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Author Topic: How long does the Gloucester stop cost?  (Read 774 times)
grahame
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« on: July 17, 2020, 08:17:15 am »

Coming down the Stroud Valley from Sapperton - should your passenger train make for Gloucester or Cheltenham Spa?   

Since Eastgate closed many decades ago, there's a choice to be made and the solution adopted by GWR services from and via Swindon and Stroud is to go in to the remaining Gloucester station, there reversing and heading on to Cheltenham Spa.  Cross Country services have - with one or two exceptions each day - made the decision to simple leave out Gloucester.

Yesterday, the 16:58 from Cheltenham Spa to Paddington missed out the Gloucester stop ... and from being 1 minute late off Cheltenham, called at Stonehouse 9 minutes early (then waited time at Stroud).  That's an indication of the time cost ... 10 minutes.

No 'point' here other than to inform ... but it does set me thinking.  As a system analyst, I have oft scratched my head and wondered the best way to provide services around this area; as someone who does not live in the area, I am not going to sit here and evaluate any ideas I might think of.  Comment from others welcome, though.
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Lee
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« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2020, 09:41:44 am »

I suppose really the question is not so much how long but how much it costs, how much revenue it generates, and what the balance of the two is.

Once I had finally got them off the DfT through FOI, I studied all the Jacobs Consultancy business case reports that underpinned the infamous 2006 Greater Western Franchise. They were full of analysis of what could be saved both timewise and financially by missing this or that stop out. However, there wasn't any such analysis of missing Gloucester out, and that probably tells you all you need to know.

Mind you, the whole concept of a rail "business case" is very "old normal", and who knows when we will see those days again, if we ever truly do.

My instinct is that Gloucester's services are probably at the lower end of the expectation range, and reducing them further would probably not be a sensible move for a number of reasons.
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ChrisB
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« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2020, 12:13:47 pm »

How else would you get from Gloucester to Stroud, for example?
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« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2020, 12:21:40 pm »

How else would you get from Gloucester to Stroud, for example?

Not only that, but Cheltenham and Gloucester go together nicely to justify the new hourly through service to London.  Take out the Gloucester call and the numbers wouldn't stack up.
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grahame
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« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2020, 12:25:47 pm »

No 'point' here other than to inform ... but it does set me thinking.  As a system analyst, I have oft scratched my head and wondered the best way to provide services around this area; as someone who does not live in the area, I am not going to sit here and evaluate any ideas I might think of.  Comment from others welcome, though.

How else would you get from Gloucester to Stroud, for example?

Oh indeed ... my "10 minutes" posted as a learning point; seeing what happens when something goes wrong is often very educational.  No suggestion from me to drop the Gloucester call in otherwise unchanged current service patterns - what would be rather unfortunate!

From Stroud to Gloucester ... why not take government advise which until yesterday suggested you get off a stop early if that was a quieter station, and walk.  Cue large numbers of very annoyed peolple on the road from Stonehouse to Gloucester  Grin Cheesy
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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2020, 04:46:57 pm »

There is of course nothing new in trains taking diversions tp pick up additional traffic.

There is at least one daily service from Paddington to Swansea via Bristol

Once upon a time NE/SW trains ran direct and non stop betweeh Sheffield and York. Now they alternate between goinf via Wakefield/ Leeds and Doncaster

At least one XC train on the NE/SW route bound for Cardiff deviates via Bristol

Manchester to Hayfield services operate via Glossop

Many Lancaster to Leeds trains take a trip to Morecambe on the way

But back to being strictly on topic, Paddington to Cheltenham trains have always reversed at Gloucester and they could always, theoretically, have gone direct fromTuffley to Barnwood. In steam days, that was one of the reasons that Horton Road had a fleet of large prairie tanks for.

Styal line services have been reversing at Manchester Airport since the station opened

It would be a very oddstate of affairs indeed if class 800s on the Carmarthen to Paddington run didn't call aat Swansea!
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« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2020, 06:27:54 pm »

Two things in my ideal World,although some one may have suggested them in the past

First option(now lost due to Morrisons) would have been the triangle at Gloucester.

Trains from Cheltenham to London/Bristol could have stopped on the main line and picked up passengers from Gloucester and then continued to to stonehouse/Bristol Parkway.

With a footbridge to the triangle to get passengeres to and from Gloucester station.

Second option which can still be done,trains from London which terminate at Cheltenham could have a signal installed just before cheltenham station to take you onto platform one.

This would be good for trains running late and dare I say racing days

From the time a train arrives at cheltenham from London to the time it gets over to the other side and ready to start its return journey is fifteen minutes.
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stuving
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« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2020, 07:09:24 pm »

NR do have a plan tucked away in a drawer for platforms on the main line. This was their summary from the Western Route Study:
Quote
The Route Study has reviewed the provision of main line platforms at Gloucester to enable services on the Bristol or Swindon to Worcester or Birmingham axis to call at Gloucester, without the reversal and journey time penalty currently incurred. The option is relatively expensive due to the location of the site and the works required to provide access. There is also an issue if and how the platforms would be connected to the existing station platforms and/or city centre to maintain connectivity particularly for passenger access other than by car.

