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Author Topic: North Camp - Ash Vale interchange  (Read 879 times)
sunfire
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« on: April 09, 2019, 12:18:47 pm »

Hohum here was me hoping GWR and SWR would work to NR to fix the long waiting times at the North Camp - Ash Vale interchange.

Currently in the evenings I have to wait 20-30 minutes for a train from Ash Vale on to Alton because their timetables don't match up.

The May timetable was the perfect to start looking at fixing but there don't appear to be any changes to the timetables to try and start fixing this.

No signs of any improvements on the the North Downs line at any point in the near future either.

Bit of a Cinderella service to be honest.

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grahame
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« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2019, 12:46:46 pm »

Welcome to the forum, Sunfire ...

I am aware that GWR have been looking to increase their services on the North Downs line from 2 to 3 per hour, but I understand that there are issues with level crossing safety yet to be resolved (as I understand it, more trains = higher risk).   And GWR trains are due to go up to 4 carriages, and be changed to a type that can run on electric power on the electric sections, at the end of the year.

Not sure how the extra trains, and the potential changes in train performance with 'bi-modes', will effect timetables - I'll leave that for others to comment on.

Connections aren't highest priority on train operator's lists, I'm afraid ... though a little local help to inform them of concerns / user groups / CRPs etc can be a big help.   Remember that their eyes are very much on meeting their contract which rarely includes connection times ... and they have hundreds of stations to look after and can so easily overlook opportunities to improve services.
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stuving
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« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2019, 01:09:59 pm »

Yes, indeed, welcome Sunfire.

That particular connection time is probably about as low down the operators' priority list as you can get. It's between operators, the SWR timetable is too complex to change for it; the North Downs is a long(ish) cross-country run, it meets several other lines, and it has its timing set by the busy stations it has to share (Gatwick/Redhill and Guildford). So even if there is a will (and there may not be) you will probably end up with what you end up with.

I've had these "walking legs" crop up quite often when looking at journeys from Wokingham to the south or south-west, but hardly even actually done it - in part because the timing (walk plus wait) makes rail an unatractive mode. I'm not even sure about their status; while the NR Journey Planner does offer them, I can't see anything in the Routeing Guide that says they are even permitted routes.

But, as a regular user, how many other people do you reckon use that interchange (or the Farnborough one)?
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Fourbee
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« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2019, 02:42:37 pm »

Not sure how the extra trains, and the potential changes in train performance with 'bi-modes', will effect timetables - I'll leave that for others to comment on.
Welcome Sunfire.

That walk/delay does look unfavourable to say the least. The SWR peak time departures to Alton from Waterloo miss out a couple of stops like Brookwood which makes for an earlier arrival at Ash Vale, breaking your connection (off-peak it can probably be made off the Redhill train in the 'official' 11 minutes allowed if you walk briskly and easily off the Gatwick Airport one from North Camp).

Another couple of thoughts - those heading the other way, from Guildford to Bentley and Alton will now generally have a bit longer to wait at Aldershot as a result of the May change.

Presumably the class 769s will have to switch over from diesel to electric while stationary and not all trains stop at Ash. Potentially running on diesel all the way from Wokingham to Reigate for those faster services?
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Fourbee
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« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2019, 02:44:48 pm »

I can't remember where I read it, but I think Ash Vale has missed out on the DfT disability funding pot or whatever it is called; so more trudging up the stairs (for those fortunate enough to be able to).
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eightonedee
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« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2019, 09:19:15 pm »

And a welcome from me too - good to see another North Downs line passenger on the forum.

Are we correct in assuming that you are coming from Guildford to North Camp? If so, perhaps you might want to "like" my suggestion on 5 April (see - http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=21342.0) that the new split Guildford to Farnham service be extended to Alton.

This is not the only inconvenient change of train timing for the North Downs service, I'm afraid.
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CyclingSid
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« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2019, 07:44:28 am »

Welcome. Ash Vale was not in the latest list of stations to get accessibility funding announced in the last week or so. It would be a major job. Any time I save cycling from North Camp I lose puffing up the stairs.
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FenMan
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« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2019, 04:03:27 pm »


I've had these "walking legs" crop up quite often when looking at journeys from Wokingham to the south or south-west, but hardly even actually done it - in part because the timing (walk plus wait) makes rail an unatractive mode. I'm not even sure about their status; while the NR Journey Planner does offer them, I can't see anything in the Routeing Guide that says they are even permitted routes.

But, as a regular user, how many other people do you reckon use that interchange (or the Farnborough one)?

Hi, another North Downs regular here. These walking interchanges are both permitted routes. SWR offer some cheaper tickets for some flows via these interchanges e.g. the Blackwater - Basingstoke Anytime Return via Farnborough North/Farnborough Main is 10 whereas GWR charge 13.50 for the route via Reading.

Primarily these interchanges are for passengers travelling to/from stations to Reading and beyond. Off peak, 3 or 4 passengers per train arriving at North Camp from the Reading direction will walk to Ash Vale. Many more do this at peak times - the main flow is Reading <-> Aldershot.

Similar numbers alight at Farnborough North and walk to Farnborough Main (16 minutes).

National Rail Enquiries mandates a 17 minute minimum connection between North Camp and Ash Vale, but any reasonably fit adult without heavy luggage will walk it in 9 or 10 minutes, making connections possible that NRE doesn't display. My rule of thumb is that if the actual arrival at North Camp or Ash Vale is 12 minutes or more before the scheduled departure of the connecting service then it's safe to make the change without breaking into a trot!

Similarly the walk between the Farnborough stations takes 16 minutes (I am 60), making a 20 minute connection perfectly feasible.
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stuving
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« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2019, 07:26:53 pm »

Thanks FenMan - that's rather what I expected. But for BAW-BSK the Routeing Guide doesn't come into it, as there are two fares for Via Reading and Via Farnborough North. From further up or down the line the fare difference disappears and it becomes an Any Permitted (I think either via Reading or via Woking), and walking is an optional alternative.

What triggered my puzzlement about this was wanting to go from Wokingham to Brookwood. That's short but topologically challenged - a bit like trying to cross a complicated road junction on foot, and seeing the other side but being unable to see any route there. The only journeys I was offered by the NR OJP involved walking, unless I looked early or late in the day. So, if someone was not inclined to walk (not unlikely if you are visiting a cemetery!), what are the permitted alternatives? The routeing guide is not a sensible answer to the question, but does as a formality tell you.

The NRG gives: via Ascot and Ash Vale (including doubling back at Woking*), via Virginia Water and Weybridge, and via Reading and Baskingstoke(!). The OJP too gives via Ascot and via Virginia Water at odd times, but also via Guildford and Woking which costs extra - apart from that it's all walkies. I didn't see via Basingstoke offered, except overnight and followed by an error message, but when forced to it's quite happy with it (at the same 12.20/12.10 day return fare, but more if doubling back at Woking). 

So to my mind there is still an academic question as to where in the Routeing Guide it says you can break your journey on one line and join it on another - or come to that what are we meant to do with an "Interchange" (one of those orange blobs on the maps).

*I think this is a pointless relic of a time when some trains stopped at Ash Vale but not Brookwood.
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CyclingSid
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« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2019, 07:08:41 am »

This is the mental problem I have when I want to follow the Basingstoke Canal. If I do the first section, western end to Ash Vale; do I go to Basingstoke (Winchfield) from Reading and then Ash Vale back to Reading? If so what is the legitimate ticket.

Do the second section, Ash Vale to Woking, is not such a problem as Stuving suggests. Also the third section, Woking to the eastern end using Byfleet and New Haw doesn't seem so problematic.
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