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Author Topic: Users Group fear Henley Branch in jeopardy following electrification delay  (Read 5029 times)
bobm
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« on: November 14, 2016, 05:21:00 pm »

From the Henley Standard

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THE future of the Henley branch line is in jeopardy following the decision to put its electrification on hold indefinitely, say rail campaigners.

The work on the line, along with the Marlow branch line, is one of four projects to be deferred following an announcement by rail minister Paul Maynard on Tuesday.

Commuters and campaigners joined councillors and Henley MP John Howell in expressing disappointment at the decision.

Electrification of the line was originally due to be completed in December next year but had already been put back as late as 2019 before the announcement.

Mr Maynard said the decision would save money at both the Department for Transport and Network Rail, which is facing a £2.5 billion funding black hole.

The other electrification projects to be deferred are the lines from Oxford to Didcot Parkway, Bristol Parkway to Bristol Temple Meads and Bath Spa to Bristol Temple Meads. Patricia Mulcahy, who chairs the Henley Branch User Group, said: “This is a severe blow to our hopes for the future of the line.

“We have always feared that if the branch line was not electrified, and continued to rely on diesel trains, the long- term future of the line would be in jeopardy once the owners and operators of the diesel trains decided they were too expensive/difficult to service.

“Branch line users need to understand the seriousness of this situation, which is a threat to the economic future of the line and the people it serves.”

She said the announcement hadn’t come as a great surprise after Great Western Railway managing director Mark Hopwood had hinted at it in a recent meeting with passenger groups from Maidenhead and Marlow and then cancelled a meeting with her group at short notice.

“HBUG will now press for that meeting to happen as soon as possible,” said Mrs Mulcahy.

Town, district and county councillor David Nimmo Smith said: “Disappointing does not even come close to my view on this.

“I knew that the electrification from Paddington to Bristol was way over budget and very late but I had hoped that the promises to give Henley and Shiplake the kind of rail service being provided elsewhere would be delivered.

“We had heard recently that Network Rail was protecting its ability to electrify the branch line. All a sham.

“I will be taking this up with John Howell to see what we can salvage from this announcement.”

Mr Howell said he felt “very disappointed” and he would take up the issue with the minister as well as seeking assurances that the line would not be closed.

“I can understand why they have chosen this project to be deferred but it will still be disappointing for residents of Henley who wanted to see electrification of the line,” he said.

Oxfordshire transport campaigner Hugh Jaeger said: “The blow for Henley is that it was told back in February that electrification could be as late as 2019 and now it has been put back even further with no dates in sight.

“All the trains for the line have been ordered and cost millions of pounds each, so what are they going to do with them? There are questions over how well this project has been managed.”

Councillor Rodney Rose, deputy leader of Oxfordshire County Council said: “The council is disappointed at the deferral of GWR electrification, especially as revised timescales for completing the project have not been confirmed, although we understand that Government needs to prioritise funding for the most beneficial rail projects.

“Oxfordshire’s top priority is East West Rail and the early delivery of this project that Government has already committed to would demonstrate that badly needed investment in the railway is able to come forward to meet Oxfordshire and national growth needs.”

Mr Maynard said holding back on the electrification projects would allow newer and bigger trains to be introduced on the lines without requiring “costly and disruptive electrification works”.

He said: “This will provide between £146 million and £165 million in this spending period, to be focused on improvements that will deliver additional benefits to passengers.

“We remain committed to modernising the Great Western main line and ensuring that passenger benefits are achieved.

“This decision underscores the Government’s approach to wider rail investment, that passenger outcomes must be delivered in conjunction with achieving the best value from every pound spent.”

Mark Langman, Network Rail’s Western route managing director, said: “The Great Western main line is undergoing a huge rail investment programme to enable new and upgraded trains with more seats and faster, greener journeys.

“The programme remains complex and challenging but good progress is being made.”

Great Western Railway says a new timetable for the Henley branch line will go ahead as planned in May despite this week’s announcement.

The timetable will introduce a half-hourly shuttle service during off-peak times, replacing the current service which runs every 45 minutes.
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IndustryInsider
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« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2016, 07:22:55 pm »

So the service frequency is improving in May, but some people think the line might close because it's not going to become one of the few electrified branch lines in the country.  Huh

Given the affluent town it serves I would be amazed if it was ever under threat of closure.
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ChrisB
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« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2016, 09:05:08 pm »

Agreed.

Interestingly, I subscribe to both email & twitter feeds from HBUG & nithing has come through those channels....
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« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2016, 10:18:42 pm »

And the constituency MP for Twyford is ..................... oh its the same MP for Maidenhead, Furze Platt and Cookham which happens to be the current Prime Minister ........................

Not sure she would survive the 2020 general election if those rail service where chopped.

