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Author Topic: Daytime Traffic on the TransWilts  (Read 86853 times)
Alan Pettitt
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« Reply #75 on: August 01, 2014, 01:50:30 PM »

1st Aug 2014  1313 Melksham to Westbury:
Melksham: 3 off  5 on
TRO:  10 off. 4 on
WSB:  13 off

(edited to change WSB figure 12 to 13, I forgot myself!)
« Last Edit: August 01, 2014, 02:00:06 PM by Alan Pettitt » Logged
grahame
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« Reply #76 on: August 01, 2014, 02:11:33 PM »

Thanks, Alan ... I make that 19 into Trowbridge - so 22/8 for the stats.

As the 3rd quietest service of the day (after the 06:38 and 20:38), that's pleasantly good.
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TeaStew
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« Reply #77 on: August 13, 2014, 12:44:13 PM »

John R kindly asked if I would do some counts if I got a chance. I have finished my travels for the week so here is what I have...:

Weds 06/08/14 || 18.48 || 11 passengers || 7 off 0 on

Mon  11/08/14  || 07.20 || 37 passengers || -3   +8
Mon 11/08/14   || 18.48 || 11 passengers || -5   +0

Tues 12/08/14  || 07.20 || 32 passengers || -4   +9
Tues 12/08/14  || 18.48 || 18 passengers || -14  +2

(just for info, the passenger number is number arriving at the station. i.e. before people on or off)

[edit: just occured to me that the station is a bit vague. It is Melksham]
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John R
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« Reply #78 on: August 13, 2014, 02:45:38 PM »

Thank you TeaStew. As I'm currently away I can't make any insightful comments as to how they compare with previous readings, but I'll update my spreadsheet on my return.  Although I do notice the similarity of the Wed and Mon readings on the 1848 and then a big increase on Tue, which emphasises the need to have several readings, in case one is unusual for some reason.
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grahame
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« Reply #79 on: August 13, 2014, 04:43:14 PM »

The 18:48 is an excellent example of an evening return commuter train that doesn't do terribly well.   It's a little later than idea for returning commuters from Trowbridge (e.g. Wiltshire Council staff) leaving there at 18:38, and from Westbury (West Wilts Trading Estate) leaving there at 18:32 ... but the big "gotcha" is that there's no suitable morning commuter train to balance it.   The 06:38 from Melksham arrives at Trowbridge at 06:47 and Westbury at 06:55 (and that makes for far too long a day for commuters) and the following train doesn't dawdle into Trowbridge until 09:31 and Westbury at 09:42,  somewhat after even flexible hour employers like Wiltshire Council will accept.

There would be an immediate improvement for commuter traffic to Trowbridge and Westbury if the morning train were to be retimed to arrive at Trowbridge at 09:12, and Westbury at 09:20 as it already does on Saturdays; it would still have 13 minutes to turn round at Swindon after the "up" run, arriving there at 08:18 and leaving at 08:36.   And that would also have that morning train arrive in Westbury before the connections to Frome (and Weymouth) and Warminster (and Salisbury) left.

What you currently see in the 18:32 from Westbury is exactly what you used to see in the 18:44 from Swindon - lots of empty seats.  And for the same reason that the 18:44 used to be empty - nothing sensible into Swindon to match it for commuting.   The 18:44 (now 18:52) is now much improved, and the current 18:32 also would be if there were a matching morning service ... so my diagnosis of the issue is very much evidence based. Please, Mr FGW and Mr Network Rail, move your Monday to Friday train to match your Saturday one!

There would be a huge improvement for this same commuter traffic if an extra service was provided in the morning within the peak gap that's currently 164 minutes into Westbury - 06:55 to 09:42.   That's a plugging of a gap which makes the service unusable to most people who might wish to use it in the same way that the current extra services (6 each way per day) have boosted passenger numbers from around 60 to around 450 per day.

If there were a spare 153 (!) it could attach to the 07:04 Westbury to Swindon, then form an 07:52 back (same timings in the hour as the 18:52), giving a Melksham departure at 08:19, Trowbridge arrival of 08:28, and Westbury arrival of 08:35.  In the evening, running a 17:15 from Westbury (17:21 Trowbridge, 17:31 Melksham) would take the 153 back to Swindon, where it could join the 18:52 train mirroring its morning behaviour.  You've then established a similar pattern in down commuter services to up commuter services, with a true "tight" peak and a backup service in each direction, and our "into Swindon" research which shows just how many people use a mixture of the old and new trains would apply ... so I predict (with some degree of authority!) a huge boost to commuter traffic to the south.

One of the reasons for suggesting the 153 working in this way is because there is an element of doubt over whether there will still be a local service from Swindon to Cheltenham once bimodes from London are in use on the route, so there's a change that the unit being coupled up to in my suggestion - currently the Tranwilts extension train - won't be around.   By adding in an extra unit very soon, an assurance of continuity and a route for that continuity is provided, as well as solving the very real southbound commuter flow which, although small in comparison to the Swindon flow, is worthwhile.

