Wednesday 2 Dec 2009
PASSENGERS TO GET BETTER WEEKEND AND BANK HOLIDAY TRAIN SERVICE IN THE SOUTH WEST OF ENGLAND
Network Rail and the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), with support from Passenger Focus, today announced an initiative to further reduce the need for replacement buses at weekends and bank holidays.
The initiative will benefit passengers from Reading, Swindon, Chippenham, Bath, Bristol, Cheltenham Spa, Taunton, Weymouth, Exeter and Plymouth.
The industry aims to keep passengers on trains rather than have their rail journey interrupted by a bus journey. Achieving this will be a significant step towards the industry’s vision of a seven-day railway.
20 key routes that carry 60% of all weekend passengers have been identified for special attention. Among them are the main line between London and Cardiff Central, Birmingham and Plymouth and Waterloo and Weymouth.
Network Rail and train operators aim to offer a rail journey in almost all circumstances between key stations on these routes. The only exception is when the demands of rail improvement work make achieving this aim impractical.
Passengers are already benefiting from better services, while this commitment is introduced progressively over the next two years.
During this festive period, nearly all the routes in South West of England remain unaffected by improvement work with rail services operating business as usual, connecting major towns and cities in the region.
Iain Coucher, Network Rail chief executive, said: "Today's punctual, reliable and safe railway has seen passengers flocking back. Their expectations for a decent service at weekends and at bank holidays have grown and we must respond. Keeping passengers on trains and off buses is our aim. We're working towards that and today's commitment sets us firmly on that path."
Michael Roberts, ATOC chief executive, said: “Train operators are delivering an ever better and more reliable service to their customers. With record levels of punctuality, we need to look at further ways of improving services, to attract more passengers to rail. One way to achieve this is to ensure that, as far as possible, rail journeys at weekends and bank holidays are not interrupted by the need for a bus journey.”
Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive, said: “We are pleased that Network Rail and the train operators have signed up to our pledge, making a clear commitment to keep passengers on trains wherever possible rather than use buses, and to ensure certain towns and cities are connected by train at almost all times. We have been asked by the government to monitor this."
Notes to editors
The Regulatory Target - Network Rail has been set a regulated target by the ORR of reducing the disruption experienced by passengers because of planned engineering work by at least 37% by April 2014 and is well on course to achieving this target
Seven-day Railway - Several years ago the idea was conceived to significantly reduce the amount of time taken to do big pieces of vital rail improvement work thus enabling a better service to be offered to passengers at weekends and bank holidays. New engineering methods have had to be created, new machinery and technology introduced to make this vision a reality. Work is ongoing but good progress is being made.
For example, the replacement of a set of points has traditionally taken 54 hours. We have already halved the time taken to less than 27 hrs but our target is to reduce this even further
Planning - These commitments will now become progressively embedded in the railway's forward work and improvement schedule over the next 2 years.
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We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.
Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.