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Author Topic: Service collapse, Reading-Didcot stopping trains, evening of 19-9-19  (Read 3728 times)
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« on: September 19, 2019, 11:39:43 pm »

Re: Cotswold Line - 2019 cancellation and amendments log
« Reply #198 on: Today at 07:47:00 pm »
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Alterations to services between Didcot Parkway and Oxford

Due to a broken down train between Didcot Parkway and Oxford the line towards Oxford is blocked
Train services running through these stations may be delayed by up to 30 minutes or revised. Disruption is expected until 21:00 19/09.

Main casualty being:

17:52 London Paddington to Worcester Shrub Hill due 20:10 will be terminated at Oxford.
It will no longer call at Hanborough, Charlbury, Shipton, Kingham, Moreton-in-Marsh, Evesham, Pershore and Worcester Shrub Hill.
This is due to a fault on a train in front of this one.

Furious of Goring & Streatley here..

It appears that the failed train was an IET. By the time I arrived at Reading, just missing the 19-28 ex-Reading, there was no immediate announcements on the Didcot stoppers, but through trains beyond Didcot for Oxford and beyond were announced as to be held at Reading. Then it was announced that the 19-54 (already running late) would be held due to "congestion". Through trains to Didcot and onwards to Swindon and beyond were still running.

Consulting Open Train times there were indeed 3 trains stopped between Cholsey and Didcot, the last of which was an empty to Cocklebury Sidings (which bloody idiot put that into the queue ahead of a service train?). 19-54 stood waiting - no information other than due to failed train etc trains held at Reading. There was though a clear path from Reading right through to Cholsey on the relief line.

I walked up the train, spoke to the driver who was also without information from control, and using his mobile to track what was going on. It appeared the IET could only be driven from the Didcot end, but was not being moved even though bi-directional working was permitted on that stretch. It eventually moved this way at about 20-50

The following Didcot stopper (20-10 ex Reading) arrived also announced as "Delayed" and held for same reason. Open Train Times  now showed trains in the Cholsey-Didcot section being moved into Didcot, but there was neither any announcement which of the two held trains would move first, or be cancelled from Reading, nor were either allowed to proceed towards Cholsey even though there was a clear path all the way there. Why not? Trains were still moving on the main to Didcot and beyond, yet no-one at NR and GW together seems to have realised that the busy Tilehurst to Cholsey section of their network had lost all its service.

Eventually both 19-54 and 20-10 were cancelled and the 20-22 ex Reading arrived, announced as to be held etc etc as previous two services, again with no time estimates. The relief line between Reading and Cholsey was still wide open for use if anyone had the initiative and motivation to sort something out for the poor bloody passengers.

At Reading, there were no senior staff in evidence, no passenger ambassadors and platform staff with the usual "no-one is letting us know what's happening" knowledge to inform passengers. 03457 000125 just got a constant "all of our lines are busy" message. One of the more helpful regular "voices" was on the tannoy, but clearly also had no information to pass on.

Eventually at 20-47 the 20-22 advanced into the long vacant path on the relief line. OK - not quite an hour of delay, but still it was at the end of another busy day, and I just wanted to get home. However there was nothing to help me decide if I should ring my wife to ask her to come to collect me or take a taxi or wait. And why was someone not organising a shuttle down the empty relief lines and juggling the trains at Didcot, or at least dispatching trains that could provide a service between Tilehurst and Cholsey, even if they might have to wait in a queue to be turned back at Didcot?

Simply not good enough!

Member Hopwood - please could you contact your opposite number at Network Rail and explain how an incident at about 18-30 beyond Didcot largely wiped out our service, why no-one took control to maintain trains on this busy section over an empty stretch of track and why no helpful information was cascaded back to passengers to enable them to make an informed choice as to whether to abandon the train and seek alternative ways home, or stick it out?
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« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2019, 04:52:48 am »

Sounds like a very frustrating evening.

I know one of the problems concerned the Worcester service which was trapped behind the failed train.  The original plan was to send it back to Didcot, allow passengers for intermediate stations to get off and then route it via Swindon and Stroud.

The first issue was finding an empty platform at Didcot. Secondly it was discovered the driver didn’t sign the route via Swindon so eventually it had to go back through the affected area before terminating at Oxford. 
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