Where are the holiday trains?

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Today a much trumpeted new rail timetable comes into being.

the Borders Railway has demonstrated a pent-up demand for rail services

Commentators have talked about how Bristol will have a non-stop service into London, How there will be more services between Glasgow ad Edinburgh, how there will be faster services to Cardiff (a twelve minute saving) how the Welsh valleys will have a Sunday service, how there will be twice the number of carriages on trains between Manchester and Sheffield.

A new station opens at Robroyston in Scotland but, on the debit side, new trains to run in east Anglia have been delayed.

There is talk of whether the new timetable introduction will be as shambolic as last year’s was but there is little talk about another important matter.

What services will run over the Christmas holiday period? Will there be Boxing Day services? How many train lines will close down to allow for engineering works?

At Christmas, people still need to travel. The visit families, relations, make day trips to see light shows, museums, Boxing Day football and other sports events and pantomimes. Most people would prefer to use public transport because many of these are social occasions and a drink or two doesn’t go amiss. But if you drink, don’t drive. That mantra has become instilled but what option do people have?

Transport for London introduced night tubes, Scot Rail has services on Boxing Day but many other train companies have no services over Christmas. Then come engineering works when lines close down from Christmas Eve until January. This, we are told every year, because it is the quietist time to undertake the necessary work. Have the powers to be considered the fact that it is only quiet because the rail services are so lamentable during this period?

Building the Edinburgh to Tweedbank railway in Scotland proved one thing. Install a railway line and it will get used. As part of this timetabling change, extra carriages will be added to some popular services on this line. Already the line has carried over five million passengers since it opened four years ago.

In Wales, there was no train service from Ebbw Vale from 1962 until 2008. Now the service carries nearly a quarter of a million passengers just from Ebbw Vale Town.

Assessing demand is always difficult. The model for introducing new airline routes had to be turned on its head when low-cost flights began. The model for railway infrastructure is in dire need of modernisation so that holidaymakers, day-trippers, those taking short breaks as well as commuters can have a twenty-first century service.  

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