PLANS to make changes to Northern's winter train timetables have been reviewed following disruption in parts of the country after the May timetable change.

Northern, which runs services across East Lancashire, is one of eight operators set to make fewer changes to ensure people get more reliable trains.

Every year, the national timetable is routinely changed twice – for the summer (in May) and for the winter (in December) to allow services to adapt for seasonal variations and to enable new services to be introduced as a result of investment in the infrastructure and in new trains.

The timetable change in May 2018 was the largest in recent railway history.

Following widespread problems with delays and cancellations, Northern then launched an eight-week interim timetable in June, removing 165 trains - 6 per cent of services.

Customers in many parts of the country will still see changes to their timetables this winter, while elsewhere a more cautious approach will be taken with some planned improvements being introduced more gradually.

This approach – supported by Network Rail and train operating companies – has been adopted following the difficulties encountered with the May timetable.

The rail industry has reviewed its plans for December and bosses hope the measures will minimise disruption for passengers.

Sir Peter Hendy, Chair, Network Rail, said: "The railway industry has taken a long hard look at its plans for the next timetable change in December and, taking into account recent painful lessons, the industry has scaled back its ambition and tempered it with a more cautious, phased approach to introducing the new timetable.

"While there will still be new services introduced this December, other new services will now be introduced more gradually over the next few timetable changes to help smooth their introduction and maintain a reliable service for passengers and businesses alike.

"The railway is too vital for the health and wealth of our country to risk a repeat of the mistakes of May and this more balanced approach of ambition and caution is absolutely the right thing to do for the millions who rely on our railway everyday."

Blackburn with Darwen councillor Phil Riley, who sits on the board of Transport for the North, said following the chaos that questions over the ability of Northern to operate the franchise in the long-term were entirely valid.