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Author Topic: From Swindon to Oxford and the north  (Read 3637 times)
grahame
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« on: March 18, 2018, 01:41:29 pm »

There are potential significant passenger flows from Swindon (and west thereof) to Oxford (and north and east thereof) - either with a reversal at Didcot of using the west to north curve there, which currently is kept open to passenger services by the running of a parliamentary train.

Alex Lawrie of Go-op will be updating us on their plans as the WWRUG meeting this Thursday in Bradford-on-Avon, with the Swindon to Oxford element being part of a proposed longer route - see http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=19456.0 for meeting details

Looking back to the summer of 1963, an old timetable I have shows Swindon to the East Midlands and North East via Oxford - offering journeys which would involve changes and different (longer) routes these days, but at a far higher frequency.

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didcotdean
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« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2018, 04:56:49 pm »

Couple of years later and the only direct Oxford-Swindon service was in the middle of the night.
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FremlinsMan
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« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2018, 08:25:22 pm »

Couple of years later and the only direct Oxford-Swindon service was in the middle of the night.
There was a brief revival in the early 2000's (I think) of Swindon-Oxford services. Didn't seem to last very long - a couple of years? It was usually busy when I caught it from Didcot.
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grahame
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« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2018, 09:25:50 pm »

Couple of years later and the only direct Oxford-Swindon service was in the middle of the night.
There was a brief revival in the early 2000's (I think) of Swindon-Oxford services. Didn't seem to last very long - a couple of years? It was usually busy when I caught it from Didcot.

The Bristol to Oxford service was usually busy when I travelled on it too.  At the time, passengers were informed that the journey was possible with a change at Didcot and they should do that in future - with (it seemed) an assumption or implied assumption that nothing (much) was being taken away.

With a growth (UK average of around 80% in passenger numbers since the direct service was withdrawn, the HSTs that carry passengers from Bristol / Bath / Chippenham to Didcot for the connection have moved from having spare capacity to being not-so-comfortable and the case for (the) extra services renews. Mind, with the coming of the IET we're expecting extra trains from Bristol to London (far more important of course  Wink ) and we'll see what fits in around them / falls out in the wash.
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didcotdean
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« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2018, 10:29:01 pm »

The problem I remember with these services was that at the first whiff of a problem somewhere else they often were cancelled. On one occasion my return from SWI was cancelled and whilst I was waiting no fewer than 3 trains left there for London with no Didcot stop scheduled, and control wouldn't add one either, maybe because the imposed wait was 'only' 50 minutes.
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The Grecian
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« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2018, 09:06:44 pm »

It got removed to relieve congestion - Turbos can only run at a max speed of 90mph over a 125mph capable route so it could cause issues when they were late running - not that surprising they were eventually canned altogether. Shame as it would be a useful service.

Melksham trains can only run at 75mph (or are timed for it) but they cover a smaller section of the route and there's many fewer per day.

If and when the inherent long term advantages of electrification over bi-modes (lower weight so less wear and tear, lower maintenance costs and they should be able to accelerate quicker without the diesel engine) are sufficiently recognised and NR can show they can reduce electrification costs (which should now be possible given lines have been electrified for the first time since privatisation - other than Stoke-Crewe - and they should now have rather more electrification nous than a few years ago),  then maybe both routes to Bristol TM and to Oxford will be energised and maybe a 110mph class 387 (or any newer equivalent) can run between them. Although I suspect the west to north curve won't be electrified to save a few quid, meaning it can't/won't happen.
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grahame
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« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2018, 09:36:30 am »

It got removed to relieve congestion - Turbos can only run at a max speed of 90mph over a 125mph capable route so it could cause issues when they were late running - not that surprising they were eventually canned altogether. Shame as it would be a useful service.

Melksham trains can only run at 75mph (or are timed for it) but they cover a smaller section of the route and there's many fewer per day.

If and when the inherent long term advantages of electrification over bi-modes (lower weight so less wear and tear, lower maintenance costs and they should be able to accelerate quicker without the diesel engine) are sufficiently recognised and NR can show they can reduce electrification costs (which should now be possible given lines have been electrified for the first time since privatisation - other than Stoke-Crewe - and they should now have rather more electrification nous than a few years ago),  then maybe both routes to Bristol TM and to Oxford will be energised and maybe a 110mph class 387 (or any newer equivalent) can run between them. Although I suspect the west to north curve won't be electrified to save a few quid, meaning it can't/won't happen.

Some VERY interesting feedback from yesterday that I'll be following up with on Swindon - Didcot capacity.

Two notes - TransWilts 75 m.p.h. timings will change to 90 m.p.h in the future; we now have 90 m.p.h. stock on most trains (and they are getting to stations early and sitting to wait time!

And from the Oxford Mail:

Quote

IMPROVED rail capacity between Oxford and Didcot should be made a priority as the Government seeks answers to ‘crucial questions’ over the future of the Great Western franchise.

England’s Economic Heartland (EEH) - a partnership of local authorities from Oxfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Milton Keynes, Northamptonshire, Hertfordshire and Swindon - has written to the Department for Transport demanding the rail link be improved.

A Government consultation has asked for views on how the Great Western rail network could be improved from April 2020.
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froome
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« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2018, 12:37:14 pm »

Capacity issues along the line from Swindon to Didcot will become an issue whether Go-Op had put in their proposal or not. It is in the area of some of the highest growth in the country and the need for extra services along here is bound to increase. Out of interest, I assume that when CrossRail comes on board, this will just add more demand into this route. I do wonder whether more shouldn't be made of the alternative routing between Bristol and London, via Salisbury, which is obviously longer but which does provide direct services into the south-east of London and therefore to Kent and the Thames estuary area.

I was very impressed with the presentation at last night's meeting, and Alex certainly has some very ambitious plans. It was particularly good to see ethical and environmental credentials being given such prominence. I had never heard of Open Access contracts before - he said they account for about 1.4% of journeys made, so which other TOCs use them?

Incidentally, as I live in Bath, there is enormous potential for demand for journeys between Bath and Oxford. We probably have hundreds of tourists here every day wanting to make this journey, most of whom are taken by coach, which neither city copes with well.
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Richard Fairhurst
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« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2018, 02:00:11 pm »

It was particularly good to see ethical and environmental credentials being given such prominence. I had never heard of Open Access contracts before - he said they account for about 1.4% of journeys made, so which other TOCs use them?

Grand Central (owned by Arriva) and Hull Trains (First) are both open-access operators. Wrexham & Shropshire were but failed to operate profitably. First have secured rights for a new London-Edinburgh open access service.

I've long thought that Swindon-Didcot four-tracking (ideally, "now!") would have the great benefit of enabling a parkway station by the A419/A420 junction. Driving to Swindon station is slow and laborious at the best of times. A surprising number of people drive from the Lechlade area to catch the train at Charlbury, and if some people are prepared to drive that far, that suggests a lot of untapped demand.
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