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'Not all aspirations met' for new timetable, Chiltern Railways admits
AS months of disruption and engineering work comes to an end on the Chiltern Railway line, some passengers are questioning whether a much-trumpeted new timetable was worth it.
They are angry that no High Wycombe to London trains will meet the headline 23-minute journey time, while the 7.55am to Marylebone is the only peak morning service taking less than 30 minutes.
Bosses at Chiltern Railways this week admitted that “not all our aspirations have been met”, but pointed out that some trains coming back from London in the evening do meet the 23-minute time.
Passengers have endured about 18 months of disruption during the £250m rail upgrade, with weekend train users often having to use a bus replacement service via Amersham to get into the capital.
Commuter Alex Hawes, 24, said: “After putting up with weekend disruptions for ages and now the weekday replacement service I’m really disappointed....
“Yes, the 7.55 is fast but I need to be in the office for 8.30am so it’s no help to me.”
Another Beaconsfield commuter said she was left disappointed by the changes following the company's pledges to “transform” the line and “make significant journey time reductions to London”.
Publicity material produced over the past year has suggested that average journey times would be slashed by 20 per cent or more, but bosses conceded the peak journeys from High Wycombe will only be nine per cent quicker.
The new timetable is set to be introduced on September 4, following a final two weeks of engineering works and bus replacements.
A spokesman for Chiltern Railways said the new timetable represents a significant improvment, saying the 29-minute peak morning train will get into Marylebone at 8.24am, which is within the most popular arrival times for commuters. Currently the fastest train leaves High Wycombe at 6.24am.
She added: “The average PM peak reduction is 17% and the fastest train in the PM peak will be 27% faster than today’s fastest journey. We will also have six non-stop trains home in the evening peak compared to two today.
“When the initial announcement was made there was still a lot of planning to do around the timetable and infrastructure work.
“Not all our aspirations have been met in the morning peak, but we have done better than we expected in the evening peak – including a train taking just 22 minutes.”
“It is not possible to have all fast trains in the morning peak from every station as we only have one track which needs to carry a mixture of fast and stopping trains from over 30 stations.”
The company said it was committed to capping fares until March 2012, despite news of a potential nationwide fare increase on rail lines of up to eight per cent.
Click link below to see the full timetable.
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