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Author Topic: Next generation of sleeper services  (Read 922 times)
chrisr_75
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« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2017, 05:21:44 PM »

Nostalgia tends to cast a rosy glow...........I am only just old enough to remember the nd of the 1970s, but it was a pretty grim time for the UK in most respects and certainly having studied Economics it was a disastrous era in that context.

except we don't need to completely rely on nostalgia because we have the HST still running from the 1970s and 1980s.   Two toilets per coach, spacious buffets, no underfloor engines, ample bike space. Objectively it compares rather well with what is on offer today. 

And I think we are partly arguing on the same side.  Economically the country was in a very poor shape for the 1970s and early 1980s (and the 50 and 60s were not great either), that is one of the premises of Bryson's argument.   

 

Economically not such a great time, but we did have cheerful flower beds on roundabouts all over the place - I definitely remember those from the first half of the 1980's  Smiley
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #16 on: March 20, 2017, 06:13:54 PM »

Nostalgia tends to cast a rosy glow...........I am only just old enough to remember the nd of the 1970s, but it was a pretty grim time for the UK in most respects and certainly having studied Economics it was a disastrous era in that context.

except we don't need to completely rely on nostalgia because we have the HST still running from the 1970s and 1980s.   Two toilets per coach, spacious buffets, no underfloor engines, ample bike space. Objectively it compares rather well with what is on offer today. 

And I think we are partly arguing on the same side.  Economically the country was in a very poor shape for the 1970s and early 1980s (and the 50 and 60s were not great either), that is one of the premises of Bryson's argument.   

 

Economically not such a great time, but we did have cheerful flower beds on roundabouts all over the place - I definitely remember those from the first half of the 1980's  Smiley


Indeed.....they certainly brightened up the Winter of Discontent!  Cheesy
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chrisr_75
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« Reply #17 on: March 20, 2017, 06:28:40 PM »

Nostalgia tends to cast a rosy glow...........I am only just old enough to remember the nd of the 1970s, but it was a pretty grim time for the UK in most respects and certainly having studied Economics it was a disastrous era in that context.

except we don't need to completely rely on nostalgia because we have the HST still running from the 1970s and 1980s.   Two toilets per coach, spacious buffets, no underfloor engines, ample bike space. Objectively it compares rather well with what is on offer today. 

And I think we are partly arguing on the same side.  Economically the country was in a very poor shape for the 1970s and early 1980s (and the 50 and 60s were not great either), that is one of the premises of Bryson's argument.   

 

Economically not such a great time, but we did have cheerful flower beds on roundabouts all over the place - I definitely remember those from the first half of the 1980's  Smiley


Indeed.....they certainly brightened up the Winter of Discontent!  Cheesy

I'm not quite old enough to remember that, thank you very much!  Grin
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Brucey
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« Reply #18 on: March 20, 2017, 07:19:12 PM »

I feel certain that significant numbers of both business and leisure travelers would use a sleeper service between the southwest and Scotland.
Firstly say 8 or 10 hours on a sleeper train is spent sleeping/relaxing and is no more wasted than is the time spent sleeping any other night.
If I had to be in Scotland by say 10-00 I would prefer to arrive well rested from perhaps 10 hours on a sleeper train, than after waking before dawn to get an expensive taxi to the airport to check in at perhaps 06-00 for a flight that departs at 07-30 and arrives at 08-45.
I've done a few day trips to Scotland in recent years (both Glasgow and Edinburgh) for business (I've been teaching a class there).

It's great to have a (reasonable) sleep in your own bed, then go back to sleep in your own bed the same night, ready for work the next day (in all cases I've been home between 9pm and 10pm).  I live alone, but if I had a family, this would be a massively important factor in the decision making.

Also cheaper to fly.  No sleeper berth needed, fewer meals out and less time spent away from the office.  Less luggage to carry*.

* = Even on day trips, I carried a change of shirt and underwear, in the unlikely event the flight was cancelled.

Regardless of what I've written above, the sleeper definitely has it's uses.  If I were making a longer business trip, I would consider using the sleeper either side.
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broadgage
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« Reply #19 on: March 20, 2017, 07:21:18 PM »

All you youngsters should be aware that I not only remember the introduction of the HSTs, but also recall steamers in everyday BR use, not preservation .
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« Reply #20 on: March 20, 2017, 08:06:25 PM »

All you youngsters should be aware that I not only remember the introduction of the HSTs, but also recall steamers in everyday BR use, not preservation .

I remember steam on BR too. Used to love the trip to Devil's Bridge!
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John R
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« Reply #21 on: March 20, 2017, 08:11:41 PM »

Sleeper services require a lot of subsidy, for the relatively low number of passengers that use them.  There is a difference between withdrawing what's already there (as was seen from the outcry when it was proposed to withdraw the Fort William service a few years back), and someone putting their hand in their pocket to start a new route.

