Serious disruption to continue for at least two weeks

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The Independent Online

Rail passengers can expect "significant" alterations to journey times for at least another two weeks, the rail industry announced yesterday and while services today will be better than the skeleton timetable offered at the the weekend, long delays are likely to continue, especially on high-speed lines.

Rail passengers can expect "significant" alterations to journey times for at least another two weeks, the rail industry announced yesterday and while services today will be better than the skeleton timetable offered at the the weekend, long delays are likely to continue, especially on high-speed lines.

Disruptions will be largely concentrated on express routes as their tracks are most likely to be affected by "gauge corner cracking", the fault that caused the Hatfield disaster. But delays and cancellations are also expected on regional and commuter lines into big cities, although operators believe they will be less disruptive.

Alan Marshall, the editorial director of Rail News, said problems will be magnified for those trying to catch connections during on their journeys.

The network will be "stabilised" by today, when up to 15 per cent of the 160 speed restrictions should be withdrawn. "People won't see significant changes to their journey times for at least another two weeks. The entire network won't return to a normal timetable for another six to eight weeks," said a Railtrack spokesman.

Virgin

Delays of more than an hour can be expected today on London Euston-Glasgow services and up to an hour on trains linking the capital with the North- west of England, including Manchester and Liverpool.

Passengers on London- West Midlands services can expect delays of about half an hour, coming down to 20 minutes later in the week. Off-peak London-Birmingham services will be hourly instead of half- hourly, but there will be "almost" the same number of peak-time trains. London-Manchester trains will run on an hourly basis, but some additional services will be dropped.

There will be no through trains to Holyhead: passengers must change at Crewe and the once-a-day service from London to Blackpool and back will be cancelled, with passengers changing at Preston.

Midland Mainline

All services between Yorkshire, the East Midlands and London St Pancras will be delayed by up to 90 minutes and an emergency timetable is in place. Off-peak services will be cut from four to two and hour, while around eight out of ten scheduled trains will run during the busiest periods.

Great North Eastern

About 85 per cent of express services on the London King's Cross routes to Yorkshire and the North-east will operate today due to the diversion around Hatfield, Delays of up to one hour can be expected and there will be a similar timetable for the next fortnight. A GNE spokesman urged passengers to travel at off-peak times if possible.

First Great Western

From today, an emergency timetable will be in place and kept under review. Services from Bristol Temple Meads to Paddington will operate hourly rather than half-hourly. There may be delays of up to 90 minutes on the Paddington-Exeter-Plymouth-Penzance lines; those bound for Devon and Cornwall will need to change at Taunton. The operator predicts that Swansea-Paddington services will be maintained at one every hour.

Operators running most services but with delays (especially on long journeys) are: Central Trains, Connex, First Great Eastern, South West Trains, Virgin Cross Country and Wales & West. Others have emergency timetables, including: Anglia, Gatwick Express, Hull Trains, Silverlink, Thameslink and West Anglia Great Northern. Expect delays.

There are 10 train operators that are not greatly affected: C2C, Chiltern Trains, Eurostar, First North Western, Heathrow Express, Merseyrail, Northern Spirit, Scotrail, Thames Trains and Valley Lines.

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