Cutbacks in BR timetable hit London commuters

BRITISH RAIL'S new timetable comes into force today showing reductions in several services but not yet reflecting the 25 per cent cut in subsidy from the Government, writes Christian Wolmar.

The most severely affected are peak-hour commuter services and Sunday trains in and out of London. The London Regional Passengers' Committee has calculated that 8 per cent of peak-hour services have been withdrawn compared with last year, with capacity reduced by 12 per cent because shorter trains are being used.

John Cartledge, assistant secretary of the LRPC, accepts the cuts had to be made in view of the loss of almost a fifth of commuters in three years. He is more concerned about Sunday services, with many Kent lines down to an hourly service from a half-hourly one. He said: 'BR seems to have no consistent policy on Sunday services. They are reducing on some lines . . . because they have trains there which need two crew rather than one.'

On other parts of the network there are few cuts, with InterCity removing about 20 of its daily 780 trains. A spokesman for Regional Railways said that only a few early morning trains were being cut and several new services were being added.

Brian Wilson, Labour's transport spokesman, said: 'These cuts are relatively mild . . . Next year we will see much bigger reductions as preparations for privatisation are made.'

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