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Author Topic: General Information - London to Swindon and Bristol (2.2020 refresh)  (Read 4852 times)
grahame
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« on: February 25, 2020, 10:58:52 am »

Name

Great Western Main Line

Description

From London (Paddington) via Reading, Didcot, Swindon, Chippenham and Bath Spa to Bristol Temple Meads. (click on station name for current departures)

The line is 4 tracks from Paddington to just west of Didcot, where it reduces to 2 lines.  The line pairs are designated as "main" and "relief" and the London to Bristol service runs on the main line, only using the relief line if the main line is not available for engineering or other reasons. Two tracks continue for the remainder of the journey to Bristol.

The line is electified from London to Cocklebury Lane Bridge, just to the east of (before) Chippenham

Notable Engineering features and architecture

Paddington Station
Hanwell Viaduct
Maidenhead Bridge
Sonning Cutting
Swindon Railway Works
Chippenham Station
Chippenham Viaduct
Box Tunnel
Bath Station
Saltford Tunnel
Bristol Temple Meads Station

Notable Railway Facilities

Old Oak Depot
Southall
Reading Traincare Depot
Didcot Railway Centre
Swindon Cocklebury Sidings

Service

Base service:
2 services per hour every day, reduced to 1 service per hour late evening. Trains call at Reading, Didcot, Swindon, Chippenham, Bath Spa and Bristol Temple Meads. Journey is 119 miles, Typical train time (end to end) 98 minutes.

Extras:
Additional (hourly) service at peak times running none-stop between London and Chippenham. 

Additional trains in some hours Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads calling only at Bristol Parkway

Extensions:
Some trains (typically the extra) extended from Bristol To Weston-super-mare or to Taunton

Other services share the Great Western Main Line from London to Thingley Junction (near Chippenham) and from Bathampton Junction (near Bath) to Bristol Temple Meads. These other services provide the trains that call at all the intermediate stations not listed above.

Rolling stock used

Class 800 IETs (Intercity Express Train) - 5 or 9 carriages, or 10 carriages made up of 2 x 5 carriage trains.
Class 802 IETs may also appear from time to time.

Main passenger flows

Into London with a Monday to Friday morning peak and returning from there in the late afternoon / early evening.  There is however a substantial flow of passengers into London and back out every day.  Sunday afternoon into London is busy, as can Saturday be depending on events in London.

As well as passengers to London, there is a significant passenger flow to work in Reading from further West, and also to Swindon, Bath Spa and Bristol.

Ticket and fare data

Although there are many commuters to London from west of Didcot, only period returns are available and this leads to fares which are very high per mile, especially for peak travel.  Season tickets are best value even for passengers making the journey at peak times just 2 or 3 days in a 7 day period.

For passenger making a day return journey into London from west of Didcot just once in a week, purchasing tickets from their home station to Didcot and from Didcot to London can make a significant saving. This is valid provided passengers use a train which calls at Didcot - so that now applies to almost every train in the twice-an-hour pattern, but not to the "Superfast"s.

Passengers travelling in to London in the peak, and returning outside the peak, are advised to compare the cost of a peak return with the cost of two singles, which will often be cheaper.  Also consider advance tickets if you know which train you'll be using, especially if you are flexible at the time of booking to choose a cheaper train.

The "Great West Way Discover" ticket, and the All Line Rover, are the only ranger / rover tickets available to UK (United Kingdom) residents which cover the whole line from London to Bristol.

Catering and faciities

There are station buffets and retail outlets at all stations served by main line trains, though hours may be limited at some stations.

All trains have first and standard class, and catering trollies. Complimentary refreshments are available to passengers in first class.

Current issues

Lack of late train back from Bristol Temple Meads and Bath to Chippenham and Swindon

Some trains run as 5 carriages when they should be 9 or 10 and at times of day that leads to them being overcrowded

Planned

Rebuild of Bristol East Junction

Additional superfast services will run during the day from May 2020

Aspirations

Completion of electrification from the outskirts of Chippenham, through Chippenham Station and into Bristol Temple Meads

New Stations at Grove (at or near former Wantage Road), Royal Wootton Bassett (a new site not on the junction), Corsham (near previous site) and Saltford (on old site).