The Marlow Branch was put on hold ages ago ............. "due to unforeseen technical difficulties" mainly down to platform length at Bourne End

I am sure the TV branches will get wired in the more medium term, but with the new model of funding adopted by Government it may mean the towns folk of Henley may have to dip into their pockets, Bucks CC may source some funding for Marlow.
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grahame
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« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2016, 05:51:42 am »

From the Henley Standard

Quote
THE future of the Henley branch line is in jeopardy following the decision to put its electrification on hold indefinitely, say rail campaigners.

“We have always feared that if the branch line was not electrified, and continued to rely on diesel trains, the long- term future of the line would be in jeopardy once the owners and operators of the diesel trains decided they were too expensive/difficult to service.

“Branch line users need to understand the seriousness of this situation, which is a threat to the economic future of the line and the people it serves.”

[snip]

Mr Howell said he felt “very disappointed” and he would take up the issue with the minister as well as seeking assurances that the line would not be closed.

[snip]

Great Western Railway says a new timetable for the Henley branch line will go ahead as planned in May despite this week’s announcement.

The timetable will introduce a half-hourly shuttle service during off-peak times, replacing the current service which runs every 45 minutes.

Thanks for posting that, bobm ...

I can understand the disappointment, but a drop from the premier to the championship (in railway terms) doesn't mean dropping out of the league; growth over the years looks good according to ORR stats, with 960,000 passengers journeys a year on the branch (assuming minimal local traffic between Henley-on-Thames, Wargrave and Shiplake) with around 18,000 services - that equates to an average of over 50 people using each train.   That ain't gonna go away.

Noting the increase to half hourly trains, where there may be an issue (?) is in keeping to time with diesel trains and Shiplake and Wargrave may be skip-stopped, reducing the current 45 minute service to a 60 minute one.   Not clever for them, but perhaps there's an advantage in clock-face for the whole line in making consistent connections and in being able to publicise and generate new traffic from an easy and un-confusing timetable?  And for Henley-on-Thames, the future's getting towards a "turn up and ride" service level.
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2016, 07:57:08 am »

I am sure the TV branches will get wired in the more medium term, but with the new model of funding adopted by Government it may mean the towns folk of Henley may have to dip into their pockets, Bucks CC may source some funding for Marlow.

......so "Building a Greater West" is now to be on a "Pay as you go" basis? I think the taxpayer pocket is being dipped by NR and (picked by the TOCs) pretty deeply already Roll Eyes
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eightf48544
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« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2016, 10:23:39 am »

The last two lines of the piece are also significant.

"Great Western Railway says a new timetable for the Henley branch line will go ahead as planned in May despite this week’s announcement.

The timetable will introduce a half-hourly shuttle service during off-peak times, replacing the current service which runs every 45 minutes."

As Grahame points out what it  doesn't say is that to give a robust 30 minute frequency Off Peak Wargrave/Shiplake drops to hourly frequency, they are protesting furiously saying that they are getting a worse service than they've had. 1 tph instead of 1.3. They still get a 30 minute frequency in the peak.

Twyford and Wargrave are in the PM's constituency Henley is not.

My wife goes from Taplow to Henley occasionally and working out the trains to connect at Twyford is a nightmare at 45 minute frequency.

 I'd far rather a regular 60 minute service with proper connections at Twyford than a 45 minute service with irregular connections.

HBUG wants the 30 minute frequency which is why some Wargrave users have resigned. Pity "United we stand divided we fall"



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ChrisB
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« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2016, 10:32:07 am »

But that article makes *no* reference to this - so a wasted press opportunity?

The press now won't be interested in a Shiplake/Wargrave update.
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paul7755
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« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2016, 12:03:19 pm »

The Marlow Branch was put on hold ages ago ............. "due to unforeseen technical difficulties" mainly down to platform length at Bourne End
Nothing to do with the present difficulties, that had already been formally kicked into the long grass.   Mentioning it in this context suggests that the user group are not completely on the ball.     But to imply that the branches would close if the DMUs became life expired is faintly ridiculous, so what is the basic purpose of the story other than to self publicise?

Paul
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Noggin
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« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2016, 02:42:31 pm »

Seems like hysterical nonsense.

Well-patronised branchlines are hardly going to be chopped. The Turbos are barely middle aged, they have a shiny new depot in Reading, and until someone figures out what to do with the North Downs line there will remain plenty of DMU work to justify the depot and DMU drivers link. 

Whilst electrification of the Henley Branch would bring slightly faster services and the remote possibility of some through electric services to London, at the end of of the day it's a branch line with a couple of intermediate halts, Crossrail isn't going to run down it, it is not going to enable the building of masses of new housing, and so the large sums of money required to electrify it would really be better spent where they can have an impact. And that's before the question of the reaction of NIMBY's to OHLE.

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