Alan Williams - October 2021

Following last month’s column and the Department for Transport’s subsequent confirmation that the proposed May 2022 East Coast main line timetable change will not go ahead (‘informed Sources’, last month and ‘news Front’, this month), I received a mini tsunami of further examples of proposed transgressions, requests for further information and invitations to comment.

Of the six participants in the consultation, three (LNER, Transpennine Express and Northern) each then sent me their own versions of the Dft announcement – itself surely a demonstration of how far we have to go to achieve the ‘one railway’ envisaged in the ‘great British Railways’ concept.

All listed five key reasons – some might say excuses – for the delay to ‘at least’ May 2023. But they are hardly surprising or new. Of the five, only ‘fleet availability’ in order to allow Hitachi time to repair cracks in 800 Series trains was arguably not entirely clear when the various consultations were announced earlier in the summer, although on its own that should not have been a showstopper. The need for both ‘further modelling’ and ‘additional timetable development to enable successful integration of freight paths’ was surely already obvious. The need for increased traction power supply has been known for some time, albeit complicated by recent issues with increasing the power draw from the feeder station at Retford.

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