/ Travel & Leisure

Could this time change make train delays history?

Train delayed recently? Well delays will soon become a thing of the past (officially speaking that is). And it’s all thanks to a revolutionary new train station time zone.

Ever found yourself staring at a departure board telling you that your train is ‘on time’, yet you know damn well it’s not? In fact, it was supposed to depart five minutes ago and you’re just waiting around for the delay announcement.

Well today, with backing from the Department for Transport, train stations across the UK have agreed to introduce a new station time zone in a bid to reduce the number of delayed trains.

Once the new railway time is rolled out, trains will officially depart right on time, with the odd one or two running ahead of schedule.

Right on time

Railway time was first introduced by Great Western Railway in 1840 as a means of standardising times across all of their stations. Soon after, several other train companies adopted this method. And so in 1847 the Railway Clearing House adopted Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) as a countrywide standard time.

This new technical change will see railway stations across the UK modernise and adopt a new standardised approach to time, and so breaking the tradition of running station clocks running by GMT and British Summer Time.

Thomas Gordon, Knapford station manager and spokesman for the Right On Time project team, said:

‘This will clear up confusion for delayed passengers. It’s a simple solution that will relieve pressure for all of us. We anticipate reporting on its success come next year’s review by the rail regulator into train delays.

‘The bottom line is, if you think you’re delayed then check the station clock first.’

Once implemented, the minute you step foot in the train station your smartphone and smartwatches will automatically adjust to the new time zone, with the time changing to ensure your train is always on time. However, you’ll need to make sure you adjust any analogue or non-smartwatch to the station time.

Name game

Following in the footsteps of the National Environment Research Council’s public vote to name a new £200m research boat, currently BoatyMcBoatFace, the Right On Time project has also opened up a public vote to source the name for the new station time zone.

For those of you who’d like to cast your vote, you’ll need to first embark on a treasure hunt in search of the right form. The form will be cunningly hidden within the depths of your train operators’ website. Currently leading the way is Berwick-upon-Tweed Time, or BUTT.

The winning name will be announced on Wednesday 27 April ready for the new station time zone to be rolled out over the Bank Holiday weekend.

We’re not all that convinced by this new initiative, but only time will tell. So what do you think of this plan to launch a new train station time zone?


All too often our modern obsession with precise timing and punctuality leads to grumpy angry people or worse. The film “Clockwise” explores the idiocy of this in a masterful way.

In my Government service days I had a chum who paid little heed to compliance to his formal contracted hours of employment. I suspect he loved his work and put in far more hours than he was supposed to. But one of his favourite sayings was “Boss, sorry I’m late! Don’t worry – I’ll make up for it – I’ll go home early.”


What is this life if, full of care
We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

William Henry Davies had it spot on. Just making time to do nothing but watch – whether fishing and catching zilch, looking round your garden and ignoring the weeds (and the little trees courtesy of the squirrel’s nuts), watching boats on the river, is so pleasurable. Sometimes we need to just stop the herd habit of rushing about and worrying about time – we seem to have been indoctrinated.


Which is why we enjoy train journeys when we can look out of the window without having to worry about traffic or other people, or just sit and think. But that is not good enough for many people who have to be engaged in something on their tablet or interrupting people with phone calls and searching for some new excitement on their device.

Perhaps, psychologically, it’s a question of whether we feel content to obviously have the time and capacity “to stand and stare”, or feel it is better to give the impression of being continuously active and in demand.


malcolm -, I got a 3 out of 5 for reciting that in primary school as well as later– WW. -I wandered lonely as a cloud that floats on high–etc


The clock shown in the picture at the head of this Conversation is on a continental system, possibly Swiss railways, where timekeeping is based on 21st century precision rather than 19th century clockwork. No two digital clocks on Norwich station show exactly the same time as they are run from an office computer that appears to defy reconciliation with national standard time via the MSF signal broadcast from Anthorn.


Your right John the MSF time signal is the one to go by . Internet time is taken from “time servers ” ,they get hacked , not only that your computer does get hacked and the time changed,its a technical issue that allows hackers to manipulate your computer . I have had this happen to me many times over the years ,even Linux isnt immune to time altering although it doesnt cause the same problems as it does to Windows . You have to make sure your computer is synchronized automatically to Internet time some aren’t if your settings have been “got at ” and the time server has also been attacked . In Windows the wrong time can cause massive problems as you can and will be blocked from adding apps/making changes involving the Internet including refusal of access to websites as the certificates show different times Mozilla Firefox is a stickler for that on Windows , if MS takes offence , you could even get warnings about it. So bottom line – Internet time can be dodgy use the RF time signal or the Digital equivalent .

Paul says:
2 April 2016

I’m confused… I already adjust my Smarphone clock with the network time automatically, so my time is always correct… are they saying that a similar system will be implemented to push their version of time onto my smarphone, e.g if in real time the train is scheduled for 9am but is delayed by 5 minutes (e.g 9:05am), will they adjust your Smartphone Clock to say is still 9am? Or are they saying that the station/train clocks will themselves start to be automatically adjusted like I already do with my Smartphone?


For this Conversation, Paul, as well as considering time you also need to look at the date.