The Highland sleepers serve numerous communities en route to their final destination, and in some cases those communities are a long way from the nearest airport, so they have a genuine local use that can justify public funds keeping them running.  In contrast, any service from the West Country would only be to the lowland destinations, where as has been noted airports offer a very real attractive alternative.  I can't see the Scottish Government dipping into their pocket to subsidise a service that would have limited economic benefit.

I would love there to be such a service, and I would use it like a shot.  But I cannot see it happening.  
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #22 on: March 20, 2017, 09:27:51 PM »


  I can't see the Scottish Government dipping into their pocket to subsidise a service that would have limited economic benefit.


There's also the question of access once Sturgeon has built her wall across the border - who will pay for the tunnel?  Wink
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IndustryInsider
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« Reply #23 on: March 20, 2017, 09:55:17 PM »

The benefits of advancing technology seem little felt on the railway.

Whilst the country is indeed about twice as rich as rich as was the case about 30 years ago, this is certainly not reflected in the comfort of rail travel.
Facing seats at tables, ample space for luggage and cycles, and buffets, on full length loco hauled trains used to be the norm, yet now with the country more than twice as wealthy as it was when the HST was new, we are told that these are now unaffordable luxuries and that new trains must maximise the number of seats over all other facilities.

Nostalgia tends to cast a rosy glow...........I am only just old enough to remember the nd of the 1970s, but it was a pretty grim time for the UK in most respects and certainly having studied Economics it was a disastrous era in that context.

I'm not going to disagree with broadgage that it was often a nice experience to travel 30 or so years ago, there were well under half the number of journeys made than today after all.  I used to enjoy many trips on Mk II and Mk III on loco-hauled trains when they tended to be a lot less crowded than today.  A great example of which was across the Pennines behind a Class 45 and rake of 6 or 7 Mk II's whereas now (at least for the time being) it's often on a crowded 3-car Class 185.  If you smoked you could enjoy having a fag to your hearts content in the smoking carriage which of course you can't do now.

However, for all those plusses back in the 70s and 80s there was an awful lot wrong and an awful lot which is much better than back then.  A few examples:

1) Stations were generally in a poor condition with few facilities.  Leaking roofs, dank toilets, few passenger lifts, poor lighting, few retail outlets (a Travellers Fare and John Menzies if you were lucky) were common sights at many stations, including some of the larger ones.  Far more have modern facilities today, they are brighter, have disabled toilets, and a range of quality (if often pricey) retail outlets - even many smaller stations now have a coffee stall.

2) On-Train facilities were worse in many respects.  Yes, you might have had a nice carriage with lots of tables, but try selling that in a positive light to customers confined in wheelchairs who were often unceremoniously dumped in the guards van on a lot of trains which had no wheelchair facilities.  Now, increasingly, most trains have dedicated disabled bays and a universal access toilet.  Information displays now provide useful information for the passengers that never existed in the 70s and 80s - many trains back then didn't even have a PA system.

3) Safety has improved massively.  We've just passed the 10 year mark since a passenger fatality in train accident.  In the last decade there have been just 5 deaths from accidents on UK railways and stations. In the 70s there were more than 70 deaths and in the 80s there were more than 80 deaths.  Not only are the chances of being involved in an incident much less, but if you are the design of the rolling stock makes it much less likely you will be killed or seriously injured.  Not to mention the fact that now doors are locked when the train is moving makes for a much safer environment - even if I do miss the sight of thirty or forty commuters leaping off trains arriving at Waterloo when they'd barely even reached the platform end.

4) Train frequencies have generally improved considerably.  Most routes now have much more frequent trains than they did back then, some routes have more than twice as many trains.  It's also possible on many routes to get somewhere on a Sunday morning, which often wasn't the case back in the 70s and 80s as many routes didn't really get going until the afternoon.

So, perhaps nostalgia's rosy glow does indeed conceal some real improvements...

Sorry for heading off topic.  Regarding the sleeper between Scotland and the west country, yes it would require significant subsidy, so I don't think we'll see it anytime soon.
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stuving
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« Reply #24 on: March 20, 2017, 11:40:41 PM »

The topics of sleepers, and how relative costs have changed over time, have both been raised here. So here's a bit of reasonably hard data to think about.

I know the first big train (and very probably the first train journey) I went on was the 6:55 sleeper from Kings Cross to Aberdeen on Saturday 12th August 1950. The cost of that isn't recorded, but when the family went on holiday in 1956 the cost was 19-13s for two and two halves return London-Aberdeen (less perhaps 6s for tube fares in that) plus 2-1s for four 3rd class sleeper berths each way (7 p.m. Tuesday 24th July, returning 7:10 p.m. Thursday 9th August).

To make sense of that you need to know what pay levels were. I find that much more meaningful than a composite retail prices index if you are comparing prices and affordability over more than a couple of decades. It does mean that you can't get a single multiplier to make prices comparable, as it depends on your source of income, but that does reflect reality.

