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Author Topic: South Western Railways Waterloo - Bristol services axed  (Read 22107 times)
grahame
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« Reply #195 on: October 06, 2021, 03:51:40 pm »

Service melting away in advance of the December '21 timetable change. The 08:50 train from Bristol to Waterloo on Saturday being the sole survivor of the 6 days a week morning service pre-covid.


Full text of email to Stakeholders

Quote
Changes to SWR» (South Western Railway - about) West of England Line Services – Saturdays 9th October to 11th December inclusive

Dear stakeholder,

I am writing to advise you that we have unfortunately had to implement changes to SWR services on the West of England line between the above dates due to the ongoing shortage of drivers on the route.

On Saturdays from this weekend, SWR will no longer be running services between Bristol and Salisbury, and the stopping service from Salisbury to London Waterloo will terminate at Basingstoke.

This is not something we wanted to do but felt it is the only way to give our customers certainty and stability over the next few weeks following an extended period of ad-hoc and short-notice service reductions on recent weekends.
The underlying cause of these issues is a shortage of available drivers, due to the extensive disruption Covid restrictions have caused to our new driver training programme over the past year. The delay to newly trained drivers passing out of our Salisbury depot has been further compounded by problems securing replacement buses and taxis.
 
We are very sorry about this and are looking at how to improve the availability of these for both unplanned disruption and engineering works. There are no simple solutions to this industry wide problem which will take time to resolve, and we felt it was important to have a robust plan in place over the next few weeks that customers could rely on.

The changes are planned until the December timetable change, when all SWR services between Bristol and Salisbury will be withdrawn. However, we do expect to have trained sufficient new drivers to offer the full planned service between Salisbury and London Waterloo.

Once again, we are very sorry for the disruption this will cause to our customers and would be grateful if you could help publicise the news to ensure customers are as aware as possible, noting there are also engineering works planned for some Sundays during this period. We will be using social media, our website and information channels at stations to publicise the changes from today.

I have attached a Q&A document that provides further background and detail but please do not hesitate to contact me if you need further information.

Regards


Steve Tyler – Director of Performance and Planning


Here is the Q&A - I will come back and format it better for the coffee shop - but I have elsewhere a 1 hour deadline

Quote
West of England Saturday Reductions October to December 2021
Q&A

What is changing and when?

There will be some changes to West of England line services between Bristol, Salisbury and London Waterloo on Saturdays only between Saturday 9th October and Saturday 11th December 2021 inclusive. This is due to an ongoing shortage of train drivers due to the covid-19 pandemic. Note that engineering works will further affect journeys on some weekends – please see separate information about these dates on our website at [insert link].
We are very sorry that we have to do this due to a shortage of drivers.

The main changes can be summarised as follows subject to variations due to engineering works:
* Salisbury to London Waterloo stopping services will terminate at Basingstoke – customers will need to change at Basingstoke for onward services to Woking, Clapham Junction and Waterloo
* London Waterloo to Salisbury services will start at Basingstoke. Customers travelling from Waterloo, Clapham Junction and Woking will need to catch an earlier service and change at Basingstoke
* SWR services between Salisbury and Bristol will not run. Customers will need to use connecting GWR (Great Western Railway) services via a change at Salisbury. Customers to / from Warminster and Westbury may be able to use the Salisbury – Yeovil via Westbury services which will continue to run.
* SWR services to Yeovil Pen Mill / Yeovil Junction via Westbury will run as normal.
* SWR services between Exeter St Davids and London Waterloo will run as normal

Why are you doing this – aren’t most Covid issues now over?

Whilst short term covid absences have indeed reduced we still have an ongoing shortage of train drivers on the West of England route due to the backlog in training new drivers. Like other train operators we lose a number of drivers each year, primarily due to retirement. Unfortunately, due to Covid, we have been unable to train sufficient new drivers in the short term to match those leaving. This in turn means that we have to ask existing drivers to volunteer to work on their rest days to cover the current timetable. This is more difficult to achieve at weekends.

