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Author Topic: South Western Railways Waterloo - Bristol services axed  (Read 40879 times)
Mark A
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« on: August 18, 2021, 09:52:17 pm »

You may know of the consultation in progress on a December '22 services recast for the South Western Railway network - find more in the PDF linked from their page here:

https://www.southwesternrailway.com/plan-my-journey/timetables/timetable-consultation-december-2022

I've appended the text from the PDF at the foot of this post, because, tucked away on page 37 is an announcement on a completely different subject: that a 'separate review' by the Department for Transport has produced the decision that the South Western Railway services between London Waterloo and Bristol be axed as of December this year, 2021.

I've not found any reference to this forthcoming change save for this paragraph in the December '22 consultation.

There are a number of aspects to this announcement of a prior decision on the Bristol - Waterloo services which... stink:

* The cessation of the (popular) Bristol-Waterloo service is not part of the December 2022 consultation so should not have been announced via a single paragraph 37 pages into a report on something completely different - a  Vogon-like tactic. This approach is (surely deliberately) damaging to the prospects that travellers will see this decision reversed.

* A previous attempt to cease this service resulted in an early day motion in the House of Commons and a pile-on from 30 MPs (Member of Parliament) who lent their name to the cause.

* It may only be the Department for Transport that thinks this service duplicates other trains. Its users are very well aware that it does not.

* It is poor practice to cut services in an unconsidered way during a pandemic.

* This is an example of an organisation (the Department for Transport) making changes under cover of a national crisis (Covid) and this should be called out and not encouraged.

* There is very little awareness of the withdrawal of the Bristol to Waterloo trains among the travelling public and indeed with, now, a three month lead time, reduced opportunity for people to make adjustments to their travel mode when these services cease.

* Perhaps the first thing that should happen is this proposed change should be postponed to 2022 to match those in the rest of this document in order that a proper consultation can be followed through on what is a valued service that has been known to load to capacity.

* The untruth in the concluding sentence: 'Great Western Railway will continue to meet demand on the line' has angered me - often, the railway has done anything but 'meet demand' for travel between Salisbury and Bristol.

Mark

"SALISBURY TO BRISTOL TEMPLE MEADS
The route between Salisbury and Bristol Temple Meads has historically been served by both SWR» (South Western Railway - about)» and Great Western Railway, with SWR running  ve of the average 25 daily services in the May 2019 timetable.
Following a separate review with the Department for Transport, SWR will withdraw its current three daily services from December 2021 as duplicating services between the two operators does not provide good value for the taxpayer.
Great Western Railway will continue to meet demand on the line and services will connect into London bound trains at Salisbury, Bath and Westbury."
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grahame
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« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2021, 08:22:00 am »

Some thoughts from me:

1. The HISTORIC bases for this service - originating from South Wales and Manchester via the Borders line to Waterloo, for connection to Eurostar, and transformed into a service which allowed competitive train service provision under the commercial, privatised franchises, are both gone.  BUT

2. These services have carved out a niche for themselves over, above and a long way beyond competing dupicates. Their loss would be sorely and significantly felt.

3. The process under which the removal of these services has / is being carried out appears to lack transparency and consultation, and to my knowldege no data behind the decision has been published.  The wording of the announcement does not give confidence that there has been a full, measured and considered analysis.

4. We should look forward for a service appropriate for the future and whilst the customer base built up should be catered for, there might be other solutions that are even better than maintaining historic services.

5. Service changes - if brought in - should not leave a gap; it should be at a timetable change, rather than over a longer period (multiple timetable changes)



2a) These services provide the ONLY daytime direct trains from stations such as Bradford-on-Avon and the county town of Trowbridge to London, and the only direct services back. Rail Industry stats suggest that over 40% of passengers are lost if they have to make connections along the way

2b) These services provide direct services from Bath, Bristol and other stations to London (Waterloo) - a significantly different part of London to Paddington, and an important business and leisure area in London

2c) Connections off these trains in the London area give access to wide areas of Kent, Surrey and Sussex from WECA» (West of England Combined Authority - about) and West Wiltshire, and direct trains to Andover, Basignstoke, Woking and Farnborough

2d) These trains are well loaded and provide necessary capacity all along. I have seen no evidence that this will not be the case in the future - quite the reverse in changing patterns of use indicators

2e) It is possible to make the same journey with a change in the middle of the journey at Salisbury, but connections there are somewhere between poor and awful. However, it does mean that passengers have a flexibility of a fallback to other trains should their travel plans change

2f) Fares on these trains via Salisbury are encouraging to leisure traffic which would simply not use rail if they were not available.