I have two ways of coming at that. Dad was paid 1000 that year, as a civil servant, nominally quite junior. But career progressions were very different then, and distorted by war service, so his grade isn't very meaningful; he was just about getting into real management tasks at the age of 38. Also all civil servants were still relatively well paid then, more so than today. So I'd guess that an equivalent pay today is about 40 times that. The other way is from some figures I have from official data of pay levels for a range of jobs. Railways are well represented, and in 1955/6 most skilled trades paid 500 or a little above, with unskilled men getting 350-400 and engine drivers 622. That suggests a rather higher multiplier.

Using 40 puts the cost of the return fare at about 270, and the berth at 20 each way (though 3rd class sleepers with four berths per cabin don't exist now, of course). There were no dynamically priced advance fares, of course - that was just THE fare, and it is hard to compare with today's range of about 160-330. But it suggests that, without looking into the level of loss or subsidy involved in running the railways (or just sleepers) in 1956, fares were similar to now, sleepers priced much lower. I suspect that reflects the nature of the business, with a high proportion of staff costs, limited impact of electronics and digits on costs, and less still of mass production. Of course a higher multiplier for income would put that price above all but the highest anytime fare.
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grahame
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« Reply #25 on: March 21, 2017, 06:26:25 AM »

Elsewhere in Europe, sleeper services gave withered or are withering.  More and faster daytime trains, more and cheaper flights, and the much more efficient use of day stock all act against them.  I've used the Caledonian sleeper a few times, but the wait around until Silly O'Clock after a day's work in Glasgow or Edinburgh is off-putting.  Moves towards the "24 hour railway" seem to have slowed, except on the tube (never was a sleeper to Loughton, mind you!).

I can leave Motherwell at 15:16 and reach Bradford-on-Avon at 23:56 ... or at 00:01 on the sleeper and get there at 09:47, neither of which allows me back to back working days in the two places.  When I've used it, the 23:56 arrival at B-o-A has been heaving, though longer distance mid-evening elements of that itinerary have not been. After a Saturday working in Motherwell, I had a requirement to get home by mid morning Sunday, and the only way (there not being a sleeper that night, nor lateer flights) was the overnight national express coach; I managed to vary the requirement.

The idea of catching a service at around 7 or 8 p.m., relaxing over a meal the having a good nights sleep before getting off again at destination, showered and ready to go, at my choice of time between 6 and 7:30 a.m. is customer-attractive to me; it saves the airport hassle, it saves on hotel bills, it naturally connects from and to local public transport if I'm not looking to be within walking distance of the hubs at both ends.   Even over shorter distances this schedule might work for me ... but then I can leave Leeds at 18:45 and get to B-o-A at 23:56;  if B-o-A was home (or I ca get a lift  taxi home) that makes sense; if it was the far end of a business trip, I could get a hotel for the night, and the shorter distance sleeper option might be more attractive - but it would be niche, expensive to run, and wouldn't attract the subsidy needed simply to compete with hotels.

The drive for 3 hour services between Plymouth and London - should it be achieved makes the case for the Night Riviera all the harder; the 21:30 off Paddington reaching Plymouth at 00:30 ...
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #26 on: March 21, 2017, 08:01:14 AM »

The drive for 3 hour services between Plymouth and London - should it be achieved makes the case for the Night Riviera all the harder; the 21:30 off Paddington reaching Plymouth at 00:30 ...

Agree with the duration, achieving a 3 hour journey to the South West's most important city should be a priority - but make it an 0600 departure to arrive at Plymouth 0900, with a Pullman style business breakfast on offer.
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grahame
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« Reply #27 on: March 21, 2017, 08:16:11 AM »

The drive for 3 hour services between Plymouth and London - should it be achieved makes the case for the Night Riviera all the harder; the 21:30 off Paddington reaching Plymouth at 00:30 ...

Agree with the duration, achieving a 3 hour journey to the South West's most important city should be a priority - but make it an 0600 departure to arrive at Plymouth 0900, with a Pullman style business breakfast on offer.

Whichever way you go you'll split the market / opinion between those two options.  How to get to Paddington for 06:00 (you'll need a new 05:00 from Taplow to PAD, or a new 05:54 Taplow to RDG if the Plymouth train actually calls there) ... or how to get to final destination in Plymouth in the early hours.
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #28 on: March 21, 2017, 08:35:20 AM »

The drive for 3 hour services between Plymouth and London - should it be achieved makes the case for the Night Riviera all the harder; the 21:30 off Paddington reaching Plymouth at 00:30 ...

Agree with the duration, achieving a 3 hour journey to the South West's most important city should be a priority - but make it an 0600 departure to arrive at Plymouth 0900, with a Pullman style business breakfast on offer.

Whichever way you go you'll split the market / opinion between those two options.  How to get to Paddington for 06:00 (you'll need a new 05:00 from Taplow to PAD, or a new 05:54 Taplow to RDG if the Plymouth train actually calls there) ... or how to get to final destination in Plymouth in the early hours.

.........naturally the stopping pattern would be Paddington - Taplow - Reading - Exeter - Plymouth!  Grin
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