We are continuing to train new drivers as quickly as possible whilst maintaining staff safety. We expect to be able to return to a full complement of drivers for the route from the timetable change date in December (Sunday 12th December).

You have managed to cover most weekends up until now – why are you now doing this every weekend until December?

Regular customers will know that we have unfortunately not been able to run the planned service on a number of weekends over the summer and autumn of this year. We recognise that this has caused considerable difficulties for many. In the past we have tried to cover short notice shortages with buses and taxis but it has proved very difficult to do so due to driver shortages and increasing demand in these industries. We are working closely with or suppliers to try and improve the availability of replacement bus and taxi services for both planned (i.e. engineering works) and unplanned disruption as quickly as possible.

Rather than continue to make short-notice cancellations, we reluctantly believe it is better to provide our customers with the certainty of a more stable but reduced service. We know this will disappoint many of our customers and are sorry for the impact it will have on their journeys.

Taking this planned approach means that we will have much more certainty about driver availability and should more easily be able to cover any normal short notice absences such as sickness which are more likely as winter approaches.

There have been a number of weekends with engineering works on the West of England line. The resulting reduction in train services has correspondingly reduced the requirement for drivers. We recognise there have still however been issues with the reliability and availability of the replacement bus and taxi services as noted above.

Why just Saturdays?

We run a more intensive service on this route on Saturdays compared to Sundays and therefore need more drivers.
 
Won’t there be overcrowding on the remaining services?

We recognise that there will be increased demand on the through Waterloo to Exeter services. We will therefore do our utmost to strengthen these services to eight or nine carriage trains although this won’t be possible in every case.

Isn’t this just another way of saving money?

No – we will aim to utilise all the available rolling stock on the remaining services to maximise capacity. We will also have more drivers available to cover short term absences subject to rest day working.

This effectively means you are bringing forward the December 2021 withdrawal of SWR Bristol services to now without the need to consult?

The changes will apply to Saturdays only – Sunday services will be unaffected unless there are planned engineering works.

We recognise that the impact on the Bristol route is far from ideal and this was not our planned intention. We know that these services have been attractive to many but it would have been very difficult to reliably run these services these services on Saturdays over the next few months. We believe it is better to have certainty and clarity rather than short notice changes each Saturday.

This decision has had to be made at short notice and we are now contacting other rail operators including GWR to alert them to the changes and ask them to consider potential strengthening of their services where possible.
To maintain the last connection between Bristol Temple Meads and Salisbury, a replacement bus will operate from Westbury to Salisbury on Saturdays, calling at Warminster. This connects out of GWR service - 2209 Bristol Temple Meads to Westbury (arrives 22:56)

The trains that would have been used on these and the Salisbury – Waterloo services will be used to strengthen the Exeter – Waterloo services to minimise overcrowding, particularly between Salisbury and Waterloo.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2021, 04:24:09 pm by grahame » Logged

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Mark A
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« Reply #196 on: October 06, 2021, 03:57:54 pm »

Service melting away in advance of the December '21 timetable change. The 08:50 train from Bristol to Waterloo on Saturday being the sole survivor of the 6 days a week morning service pre-covid.

https://twitter.com/SW_Help/status/1445751751819227137

We're sorry but due to Covid disrupting our driver training programme, from Saturday we will no longer be running Saturday services between Bristol & Salisbury, and the stopping service from Salisbury to London Waterloo will terminate at Basingstoke.

Also, all Saturday through trains from Salisbury are now change at Basingstoke? Not so, just the services starting at Salisbury, the local paper will probably correct this:

https://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/19629286.covid-no-trains-salisbury-bristol-london/
« Last Edit: October 06, 2021, 04:19:49 pm by Mark A » Logged
grahame
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« Reply #197 on: October 07, 2021, 06:18:11 am »

Quote
This effectively means you are bringing forward the December 2021 withdrawal of SWR» (South Western Railway - about) Bristol services to now without the need to consult?

The changes will apply to Saturdays only – Sunday services will be unaffected unless there are planned engineering works.

