HomeTravelAll aboard: New and restored rail links will appear this weekend

All aboard: New and restored rail links will appear this weekend

From Middlesbrough to Moldova, rail travellers across Great Britain and Europe are set to benefit from new and restored rail links from 12 December.

New timetables traditionally change on the second Sunday of December. Usually there is a modest amount of adjustment. But this winter many of the timetable and network gaps created by Covid-related train cancellations are to be restored this weekend.

The biggest benefits are on the East Coast and West Coast main lines.

On the East Coast main line, which runs from London King’s Cross to Yorkshire, northeast England and Scotland, state-run LNER is launching its first service between the capital and Middlesbrough.

Initially the train will run once a day each way from Monday to Friday, departing from the Teesside town at 7.08am and arriving at King’s Cross at 10.22am. It calls only at Thornaby and York. Advance tickets for the first departure are available at £38.60.

National Rail notes that passengers can actually arrive earlier by taking a slightly later train from Middlesbrough and changing at Northallerton for a Grand Central service to London.

The new Lumo “open access” operator is to add extra services linking Edinburgh, Newcastle and London. From 14 December a new early morning southbound departure will leave the Scottish capital at 6.14am between Tuesday and Friday. It will also offer a non-stop trip from Newcastle at 7.57am, arriving at London King’s Cross at 10.50am.

The return Lumo train leaves London at 12.18pm, arriving in Newcastle exactly three hours later and reaching Edinburgh at 4.41pm. The new pattern of two trains each way from Saturday to Monday and three each way from Tuesday to Friday will continue to the end of the year. Early in 2022 the frequency should increase to five per day in each direction.

Also on the East Coast line, Hull Trains will add a seventh weekday service, a sixth Sunday departure and extra coaches on busy Friday and Saturday trains. And Grand Central brings back its fifth daily service between London and Sunderland.

Avanti West Coast, the main operator from London Euston to the West Midlands, northwest England, north Wales and southern Scotland, will restore the London-Manchester Piccadilly service to three trains per hour. A spokesperson said: “The return of the additional Manchester services reflects the increased passenger numbers on the route.

“We will continue to review our current timetable in collaboration with stakeholders from government, Network Rail and industry partners.”

The Euston to Birmingham New Street service remains at two per hour, though it is supplemented by slower trains on London Northwestern and an additional Chiltern Railways option from London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street and Snow Hill.

Northampton gets a second fast service to London Euston.

In Yorkshire, Northern restores faster Leeds-Barnsley-Sheffield and Halifax-Leeds-Hull links, and extends Leeds-Knaresborough trains to York.

East Midlands Railway is reinstating 22 regional services, including the full reintroduction of the epic Liverpool-Norwich service, which takes five-and-a-half hours to cover what is a direct distance of 180 miles via Manchester, Sheffield and Nottingham.

Soham in Cambridgeshire gets a new station, on the Peterborough-Ely-Ipswich line.

The main change on GWR is bringing back the half-hourly Cardiff Central-London Paddington frequency – though some of the additional services on the 145-mile run will be operated by slower “outer suburban” trains that normally venture no further than Didcot.

South Western Railway is ending all links from Salisbury via Bath to Bristol – which previously provided a useful alternative between the capital and the West of England.

In the London area, the Gatwick Express will be restored from Monday – running nonstop between Victoria and the airport.

The city of Winchester in Hampshire is restored to the CrossCountry network, offering direct services to Birmingham and beyond.

ScotRail is making only minor changes ahead of a much wider revision at the next major timetable change in May 2022. On the Moray Firth, inks from Inverness via Nairn to Elgin will increase.

Abroad, the latest edition of the European Rail Timetable reveals significant additions in southeastern Europe.

The rail link between Odessa in Ukraine and Przemysl in Poland has been reinstated, as well as the international service between Iasi in Romania and Chisinau, capital of Moldova.

Between Ukraine’s finest city, Odessa and Chisinau, trains will run three days a week.

Further north, Allegro express services between St Petersburg and Helsinki will resume with the start of the new timetable, but they will initially only be available to Finnish and Russian citizens.

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