December Timetable Change – What’s Happening?
On December 10th, 2023, the twice-annual timetable change will take place. Here’s what to expect during the December Timetable Change this year.
What’s happening during the December Timetable Change?
Here’s our summary of what’s happening with each operator during the December Timetable Change. Some operators are making improvements, while others are reducing their timetable to make it more reliable.
Avanti West Coast
The timetable will largely remain the same after the December 2023 timetable change. A couple of extra services will be added to the Birmingham route so that there’ll be three trains per hour at the busiest times of the day.
Additional weekday trains will run at 07:21 and 07:37 from Leigh-on-Sea to London Fenchurch Street. The 07:29 train from Thorpe Bay to London Fenchurch Street will leave at 07:31 instead and no longer stop at Laindon.
Trains on the Ockendon Line will be operated by new five-car Class 720 Aventra trains on Saturdays.
There will be some minor changes to departure times. As well as this, the following weekday trains will stop additionally at Islip:
- 06:47 London Marylebone – Oxford (calls at Islip at 08:00)
- 17:49 Oxford – London Marylebone (calls at Islip at 17:59).
These weekday trains will make an extra stop at Saunderton:
- 06:05 Oxford – London Marylebone (calls at Saunderton at 06:44).
From the December 2023 timetable change, the 09:01 train from Saunderton to London Marylebone will no longer stop there. It’s hoped that this stop will be reinstated in June 2024.
On weekdays, a more consistent half-hourly service will be re-introduced between Nottingham and Birmingham New Street.
East Midlands Railway
Some gaps in the timetable, which appeared during the pandemic, will be filled. The following trains will be introduced on weekdays:
- 05:53, 16:16 Nottingham – Crewe
- 08:10, 18:10 Crewe – Nottingham
- 08:51 Liverpool Lime Street – Nottingham
On Saturdays, these trains will be added to the timetable:
- 18:00 Lincoln – Peterborough
- 19:26 Peterborough – Lincoln.
The 05:01 service from Nottingham to Sleaford will be withdrawn due to low passenger numbers.
Some morning peak services from Reading to Abbey Wood will stop additionally at Acton Main Line.
Great Western Railway
There will be several different alterations to the timetable across the Great Western Railway network.
Reading to Gatwick Route
All services on the North Downs Line will run between Reading and Gatwick Airport twice per hour.
They’ll run in a ‘skip-stop’ fashion, so one train will run limited-stop between Reading and Guildford, then stop at more stations towards Redhill, while the other one will serve more stops on the first half of the journey, then run limited-stop after Guildford.
Some end-to-end journeys will take longer, but you’ll not need to change at Redhill.
Services at Didcot Parkway
London Paddington to Cardiff Central and London Paddington to Worcester (and beyond) services will stop additionally at Didcot Parkway.
At the same time, the Didcot Parkway to Oxford stopping service will be reduced to hourly during the Off-Peak period. During peak times, extra trains will still run to meet demand at Radley, Culham and Appleford.
Extra trains across the network
There will be several extra services introduced to reduce overcrowding from the December 2023 timetable change.
On weekdays, there’ll be an additional 07:39 service from Reading to London Paddington, stopping only at Maidenhead on the way.
On Saturdays, you can expect the following new trains:
- 09:15, 10:13, 11:15, 13:15, 18:33 London Paddington – Swindon
- 10:25, 11:46, 12:49 Swindon – London Paddington
- 10:45 London Paddington – Weston-super-Mare
- 09:18 Bristol Temple Meads – London Paddington.
At the same time, some longer-distance trains will become pick-up only at Reading to free up capacity for passengers travelling further.
In Devon, the following new trains will run:
- 20:24, 21:26 Exmouth – Paignton
- 22:18 Newton Abbot – Paignton
- 20:52 Paignton – Exmouth
- 21:38, 22:40, 23:15 Paignton – Exeter St David’s
- 21:58 Paignton – Newton Abbot.
On Sundays, these new services will operate:
- 11:05, 11:58, 13:05, 15:13, 16:13, 17:13, 18:13, 20:05 London Paddington – Swindon
- 08:45, 11:30, 13:30, 14:30, 15:30, 16:50, 18:50, 19:50 Swindon – London Paddington.
