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Author Topic: Do longer duration journeys need longer trains?  (Read 9272 times)
grahame
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« on: August 15, 2019, 06:45:11 am »

I'm not sure how important the length of a train - on its own - is.  "5 carriages is too short for a long distance train" - why's that if the passenger flow on that journey isn't all that great at any stretch of the journey?  A handful of trains from Portsmouth to South Wales, six or seven carriages each, was replaced a couple of decades ago by hourly 2 carriage trains ... and the outcome was a boom in passenger numbers.  I didn't hear of anyone saying in the early days of the AlphaLine services that they wouldn't travel because the trains were too short ... indeed they've needed to be lengthened to three carriages - and now headed back up to five - because of the width of the flow and not because of the inherent need for a train with a journey time of around 3 hours to be of a certain length.

Cornwall mainline , 2020, will have a train every 30 minutes.  Looking back to 2018, there were gaps of around 90 minutes then an 8 car ... I think I prefer 4 or 5 cars every 30 minutes - around 50% more capacity.

Another example.  In December 2006, services at Melksham dropped from 5 trains each way per day to 2.  In a storm of protest, it was pointed out to us that the replacement trains were typically 3 carriages not one, so we had more capacity on the flow. We didn't see it as a practical service - miss the quarter past six and you could catch the quarter to seven - small problem that the quarter past six was in the morning and the quarter to seven was in the evening.
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broadgage
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« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2019, 07:35:30 am »

In my view, many longer duration journeys DO need longer trains than those used at present.
Comfort and facilities become more important as journey times increase, and providing these requires a longer length train.
Also peak passenger numbers need considering, not just averages. Suppose that a short journey is operated by short trains with 200 seats and an average passenger count of 150. That might imply a fair bit of standing at busy times, which is far from ideal but arguably just about acceptable for a short journey.

If however the same 200 seat train is used for a 2 or 3 hour journey with an average passenger count of 150, then that is likely to be regarded as too short by those have to stand for hours, rather than for minutes.

Also breakdowns happen, whether of the train itself or infrastructure problems. On a local service, standing for 20 or 30 minutes on the following train is just about acceptable. On a journey of several hours, standing on the following train is not really acceptable.

There are of course services for which short trains are ample, but there are also IMHO (in my humble opinion) far too many short trains running on routes that should have longer trains.

I am in general opposed to the building of any more short trains, unless some truly exceptional need for these can be demonstrated.
It seems to me that considered nationally, that we have plenty of short trains but not enough longer ones.
Suppose as an example, that a TOC (Train Operating Company) perceives a need for some new 4 car or 5 car trains. I would prefer that they make use of some of the EXISTING voyagers or IETs (Intercity Express Train), and that new full length trains be built to replace some of these.

As a currently relevant example, it is now becoming fairly widely admitted that the order for GWR (Great Western Railway) IETs included too many 5 car units. It has also been suggested that people like me should not criticise this because it is a done deal and cant be altered.
If another TOC wants perhaps a dozen 5 car IETs, then in my view another 6 full length units should be built for GWR and 12 half length units transferred to where needed.
The 6 nine car units should be cheaper to build than 12 units each of five cars. 54 vehicles instead of 60 for a start, a 10% saving.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
eightf48544
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« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2019, 11:10:53 am »

I think the Cross Country Voyagers prove the point. 4 and 5 car units running very frequently on long runs. They are almost bound to be peak hour trains and, therefore, overcrowded, on part of their journeys.

Also the  Pendolinos like then or loath them .

As Wikipedia says

"The original Pendolino order was for 54 eight-carriage sets, costing £500 million. The 8-car units were all later lengthened to 9 cars, then an additional four trains and also a further 62 cars were built between 2009 and 2012."

There are now  22  9 car  390/0 and 31 original sets  lengthened from 9 to 11 + 4 sets built new as 11 cars class  390/1.

Vindication of longer trains for longer journeys.

amended from 12 to 11 car sets.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2019, 03:12:12 pm by eightf48544 » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2019, 11:42:18 am »

It depends, doesn't it?

