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1  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / High Speed Steam between Didcot and Southall on: June 01, 2013, 02:09:14 pm
Last week A4 Pacific 'Bittern' was tested at 90mph on the GWML in advance of the three high speed runs on the ECML this summer as part of the 75th Anniversary of 'Mallard's' steam speed record:

Here are a couple of videos of the test run:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycJkfaHAhEQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=me1OfEEKk3I
2  All across the Great Western territory / Across the West / Re: Bullet trains in the Thames Valley! on: July 20, 2012, 08:48:05 pm
My wife commutes from Ebbsfleet near the Dartford Tunnel to Folkestone. She reckons its an excellent service; the journey takes only 35 minutes.
3  Journey by Journey / Chiltern Railways services / Chiltern December 2012 Timetable Consultation on: June 04, 2012, 12:35:49 pm
Here:

http://www.chilternrailways.co.uk/news/december-2012-timetable-consultation


The current 90 minute 6.55 train from Moor Street arriving Marylebone 8.25, now starts at 6.56 and has an additional stop at Leamington Spa at 7.22 arriving Marylebone 8.30 (94 minutes in total).
4  All across the Great Western territory / Looking forward - after Coronavirus to 2045 / Re: Devon Metro Project on: February 28, 2012, 08:02:57 pm
Quote from the Devon Metro Appraisal from January 2011 and ALRUG has finalised the response to the Department for Transport consultation on the new Great Western Franchise.

www.devon.gov.uk/eldf-devonmetroappraisal.pdf
http://www.avocetline.org.uk/alrug-responds-to-franchise-consultation/

Potential New Stations and estimated Costs

Marsh Barton ^6 Million
Newcourt   ^4 Million
Monkerton  ^4 Million


Exmouth North
Cranbrook
Exminster
Edginswell
Kingskerswell

Possible New Routes

Crediton to Exmouth via Sowton
Torbay to Exmouth via Marsh Barton and Sowton
Torbay to Cranbrook via Marsh Barton
Axminster to Exeter via Cranbrook and Pinhoe



A new Service from Okehampton  to Exeter

Guy



These services make a great deal of sense. It cannot be right that a commuter at Whimple or Pinhoe has to rely on a train starting its journey 165 miles away in London turning up on time.
5  All across the Great Western territory / Looking forward - after Coronavirus to 2045 / Chancellor confirms Intercity Express Programme is going ahead. on: January 18, 2012, 08:12:52 pm
From the Northern Echo:

http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/business/9479051.Osborne_confirms_Newton_Aycliffe_Hitachi_plant_on_track/


'Today the Government said it hopes to reach "financial close" on the contract within weeks.

And speaking on board a Hitachi-built Shinkansen bullet train in Tokyo, Mr Osborne confirmed that construction of the factory is due to start later this year and the first trains due to roll off the production line at Newton Aycliffe as planned in 2016.

He said: "I am here in Japan seeing for myself the technology that is behind the new trains that will be built in Britain.'
6  All across the Great Western territory / Looking forward - after Coronavirus to 2045 / Intercity Express Programme (IEP) - ongoing discussion on: January 13, 2012, 08:10:00 pm
The December Structural Reform Plan updates were published on the No 10 website today.

The DfT plan notes on page 4 that 'Delays to securing planning permission and the need to conclude commercial discussions with the Agility Trains consortium and their banks has resulted in a delay to commercial close of May 2012.'

http://www.number10.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/DFT-srp-december-20111.pdf
7  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: Beeching cuts on: January 02, 2012, 08:33:34 pm
I'm sure I read somewhere that BR Southern had plans in the late 50's maybe early 60's that for the services to Exeter and West there off (talking the EX Southern routes here) that a Fleet of Hastings Line style DEMU's were planned. Built to Normal (and Not Rip Off contractors Hastings line) body size.

That would have been interesting Thumpers to Bideford and Padstow.  Cheesy

Shame it never happened.

