The Anonymous Widower

Are The UK’s Train Troubles Caused By A Perfect Storm?

I have wondered, why this year we have had such troubles over the May timetable change.

Let’s consider various factors.

The Average Train Driver

I would suspect that the demographics of the average train driver are very much like the average working person, who earns about the same salary.

They would be quite likely to be married or living with a partner and to have 2.4 children, some of whom could still be at school.

Like many of us, they probably enjoy a responsible drink, supporting and watching sport, especially football, and having the occasional holiday in the sun.

Some train drivers have had a more stressful winter than many, due to the Beast From The East and other bad weather.

Remember too, that not all drivers work in warm, air-conditioned trains.

So I suspect that like most of us, many were or still are looking for a holiday to blow away the winter.

The Late May Bank Holiday On May 28th

Next year it’s the 27th and in 2020 it’s the 25th.

Is this too close to the timetable change?

The Massive Timetable Change On May 20th

Normally, the May timetable change is much smaller and I can’t remember one that has caused so much disruption.

But this year, there was completely knew services for three major pieces of new infrastructure; Blackpool |Electrification, Thameslink and the Ordsall Chord.

Living in London, I don’t have day-to-day observations on the Northern services, but Thameslink has meant changes to many other services in the South East. Some of these new services seem to have a very high incidence of cancellation, which have been put down to driver shortage.

It also appears that here in the South East, the second week of the new timetable, could have been worse than the first week.

Surely, things should get better, with each week!

The Late Publishing Of The May 20th Timetable

This surely didn’t help and until we get a definitive view as to why Network Rail were so late with publishing it, I will not speculate.

The Beast From The East

This obviously had various effects on the railway industry.

As I said earlier, it probably contributed to the need for drivers to have a week off.

But did it also interrupt the training of drivers for the new routes?

Non-Delivery Of New Trains

The North was also due to get some extra trains.

Some Class 170 trains were supposed to be cascaded from ScotRail, but due to non-delivery of their replacements, they didn’t arrive.

Some Class 769 trains were supposed to be in service in December 2017, but they have not arrived.

The World Cup In Russia

This stretches from the 14th of June to the 15th of July.

This is the same length as 2014 in Brazil, but does the late May Bank Holiday put pressure on where working people can take a much needed holiday?


This year all these factors came together and the result was chaos!

I suspect, that a lot of drivers and other staff took a much-needed and well-deserved holiday after the May Bank Holiday!

Perhaps, it would be better to have the timetable change in June?


June 3, 2018 - Posted by | Transport


  1. I suspect this has something to do with the problems but I hope it’s resolved soon. My son works in Leeds and has a season ticket from Ilkley to Leeds and what was an efficient, on-time service has since the timetable change been an absolute nightmare. He should get the 8.16 a.m. but he is having to go to the station much earlier as it’s always heavily delayed or cancelled. He tells me that he is now usually catching the delayed 7.24 a.m. but it’s very hit and miss with long delays and cancellations then a lengthy wait outside Leeds for a platform. There are also problems returning but not as severe as in the mornings. It’s hard to understand how the Wharfedale & Airedale lines are so badly affected as the driver just does a triangular loop Ilkley-Leeds, Leeds-Skipton, Skipton-Bradford and Bradford-Ilkley and since the timetable change the journey is slightly shorter on our line with the train no longer stopping at Kirkstall Forge. The last train back to Ilkley is now 23.30 instead of 23.16 which no longer ties in with the final connecting King Cross8

    Comment by Little Miss Traveller | June 3, 2018 | Reply

    • I know that route well, as I have a friend in Guiseley.

      The only changes at Leeds should be more stops at Kirkstall Forge and a recasting of the TransPennine routes to take account of the Ordsall Chord. Nobody seems to be complaining about TransPennine, whose drivers would have to have learned the new routes.

      Could TransPennine have seen the problems caused by the dates and made sure they got all their drivers trained and perhaps offered some drivers extra incentives to move their holidays.

      I think it is also interesting, that no serious problems seem to have reported on long distance services.

      Comment by AnonW | June 3, 2018 | Reply

  2. ….service of the day 20.30 which arrives at 22.50 i.e.a long wait in Leeds as the next one out of London is an hour later being after the services have finished for the day.

    Comment by Little Miss Traveller | June 3, 2018 | Reply

    • I think that highlights a different problem of trains in the North.

      Places like Bournemouth, Brighton and Norwich get much later trains to and from London, than do Liverpool and Sheffield.

      Gatwick Airport gets an all-night service, as will Hathrow in the near future. Manchester Airport needs a 24 hour service.

      Perhaps, the North keep different hours to the South?

      Comment by AnonW | June 3, 2018 | Reply

      • I agree that Manchester Airport needs a 24 hour service but Leeds Bradford (our nearest airport) has terrible public transport access. There is an infrequent shuttle bus to Guiseley but it doesn’t call in to the station or necessarily tie in with trains and because I have to pay for both the bus and train separately it’s very expensive so if there are two of us we either park at the airport or take a taxi.

        Comment by Little Miss Traveller | June 3, 2018

  3. Except for Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, Newcastle and Southampton most airports outside London don’t have rail access.

    But most have masses of car parking.

    But then I do think outside of the \South East, people rely on cars a lot more.

    It will be interesting to see, if Liverpool and Leeds/Bradford actually get the promised rail connections and what effects they have.

    Remember, that at the South East’s newest airport; Southend, they built the station at the same time as the terminal.

    Comment by AnonW | June 3, 2018 | Reply

  4. I dare say someone will blame Brexit!

    Comment by mauricegreed | June 3, 2018 | Reply

    • You have to bear in mind, that Eastern |Europe and the Baltic States are expanding their railways, so it’s a possibility.

      Comment by AnonW | June 3, 2018 | Reply

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