From a long distance operator's point of view you would love to have each train loaded with every seat taken and nobody standing.  From a passengers point of view then you would love to have a carriage to yourself, but failing that as soon as you hit the 50% of seats taken mark it then starts to diminish the experience, even when you have a seat.  The lengths some people go to in order to persuade nobody to want to sit next to them are extraordinary!

Many trains are woefully short of seats (CrossCountry being a prime example), but many trains do run around with plenty of spare capacity, sometimes even on CrossCountry service!  Flexible train lengths allow an operator to try to mix and match train lengths to provide the most suitable number of seats, but sometimes that clearly isn't possible.

Running anything longer than a 10-car IET (Intercity Express Train) or the similar length of an 11-car Voyager on an existing railway in almost all cases requires big bucks to be spent on upgrading the infrastructure, which is where HS2 (The next High Speed line(s)) has a strong selling point as it will be able to run trains of 400m long from the offset.
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didcotdean
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« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2019, 11:45:46 am »

I think the Cross Country Voyagers prove the point. 4 and 5 car units running very frequently on long runs.
That illustrates the error in the simplistic thinking going back to Operation Princess that doubling the frequency and providing (generally) slightly more than half the seats per service increases capacity. However, around the peaks commuters are generally tied to time and less likely to spread out by half an hour either side spontaneously, and not all of the routes were capable of frequency being doubled in this way completely (eg Leamington Spa to Birmingham NS via Coventry) leading to a straight reduction on those portions and people travelling to/from them.
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bignosemac
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« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2019, 01:55:25 pm »

I think the Cross Country Voyagers prove the point. 4 and 5 car units running very frequently on long runs. They are almost bound to be peak hour trains and, therefore, overcrowded, on part of their journeys.

Also the  Pendolinos like then or loath them .

As Wikipedia says

"The original Pendolino order was for 54 eight-carriage sets, costing £500 million. The 8-car units were all later lengthened to 9 cars, then an additional four trains and also a further 62 cars were built between 2009 and 2012."

There are now  22  9 car  390/0 and 31 original sets  lengthened from 9 to 12 + 4 sets built new as 12 cars class  390/1.

Vindication of longer trains for longer journeys.

Pendolinos are either 9- or 11-car. No 12-car sets.
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eightf48544
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« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2019, 03:13:14 pm »


Pendolinos are either 9- or 11-car. No 12-car sets.


Point taken original entry amended.
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grahame
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« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2019, 05:57:59 pm »

Was it only this morning I started this thread?

My original post stands.  There is no need for a long journey train to be over 5 carriages long if the number of passengers on any part of the journey isn't all that great.  For sure, passengers for a longer journey should have more legroom, and more space is likely needed for luggage too.  Whatver the catering offer is to be, that needs space as do cycles, wheelchaits, mobility scooters. And seating for all.   All in all, pehaps 10% to 25% more length of train per passenger than on a locl service.  But if number of passegers could comfortably sit in a 4 coach local train, a 5 coach long distance train is about right.

I recall Richard Gibson of Cross Country projecting a loading diagram for a train from Glasgow Central - I think it was the 09:00 - showing how it loaded along the way with some pretty busy sections and some quieter ones - but with an oveload shock at 16:45 from Bristol wher lots of people got on for Taunton. Apparently there aren't all that many on board from St Erth (at 20:44) to Penzance.  And that's a very real problem of carrying lots of spare capacity all day for a short section of the route.  We never did get a copy of that prentation, so forgive me if the data is slightly wroong.

I quite agree that many long distance trains at the moment are too short. And that a possible solution is for the next batch of bimodes ordered to be 9 carriages, with the 5 cars stepped across to other services and / or run more in pairs. First has expertise in 800 and 802 ... it's not far-fetched to see new 9 car trains arriving into GWR (Great Western Railway) land, with displaced 5 cars running in pairs to Crewe every couple of hours, splitting at Crewe to serve Holyhead and Blackpool North. The voyagers released then strengtheing Cross Country services.

