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Eureka moment M

East Coast’s new timetable begins in May, increasing the number of seats available on its network by more than three million each year. But the changes have resulted in longer journeys on a small number of routes. Katie Silvester finds out more

ay will see the launch of the new East Coast timetable – nicknamed Eureka during its planning – which will see the number of

Monday to Thursday services jump from 136 to 155 per day, with Fridays getting 156 services. One of the main beneficiaries of the

changes will be York, which will get 11 additional non-stop services to and from London. Lincoln and Harrogate will get new direct services to King’s Cross, and Edinburgh will get a new Flying Scotsman four-hour service to and from London, calling only at

An East Coast service at Potter’s Bar in Hertfordshire

Newcastle. East Coast managing director Karen Boswell says: ‘As we have developed the timetable, we have taken into account future growth and demand, as well as the views and aspirations of a wide range of customers and stakeholders along the entire 920-mile East Coast route.’ She adds: ‘We are delighted to

introduce a new return service between Lincoln and London, and the first direct northbound service to Harrogate in almost 20 years.’ Other improvements include:

n A train every 30 minutes between Leeds and London King’s Cross;

n Later departures from London to

Edinburgh, Berwick-upon-Tweed and Newcastle; and

n Additional services from London to Newark. The timetable – which has to work

around other operators using the East Coast Main Line, including CrossCountry, Scotrail, Grand Central, Hull Trains and First Capital Connect, was developed by Network Rail, in consultation with East Coast. But the changes, which will begin on 22 May, also have their disadvantages and passengers in some locations will have fewer services, or longer journey times, then they do currently. Passenger Focus manager Guy

Dangerfield says: ‘This will be the biggest change to the East Coast timetable for many years and there are winners and losers. He adds: ‘Many passengers will welcome

these improvements, but there are downsides and the original proposals promised more.’ For example, the Peterborough to

London route – East Coast’s biggest market – will have fewer trains from London in the morning peak. Also, services are ‘bunched’ at some locations, resulting in uneven gaps between services. For example, at Grantham, there are two trains from London Kings Cross within 10 minutes, then nothing for the next 50 minutes. Jonathan Tyler, a consultant specialising

in the strategic development of integrated timetables, is a strong supporter of ‘clock face’ timetables, where service patterns repeat each hour. However, it has not been possible to do this across the board with the new timetable. ‘Of course there are some good points,’

he says, ‘but taken as a whole this timetable totally lacks vision and coherence, wastes resources and seems unlikely to deliver much net revenue gain to the railway.’ He adds: ‘We could have had a radical change, but planners were stifled by the

‘This will be the biggest change to the East Coast timetable for many years’

PAGE 14 MAY 2011

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