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Author Topic: Saturday evening - could a later Westbury to Swindon train now be run?  (Read 2061 times)
grahame
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« on: January 04, 2020, 02:49:07 pm »

From  http://www.mrug.org.uk/Winter2019Spring2020.pdf - current timetable

Quote
Train departures from Westbury for Melksham
(all these trains leave Trowbridge about 6 minutes later)
Monday to Friday: 05:17, 07:03, 07:36, 09:45, 12:16, 14:16, 16:25, 18:39 and 20:06
Saturday: 07:37, 08:35, 10:05, 12:05, 14:07, 15:00, 16:32, and 18:35
Sunday: 08:20, 10:44, 12:39, 14:05, 16:50, 18:35 and 20:18

Question on Facebook:

Quote
Why is there not a later northbound train on Saturdays?
Just seems strange as there is one on other days


An excellent question ... to be followed up by "would such a service be used?" and if so "how could it be provided". 

The story of why there isn't such a service at the moment:

There has been this early finish of northbound trains on a Saturday ever since the service 2013 (prior to that, the last train was 3 p.m.!) even though there's a later train on Mondays to Fridays, and on Sunday. Until last month (December 2019) this was because the last Saturday train from Swindon back to Westbury – at around 21:00 came in from Cheltenham Spa so there was no need to run a train up from Westbury, and as a later train from Westbury wasn't in the franchise and would have been unlikely to make a profit for GWR, they didn't run one.

There was excellent community consultation on the MONDAY TO FRIDAY timetable that's now running, but so much time and resource was put into that ... that Saturday and Sunday as you now see them could do with some adjustment as elements of the service have just been "shoved" in to meet the franchise spec, without being "tuned" to meet local needs.  If we're very quick (so I will be copying this to GWR) we could have small changes in place from Saturday 23rd May, and I think a later service could (at last) be provided quite easily.

First question though - "Would it be used".   

Answer "YES!".  Happy to write to justify that; some clues at the end when I list incoming connections at Westbury – so new, longer distance, higher fare traffic than just local journeys.

Second question - "How would it be provided?". 

As of the new timetable, the 21:07 from Swindon to Westbury no longer starts back from Cheltenham Spa – it arrives as an empty 2 coach train from Bristol Temple Meads, where it's been detached off the 5 car 19:51 arrival from Portsmouth Harbour.   This train has called at Westbury at 19:10. By detaching the 2 carriage at Westbury and running them as a service from there up to Swindon, you have your extra train and you are actually saving mileage - so it should be cheaper for GWR to run.

Things to look out for:
* Would 3 carriages be enough on the 19:10 (Saturday) Westbury to Bristol Temple Meads?
* How would this work with crew rotas – where does the driver of the train come from at present?
* Is the empty train also used a route refresher for local train crew between Bath and Chippenham?

There are other alternatives

* the 19:33 off Swindon reaches Westbury at 20:15 and could simply turn around and make another round trip – perhaps using the Sunday times of 20:18 off Westbury, then 21:10 back off Swindon. The three minute turn around at Westbury is below "rules of the road", but a few minutes later would not hurt and in any case there's a couple of minutes slack into Westbury on the 19:33 off Swindon.

* The 2 carriages that are currently used for the service (empty Bristol to Swindon) could run empty Bristol to Westbury, to form a train from there at about 21:15 to Swindon and back not at 21:07 but about 22:00 which would make that train much more useful too

* The 21:02 arrival in Westbury from Frome which goes to the sidings could also make the round trip to Swindon.

A 19:15 from Westbury to Swindon would offer excellent connections from Weymouth, from Portsmouth Harbour, and from Exeter St Davids. Note that this train would be clear of Chippenham before 19:48 to leave the line clear for the 19:33 from Swindon.

A 20:18 from Westbury to Swindon would offer an excellent connection from Portsmouth Harbour, and also from Exeter if it were held back to 20:30. We don't know times for the extra summer Saturday train from Weymouth yet, but it is likely it could connect too.

A 21:15 from Westbury would also offer a connection from Portsmouth Harbour.
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Phil
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« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2020, 02:37:15 pm »

I have to say, even if a later service was offered I for one would never use it for the simple reason that service reliability on this line is so appalling that the thought of being stranded late evening means I make other arrangements rather than risk relying on the last train home.
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bobm
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« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2020, 02:56:19 pm »

I have to say, even if a later service was offered I for one would never use it for the simple reason that service reliability on this line is so appalling that the thought of being stranded late evening means I make other arrangements rather than risk relying on the last train home.

Worth noting that if a later train was provided but then didn't run, the railway would have to get you home at their cost not yours.
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grahame
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« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2020, 04:10:37 pm »

I have to say, even if a later service was offered I for one would never use it for the simple reason that service reliability on this line is so appalling that the thought of being stranded late evening means I make other arrangements rather than risk relying on the last train home.

Worth noting that if a later train was provided but then didn't run, the railway would have to get you home at their cost not yours.

There are a number of things coming up that I'm really worried about ... however, a later evening train on a Saturday - and a reliable one - is something I've actually got some optimism about. 

Passengers numbers have been heamoraging hand over fist because of the shocking unreliability and the stable numbers we've see are actually because of new growth.  Really strong growth should return soon if the now-fewer trains are reliable (i.e. run) ... don't care about 5 to 10 minute delays unless connections miss.    Phil - by the summer, I hope you are not too concerned to use the train.
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Phil
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« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2020, 04:40:19 pm »


Worth noting that if a later train was provided but then didn't run, the railway would have to get you home at their cost not yours.

Point taken, but nevertheless I wish any person from [say] Chippenham who ventures out for an evening sampling the delights of Melksham the very, very best of luck in getting someone - anyone - to accept the responsibility for finding a replacement mode of transport given the non-arrival of a northbound service at Melksham station, let alone paying for it.
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grahame
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« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2020, 11:57:48 pm »


Worth noting that if a later train was provided but then didn't run, the railway would have to get you home at their cost not yours.

Point taken, but nevertheless I wish any person from [say] Chippenham who ventures out for an evening sampling the delights of Melksham the very, very best of luck ...

Having had to get a little pushy on help points (requiring knowledge as well as luck), I'm afraid I have to share that concern, Phil.  But (and there has to be a "but" or three)
i) The major flows on this train will not be from but to Melksham, and through Melksham.
ii) I have a pretty good idea that if it comes this train would be very much one that got attention to ensure it ran
iii) Melksham's delights are so delightful that people will want to stay to Sunday morning not leave at 20:22 on Saturday; overnight accommodation isn't quite as good as it used to be, but there's the King's Arms, the Travelodge, and Premier Inn opening shortly (probably before our council campus!)
« Last Edit: January 06, 2020, 12:21:35 am by grahame » Logged

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