That's interesting.  I've read that the SR was already planning to cut the services West of Exeter before the WR took over in 1963 and that they put forward proposals for faster steam hauled Waterloo to Exeter Central services for 1963 - the fastest time would have been reduced to 2 hours 48 minutes. 
8  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: Beeching cuts on: December 29, 2011, 08:38:23 pm
I should also perhaps point out in fairness after my last post that Honiton and Gillingham, 2 of the busiest stations after Yeovil Junction today, were always poorly served in comparison to other stations before the regime change. Templecombe, Axminster and Sidmouth Junction were favoured as express stops due to their branch line connections. The 2 hourly service actually gave them an improved service compared to what went before.

The economies may have saved the line, but at the same time there would be increased maintenance of the remaining track due to an increase in the number of trains using it. It's a shame that well into the 1980s BR were constantly told by differing governments to make economies and that often meant singling lines which can create considerable delays - Burngullow - Probus was one (1986) until redoubling in 2004, Dorchester South-Moreton is one today that can cause problems as trains are scheduled virtually all day to meet not far west of Dorchester  and Cockett - Dyffyrn is another (the last two aren't really on FGW territory apart from a handful of Carmarthen services but they are close by). That short-sightedness seems to have gone (for now anyway).

You're right about the stopping patterns - Crewkerne had 3 direct trains from Waterloo from 7 September 1964 (none before that date) and Gillingham 5 direct trains from Waterloo from 7 September 1964 (only 1 before that date).

In terms of overall numbers of trains, the WR estimated that the 1967 service along the Salisbury-Exeter line represented 50% less passenger and parcels mileage and 40% less freight mileage than that operated in 1962.

9  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: Beeching cuts on: December 29, 2011, 08:20:12 pm
From Modern Railways, April 1964:

'The hardening of BR opinion in favour of retaining the Taunton - Newbury - Reading main line as the chief London - South-West express route has been influenced chiefly by two factors. The first is that five times as many passengers presently take Paddington trains for Exeter and beyond as do Waterloo departures; there is less danger of alienating public opinion by concentrating traffic on the ex-GWR route. Secondly, cardinal importance is attached to highly competitive speed of service, which BR feel would be jeopardised if all expresses had to stop at both Exeter stations and reverse at St Davids. BR wisely have a long-term eye on the effects of future road developments on overall journey times'

Also from the same edition in relation to journey times:

'Also mentioned was the new daily business service to be introduced this summer linking Plymouth and Paddington in less than 4 hr.... This is the BR answer to the immediate threat of a Plymouth - London air service'


From Modern Railways, April 1967:

'The foundation for the decision to make the Westbury - Taunton line the principle route to the West was a costing exercise conducted jointly by the SR and WR. The bulk of London - West Country passengers used the Paddington route to Exeter and made a bigger contribution to the total costs of running their expresses than did those between Salisbury and Exeter'

Given these articles were published 45 years ago, it would be difficult to verify their accuracy or otherwise. However, given the authors were presumably the Roger Fords of their day with close links to the rail industry, I would assume that there is a considerable element of truth in what they were writing. Unfortunately those involved in the original decisions would probably be in their 90s now, if they are still alive.
10  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: Beeching cuts on: December 29, 2011, 06:47:02 pm
In 1963, the Southern and Western Regions did a survey of the competing routes to the South West of England and found that five times as many West Country passengers used the Paddington route to Exeter and beyond, and that, although the SR route was shorter, the WR route was quicker. They also concluded that concentrating expresses on the SR route would either require a new spur at Exeter, or time wasting reversal of all Plymouth and Penzance trains at Exeter St Davids (no HSTs or DVTs in 1963!). Focusing expresses on the Southern Route would also have resulted in a less attractive direct service from Taunton to London.

