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Author Topic: What's happening on 15th December 2019?  (Read 2280 times)
grahame
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« on: December 08, 2019, 12:28:52 pm »

An introduction for newcomers ... who I welcome to our independent passenger's forum

Scroll down to reply No. 2 for a Wiltshire specific perspective

What's happening to timetables on 15th December 2019?   What will it mean?

1. Over the past couple of years, GWR's fleet of High Speed Trains (HSTs) which were diesel have been replaced by IETs which run on electric power from Paddington and switch to diesel in most cases somewhere on the way to their final destination.   Under electric power, they accelerate much more quickly from stops and just at present (writing this early December), they arrive at many places early and then have to wait.   As from 15th December, a new timetable comes into effect which reduces these stops back to just the time needed for passengers to get on and off, and in the process speeds up the overall journey.  The new trains also have automatic doors, so the time stopped at each station - especially unstaffed stations - can be reduced, again helping the overall journey time for longer journeys even under diesel power.

That's good news... and it has some side effects

a) If a train leaves London at the same time it always has, it will now be earlier at junctions with other lines along the way.   That means that local trains have to be adjusted to allow the retimed express to call at a different time. And following on from that, a local train arriving at the junction even at the same time as it used to might now fail to make a connection that used to be there and useful.

b) With train arriving earlier at their final destination, they can head back again sooner net result being the can make more journeys per day and that releases some trains to run as "extras".  You'll see trains labelled "superfast" in the new timetables these are what the government and GWR have decided to run with the extra trains released from other services.  They run non-stop between Bristol Parkway and London, and between Chippenham and London.

c) "Super-fasts" put more trains on the same lines, squeezing further the capacity and making it even more difficult for the timetablers to squeeze in all the local trains.  For the most part, they have done a good job, but there are examples of service reductions of local trains into both Bristol Parkway and Swindon.

d) Passengers from Bath and Chippenham, and from South Wales and Bristol Parkway will find that they now have three trains an hour not 2 to London. However, one of these is "superfast" so that passengers from those stations for Swindon and Reading will find longer gaps with a wait of up to 40 minutes between trains.

e) The nearest train to an old time has, in some situations, mean that an off-peak train has been replaced by a peak one, and this may result in a substantial price increase on 16th December (with a further annual increase on 2nd January). A number of historic "derogations" which have allowed off peak tickets to be used on service which (based on their time) should be peak have also been removed. There's an element of logic here - these derogations were based on a historic lack of trains on the "shoulder" of the peak which has now been filled, but they are really painful for those who are caught / have budgeted to use these trains regularly and were not given good notice.

2. Transport for London takes over the running of local stopping services from London to Reading, using electric trains which (in due course) will continue through London from Paddington to Liverpool Street and onwards to either Shenfield or Woolwich as the Elizabeth Line.   Again, there are side effects - more trains terminating at Reading and significant changes for services onwards from there to Didcot and Oxford and at the intermediate stations.

3. Services from Plymouth through Cornwall step up to 2 per hour.  Not quiet "every half hour" as there are single track sections, and also some stations are only served by one of the two trains every hour.   Many of these trains start back from Exeter, London, or even Cardiff and there are inevitable side effects.

4. 5. etc ... a number of other changes;  Swindon to Gloucester, becomes hourly through trains from London (was alternate London and Swindon starters). Cardiff to Portsmouth - in theory - becomes 5 carriages on most trains (but some delivery delays on trains for the South East meaning that there aren't yet enough cascaded second hand trains available). Looe and Barnstaple branches become hourly.  Improvements from Oxford to and via Evesham and Worcester and a new station at Worcestershire Parkway - though the opening of that has just been postponed until "the New Year".   And this paragraph is NOT intended to be a complete list

* With new timetables, train "diagrams" where trains go on to different next service, and different crew diagrams, I would realistically expect to see a few teething troubles - and so would GWR.  A massive amount of work has gone in to preparing, but inevitably things will crop up; there's also going to be a "bedding in" period where everything is operated with a little caution as it's so new.

* Some old perversities have been removed ... but then a number of people had come to use them, and will miss them.  And local tuning to meet local conditions, years of experience, have in places been swept away in standardisation and supposedly for the greater good or - in one or two cases especially on weekend timetables, where consultation has been lacking, because it's not been given any thought.

Where do I find out more?

