Coronavirus: Northern train services to increase from next week

Coronavirus: Northern train services to increase from next week

Published by Harry Long at 2:03pm 12th May 2020.

The number of train services across Harrogate, Craven and Wharfedale is set to increase next week.

  • Train services in the North of England will increase from 45 per cent to 63 per cent of normal services from Monday.
  • It means more trains on the Harrogate, Airedale and Wharfedale lines.  
  • But it could be "many weeks" before normal levels of service resume.   

The head of Northern, the rail company that was nationalised earlier this year, told a meeting of the Transport for the North rail north committee that the number of services would rise from 45 percent to 63 percent of normal services from Monday.

However, the meeting was warned that it could be many weeks before train services returned to normal, as Covid-19 lockdown and social distancing rules mean staff have been unable to take part in routine training.

An updated rail timetable is introduced every May, and was originally due to be implemented this weekend.

harrogate train station

Nick Donovan, managing director of Northern, said:

“In terms of moving toward May 18, which will see an uplift in services from about 45 percent to about 63 percent in terms of service counts.

“A lot of social distancing promts will come from a communication-led approach. In the last seven weeks, my observations have been that the behaviours of the public who have been travelling have very much changed.

“I am quite encouraged that there is a behavioural change through the core of the travellers, and that will act as a prompt and a  nudge to those who start to travel again.

“There is already an enhanced cleaning regime in place – we need to remain nimble and agile to respond to the situation.

“We are ready to roll – it is a resource-led timetable. We have been stressing internally the resilience and reliability of the timetable as we rebuild it is paramount.”

Information presented to the meeting, entitled ‘restoration of full timetable’, warned:

“There is potentially a different railway in future from pre-Covid-19. Great uncertainty regarding passenger demand and capacity requirements.

“Restoration of a ‘full timetable’ is in effect the introduction of the full new May 2020 timetable (or a variant of it). However, few of the pre-conditions for new timetable introduction are in place.

“Whilst the full May 2020 timetable plan is agreed, successful implementation is dependent upon everything else being in place too – as we saw in May 2018.”

Northern Trains

It added that no training or train delivery has been able to continue due to the lockdown and social distancing, adding that it expects to have ‘significant staff shortages’ for weeks.

Mr Donovan said:

“The ability to lift up to capacity across the timetable will take time to get in place – this will happen later in the year. Social distancing may impact the way we run services.”

He also claimed no pacer trains would be in service from May 18, although a number will be kept in storage until the end of the year for contingency, adding: “We are hoping not to use those, but we want to keep them in some form.”