Given the arguments above and also that the Southern lines west of Salisbury were losing money heavily from the late 1950s (in 1957, these lines were failing to cover direct costs by ^800,000), the Western Region announced in February 1964 that the WR route would be the trunk route with the SR route restricted to serving a limited number of intermediate stations between Salisbury and Exeter. Over the next 3 years, the WR removed loss making branch lines (e.g. Axminster, Seaton, Sidmouth) and Salisbury - Exeter stopping services, and further cut costs in 1967 by singling the line, leaving the 2 hourly semi-fast service which ran in various iterations until December 2009.

You can argue in retrospect that the WR pruned the services too much, but the cost cutting made sense at the time, and their plan to focus on semi-fast services was, in my opinion, the right one for the long term survival of the line.

Why would there have been a need for reversal if trains started at Waterloo?

Trains travelling from Waterloo enter Exeter St Davids Station from the south whereas trains from Paddington enter the same station from the north. Therefore if Waterloo had been the principal terminus for the South West from 1964 onwards, trains entering St Davids would, if they were to continue to Plymouth and Penzance along the favoured GWR route (rather than the SR's line via Okehampton to Plymouth), have had to have left St Davids from the same end of the station that they entered it. The argument was that this would have been time wasting as it would have required an engine change for every train going beyond Exeter (or at least detaching the engine from one end of the train and attaching it to the other end).  The same changes would have also been necessary for every Waterloo bound train.
11  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: Beeching cuts on: December 29, 2011, 02:37:48 pm
The signalling changes and new track layouts for the 3 stage 1967 singling programme can be found on the Signalling Record Website here:

http://www.s-r-s.org.uk/archivesignals/brwr/1967-s2507.pdf

http://www.s-r-s.org.uk/archivesignals/brwr/1967-s2511.pdf

http://www.s-r-s.org.uk/archivesignals/brwr/1967-s2515.pdf

And when they found that their original plan was flawed, redoubling between Sherborne and Yeovil Junction:


http://www.s-r-s.org.uk/archivesignals/brwr/1967-s2528.pdf


And the January 1965 Waterloo - Exeter timetable is here - note the lack of a through 11am train from Waterloo after the ACE was withdrawn in September 1964:

http://www.timetableworld.com/book_viewer.php?id=12&section_id=12

Modern Railways April,October and November 1964 and April 1967 cover the Waterloo - Exeter changes is some detail. I have PDF versions which I can email, if anyone is interested. They are too large to attach here.
PM me (with your email address) if you would like me to email you the PDFs.
12  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: Beeching cuts on: December 29, 2011, 07:45:44 am
I would say that an old boss of mine, an Exonian, John Beer who was SWT's West of England Line Manager said to me in 1994 that he believed the 67 singling saved the line.

I was a bit sceptical then (thinking of fast competing services) but have long since changed my mind.  I was lucky enough to be at Axminster a year ago for the opening of the passing loop - that's the key, clockface hourly services and the route to a perfect division of traffic - Exeter fast and semi-fast to Paddington, Waterloo hourly stoppers.

What would any of the 60s railwaymen/women on the Waterloo line have given for a traditional SR clockface service.........

There's certainly a good division of services to London, today. However, the intention for the Waterloo route was for a limited stop semi-fast service (still described as 'expresses' in the 1960s articles in Modern Railways and notably still offering full restaurant car services) serving the 6 main centres between Salisbury and Exeter: Gillingham, Sherborne, Yeovil, Crewkerne, Axminster and Honiton (with a few trains stopping at Whimple, and Tisbury). However, today's trains on this line all serve 9 or 10 stations (with Cranbrook still to open), so the potential time advantages for a limited stop semi-fast service have not been realised.
13  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: Beeching cuts on: December 29, 2011, 07:33:33 am
i think there was a general view at the times that railways were a Victorian relic and would be limited to a few major routes in due course (as per general beliefs about Beeching II and that all non-trunk routes selected for development would be closed).