On GWR's timetable site
GWR's timetables (not an obvious link) - https://www.gwr.com/plan-journey/train-times
GWR's summary of changes - station by station - https://www.gwr.com/plan-journey/timetable-2019
GWR's ticket system - https://www.gwr.com/tickets - allows you to find out about trains / recommended connections without actually buying
If you are purchasing, you can do so fro the GWR web site without transaction fees that you may encounter elsewhere

On / via our site

Navigate from the top - look up your general category of go line by line from http://gwr.passenger.chat

Links to old and new National Rail timetables  - via http://gwr.passenger.chat/smr/AVF.html
(replace "AVF" by your own station's three letter code or go via index at http://gwr.passenger.chat/smr/index.html

http://gwr.passenger.chat/search.html?search=luxulyan
(replace "luxulyan" by your station or another keyword)

If you are reading the forum and have a question, please feel free to register (and, yes, it is all free) and ask. {{here}}

On other sites

Real time trains - https://www.realtimetrains.co.uk - gives an excellent current display of train times from any station and you can look ahead to dates in the future beyond the timetable change.  It also lets you select an individual train and track it all along its route.

Recent train times WILL become useful as we get into the changes - great historic data to chase train reliability - https://www.recenttraintimes.co.uk
And while you are travelling, Open train times - https://www.opentraintimes.com - has diagrams to show you where trains actually are.

Looking forward

If any immediate panic / problems are found and can be easily fixed after 15th December, I suspect they will be.  Connections at Twyford and calls at Severn Tunnel Junction in previous timetable changes come to mind.  It's a good idea to flag things up on this forum as well as elsewhere. We do get read and noticed.

From May 17th 2020, relatively small changes that quickly come to light but cannot be fixed 'overnight' may be implemented

From December 13th 2020, more difficult issues may be fixed.  We may also see some other reshaping during 2020, such as a boost of the service from Bristol Temple Meads to Clifton Down and Avonmouth to every 30 minutes.

The current First franchise finishes on 31st March 2020, and First have entered a bid (known as DA3) offering to run a further 2 or 4 years. This has been with the Department for Transport for some considerable time.  We don't know what changes (if any) were in the submitted bid - though we are very much aware of what we would like to see, as are GWR and the Department for Transport.  But it's not in our control or knowledge to know if the next few years is going to be "stand still", some token improvements, or a proper enhancement program - or if there's even going to be cutbacks and austerity; in my personal view that's unlikely but we should be aware of the possibility.

The "Williams review" has been looking at the whole future structure of railway management and operation, including franchising and fares systems, and we await what that brings.  And by this time next week, we may have a new government that decides not to award an extension at all, but to take over the railway operation itself.  Timetable and fare changes from these sources would be unlikely in the extreme before December 2020 and even that would be cutting it tight.

What now?

At this point, 15th December changes are very much fixed.  Use the resources / links about to find out how your journey is effected, and please ask questions of GWR or here on the forum.   Of particular note - there may be indirect alternatives for you - some ideas you'll already find around, others our members may know of.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2019, 01:14:59 am by grahame » Logged

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grahame
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« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2019, 01:37:34 pm »

I've posted a link to this thread on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CoffeeShopCRP/photos/a.2247872375459869/2536318716615232. and I wonder if I can persuade members (and others who are just browsing) on Facebook to share it to as appropriate please - help get the word out.   Thanks

P.S.  Pretty pictures - taken yesterday - to make it attract attention on that site
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grahame
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« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2019, 01:03:11 am »

The big stories for passengers to, from and within Wiltshire ... I am adding this post to back up what I expect to be said  Grin during a piece on BBC Radio Wiltshire just after 8 a.m. on 10th December, other news allowing.

* Just about all train times change north of Salisbury Plain - check before you travel. This is because the expresses are faster and there are more of them now passing through the county without stopping, and the local and regional trains have been moved so as not to get in their way on an increasingly congested railway.

* Faster trains to London from Chippenham, Swindon, Westbury and Pewsey

* New superfast trains from Chippenham to London in the peak

* Extra train from Pewsey to London filling the long gap in the morning just after the peak

* Crowded Bristol - Bath - Bradford-on-Avon - Trowbridge - Westbury - Warminster - Salisbury - Southampton services mostly extending to 5 carriages, but some delays on this as GWR await delivery of trains for local services around Reading that will release more of their second hand trains to us

* Extra early train from Westbury / Trowbridge / Melksham into Swindon - connection to London at 06:59. Later evening train back allows London connection as late as 19:48

* Almost all Kemble line trains now through to London rather than alternately through to London and "change at Swindon".

Improvements for many - especially London passengers - don't come without effects on some passengers (especially those on some local journeys).  Beware ...