Finally, have I gone and specified an extra carriage just for 2 round trips a day?  No! ... it would also form the other TransWilts extension trains into the future, an additional very early service from Westbury to Swindon, and an additional late train back.   And allow a little bulking out of the daytime service too, together with a sensible service extension to Salisbury, sorting out the "curiously erratic" service at Dilton Marsh when the timetable of West of England services gets recast in a few years, and releasing other unit(s) at Westbury either for efficiency, or to provide a resource which would remove the one of the stumbling blocks to improvements south from Westbury on the Heart of Wessex line.

P.S.  The current 18:48 is the return working of the 18:03 arrival from Swindon (using Melksham times as per TeaStew) which is oft reported "full and standing".  That's pretty good going in 6 months from a zero start ... and it's perfectly within (or rather over) target for the 18:48 to run as it is.  However, we can do much better as outlined above.  Grin
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John R
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« Reply #80 on: August 13, 2014, 06:59:46 PM »

A couple of observations/questions:-

Firstly, it was noted about a month ago that FGW have found stock from somewhere to strengthen peak Tarka Line services from December. I did pose the question as to where that unit had been conjured up from, but nobody seemed to know. But it shows that if there's a will.....

Secondly, given the service is doing so much better than expected, how does the subsidy provided to FGW get adjusted? If it's been reduced accordingly, is there justification to use that saving to provide the additional services you suggest, subject to suitable rolling stock of course.

Finally, I suspect many of the 1832 ex Westbury passengers are commuters from Bath/Bristol, as the Chippenham connections are rather unattractive in the evening. If so, it is serving one flow, but as you say, could be so much better.
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grahame
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« Reply #81 on: August 14, 2014, 07:13:09 AM »

John,  I've stopped short of getting into the labyrinth of financial arrangements (which I have only some elements of insight into, not a full picture) when it comes to the success, monitoring, and future direction of the service.     Whilst I'm sure that farebox income is greatly in excess of the forecast, it's not going to be in excess in direct proportion to the ratio of passenger numbers over target. Numerous reasons:

a) The journey mix will differ from what was anticipated. All categories are probably meeting the passenger number targets, but full line length (Swindon -> Salisbury) journey numbers are less dramatically over than more local traffic. Interestingly, traffic for beyond the boundary of Wiltshire past Salisbury (Southampton direction) seems good - no official data at the moment.   With the journey mixed varied, the average fare per journey will vary.

b) I am unclear as to whether the lower level "via Melksham" fares were factored into initial calculations, and at what level.  A commercial decision by First to make this change, and do so at such an excellent level as far as passengers are concerned, will have reduced the average fare per passenger but has (I believe) increased the business - a net improvement of the income, but meaning that it's not above target in proportion to the passenger numbers

c) The target was a conservative one, and I don't know if it was used for the calculation of pricing models, or whether First took a commercial risk in bidding for and starting up the service in the belief that it would do rather better than it needed to in order to make the BCR add up.  Few people are surprised that passenger targets are being exceeded, although many are gobsmacked by just how far.

d) The cost of collecting the extra fare numbers to date has been marginal (I believe). However, there's a limit to that fare collection capability without further cost / investment.  At times, it gets beyond practical for the conductor to check / issue tickets where necessary to everyone on the train who's joined at a station where they can't pay - remember that in addition to Melksham, you're looking at Trowbridge outside the hours it's staffed too.  On the TransWilts at peak times, the conductor needs to be able to issue / check tickets every 8 seconds ... checking possible at this rate, issuing implausible if a lot are needed.   We know from many discussions that there are difficult revenue collection issues on many lines; TransWilts is no worse than most, but the proportion of passengers not paying (either by deliberate avoidance or because they have no opportunity) is going to be far higher than it would have been if passenger numbers had been 45k per annum rather than the 160k we seem to be headed for.

It probably looks like I'm "going on a bit" there, but there's also the issue of the new TransWilts service being a commercial deal like all other line operations, with train company motives (long/franchise/agreement term profits), governmental motives (best achieved BCR) and community motives (good passenger numbers, maximum quality of life benefits) usually but not always pulling us in the same direction.  Motives have been simplified in this paragraph - a whole new story to be had there!
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brooklea
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« Reply #82 on: August 14, 2014, 09:37:28 AM »

Commenting here (a good opportunity) on counting methods for any technical reader ... the enumeration approach I take (and encourage) is to count all human passengers, including under-5s.  Babies yet to be born are not counted, however - "this is my last week before I go off on maternity", regrettably, was just a count of one.  Staff at work are not counted, employees of the railway travelling in the passenger accommodation and not working are counted (sometimes, of course, we can't tell).   Dogs and other pets are not counted.   The person counting is only counted if he / she is travelling for purposes other than the count - i.e. would have been on the train anyway.
Having checked grahame's counting methodology above, I submit this count for the 1147 from Westbury on 12th August:
Westbury 6
Trowbridge 15 (9 boarding)
Melksham 25 (11 boarding/1 leaving)
Chippenham 17 (8 boarding/16 leaving)
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grahame
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« Reply #83 on: August 14, 2014, 11:29:28 AM »

Having checked grahame's counting methodology above, I submit this count for the 1147 from Westbury on 12th August:

A very interesting set of metrics from each station, thank you ... and an excellent current measure of the flows.   In the bald "how are we doing against target" it reads 26/12 - that's 26 passenger journeys on the Trowbridge - Chippenham section that's not potentially just abstracted from other services.

