Forest of Dean students hit by train timetable changes

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image captionServices to and from Lydney Station were altered when the coronavirus pandemic started

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.css-14iz86j-BoldText{font-weight:bold;}Parents of students who use the train in Gloucestershire say timetable changes have left their children with a three-hour commute.

Two services from Lydney were withdrawn by CrossCountry when it introduced a coronavirus timetable.

Several schools have asked for them to be reinstated, citing safeguarding concerns.

CrossCountry said it had removed stops to allow services to cope with social distancing.

The scrapped trains were the 07:15 from Chepstow to Cheltenham, and the 16:15 from Cheltenham to Chepstow.

Sarah Taylor-Phillips, from Lydney, said her son George has to “run at full pelt” to catch his train after school, with only a “50 percent chance of catching it on time”.

On the previous timetable, George’s commute was just over an hour each way.

When school finishes at 15:40, George has to cover 1.3 miles in 18 minutes to catch a train.

After that, the next departure is 17:24, giving a door-to-door time of two hours 50 minutes.

forest of dean students hit by train timetable changes 1 - Forest of Dean students hit by train timetable changesimage copyrightSarah Taylor-Phillips
image captionSarah Taylor-Phillips’ children George and Kate face much longer journeys from their home in Lydney

Teachers from Denmark Road, Sir Thomas Rich and The Crypt schools in Gloucester have also written asking for services to be restored.

Chris Carter, deputy head at Sir Thomas Rich said pupils waiting around at Gloucester station would be “of particular concern in the darker winter months.”

Phil Stanlake, senior deputy headmaster at The Crypt School said it would cause “unnecessary anxiety about safe travel.”

CrossCountry Trains said: “The need to create space for social distancing has meant we can use fewer seats on each train, and we need longer at the busiest stations to allow more time for people to get on and off.

“We reduced the number of services in our timetable to run more trains coupled together.

“Each has more seats, and we removed stops at a small number of places to increase the time we can wait at busier stations.

“We only did this where other train operators still provide services, in the case of Lydney this was by Transport for Wales.”

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