- If you're at CHIPPENHAM and travelling to Swindon, some trains don't call at Swindon any more. In particular, there's a 40 minute gap in the peak now where the maximum gap used to be 25 minutes.  Get on the wrong train and you'll be carried all the way non-stop to Paddington

- If you're an Paddington travelling to SWINDON be careful to catch a train that actually calls there - some now run through express and you could find yourself at Bristol Parkway or Chippenham before you can get off.  There's a similar story for passengers from Bristol (both Parkway and Temple Meads), Bath Spa and South Wales travelling to Swindon

- Connections change ... and at WESTBURY where some lines are infrequent, this will make a very big difference.  Fewer trains west from Westbury will run beyond Exeter meaning an extra change for passengers to Plymouth and Cornwall

- Through services that cease include Swindon and Chippenham to Plymouth and Penzance, and Keynsham and Oldfield Park to Swindon. These were popular through services at the right time of day, but now a change will be needed

- Some trains move from off peak to peak meaning that like for like fares on trains at a similar time will rocket.  This particularly applies for passengers from Pewsey and from Bedwyn to London, but not only there.  Suggestion - take a look at other options including new trains and ticket splitting, and if you're making multiple journeys in a week look at a season ticket as it may now be cheaper. GWR are also releasing more advance fares on the most effected trains, but that's a commercial product not a regulated fare, so this may only be a short term offer.

We expect teething problems - yes, a lot of preparation has been put in, but bugs will still be found and need ironing out.

A big "thank you" to GWR for consultation on the Monday to Friday changes to local trains with the communities involved. Still some awkward changes, but no longer a timetable that just jams in the trains where they most obviously fit. This co-operation obviously for the common good; could really have done with it for weekends.

Note that over Christmas, engineering works at London mean that Paddington will be closed for 4 days and limited right up to the New Year, also services to Wales will be replaced by buses for an extended period.

This year, peak fares will continue to apply on none-holiday days around the festive season rather than being relaxed for the whole period.

Annual fare rise - average 2.7% - on 2nd January 2020 - to look forward to. The new fares are already in the systems and I doubt any new government, whatever it has promised, would have the time between being elected and the New Year to pull it back out.

2020 will be an interesting year with the timetable changes bedding in, and a new operating contract starting on 1st April. First group is the only bidder, but we don't know what's been asked for or bid, nor whether a new government of a different might decide to run the trains itself.
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ChrisB
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« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2019, 09:13:35 am »

This year, peak fares will continue to apply on none-holiday days around the festive season rather than being relaxed for the whole period.

I had it confirmed on Twitter that off-peak fares apply all day on the 27th (Friday), but otherwise weekdays 30th & 31st have peaks as normal (but they seem to be running a peak service too on those days)
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onthecushions
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« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2019, 09:43:50 am »


A pity GWR doesn't highlight off peak ticket trains in the evening peak in its booking/TT.

You can deduce this from the cheaper singles but it's not very friendly.

OTC
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grahame
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« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2019, 03:18:30 pm »

The big stories for passengers to, from and within Wiltshire ... I am adding this post to back up what I expect to be said  Grin during a piece on BBC Radio Wiltshire just after 8 a.m. on 10th December, other news allowing.

[snip]


What an outside broadcast looks like (no need to dress smart for the radio):





and what it sounds like: http://www.passenger.chat/Timetable.m4a
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JontyMort
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« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2019, 11:20:35 pm »

Quote from: grahame link=topic=22550.msg277765#msg277765

Improvements from Oxford to and via Evesham and Worcester and a new station at Worcestershire Parkway - though the opening of that has just been postponed until "the New Year". 

And local tuning to meet local conditions, years of experience, have in places been swept away in standardisation and supposedly for the greater good or - in one or two cases especially on weekend timetables, where consultation has been lacking, because it's not been given any thought.


Worcester is an interesting example of this. Yes, the service to and from London will be noticeably better. However, the service to and from Bristol will be worse - especially in the morning. It is hardly the most eccentric journey a passenger might need. At present, the 0649 from Shrub Hill connects nicely at Cheltenham into the 0723 Cross-Country, arriving at TM at 0805. From Monday, this will be history. The new 0708 will get to Bristol half an hour later at 0834. Since the previous train is at 0520, there is no choice.
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Thatcham Crossing
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« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2019, 09:19:23 am »

No doubt the changes are mostly positive, but one negative I've found that impacts my local area is that it's no longer possible to travel without a change from Newbury to stations west of Exeter.

If I'm correct, this appears to be because all the Plymouth's and Penzance's run non-stop between Reading and Taunton, at least. So if you want a journey from, say, Castle Cary to Plymouth, that will involve an Exeter change
as well?
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SandTEngineer
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« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2019, 09:43:08 am »

No doubt the changes are mostly positive, but one negative I've found that impacts my local area is that it's no longer possible to travel without a change from Newbury to stations west of Exeter.

Thats not quite true.  There are still some through services in the late afternoon/evening.
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Thatcham Crossing
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« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2019, 01:18:59 pm »

Quote
Thats not quite true.  There are still some through services in the late afternoon/evening.