2g) Certain local journeys even bewteen Bristol and Westbury fill significant timetable gaps in GWR (Great Western Railway)'s provision

There is some activity from the likes of the West Wilts Rail User Group in putting the case for the retention (or at least proper consultation with a view to any changes at December 2022) on these services together, via their MP (Member of Parliament) - Andrew Murrison.   Other MPs involved should be Michelle Donelan (Bradford-on-Avon and Avoncliff), Wera Hobhouse (Bath Spa and Oldfield Park) and Jacob Rees Mogg (Keynsham and, I suspect, Freshford). Bristol MPs may also be concerned.

4a) There would be some sense in extending Bristol Metro all-stations Westbury terminators all stations to Salisbury from where they become the all stations trains to Basingstoke and then onwards to London Waterloo, just as the SWR» (South Western Railway - about) trains from Bristol go onwards from Salisbury

4b) Talk of the difficulty and expense of keeping SWR driver route knowledge from Westbury to Bristol up to date could be overcome by GWR train crews taking over the trains at Westbury - a major crew change point already; class 158 and 159 trains are almost identical to drive and this should not be an issue.  This might involve a small number of staff transfers as part of a review of staffing levels which have been cause for concern at GWR
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Mark A
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« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2021, 11:19:36 am »

The national rail contract that FirstGroup and DfT» (Department for Transport - about) signed off on in May - is the document available to the public, anyone?

The railway press in particular has interpreted these contracts as a short term continuation until 'Great British Railways' is in place - but with changes like this emerging, has the railway press perhaps missed the fine print?
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ChrisB
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« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2021, 11:50:14 am »

As I understand them, they don't give the TOC (Train Operating Company) any leeway in the number of services to be supplied & have to ask permission to add or remove any service not specified. So your gripe is clearly with the DfT» (Department for Transport - about), and most likely best handled through your MP (Member of Parliament) / MPs on line of route.

I suspect the DfT will require proof of unmet demand once the change in Dec21 is made. Changing trains will not concern them - waiting an hour for a connection will. Your other points are really not relevant - the idea is to cut the cost of running the railway. One operator per route is a way to reduce costs. As Graham notes, this may include staff transfers between operators.

I feel your chances are pretty slim - it might help to actually state why you think these services need to be retained as opposed to GWR (Great Western Railway) picking up calls necessary to continue a service.
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Mark A
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« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2021, 01:04:22 pm »

The passenger counts for trains on the Bristol - London Waterloo services: are these publically available, anyone?
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ChrisB
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« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2021, 01:06:54 pm »

Won’t be of much help - DFT (Department for Transport) will state that GWR (Great Western Railway) will be asked to make sure they can offer a service to get people where they want to be, with connecyions if necessary. The operator won’t concern them
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Clan Line
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« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2021, 01:27:58 pm »

A taste of things to come.................Huh

My disabled daughter is traveling to WMN» (Warminster - next trains) tomorrow from Kent. Her usual through train (1220) WAT - WMN is not running, she is told to change at SAL. Her train arrives there at 1343 - the next WMN train is 59 minutes later !!!!!!!!!!!  There is only an hourly service from WAT to SAL now so she can't even leave home 30 mins later to reduce the wait at SAL.
When she last came down she had to go via PAD» (Paddington (London) - next trains) ............and then having to paying for a taxi from STP to PAD. At least she still got the SWR» (South Western Railway - about) fare then - I can't see that happening when GWR (Great Western Railway) have the SAL - BRI» (Bristol Temple Meads - next trains) route all to themselves.

.................and they claim to offer a train "service" !
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ChrisB
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« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2021, 01:33:34 pm »

Closing that 59min gap would be something to campaign on! Would mean arriving SAL just a few minutes earlier....
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Mark A
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« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2021, 02:48:42 pm »

The Wiltshire Times website has a substantial reminder of the previous attempt to ditch the service - at a change of franchise. The MP (Member of Parliament) for West Wiltshire was committed to this - and is still the MP.

https://www.wiltshiretimes.co.uk/news/961688.waterloo-train-service-saved/

If you use these trains and are a constituent of Dr Andrew Murrison, please drop him a line about the proposed cessation of the service, which currently provides Bradford on Avon and also Trowbridge's only through trains to and from London.