Some services on the London Paddington to Great Malvern route will also increase from five coaches to nine.
The additional Swindon-Paddington (and vice-versa) services will be operated by Class 387 electric trains and will not have First Class, on-board catering or seat reservations.
On weekdays, a new train will run at 07:25 from Ipswich to London Liverpool Street. In the evenings, an additional 19:05 London Liverpool Street to Braintree will operate.
The 18:05 London Liverpool Street to Braintree will now have 10 carriages (instead of five).
Three additional trains will run on Sundays. There’ll be an extra return trip between Leeds and London King’s Cross and an extra morning service between Doncaster and London King’s Cross.
Eight existing Sunday trains will also have extra carriages added. Five-carriage trains between Leeds/Lincoln and London will increase to nine or 10 carriages.
As a result of these changes, the 09:05 and 17:05 trains from London King’s Cross to Harrogate will no longer stop at Horsforth. This is because the longer trains aren’t able to be accommodated there.
London Northwestern Railway
There will be some alterations as a result of the December 2023 timetable change.
There’ll be a more frequent half-hourly service on the Birmingham to Liverpool Lime Street route. During peak hours on weekdays and all-day Saturdays, you’ll find two trains per hour.
The Crewe to Birmingham New Street service (via Stoke-on-Trent) will only run between Crewe and Stafford. It’s expected that this will be extended to Birmingham again in the future when new stations are opened at Willenhall and Darlaston.
This means that the service at Penkridge will be reduced to hourly during Off-Peak times on weekdays.
Finally, longer trains will be provided on the busiest trains in and out of London Euston on Sundays.
There’ll be an additional two-hourly service between Newcastle and Middlesbrough, stopping only at Sunderland and Thornaby. When platform works are finished at Hartlepool, they’ll stop there too.
The following changes will take place in Yorkshire:
- The 17:51 Huddersfield to Sheffield service will be withdrawn
- The Huddersfield to Castleford service will be taken over by TransPennine Express
- Doncaster to Leeds services will be reduced from four carriages to three
- Knottingley to Leeds (via Streethouse) trains will be extended to four carriages during peak hours and one service will stop additionally at Outwood at 08:08 (to mitigate the reduction in capacity on Doncaster trains)
- Some trains on the Bradford to Ilkley/Skipton/Leeds routes will be reduced to three carriages.
You’ll see these changes in the North West:
- Most Manchester Piccadilly to Buxton trains will be reduced to two carriages during Off-Peak times
- Selected quieter Blackpool North to Manchester Airport trains will be reduced to four carriages
- Some Liverpool Lime Street to Wigan North Western trains will be reduced to three carriages
- Busier Liverpool Lime Street to Manchester Airport trains will be increased to four carriages.
There will be some different changes from December 2023. Here are the most significant ones:
- Several local Inverurie/Aberdeen to Montrose services will be withdrawn. Extra stops have been added to long-distance services where necessary
- On the Glasgow Central to Gourock route, seven additional trains have been added on Sundays
- Cathcart Circle services will be re-introduced. This will give every station a minimum of a half-hourly service
- ‘Fast’ services will be re-introduced on the Edinburgh to Glasgow (via Shotts) route throughout the day. They’ll stop at Bellshill, Shotts, West Calder, Livingston South and Haymarket on the way
- Dunbar to Edinburgh trains will additionally stop at Wallyford.
There will also be some minor timetable changes to other services. You should check the ScotRail website for more details.
South Western Railway
As passenger numbers have recovered, direct trains from Overton, Whitchurch (Hants), Grateley and London Waterloo will be restored. There’ll now be two trains per hour from Salisbury to London Waterloo throughout the day.
There’ll also be additional through trains from East Devon and Yeovil Junction/Pen Mill to/from London Waterloo.
There’ll be some additional weekday trains added as a result of the December 2023 timetable change:
- 06:31 Crayford – London Charing Cross
- 08:04 London Cannon Street – London Cannon Street (via Greenwich and Sidcup)
As a result of the changes above, the 05:55 Gillingham to London Charing Cross will run non-stop from New Eltham to London Bridge.
