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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 December, 2004, 15:53 GMT
Train firm forced to cut services
Central Train
There will be fewer chances to catch a train in the new year
A rail firm in central England is having to cut services because of industrial action from next week.

Central Trains provides the bulk of services across the Midlands and into East Anglia, the North West and Wales.

A timetable with fewer trains will start on 1 January, when an existing overtime agreement with ASLEF runs out.

Steve Banaghan, for Central Trains, said: "It is with great reluctance that we will introduce a special timetable on our services."

'No choice'

The company has yet to publish the new timetables but said they will be available from its website or National Rail inquiries.

An agreement covering voluntary overtime, for working on rest days to provide cover for holidays and sickness runs out on 31 December.

Mr Banaghan, deputy managing director, added: "We certainly don't want to start the New Year by causing any inconvenience to our passengers as they travel to see friends, family, visit the sales or return to work.

"But unfortunately we have no choice but to reduce some of our services in the current timetable, so that we can be sure we will have enough drivers on duty to run the majority of our planned services."

He said new timetables will offer a "consistent service" and avoid last minute cancellations.

Other disputes

He said the firm would try and cut off-peak services, where possible for its 115,000 passengers daily on 1,323 services.

The franchise for local services running though, or to and from, the Midlands will disappear when services are transferred to other operators in 2006.

Passengers are only just getting used to the last major timetable change introduced on 11 December, although this was widely-advertised and is part of the normal twice-annual revision of services.

The latest action follows on from unrelated ongoing disputes in the rail industry affecting Midland Mainline services from London to the East Midlands and Yorkshire, as well as Tube services.

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