Dr Murrison's contact details:

https://members.parliament.uk/member/1466/contact

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Clan Line
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« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2021, 07:40:13 pm »

Closing that 59min gap would be something to campaign on! Would mean arriving SAL just a few minutes earlier....

Wouldn't that be running up the white flag even before the battle has begun ?? 
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grahame
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« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2021, 08:43:16 pm »

Closing that 59min gap would be something to campaign on! Would mean arriving SAL just a few minutes earlier....

Wouldn't that be running up the white flag even before the battle has begun ?? 

That's a hugely difficult call.

The through service is immensely valuable and treasured - if you look at all the county towns within about 150 miles of London, Trowbridge already sticks out like a sore thumb in having so few through trains to and from London ... and so to follow the governments "levelling up" agenda there should be more trains rather than less direct to London.   If you go down the route of "please level us up - provide a proper number of services" or even "please don't contradict your levelling up policy - keep them services", you have the very great danger of ending up with nothing if they don't agree.

But if you go down the route of saying "at least have the darned things connect", are you admitting defeat 'before you even start'?

Should you put out BOTH messages?  i.e. Retain, but if not, connect - or does that dilute both messages to the extent that they are both ineffective?

And ... with this seemingly being announced as a decision rather than a consultation, do we even ask what the chances are of any input changing minds which look like they're already made up and contracted?




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Mark A
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« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2021, 08:39:10 am »

The contract between the DfT» (Department for Transport - about) from May 2021 - is it an extension of the franchise that has terminated or does it replace a franchise that would otherwise have run on - and until what date, please?
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Mark A
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« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2021, 09:00:45 am »

The '2022 service consultation that isn't a consultation with the public' aside, has the DfT» (Department for Transport - about) decision to cease the Bristol - Waterloo services in December '21 had any public announcement anywhere, anyone, please?
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Marlburian
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« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2021, 09:36:54 am »

You may know of the consultation in progress on a December '22 services recast for the South Western Railway network ...

"SALISBURY TO BRISTOL TEMPLE MEADS
The route between Salisbury and Bristol Temple Meads has historically been served by both SWR» (South Western Railway - about)» and Great Western Railway, with SWR running  ve of the average 25 daily services in the May 2019 timetable.
Following a separate review with the Department for Transport, SWR will withdraw its current three daily services from December 2021 as duplicating services between the two operators does not provide good value for the taxpayer.
Great Western Railway will continue to meet demand on the line and services will connect into London bound trains at Salisbury, Bath and Westbury."


I smiled at the observation about duplicating services. I recall that in the early days of privatisation a Conservative MP (Member of Parliament) hailed as an achievement the provision of services from London to Gatwick by two rival companies because one was charging 10p less than the other, thus competition was working.
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grahame
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« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2021, 10:17:12 am »

The contract between the DfT» (Department for Transport - about) from May 2021 - is it an extension of the franchise that has terminated or does it replace a franchise that would otherwise have run on - and until what date, please?

From https://www.firstgroupplc.com/news-and-media/latest-news/2021/05-20-21.aspx

Quote
FirstGroup Signs New National Rail Contracts For South Western Railway And Transpennine Express

20 May 2021

FirstGroup plc (‘FirstGroup’ or ‘The Group’) is pleased to announce the agreement of National Rail Contracts (‘NRCs’) with the Department for Transport (‘DfT’) for its South Western Railway (‘SWR» (South Western Railway - about)’) and TransPennine Express (‘TPE (Trans Pennine Express)’) train operating companies. The new NRCs will commence on 30 May 2021, when the current Emergency Recovery Measures Agreements (‘ERMAs’) come to an end.

* New NRCs for SWR and TPE have a two-year term to May 2023 with options to extend by up to two further years to May 2025
* FirstGroup bears no revenue risk and very limited cost risk under an annual budget agreed with DfT; there is also no significant contingent capital risk
* Annual fees on NRCs consist of a fixed management fee plus performance fee based mainly on the delivery of customer-focused performance metrics


National Rail Contracts are a new contract structure ...

Continuing article says more.
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