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Author Topic: Swindon to Oxford - 26/11 27/11  (Read 119698 times)
tomL
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« on: November 27, 2014, 04:25:07 pm »

Yesterday evening I was at an event in Oxford, I took the 17:59 from Swindon to Didcot, changing for Oxford. Some thoughts:

- After just missing the 17:35 there seems to be quite a gap (especially when the 17:29, albeit late, and 17:41 come and go, both avoiding Didcot)
- The changes at Didcot going TO Oxford aren't that bad. The short hop between platform 2 and 3 help greatly here.
- Coming back on the late evening services from Oxford are mediocre at best. It was by luck that the 23:12 (I think?) to Bristol Temple Meads was late enough for me to make the connection. I suspect this won't last forever when all the works are finished.

Side note: while waiting at Swindon I happened to witness a passenger appear at one of the doors of the 17:29 after locking and trying to get off:

Dispatch:"too late doors are looked, sir"
Passenger: "I'll climb out the window then"

He eventually saw sense to not bother, but really?!  Huh

I'll be making the same journey tonight although I fear it may be hampered by the relief line block at Ealing. Will update later.
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tomL
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« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2014, 11:21:17 pm »

On the way home tonight I was just able to see the 23:13 depart Didcot as many of us arrived from Oxford. Some better connections would be lovely.  Grin
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ChrisB
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« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2014, 10:33:01 am »

From which direction though?

How many different options are there at Didcot? Six, I think. You just can't timetable well enough to provide connections for all directions....
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IndustryInsider
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« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2014, 11:36:10 am »

There are four connecting route flows which create a pretty healthy flow of passengers:

1) Oxford to Swindon/Bath/Bristol
2) Oxford to Swindon/Cardiff
3) Cardiff/Swindon to Oxford
4) Bristol/Bath/Swindon to Oxford

Looking at the current off-peak timetable and you have the following typical gaps (bearing in mind the 30-minute frequency means that will be the longest ever wait).

Flow 1:  22-24 minutes
Flow 2:  7-9 minutes
Flow 3:  9 minutes
Flow 4:  Generally alternates between 27 minutes one hour and 10 minutes the other

So, generally the connections to/from the Cardiff trains work very well, perfectly in fact, but the connections to/from the Bristol trains (which is the larger of the two route flows) is usually pretty poor.  Shame it's not the other way round, but that would mean the timetable being completely recast, and there's nowhere near enough people travelling on that route to justify that.  It's especially annoying to see the arrival from Bristol at xx:28 coming in a minute or two early (as it often does), just as the xx:25 to Oxford pulls out though!

Two ways of it becoming better; 1) You see how the toss of the coin comes out after the new IEP timetables start in 2017, or 2) You provide a nice handy hourly through service between Bristol and Oxford (and beyond to Bedford at the end of the decade when the East-West Rail service commences) using 110mph 4-car Class 387 EMUs which could also provide the catalyst for opening several new stations including Wantage Road, Wootton Bassett and Corsham.

I know which of those options I favour!  Wink
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ChrisB
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« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2014, 11:56:33 am »

Not much in the Western Route Study about option 2, so option 1 is most likely.

*Except* the suggested IEP TT only allows for fast extra trains that won't be stopping at Didcot (fast to BPW), so whatever the recast timetable, connections won't get much better and could easily get worse.

Until both Oxford - Didcot *and* Didcot-Swindon get 4-tracked, there's little option until East-WEst comes in, and that might well take the West curve owing to lack of capacity around Didcot.
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IndustryInsider
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« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2014, 03:06:44 pm »

Not much in the Western Route Study about option 2, so option 1 is most likely.

Until both Oxford - Didcot *and* Didcot-Swindon get 4-tracked, there's little option until East-WEst comes in, and that might well take the West curve owing to lack of capacity around Didcot.

Yes, I agree.  Though there are at least a couple of mentions in the Western Route Study which is better than nothing, and schemes can very quickly climb or fall down the list depending on a range of things such as cost and political will.  For example, the current 'Electric Spine' programme pretty much came out of nowhere.

I'd be pretty happy with a Swindon<>Oxford service that avoided Didcot and went round the west curve if capacity was an issue.  Would help journey times.
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« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2014, 04:27:40 pm »

Quote
It's especially annoying to see the arrival from Bristol at xx:28 coming in a minute or two early (as it often does), just as the xx:25 to Oxford pulls out though!

I was making this connection a few months ago.  Just as we were entering Didcot Parkway, our on the ball Train Manager announced that the 2025 train to Oxford was running late and if we made our way quickly to Platform 3 we would see it pulling in.  We duly arrived at Oxford almost 30 minutes early.
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grahame
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« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2014, 05:22:49 pm »

I'd be pretty happy with a Swindon<>Oxford service that avoided Didcot and went round the west curve if capacity was an issue.  Would help journey times.

Interesting thing is that if the were to extend the Cheltenham Spa service that sits in the bay at Swindon for 74 minutes in every 2 hours to Oxford (running time about 30 minutes from Swindon) you even have the stock to make an occasional trip.  If the timing's not robust enough, note that these services also have a 33 minute turn around at Cheltenham Spa, and the northbound could be moved a few minutes later / southbound a few minutes earlier now that the two units on the service can pass each other south of Kemble on what was previously a single line.

Edit to correct quotes
« Last Edit: November 28, 2014, 06:26:03 pm by grahame » Logged

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tomL
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« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2014, 07:08:42 pm »

I'd be pretty happy with a Swindon<>Oxford service that avoided Didcot and went round the west curve if capacity was an issue.  Would help journey times.

Interesting thing is that if the were to extend the Cheltenham Spa service that sits in the bay at Swindon for 74 minutes in every 2 hours to Oxford (running time about 30 minutes from Swindon) you even have the stock to make an occasional trip.  If the timing's not robust enough, note that these services also have a 33 minute turn around at Cheltenham Spa, and the northbound could be moved a few minutes later / southbound a few minutes earlier now that the two units on the service can pass each other south of Kemble on what was previously a single line.

Edit to correct quotes

This would definitely be interesting. Although would the 15x be fast enough to go between Swindon and Didcot without holding too much up?
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grahame
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« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2014, 07:18:52 pm »

This would definitely be interesting. Although would the 15x be fast enough to go between Swindon and Didcot without holding too much up?

At least one of the two units on Cheltenham Spa to Swindon is routinely a class 158, which is 90 m.p.h. capable.  Leaving Swindon just after a London train, Foxcote junction should be reached before the next London train - 15 minutes later - catches up.   

The danger of my suggestion, though, is that it's only an interim as the local units on the Stroud Valley become IEPs to London in 2017.  And there's the fact that it's only going to be two-hourly.   A far better solution is running something that comes up via Chippenham on an hourly basis up to Oxford ... from 2017 that would be electric.
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didcotdean
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« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2014, 02:07:19 pm »

Another consideration on the Didcot-Oxford train timings is the connection to/from cross country services at Oxford. These were supposed to be 'improved' after the Didcot stops were eliminated from CC but I never noticed much. Ultimately an increase of the frequency to 3 an hour ought to be able to improve things all round.
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