That said, the original 1967 singling of the Salisbury-Exeter line was fairly absurd. It was as follows:

Exeter St Davids - Pinhoe - double track (Pinhoe had been closed in 1966, so why create a junction?)
Pinhoe - Honiton - single
Honiton loop
Honiton - Chard Junction - single with a long siding at Seaton Junction (lasted till around 1986)
Chard Junction loop (again Chard Junction station was closed in 1966, so why have a loop there?)
Chard Junction - Sherborne - single. There had been a plan to close Yeovil Junction and make all Yeovil passengers get a bus to/from Sherborne as Junction is some way out of town. Due to major opposition it never happened.
Sherborne - Templecombe - double (again Templecombe closed in 1966 - though the obvious comment that it ceases to be double before the platform does at least have that excuse)
Templecombe - Gillingham - single
Gillingham loop
Gillingham - Wilton South - single (again Wilton closed in 1966)

You have to wonder why 4 different locations were chosen for potential passing when no trains called there at the time - stopping trains in the middle of nowhere can seem a tad odd. You also have to wonder why 2 of the single sections were nearly 20 miles in length for a 2 hourly service - it doesn't give much recovery time. As it happens Yeovil-Sherborne's second track was reinstated later in 1967 because the timetable couldn't cope as it was. (Tisbury loop was added in 1986 - it's outside the station because the other platform had been sold off. Axminster obviously got its loop in 2009).

There was certainly a case for saving on costs, but it does look like there was an air of trying to ensure as quickly as possible the Waterloo route could never compete again.

Reading the contemporary articles from Modern Railways (and this was quite an issue in the mid '60s), it's clear that saving money was the only game in town.

From Modern Railways April 1967:

'Paddington's argument is that what is offered now is better than no railway at all. The Parliamentary mandate to make rail services pay or abandon them has not been rescinded - not yet, at any rate. On its past financial perfomance, the Salisbury- Exeter line was a candidate for extinction, but the WR has rather striven to give it the best possible service consistent with getting its costs and revenue in balance'

On track singling:

'A six mile stretch of double track is being left between Templecombe and Sherborne and the new timetable is framed so that the two hourly expresses each way will pass each other on this section at speed. Honiton, Chard Junction and Gillingham will also have short passing loops; the first of these will see some scheduled passing movements between expresses and other traffic, but the other two are chiefly standbys for an emergency'
14  Sideshoots - associated subjects / Campaigns for new and improved services / Re: Beeching cuts on: December 28, 2011, 08:15:05 pm
 In 1963, the Southern and Western Regions did a survey of the competing routes to the South West of England and found that five times as many West Country passengers used the Paddington route to Exeter and beyond, and that, although the SR route was shorter, the WR route was quicker. They also concluded that concentrating expresses on the SR route would either require a new spur at Exeter, or time wasting reversal of all Plymouth and Exeter trains at Exeter St Davids (no HSTs or DVTs in 1963!). Focusing expresses on the Southern Route would also have resulted in a less attractive direct service from Taunton to London.

Given the arguments above and also that the Southern lines west of Salisbury were losing money heavily from the late 1950s (in 1957, these lines were failing to cover direct costs by ^800,000), the Western Region announced in February 1964 that the WR route would be the trunk route with the SR route restricted to serving a limited number of intermediate stations between Salisbury and Exeter. Over the next 3 years, the WR removed loss making branch lines (e.g. Axminster, Seaton, Sidmouth) and Salisbury - Exeter stopping services, and further cut costs in 1967 by singling the line, leaving the 2 hourly semi-fast service which ran in various iterations until December 2009.

You can argue in retrospect that the WR pruned the services too much, but the cost cutting made sense at the time, and their plan to focus on semi-fast services was, in my opinion, the right one for the long term survival of the line.
15  All across the Great Western territory / Looking forward - after Coronavirus to 2045 / Re: Some thoughts on near and far future possibilities on: December 28, 2011, 07:29:40 pm


An Adelante service from Barnstaple to Paddington via Honiton and Yeovil  Smiley
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