Improvement of junction at Didcot (grade separation)

Station notes and links

London (Paddington) ((live departures)) (Paddington (London) - next trains)/details.html" target="_blank">((about - National Rail)) ((Station Stats))
Reading ((live departures)) (resolve)/details.html" target="_blank">((about - National Rail)) ((Station Stats))
Didcot ((live departures)) (Didcot Parkway - next trains)/details.html" target="_blank">((about - National Rail)) ((Station Stats))
Swindon ((live departures)) (Swindon - next trains)/details.html" target="_blank">((about - National Rail)) ((Station Stats))
Chippenham ((live departures)) (Chippenham - next trains)/details.html" target="_blank">((about - National Rail)) ((Station Stats))
Bath Spa ((live departures)) (Bath Spa - next trains)/details.html" target="_blank">((about - National Rail)) ((Station Stats))
Bristol Temple Meads ((live departures)) (Bristol Temple Meads - next trains)/details.html" target="_blank">((about - National Rail)) ((Station Stats))

Community Groups

There are no Community Rail Partnerships for the London to Bristol services.

Station friends group at Chippenham - ((Link))

Rail User Groups ... to be added (any known?)

History

This is the original Great Western Main Line built under the auspices of the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

On the demise of steam, services were taken oven by the diesel hydraulics of the Warship and Western classes hauling standard BR (British Rail(ways)) carriages, and these in turn were replaced by High Speed Trains (HST (High Speed Train))s which ruled the roost from mid 1970s until around 2018. Then the IETs we currently have were phased in with progressive electrification.



* Anything which you feel is wrong in the above, or missing, , please post below. I will correct as appropriate in the original, then either split off the comments into a separate thread or delete them to keep this thread tidy.

* If you feel like (and able) to write a similar post for another line, under the same headings, please let me know.   All the line boards could do with a lick of fresh paint.

* If you are looking for further information / discussions on this like, please loot at other topics on the board via http://www.passenger.chat/b10 . If you are looking for information on other lines, please select the line via the index page at http://www.passenger.chat/#3 .
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ray951
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« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2020, 11:37:01 am »

Notable Railway Facilities
The former Eurostar now IET (Intercity Express Train) depot at North Pole junction?

"Other services share the Great Western Main Line from London to Thingley Junction (near Chippenham) and from Bathampton Junction (near Bath) to Bristol Temple Meads. These other services provide the trains that call at all the intermediate stations not listed above." Should you add London to Cheltenham as far as Swindon and perhaps London to Oxford as far as Didcot East to this sentance?
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grahame
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« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2020, 05:46:04 pm »

Stats for the main calling stations all at
http://www.passenger.chat/PADRDGDIDSWICPMBTHBRI.html

(I am experimenting with a script)
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ellendune
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« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2020, 09:48:33 pm »

Notable Railway Facilities
The former Eurostar now IET (Intercity Express Train) depot at North Pole junction?

"Other services share the Great Western Main Line from London to Thingley Junction (near Chippenham) and from Bathampton Junction (near Bath) to Bristol Temple Meads. These other services provide the trains that call at all the intermediate stations not listed above." Should you add London to Cheltenham as far as Swindon and perhaps London to Oxford as far as Didcot East to this sentance?

Yes and hasn't Old Oak Common been demolished now?
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grahame
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« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2020, 07:11:06 am »

Notable Railway Facilities
The former Eurostar now IET (Intercity Express Train) depot at North Pole junction?

"Other services share the Great Western Main Line from London to Thingley Junction (near Chippenham) and from Bathampton Junction (near Bath) to Bristol Temple Meads. These other services provide the trains that call at all the intermediate stations not listed above." Should you add London to Cheltenham as far as Swindon and perhaps London to Oxford as far as Didcot East to this sentance?

Yes and hasn't Old Oak Common been demolished now?

Yes - but there's now New Old Oak Common - see about it on Transport for London site

IET Depot should indeed be added. 

