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Author Topic: 17:20 Reading to Southampton  (Read 10085 times)
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« on: August 12, 2016, 06:19:31 pm »

Due to the closure of Oxford over the past couple of weeks, XC have been running an hourly Didcot to Bournemouth service supplemented by one unit shuttling between Reading and Southampton. This has led to no 16:20 departure from Reading but instead an additional 17:20 to Southampton. By unfortunate coincidence I have been commuting from Southampton most days over the past few weeks and have been slowly making my way to the station to catch the heavily overcrowded 17:50 off Reading. Whilst on this 17:50 on the first day of the closure (which was still heaving off Reading despite only starting at Didcot) by pure luck I noticed a 17:20 ahead of us (thank you RTT» (Real Time Trains - website)), which is perfectly timed for me finishing work at 17:00.

I have been catching this every day since and have been thoroughly enjoying having half a carriage to myself each day (empty at the front, busier at the rear of the train). Only being temporary this service I assume has not been overly advertised and as such daily commuters would not know about it. Of course XC do not have enough voyagers for an hourly extension of the Newcastle to Reading service (to Southampton) at the moment although it is an aspiration for many and if additional rolling stock becomes available and the timetables remain similar then a 17:20c would certainly be included easing pressure off the 17:50 and no doubt the 17:08 & 17:33 stoppers to Basingstoke which are usually full throughout.

I doubt XC have bothered to count passenger numbers (to calculate future demand) however I have done some figures myself and despite a lack of advertising the 17:20 has seen approximately 40 getting off at Southampton (18:20 arrival) each day whilst numbers from Reading have increased from around 45 (standard class only) at the beginning of last week, via around 75 at the start of this week peeking at 125  yesterday. Today I had to travel from Reading West so picked it up at Basingstoke where 45 got off, around 10 got on, departing with 65ish, therefore around 100 from Reading (it is Friday, people's routines tend to change). A fairly good rise in patronage for a train that 'doesnt exist'. (I will point out that some passengers are those from the North that would have been on the 16:20 but are an hour behind due to being bustituted from Oxford but most look like wiery Reading commuters. Just this morning on the way up a lady sat behind me asked the TM(resolve) about the 17:20 she had caught yesterday for the first time and was hoping it was permanent. The TM was clueless however, and it was up to me to give her the bad news that today was infact the last day.

As we are now arriving Southampton I must say farewell to what has been a very pleasant and stress-free commute, 17:20, you will be missed, even if only from my aching legs and I'll be thinking of you whilst I'm on the 17:50 next week, nose pressed up against the door with elbows in my back.
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« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2016, 06:43:45 pm »

Just this morning on the way up a lady sat behind me asked the TM(resolve) about the 17:20 she had caught yesterday for the first time and was hoping it was permanent.

 Grin Grin

Not the first time that engineering works have improved a service and attract custom, only to have it go away again.   The most complaints we got about engineering improvement work last August on the TransWilts we're about the changes during the engineering improvement works but the aftermath where people had found and switched to the new services, only to loose them.

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« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2016, 12:08:25 am »

As far as the various recent route strategies explain it, XC cannot extend the rest of the Reading terminators because there is a lack of paths south of Reading and Basingstoke in the other hours, which are used by freight services in one direction or the other.  They seem quite clear that an additional unit wouldn't allow the service to run, it needs additional infrastructure.

I'll try and dig out the relevant explanation tomorrow...

Here goes, it is from the 2010 GW (Great Western) RUS (Route Utilisation Strategy):

To improve connectivity, and assist with capacity issues to the South Coast, the RUS reviewed the option of extending the current Newcastle to Reading service to Southampton and/or Bournemouth. A high level economic appraisal proved that extending to Southampton provided sufficient value for money for further consideration. Timetable analysis was undertaken on an hourly extension and a two-hourly option. The hourly option was discounted due to the significant amount of infrastructure that would be required.
The two-hourly option, providing an additional six trains per day in each direction, between Reading and Southampton proved feasible on the current infrastructure and was assessed against the proposed freight growth as per the SFN forecasts to 2019 and 2030.
The analysis proved that the extension of the passenger service on a two-hourly basis would not compromise predicted future freight growth to 2030 and that all services could be accommodated on the existing infrastructure. The RUS therefore recommends this option subject to performance modelling of the proposed service extensions in the Basingstoke station area...

AFAICT (as far as I can tell), it's the more recent Wessex route study that now hints at the infrastructure changes required; such items as grade separation at Basingstoke, and additional or lengthened freight loops through the Micheldever and Wallers Ash areas.

« Last Edit: August 13, 2016, 02:44:16 pm by paul7755 » Logged
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