in the service we are offering and our plan to reintroduce services in a phased way will give those customers the stability they deserve.”
The approach does, however, mean that some routes will not see any enhancements as part of the new timetables and, on a handful of routes there will be a reduction in services.
Steve added: “We have to balance the demand for services with other factors, such as driver and conductor training, which have been paused for six months during the pandemic because of social distancing restrictions.
“We have brought in as many additional services as possible with the resource we have available and have prioritised routes and times where there is the most significant demand.
“Of course, all routes are important to us and we keenly understand the role we play in providing mobility for the communities we serve. As such we will do all we can to reintroduce further services when it is possible and appropriate to do so.”
The changes that affect the CRL area are shown below:
Leeds/York – the full hourly service reinstated to operate between Blackpool North & York, and giving additional peak services calling at Mill Hill, Bamber Bridge & Lostock Hall in the Preston direction.
Preston to Blackburn – the ‘all stations’ 17:14 Preston to Blackburn is reinstated giving more capacity in the evening peak
Todmorden Curve – remains 3 hourly Mondays to Saturdays, but 06:19 no longer runs with first service being the 07:14 from Blackburn – tickets routed via Todmorden can be used to change at Hebden Bridge or used on the direct service from Blackburn. Currently no Sunday service – tickets valid as above.
Lancashire Triangle (Colne – Preston, Preston – Ormskirk, Preston – Blackpool South – remains the same Mon to Sat with some two-hour gaps. Sunday sees a 2-hourly service between Colne & Blackpool South.
Manchester to Southport – full reinstatement of service with hourly Alderley Edge (Manchester Piccadilly) to Southport and hourly Stalybridge (Manchester Victoria) to Southport.