Apologies, I've had another look and can see that now. 1516 off Newbury (on a weekday) appears to be the earliest.
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ChrisB
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« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2019, 04:07:53 pm »

F5rom the TfL November Fares newsletter (redacted copy released via FOI request here

Contactless on TfL Rail beyond Hayes & Harlington not being introduced until fares rise on January 2. Daily & weekly capping won't then be introduced, but will be later in the spring of 2020.

PAYG fares not yet available, but will be before Christmas. Only *some* tickets are interavailable with GWR services (not detailed!) - this will be cause serious confusion methinks!

Berware - TFL penalty fare is 80, while GWR doesn't change - 20 or twice the relevant single fare to the next stop, whichever is the higher.



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Marlburian
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« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2019, 05:01:31 pm »

... Berware - TFL penalty fare is 80, while GWR doesn't change - 20 or twice the relevant single fare to the next stop, whichever is the higher.

And there are several stations with no ticket gates (notably the quite busyTwyford), so there will be those who are tempted ...

Marlburian
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2019, 05:36:20 pm »

GWR have put out a leaflet specifically for passengers travelling from Stapleton Road and Lawrence Hill to Bristol Parkway. Note that there will be easements for doubling back from Temple Meads to Bristol Parkway.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2019, 08:17:38 pm by Red Squirrel » Logged
grahame
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« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2019, 03:15:34 am »

GWR have put out a leaflet specifically for passengers travelling from Stapleton Road and Lawrence Hill to Bristol Parkway. Note that there will be easements for doubling back from Temple Meads to Bristol Parkway.

Indeed ... I missed this post earlier ... follow up from me on the "Bristol Commuter" board:

Problem of local trains stopping short of Filton Abbey Wood - update from Bristol shared with me

Quote
GWR have put the attached leaflet together and are working very closely with Network Rail to resolve, and they also have Meet the Manager events at both stations in the morning peak this week so customers are aware of the change.

To help GWR have a ticket easement allowing travel via Bristol Temple Meads, and the leaflet also details bus journeys through to key end destinations from Filton Abbeywood.

Apparently the London services and the Crosscountry services which are also an issue here, cannot be moved as they have to fit into tight slots at Paddington and Birmingham.  GWR had thought that they could still get their trains through to Bristol Parkway, but when NR System Operator assessed the paths their view was that they would not work. GWR reviewed each train as you can see from the leaflet they have together managed to find paths for several trains which do now go through to Bristol Parkway.  There is still an issue, especially in the off peak, but GWR have a ticket easement in place, and they will be happy to hear from customers to help find alternative bus routes to their final destination.  Network Rail Wales and Western are working with GWR on the solution and while this is not what either GWR or NR want to deliver in December, they are working hard to have a good solution in place in May.
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grahame
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« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2019, 06:33:06 am »

One day to go... to the biggest timetable change in 40 years. 

From Sky News

Quote
Anthony Smith, the chief executive of passenger watchdog Transport Focus, said: "[This time around] passengers need the rail industry to deliver a smooth set of timetable improvements so they can reliably use both new and existing services.

"Many passengers should have a greater choice of services with more seats as result of these changes. However, there will also be some who lose out with fewer or slower services.

"Train companies must have plenty of visible staff on hand to guide passengers, to answer questions on how these changes will affect them, and to explain what travel choices they have."

The pre-publicity in the GWR area has been like nothing I have seen before which is excellent in helping to make sure that people are ready and know what's coming, and there's an awful lot of work going on behind the scenes too to make sure the systems are ready. 

There is bad news for Sunday, 15th December where a perfect storm of a new timetable which is likely to throw up glitches in the first days, a heavy demand for staff holidays which in many cases GWR are obliged to grant, and heavy travel demand as many people visit other parts of their extended families a week before Christmas or take in events such as the final day of the Bath Christmas market.  I have spoken with GWR senior managers on several occasions over the last fortnight; they have culled a number of high speed services ahead of time in order to be able to run the remaining ones without last minute cancellations, and I understand that the "far south west" is also thinned out.  And I understand that a number of senior managers and directors will be on the ground or in other places to pick up immediate issues and help customers in an effective way. 

But Sunday is "just a day" and the real tests start to come on Monday with the timetable that runs on 70% of days (Monday to Friday), and for which staffing is contracted as part of the working week.  Many customers will have been reached already; for the majority it will mean change and with many existing customers having settled into the sometimes-quirky old schedules it will mean they need to work out modified daily schedules - a few severely impacted.  What it will open up too is new opportunities too ...
* Faster trains meaning less "wasted" travel time
* Faster trains meaning less trains needed for an equivalent frequency
* Historic gaps and idiosyncrasies dealt with in some cases
* Opportunities to encourage new custom where train use was previously not an obvious choice
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