In the details about Route Section N, the time penalty for a Gloucester call with reversal is given as 12 minutes. The assessment of option N2 is:
Quote
N2:
   Mainline platforms at Gloucester
Conditional Output:
   Capacity
Timeframe:
   Longer Term, however there may be a case for passive provision in 2019 – 2024 (Control Period 6)
Purpose:
   • would enable more main line services to call at Gloucester without incurring a journey time penalty as at present
   • reduces timetable conflicts across the area
Description:
    Provision of an additional two-island station providing four platform faces on the Main Line.
Indicative Cost:
   • £50m – £100m
   • cost of passive provision not known
Relates to other options:
   All other options in this Route Section N

Analysis:

The Gloucester Station area is complex and offers opportunities for rationalisation when resignalling takes place in CP6. There are also opportunities to consider alternative ways to serve rail passenger demand in the Gloucester area.

Gloucester Station is located off the Bristol to Birmingham Main Line. Currently, to serve Gloucester Station trains need to leave and rejoin the Main Line; the crossing moves at Gloucester Yard Junction and Barnwood Junction impose a limit on the capacity which would otherwise be available and extend journey times. This means that a number of services on the Bristol – Birmingham axis do not call at Gloucester due to the reversal requirements and additional journey time which this entails. London Paddington/Swindon – Cheltenham Spa services do call at Gloucester, and incur a journey time penalty of approximately 10-12 minutes as a result. However, Gloucester Station is well sited for the city centre and bus station, facilitating access on foot.

An option exists to provide additional platforms for Gloucester on the Main Line. This could be in the area of the triangle of railway lines east of Gloucester Station. If additional services were to be provided on the Bristol – Birmingham axis then this would allow those trains to call at Gloucester without incurring the reversal/journey time penalty. The costed option is a two-island design, providing four platform faces in total. This is a relatively expensive option due to the cost of providing new island platforms, realigning track and providing footbridges and associated infrastructure.

Other, more local train services could continue to serve the existing Gloucester Station for the pedestrian connectivity.

The case for the platforms is dependent on additional services on the Bristol – Birmingham axis, which would be difficult to accommodate on the 2019 infrastructure at each end of the route.
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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2020, 08:17:27 pm »

I’ve told the first part of this story on here before, but for completeness I’ll tell it again.

Under Beeching, Eastgate was chosen to be Gloucester’s only station. To facilitate the closure of Central, the old down main platform was extended allowing it to connect to Eastgate. This also allowed the long footbridge that connected the two to be closed and dismantled, opening up that site for redevelopment.

As a result of increasing traffic congestion in Gloucester on the level crossings on the Tuffley loop, and especially the chaos caused by Barton Street gates over a main arterial road into the city, Gloucester City Council started agitating towards closing the route. This happened in December 1975.

Moving on to today, Gloucester (Central) is exactly what it says on the tin. The bus station is less than 100 yards from the station entrance, and beyond the bus station is the main retail area in the city centre. It would be hard to imagine a more perfect location for a main railway station in any city.

Google Maps tells me that the closest the main line gets to Gloucester Central is at Metz Way, and that is 1.2 miles away from Central station. By definition (see above) it is much the same distance away from the bus station and the city centre shops. Put ”railway folk” thinking to one side and look at it from the general public’s perspective. How many of the general public are going to prefer a station 1.2 miles away from where they want to go to one that they can fall out of and be where they want to go?

How many of the general public are prepares to walk 1.2 miles each way to anywhere? How many additional car journeys would be generated because the “main” station is no longer right next to the bus station? How much land would be needed for parking at the new station? Even if there was a shuttle bus (or train) service, how would that be any more convenient than what is already there?

As regards time penalties, there would of course be new ones as trains that normally rattle through non-stop would have to make a station stop. Has that been factored into the equations?

I think that questions like this need to be addressed before we start worrying about which budgetary period the money will come from.

Finally, a tale of what happens to new railway services that are perceived to be worse than the one they replaced. My parents told me that my pram and me were often put into the guards van when they went shopping from Staple Hill to Bristol St Phillips. In September 1953 (I was 15 months old at the time so blissfully unaware of any of this at the time!) the railway decided they didn’t need St Phillips any more and diverted services to Temple Meads.  My parents then stopped using the train because Temple Meads was “too far” from the shops, and I went in a push chair on the bus. And my old man was a railway carpenter, but he still wouldn’t use the train after that!

Before you try to mend something, first check to make sure that it is indeed broke...
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grahame
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« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2020, 08:56:38 am »

From just an observation of timing / reaping a piece of data while it was available, I seem to have stirred up a great deal of interest.    I don't know if anything is broken or not;  I do know of plans to add a second local train in each hour arriving from the Bristol direction, and I'm aware of aspirations for a second hourly train arriving from the Stroud direction - just worth gathering evidence at a time that disruption allows it to be gathered.

You'll always have a balance / decision to make where a train approaches a junction with potential destinations on both legs ... do you split the train, do you run to "one" or "t'other" and if you do that latter, do you alternate destinations, or double back across the top of the triangle?   Do you even complete the triangle with the train running back whence it came having served both points in succession?   Would a station relocation at or near the split help in any way?  How about a new station so that trains approaching from various directions can alternate in which leg they take, with passengers having a quick change if the service they're on happens to be going the wrong leg?

