Row erupts as rail passengers unable to book cheap advance tickets because of timetable delay

A row has erupted after rail customers have been prevented from purchasing cheap train tickets well in advance due to a delay in confirming timetables.

Passengers who are usually able to purchase lower priced tickets 12 weeks in advance were informed they will be unable to do so over the next 6 months due to timetables being published later.

The Rail Delivery Group announced that from Sunday onwards passengers would be given as little as four weeks’ notice of new train times.

The issue has been caused by public sector company Network Rail, which is responsible for managing Britain’s rail infrastructure, failing to meet its obligation to publish timetables 12 weeks in advance from May 20.

Delays were caused due to uncertainty over which trains will not run because of engineering work.

Anthony Smith, the chief executive of Transport Focus anticipated that passengers would feel let down by the lack of information.

“Passengers have been badly let down and will be deeply frustrated that they can’t make plans with certainty,” he said.

“They are also at risk of paying more,” he continued.

Irate passengers took to Twitter to comment on the issue.

Victoria Coren wrote: “Hello again. I’m being told that GWR STILL don’t know whether trains are running between London and Cardiff on March 24th and 25th. It’s only a month away! People have to plan things! When will we know?!”

Christopher Fraser said: “where are all the advance tickets between Brighton – London? I can’t find ONE within the next three months?”

The RDG predicts that the problem will last six months.

It blamed a series of issues, including “unexpected alterations” to Network Rail projects such as the significantly delayed electrification work between Manchester and Preston.

The disruption is said to have infuriated some train operators.

The Office of Rail and Road – the industry regulator – said it would be conducting an informal enquiry into what had gone wrong.

The company has the power to fine Network Rail if it sees fit.

ORR chief executive Joanna Whittington said: “We will want to ensure that any lessons learned from this are properly addressed for the future.”

Network Rail said the decision to delay timetables “hasn’t been taken lightly”, adding: “We recognise this will be inconvenient for some passengers and can only apologise that we’ve had to take this step.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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