The 07:26 New Cross to London Cannon Street will start back from London Cannon Street at 07:15. This will create another full ‘rounder’ service via Sidcup and Greenwich.
Albany Park will gain some additional trains. The 05:26, 05:55, 06:25 and 06:55 trains from Crayford to London Charing Cross will stop there.
Finally, the 07:44 Hayes to London Charing Cross will now depart at 07:50.
There’ll be two additional trains in the morning peak:
- 06:44 Ashford International to London Charing Cross (via Paddock Wood)
- 07:43 Maidstone East to London Charing Cross
The weekday Off-Peak service between Faversham and London St Pancras International will return to half-hourly. These trains will be added to the timetable:
- 08:50, 09:50, 10:50, 11:50, 12:50, 13:50, 14:50, 19:50 St Pancras – Faversham
- 10:26, 11:26, 12:26, 13:26, 14:26, 15:26, 16:26, 17:26 Faversham – St Pancras.
The Tonbridge to Redhill Line will run hourly throughout the day. There’ll be some extra trains at school times.
The 10:10 East Croydon to Watford Junction service will be extended to Hemel Hempstead, and the 11:52 Watford Junction to Clapham Junction service will start back from Hemel Hempstead at 11:38.
Some Horsham/Dorking – London Victoria services will be extended from five carriages to eight or 10, to meet demand.
The Off-Peak service will be restored at Newhaven Harbour. Trains will run hourly, and there will be extra services at peak times.
Finally, the 23:32 Brighton to Eastbourne will now stop at Glynde and Berwick (Sussex).
The Stansted Express service will return to four trains per hour all day. Most journeys will also be slightly quicker.
- Some Bedford to London services will be retimed to speed up journey times
- The 07:03 Bedford to Three Bridges will be diverted to East Grinstead. An additional 09:14 East Grinstead to London Bridge service will now run on weekdays
- Trains between Brighton and Cambridge will stop additionally at Preston Park and Hassocks during peak hours.
As TransPennine Express moves to increase reliability and seeks to deliver a predictable timetable, many services will be reduced.
- Liverpool Lime Street to Hull services will run only between Manchester Piccadilly and Hull. They’ll also stop at all stations between Huddersfield and Leeds
- Manchester Piccadilly to Scarborough/Newcastle services will no longer run. Services to/from Scarborough will mostly start/terminate at York
- The Manchester Piccadilly to Huddersfield service will be extended to York via Castleford at peak times. Two trains will run in each direction in the morning and evening. Notably, these trains will run non-stop from Castleford to York (not via Leeds)
- The Huddersfield to Leeds service will be withdrawn.
Additional trains will run at peak times to maintain capacity where possible. However, the overall ‘fast’ Off-Peak capacity between Manchester and Leeds/York will reduce considerably.
Transport for Wales
There will be a number of changes and improvements taking place.
- The Liverpool Lime Street to Chester (via Frodsham) service will return to running every hour
- Trains between Bidston and Wrexham Central will run every 45 minutes. All services will also stop at Hawarden Bridge on request
- A new service will run between Newport and Ebbw Vale Town, every hour
- The Cardiff Central to Pontypridd shuttle service will be withdrawn.
Transport for Wales has since announced that increased services from Liverpool to Chester and Newport to Ebbw Vale are delayed until January 2024. This is due to insufficient trains being available to operate these routes at present.
Some services will also be retimed. You can check the full details here.
West Midlands Railway
- The 23:22 Birmingham New Street to Hednesford will continue to Rugeley Trent Valley on weekdays
- Trains on the Snow Hill Lines will be lengthened to ease congestion
- Services to Earlswood (West Midlands) will run later on Sunday evenings.
Is there anything else I should know?
Looking to book a trip? We’d recommend doing it with Railsmartr. We don’t charge any fees on refunds or exchanges, so there’s no penalty for changing your mind.
We’ve recently launched our brand new website too, so you can enjoy even more Expert Tips to help you travel like a boss.