My understanding is that trains cannot be reversed from the south in the platforms at Cheltenham Spa (I am subject to correction on that) and if they could, the time taken would create a significant pinch point on the two track railway towards / from Birmingham (I am subject to correction on that too).  There were plans for extra terminating platforms at Cheltenham Spa for trains from the south, I recall.  This they have gone away (yet again, subject to correction).

Don't know if there is a problem.   I do recall the MEP for the South West, Molly Scott Cato, telling of her train trips from her home in Stonehouse to parts of her constituency such as Exeter and Plymouth - how after leaving on the train, reversing at Gloucester and changing at Cheltenham Spa, she passed back through Stonehouse on the other line there some 40 minutes into her journey.   Stroud Valley to Bristol and beyond is perhaps another topic ...
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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2020, 09:51:03 am »

At the risk of being accused of stating the obvious, if you want to go from A to B by train then you have to do it the way the railway goes. Gong from Stonehouse to Exeter via a double reversal at Gloucester and Cheltenham and then virtually going back past your house may seem a little odd to a layman, but there are of course alternatives.

Go via Swindon, or get thee hence to Cam & Dursley and change at Bristol; at least with the latter route you start off going in the right direction and keep doing it.

I have had a similar situation in the past going from Chippenham to Swansea via Swindon. About 45 minutes after leaving Chippenham I am within 6 miles of my house as the train goes through Hullavington. There are plenty of other examples around the country.

But back to the topic at hand, I am far from convinced that there is anything broke at Gloucester that needs mending. There is at present a GWR hourly service going direct to Bristol, and another XC service running hourly changing at Cheltenham. Gloucester’s opportunities for travelling north are many – XC services on the Cardiff to Nottingham service; GWR services to Worcester and Malvern and, of course, a further hourly GWR service terminating at Cheltenham.

Furthermore the service frequency on virtually all these routes is far in excess of anything provided in the pre-privatisation era. I am not going to wider the issue to whether this is because of, or in spite of privatisation, of course – that is one for another day and another thread.
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« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2020, 01:23:27 pm »

As an addition to Robin Summerhill's post on the centrality of Gloucester, I grew up in Stroud. Until my parents bought a car in 1983, we would go to Gloucester on the train; but if we went to Cheltenham, we would always take the bus, because Cheltenham station is not at all central whereas the buses go right into the middle of town.
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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2020, 02:29:40 pm »

As an addition to Robin Summerhill's post on the centrality of Gloucester, I grew up in Stroud. Until my parents bought a car in 1983, we would go to Gloucester on the train; but if we went to Cheltenham, we would always take the bus, because Cheltenham station is not at all central whereas the buses go right into the middle of town.

Precisely. And in a way it also reflects the situation between Bristol St Phillips and Temple Meads in the 1950s.

Also see how many people get on and off Valley Lines trains at Cardiff Queen Street compared to General.

As an aside, if you did a straw poll on a northbound SW/NE train of passengers who were actually going to Gloucester, I wonder how many of them would actually know that they would pass through its suburbs on the way to Cheltenham (not everybody is interested in geography)!

On reading that report posted by Stuving again, It becomes very clear that this was written from a purely railway perspective with no regard being taken of how the travelling public might react. There is one short sentence about the well-sited situation of Central, but lots about building stations, reducing conflicting movements, additional calls being made at Gloucester, remodelling track and resignalling programmes. I am beginning to doubt that customer experience, needs and desires were ever properly considered, let alone taken into account.

Nobody has ever increased passenger numbers by making a train service less convenient.

Perhaps they should be let loose on another report to prove that, as Bath station is on a cramped site and has capacity issues, it would be far better to give the city a roomy brand spanking new station. At Bathampon junction...
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« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2020, 05:58:38 pm »


Also see how many people get on and off Valley Lines trains at Cardiff Queen Street compared to General.


General?  You're showing your age now.

With Queen St, as it's the first of the two when coming down from the valleys, and it's adjacent to one end of the shopping centre, it's not surprising that shoppers will get off there. But one can then work one's way through the centre, through the retail emporia of St David's Centres, both 1 and 2, through John Lewis, stop at the chippie in Caroline St (maybe not) and then walk the couple of minutes to Central rather than retracing ones steps laden with the spoils of a morning's retail therapy.

For office commuters, the position is also a little more balanced, with quite a lot of relatively new offices around Callaghan Square just south of the main line, as well as now in Central Square since they built over the bus station (don't get me going on that one!).  There's also a lot of offices on the north side of the centre, which is better accessed from Cathays from the Taff line, but obviously via Queen St from the Rhymney Line. 

How full those offices will be in future is another question mind you, though even more off topic than this digression.
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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2020, 12:04:16 pm »

Just a short update after I looked at Google Maps.

The obvious, if not the only point on the line from Gloucester Yard to Barnwood junctions that you could put a new station is on the site of a brand new Morrisons supermarket.

How much would a Morrisons cost I wonder?
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