Main update was February - just 3 months ago.  Amazing how stuff changes:
Quote
Additional superfast services will run during the day from May 2020

Whilst I don't intend to rewrite the page to reflect current (interim?) service levels, I do find myself wondering not only when but if the extra capacity and speed of the super fasts will be needed.  I guess the capacity need relates to how the trade off of passenger numbers going down versus space needed per passenger going up works out, with the added complication of changed peak / off peak loading patterns.
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eightonedee
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« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2020, 02:11:48 pm »

Small historical point of correction - the diesel hydraulics were not directly replaced by HSTs (High Speed Train). There might have been a few Westerns left when HSTs started, but there was a time during the early & mid 1970s when Brush 4s/class 47s were the main express passenger locos.
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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2020, 02:30:56 pm »

Small historical point of correction - the diesel hydraulics were not directly replaced by HSTs (High Speed Train). There might have been a few Westerns left when HSTs started, but there was a time during the early & mid 1970s when Brush 4s/class 47s were the main express passenger locos.

The class 50s replaces the last few hydraulics. In fact, although Wiki lists scrappings as late as 1979, I'm not at all sure that any were still in active service after 1975 or thereabouts

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Rail_Class_52
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grahame
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« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2020, 02:50:18 pm »

Small historical point of correction - the diesel hydraulics were not directly replaced by HSTs (High Speed Train). There might have been a few Westerns left when HSTs started, but there was a time during the early & mid 1970s when Brush 4s/class 47s were the main express passenger locos.

The class 50s replaces the last few hydraulics. In fact, although Wiki lists scrappings as late as 1979, I'm not at all sure that any were still in active service after 1975 or thereabouts

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Rail_Class_52


https://www.westernlocomotives.co.uk/about
Quote
The first Class 52 to be withdrawn was in May 1973, and by the end of 1975 only 35 of the fleet remained in service. By February 1977 the entire class of 74 had been taken out of service.

From various sources:

Warship (41) - all withdrawn in 1967
Class 14 - last withdrawn in 1970
Warship (43) - last withdrawn in 1971
Baby Warship (22) - last withdrawn 1.1.1972
Warship (42) - last withdrawn in 1972
Hymek (35) - last withdrawn in 1975
Western (52) - last withdrawn in 1977 (74 built; 52 made it into 1975, 34 into 1976, just 8 into 1977)
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« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2020, 03:30:19 pm »

People look back on the diesel-hydraulics fondly, including myself who can remember seeing Westerns pass my local station, but they really weren't a success story at all in terms of lifespan - 10 to 15 years active duty, some less than that!
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To view my GWML (Great Western Main Line) Electrification cab video 'before and after' video comparison, as well as other videos of the new layout at Reading and 'before and after' comparisons of the Cotswold Line Redoubling scheme, see: http://www.dailymotion.com/user/IndustryInsider/
Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2020, 04:07:11 pm »

People look back on the diesel-hydraulics fondly, including myself who can remember seeing Westerns pass my local station, but they really weren't a success story at all in terms of lifespan - 10 to 15 years active duty, some less than that!

I think the more important point is that they were non-standard, and you could think of it in terms of VHS versus Betamax (if you're old enough to remember!) - one survived and the other didn't, and peoplewho used both of those old video recording systems are still arguing over which was best.

With a contracting railway industry in the 1960s and 1970s it was inevitable that standardisation on one system or the other was going to come, and come it did. I note from Wiki that the DB» (Deutsche Bahn - German State Railway - about) V200s, on which the Warships were based, had a rather longer lifespan.

All that said, and bearing in mind that we still have a few of the 08, 20, 37 and 47 classes still running today, the "German Warships" didn't last anywhere near as long as they have.
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bradshaw
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« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2020, 04:34:42 pm »

I can recommend
'Hydraulic vs Electric' - the battle for the BR (British Rail(ways)) Diesel Fleet by David N Clough, Ian Allen 2011

He writes that the origin of the hydraulics lay with the British Transport Commission's central staff in 1953, not with the WR in 1955. The WR was chosen for the hydraulic demonstration because it had no experience of electrical transmission and seemed a good place to locate the experiment.

One of the problems of the hydraulics was the 'torsional stress' in the power train from engine to wheels. Unbalanced rotational forces caused significant wear and tear.
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