So ... what might we have expected from this train on a typical day in the third year of operation - 2016 - when the target was / is an average of 20 passengers per train?   An educated guess would have a distribution of the 160 journeys needed northbound as follows: 35 - 35 - 20 - 12 - 12 - 20 - 15 - 11 on trains at 07:20, 07:48, 10:04, 12:03, 14:30, 16:31, 18:48 and 19:47 at Melksham with numbers just 42% of those in 2014, with an initial target of 45,000 (versus 108,000 for the third year)

In other words (!) we get rather blas^ about numbers just a bit over 20, or at least I do, but we forget that the 20 is supposed to be an average and not what every train achieves ... and we forget that we're talking third year not first year.  In practise, we're looking at exceeding passenger numbers expected this year massively - and had that train carried under a half of what it actually had, it would most likely have been part of a pattern which was on target.
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TeaStew
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« Reply #84 on: August 16, 2014, 07:01:12 PM »

Almost forgot that on the week of the 4th - 8th I got talking to another passenger who was going to Temple Meads for work that week for a change and was using the train. He had what I suspect is a familiar story... "been living in Melksham for 15 years and never used the train!"


Finally, I suspect many of the 1832 ex Westbury passengers are commuters from Bath/Bristol, as the Chippenham connections are rather unattractive in the evening. If so, it is serving one flow, but as you say, could be so much better.

I know for a fact that just under 10% is! And in fact there is usually another who uses the same trains as me and I think goes to Bath or Keynsham.
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grahame
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« Reply #85 on: August 27, 2014, 07:05:19 PM »

Wednesday, 27th August (Bank Holiday week)   18:03 arrival into Melksham.  25 got off, 1 got on. 52 (+-2) through passengers. 78/26

P.S. Observed on a walk at the station.   LOTS of cars in station car park and extra spaces. Couple of cycles at the station too.  Good bunch getting on the bus - regular bustling little place  Cheesy .   Took the "puppy" who we're fostering at the moment to introduce him to trains.  Not the greatest of successes as he LOVES everyone including people who really don't want to love him and had to be rather held off to one side. Bit of training needed there!
« Last Edit: August 27, 2014, 11:56:22 PM by grahame » Logged

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Lee
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« Reply #86 on: August 28, 2014, 09:16:33 PM »

It has to be said that pinning down with any certainty how we are going to end up doing in terms of passenger and revenue figures has always proved notoriously difficult.

For example, in their first (and successful) Local Sustainable Transport Fund bid, Wiltshire Council (whilst pointing out that such things were difficult to forecast) expected demand for the new service to be about 45k passengers per annum in the first year, rising to reach about 120k passengers per annum after five years. Resulting revenues were similarly expected to increase from ^220k per annum to about ^600k per annum.

Alternatively, our own December 2006 Open Access Proposal, which was based on a similar level of service, and validated by senior figures from both franchised and open access TOCs, expected demand for the new service to be 120k passengers per annum in the first year, rising to reach about 295k passengers per annum after four years. Resulting revenues were similarly expected to increase from ^600k per annum to about ^1.8m per annum.

However, the current projections of 160k passengers per annum in the first year appear to suggest that both of the above reports underestimated demand by quite some way. Just where will we eventually end up in terms of passenger and revenue figures? Who knows - The sky really does seem to be the limit.

One thing I can say for certain is this - playing my own small part in helping to create scenes such as those described by grahame at Melksham station yesterday is exactly what I am in this game to achieve - It's an uncertain world out there these days, with more than its fair share of daily bad news, but I think of that image - the embodiment of what the TransWilts stands for - and it genuinely makes me smile.

What more could a man ask for?
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eightf48544
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« Reply #87 on: August 29, 2014, 10:34:34 AM »

As a thought what difference do you think it would make if Melksham had some form of staff presence say during the morning?
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TeaStew
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« Reply #88 on: September 01, 2014, 04:08:13 PM »

Almost forgot an "extracurricular" journey last week:

28/08/14    15.53 to Westbury arrived at Melksham with 45. 13 came off and 3 of us got on.


An off-peak Young Person (just!) return to Bath Spa for ^5 is fantastic in my opinion.


As a thought what difference do you think it would make if Melksham had some form of staff presence say during the morning?

I felt rude ignoring this question to post, even if I don't feel like the intended recipient. My experiences of the morning services have all been pre-8AM so from what I have seen a staff member at the station would just be a colder replication of the on-train staff. However I have heard there are other parts of the morning...?
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Chris from Nailsea
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« Reply #89 on: September 01, 2014, 04:26:10 PM »

... even if I don't feel like the intended recipient.

That doesn't really matter, TeaStew: many thanks for posting your useful comment and suggestion anyway.  Wink Cheesy Grin
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