MUSIC lovers and sports fans travelling to gigs and games will benefit from more convenient train services under plans to make it easier for operators to offer more flexible timetables, Transport Minister Norman Baker has said.
The changes, which are being introduced after a successful trial during the London 2012 Games, will mean that on special occasions train operators will be able to adjust a small portion of the timetable to better serve passengers without seeking permission from the Government.
Mr Baker said: “The Olympic Games were a massive success and proved our transport system was able to successfully carry record numbers of passengers. We helped train operators cope with the changing demand by giving them more flexibility to give passengers the services they needed.
“This has proved such an unqualified success that we have decided to permanently cut the red tape involved in adjusting small portions of the timetable.
“The changes give train companies the opportunity to ensure passengers are able to plan ahead to ensure they make it to their football matches and concerts and back home again on time.”
Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), said: “This is good news for passengers. Train companies have been seeking greater freedom to adapt their timetables to suit the needs of their customers and this move will be a big boost for people wanting to enjoy many special events across the country.”
The changes enable operators in England to adapt their timetables to cater for events in the calendar year when changes in passenger demand are expected to be significantly different, such as during sporting and cultural events or during school holidays.
Train operators will be allowed to adjust up to 30 per cent of their timetabled services for special occasions, ensuring that more frequent passengers are still able to enjoy regular services.
The Transport Secretary will retain discretion over all timetable changes and the new measures and passenger benefits gained will be reviewed within the next year.