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Author Topic: Improving the timetable  (Read 860 times)
eightonedee
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« on: May 12, 2018, 03:09:14 pm »

Can I start a new topic?

As a commuter through Reading for many years (Goring & Streatley to Guildford), one of the many frustrations is the way the time tables are set. There are two elements - the regularity of trains (in other words, not the number, but a sensible evenly spaced timetable so customers know when trains are likely to run) and the way timetables match up on the various services running into Reading, where more people change trains than anywhere else on the GW network, and (according to ORR) the 7th largest number in the whole UK rail system.

As regards the first, the new, post electrification timetable on the Reading-Didcot-Oxford route seems to provide more trains but no better service for those us travelling from intermediate stations. I appreciate that the short-sighted, probably Treasury-driven decision to delay electrification on to Oxford causes problems, meaning FGWR has effectively to run two services where previously they only ran one (electric to Didcot, diesel to Oxford), but surely they should be able to run a better organised service than the current one, both before and after the May changes?

For example, between 7 am and 9-15 am, the peak time for commuters from Goring to London and Reading, the gaps in minutes between Reading and London-bound trains are 11-18-13-10-5-18-28 and 22 minutes. In the evening, over the period from 5pm (Reading early leavers going home time) to 8pm (late workers like me, often changing trains) the spacing of departure times from Reading for Goring is 24-31-12-18-31-22-11-24-16-12 and 35 minutes. This is a frequent but highly irregular service. I don't think that that represents a convenient service on a busy line.

The situation is better on the North Downs/Guildford/Gatwick line, however we do suffer an inconvenient gap between 6-47pm and 7-26pm, representing a gap that was previously filled by a Cross Country service that has not run for a decade.

The second issue affects anyone (like me, and fellow North Downs to Thames Valley commuters) particularly in the south-east to northwest journey. Off peak, the arrival times at Reading of North Downs line services are usually 19 and 52 or 53 minutes past the hour. The onward services for Tilehurst to Didcot mostly leave at 21 to 23 and 51 to 53 minutes past the hour. Add to this the fact that despite expending lots of our taxpayer money on re-opening the underpass, the incoming trains still use platforms 4 to 6, and the onward trains depart from the furthest opposite platforms 12-15, and you are left with a wasted half hour at Reading.

For those of us who don't leave work "on the dot" at 5 or 5-30, there will soon be a three trains arriving at Reading between 7-18 and 8-23 that arrive a minute before or after an onward train departs for Goring. The first of these three services does at least have another Goring bound train 11 minutes later, but the other two leave me with 25 and 34 minute waits respectively.

This is ridiculous! South West manage to run "clockface" services from Guildford with evenly spaced departures at the same minutes past each hour. Surely, if we are to have a convenient user-friendly service through Reading, the service on each route should be run on a similar basis, and matched so that there is a convenient connection between two of the busy two an hour services that into Reading? Who is in favour of starting a "regular not random" campaign?

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grahame
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« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2018, 07:27:47 pm »

Can I start a new topic?

Yes, of course  Wink - and welcome to the forum.

Not my part of the patch - but  wonder if the lack of clock face between Reading and Didcot on the relief lines is due to the variety of freight that shares the line.

I'm not sure how permanent the current timetable is ... with Crossrail coming, and with bimode trains (class 769) coming to the North Downs line and on Reading - Oxford - Banbury too. And  I think I read they may be through trains - in which case you may not even need to change at Reading.   And 2 an hour Reading to Gatwick rather than 1, with the stopper still running Reading to Redhill.
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paul7755
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« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2018, 07:44:32 pm »

The present services will almost certainly be based around some feature of the route away from Reading.  For example, the North Downs timetable could be designed around events at Wokingham, or Redhill/Gatwick or Guildford junctions, and the latter may be set in stone around the Wessex route timetable, which is planned around the flat Woking Junction.

As you have pointed out Grahame, long distance freight probably goes on the train plan first of all, as do the XC services, both of which affect Didcot Junctions timings, Reading West and Southcote Junction to Basingstoke timings etc, etc. 

With SWR Reading <> Waterloo going 4 tph all day in December, mostly stopping everywhere, there'll be even less flexibility to run GWR at different times.

'Joining' the services across Reading isn't necessarily going to be as easy as might be first thought...

Paul
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ChrisB
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« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2018, 07:48:22 pm »

Nor would the NW/SE axis be highest priority after that. Anyone got any stats for the number of peak daily movements on this axis?
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ellendune
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« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2018, 07:57:50 pm »

Nor would the NW/SE axis be highest priority after that. Anyone got any stats for the number of peak daily movements on this axis?

I think it is the number of intersections with other services (Penzance - Aberdeen and Bournemouth - Manchester cross lots of lines )  that gives this the priority in the train plan. 
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didcotdean
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« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2018, 08:09:16 pm »

The Didcot-Paddington stopping service is a pretty regular every half hour give or take a minute through much of the day; the odd intervals in the peak service probably reflects threading the additional Oxford to Reading turbos that run then around everything else. I do suspect that the connections between the various semi-fast and stopping services at Reading are not amongst the top considerations in planning though.
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ChrisB
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« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2018, 08:24:13 pm »

Sorry, I was referring to the NW/SE axis being referred to at Reading by the OP, not the national NW/SE acis
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paul7755
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« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2018, 09:09:29 pm »

Another point, is the cross Reading traffic to/from the 'Southern lines" mostly between the local stations that SWR serve including those beyond Wokingham, or those that only GWR serve on their route?

Paul
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grahame
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« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2018, 09:41:27 pm »

Indeed there are so many inputs into Reading that you couldn't possibly have everything connect ... it comes very much to looking at which are the ones with the heaviest flows (and giving them a raised priority) and those on which one of the services is very frequent (and lowering the priority as there will always be another one along)

Banbury
Basingstoke Stopper
Bedwyn
Bournemouth
Bristol
Cheltenham Spa
Didcot Stopper
Exeter semifast
Gatwick
Hereford
Manchester
Newbury Stopper
Oxford Stopper
Paddington Express
Paddington Stopper
Penzance
Redhill Stopper
South Wales
Waterloo
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ellendune
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« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2018, 09:51:59 pm »

Sorry, I was referring to the NW/SE axis being referred to at Reading by the OP, not the national NW/SE acis

But the XC trains from Bournemouth to Manchester link into the SW/NE services at Birming to give connections.  It has to work together to provide the service.  So it is the most difficult.  The GWR timetable also has to take account of the XC services from the SW to Bristol.  This is really complex.
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ChrisB
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« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2018, 10:10:07 pm »

Quite, such that connections to the NW/SE axis across Reading will be well down the priority list
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