Reduced timetables – the passenger experience

28 October 2022

Transport Focus has been monitoring the passenger experience on both Avanti West Coast and Transpennine Express services since the introduction of reduced timetables by both operators in August and September respectively.

The primary aim of introducing a reduced timetable is to ensure a reliable service is delivered to passengers so they can travel with greater certainty without the frustration and inconvenience caused by short-notice cancellations.

Last month we turned to the members of our Transport User Panel to better understand the experiences of those travelling with Avanti and/or wanting to amend or purchase tickets. Within a few days nearly 600 panel members had told us of their various experiences.

We are now keeping an eye on experiences on TransPennine Express since it moved to an emergency timetable last month and found common issues.

It is clear that the primary aim of certainty and meeting the key principles of a reduced timetable is not being met. Our concerns remain that passengers are still having a poor journey experience.

We have written to Avanti and TransPennine Express asking them:

  • for details on current punctuality and performance on each individual route
  • about plans to improve punctuality and reliability to a minimum of agreed targets on each route
  • how prepared they are for the timetable changes proposed for December 2022 and May 2023 and ensure that services can be delivered on a consistent basis.

While Avanti has published a recovery plan, this will come into place in December which still leaves issues for passengers travelling until then.

Passengers must be able to rely on timetables. We are still waiting to see the promised improvement of certainty that the reduced timetables are designed to deliver.

We will continue monitoring the situation and feeding back to operators on how to do better for passengers and making sure our key stakeholders are informed by this work.

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