Nothing wrong with short long distance trains. I do think the photoshopped class 153 at Bleaneau Ffestiniog painted in NightStar colours and split half seating and half sleeping berthe was taking it a bit far.
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« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2019, 07:32:44 pm »

I think the Cross Country Voyagers prove the point. 4 and 5 car units running very frequently on long runs.
That illustrates the error in the simplistic thinking going back to Operation Princess that doubling the frequency and providing (generally) slightly more than half the seats per service increases capacity. However, around the peaks commuters are generally tied to time and less likely to spread out by half an hour either side spontaneously, and not all of the routes were capable of frequency being doubled in this way completely (eg Leamington Spa to Birmingham NS via Coventry) leading to a straight reduction on those portions and people travelling to/from them.


In addition, the "shorter but more frequent" method only works if the timetable is sensible and robust. Once a half-hourly service becomes "two within ten minutes, then nothing for 50" you are stuffed. See Cross Country, passim.
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Celestial
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« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2019, 03:39:38 pm »

As a currently relevant example, it is now becoming fairly widely admitted that the order for GWR (Great Western Railway) IETs (Intercity Express Train) included too many 5 car units. 
Admitted suggests an acknowledgment by those responsible that they got it wrong. Could you back this statement with examples of where people in the rail industry or government (as opposed to armchair pundits, enthusiasts, who don't have to admit anything as they didn't make the decision) have "admitted" that too many short sets were built. 
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broadgage
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« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2019, 04:21:35 pm »

As a currently relevant example, it is now becoming fairly widely admitted that the order for GWR (Great Western Railway) IETs (Intercity Express Train) included too many 5 car units. 
Admitted suggests an acknowledgment by those responsible that they got it wrong. Could you back this statement with examples of where people in the rail industry or government (as opposed to armchair pundits, enthusiasts, who don't have to admit anything as they didn't make the decision) have "admitted" that too many short sets were built. 


By "fairly widely admitted" I meant among members of this forum who are otherwise supportive of the IETs. I recall several posts suggesting that IETs are actually not bad, but that too higher a proportion were the 5 car ones.

I cant imagine HMG or GWR ever saying "we got it wrong"
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
martyjon
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« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2019, 04:26:41 pm »

As a currently relevant example, it is now becoming fairly widely admitted that the order for GWR (Great Western Railway) IETs (Intercity Express Train) included too many 5 car units. 


There's a simple solution to that, build more coaches and add them to the 5-car sets just like they did with the 9-car pendolinos.

Signed.

Simple Simon.
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Celestial
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« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2019, 04:34:19 pm »

As soon as you increase their length you lose the ability to double up. So unless you have a magic money tree to increase them to 9 coaches that could be very expensive.
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broadgage
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« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2019, 04:54:41 pm »

As soon as you increase their length you lose the ability to double up. So unless you have a magic money tree to increase them to 9 coaches that could be very expensive.

Yes, and for this reason I would not be in favour in lengthening 5 car units to 6, 7, or 8 cars.
I would however support increasing some of the 5 car units to 9 cars. This would retain the advantages of a fleet with only two train lengths, rather than adding a third variant.

Even a handful of former 5 car units made full length would provide useful extra capacity.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
REVUpminster
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« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2019, 05:40:50 pm »

As soon as you increase their length you lose the ability to double up. So unless you have a magic money tree to increase them to 9 coaches that could be very expensive.

Yes, and for this reason I would not be in favour in lengthening 5 car units to 6, 7, or 8 cars.
I would however support increasing some of the 5 car units to 9 cars. This would retain the advantages of a fleet with only two train lengths, rather than adding a third variant.

Even a handful of former 5 car units made full length would provide useful extra capacity.

Only have to buy one 88 seat coach to replace the centre driving coaches especially if they are still in production. The two driving coaches could be stored for spare parts as these two coaches with cab and kitchen should have the most wear and tear.
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