Reduced timetables in Scotland and Wales


FRANCHISED OPERATIONS let by devolved authorities joined DfT franchises in implementing reduced timetables in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

ScotRail, whose service is managed by Transport Scotland, introduced a revised timetable from 23 March with a further cut a week later. The operator said this revision focused changes on areas where people needed it most, including access to key hospital locations. Most routes in the areas around Glasgow and Edinburgh were reduced to an hourly service, with some increased to half-hourly at peak periods. This included the flagship Edinburgh to Glasgow via Falkirk route, which usually operates at a 15-minute frequency. On Inter7City services, Aberdeen had two-hourly services operating to each of Glasgow and Edinburgh, while Inverness saw a two-hourly service to Glasgow only plus one late evening working to Edinburgh, although the Aberdeen to Inverness route was running broadly as normal. Rural routes saw further reductions, with only two return trips a day to each of Stranraer, Kyle of Lochalsh and Thurso/ Wick and reduced services on the West Highland line and Glasgow to Carlisle route via Dumfries.

Caledonian Sleeper instituted a special timetable from 22 March in co-operation with Transport Scotland. Rather than the usual Lowlander and Highlander services on each night of operation, only one 16-car service ran to and from London Euston, dividing at Edinburgh with portions for Glasgow Central and Inverness, with passengers to and from Edinburgh able to travel in the Glasgow portion and no services to either Aberdeen or Fort William. Caledonian Sleeper closed its Club Car, with its only catering provision being an in-room breakfast service, and station lounges also closed.

Transport for Wales Rail Services implemented a reduced timetable from Monday 23 March. This broadly introduced a Sunday service throughout the week, but with some additional morning services and a 90-minute frequency shuttle between Coryton and Radyr. Further reductions from 30 March saw Cambrian line services cut to two-hourly, one train a day on the Heart of Wales line, the Cardiff Bay shuttle cut from every 12 minutes to half-hourly, reduced services between Crewe and Chester and the removal of Chester to Liverpool services via the Halton curve, the two cities being linked by Merseyrail. From 6 April all but a handful of TfW services between Birmingham and Shrewsbury were also withdrawn. The Welsh Government has introduced free travel for NHS workers on TfW services.

Merseyrail, whose concession is managed by Merseytravel, introduced a revised timetable from Thursday 19 March, with services running every 30 minutes on all routes. Subsequent cuts included a plan to run no services after 19.00 but following feedback the operator introduced a small number of evening services until 22.00 to accommodate key workers. On Sundays most services were cut to hourly, but with a 45-minute frequency on the New Brighton and West Kirby lines and a shuttle between Hooton and Ellesmere Port.