We recognise that the impact on the Bristol route is far from ideal and this was not our planned intention. We know that these services have been attractive to many but it would have been very difficult to reliably run these services these services on Saturdays over the next few months. We believe it is better to have certainty and clarity rather than short notice changes each Saturday.

Hmmm ... so SWR are offering us Hobson's choice - the choice between two nasty options, having ceased to have the staff available to run what they are committed to. It could be major Covid directly effecting that, or it could be that the rundown and not having the staff after December has been planned for a while and may "just" have been slightly knocked off plan (perhaps?) by Covid.

My maroon highlighting says we're not really even being offered Hobson's choice - we're being told that it's been made for us!



There's an interesting aside in there - "lack of need to consult because Sunday is still running" - it would appear to be using the same uncomfortable push to the bounds that (for example) Network Rail used at Pilning and Teeside Airport to reduce service below anything useful - to "humourless joke" level without having to apply the safeguards that are there in law to protect against closure without a proper look and consultation.
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« Reply #198 on: October 07, 2021, 02:41:02 pm »

It appears that the sole announcement that direct trains between Bristol and Waterloo have ceased as of this weekend is that single tweet from South Western Railway.

There will be a few would be travellers on Saturday who will be taken aback, though perhaps fewer than there would otherwise have been - as for the next three weekends the through service would have been bustituted at various locations east of Salisbury. How the bustitutions fit with the usual full scale horror of the usual 50-59 minute connections at Salisbury I've not yet worked out.

Mark
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grahame
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« Reply #199 on: October 07, 2021, 04:37:59 pm »

It appears that the sole announcement that direct trains between Bristol and Waterloo have ceased as of this weekend is that single tweet from South Western Railway.

There will be a few would be travellers on Saturday who will be taken aback, though perhaps fewer than there would otherwise have been - as for the next three weekends the through service would have been bustituted at various locations east of Salisbury. How the bustitutions fit with the usual full scale horror of the usual 50-59 minute connections at Salisbury I've not yet worked out.

Mark



Last weekend (??) - train from Basingstoke to Andover, bus to Salisbury, GWR (Great Western Railway) to Trowbridge looked good - 10 minute change at Andover, 40 minute bus ride, 10 minutes to get onto the same train you would have got if not bustitured.
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« Reply #200 on: October 07, 2021, 07:24:34 pm »

Ladies, Gentlemen and (for info) Finn,

I have started a petition asking the Department for Transport to continue to run the direct Bristol Temple Meads to Waterloo via Trowbridge beyond 11th December 2021 - it's at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/598397 .  Please take a look - I would appreciates signatures (and when it goes on social media), shares, etc ... though, comets think of it, you are very welcome to share it even before it's on social media!
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« Reply #201 on: October 07, 2021, 08:41:06 pm »

Another great typo from the master of Melkham. Personally I wouldn't bother with comets, I'd just send SWR» (South Western Railway - about) a couple of rockets instead.
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« Reply #202 on: October 07, 2021, 09:20:17 pm »

Absolutely correct - signed.
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« Reply #203 on: October 08, 2021, 06:25:42 am »

This Sailisbury Journal article is a perfect example of why wider awareness of this issue is urgently required - https://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/19629286.direct-saturday-trains-salisbury-bristol-london-axed-due-staff-shortages/

It notes that "South Western Railway has cancelled all Saturday trains between Salisbury and Bristol and Salisbury and London for the next few months." and that "The withdrawal of Saturday services to Bristol is permanent.", but completely misses out that the withdrawal of all SWR» (South Western Railway - about) services to Bristol will be permanent.
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« Reply #204 on: October 08, 2021, 02:16:27 pm »

Article in the Wiltshire Times here: https://www.wiltshiretimes.co.uk/news/19630280.meeting-called-trowbridge-cuts-south-western-railway-services/
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Mark A
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« Reply #205 on: October 08, 2021, 09:24:56 pm »

Aaannd Somerset Live's Bath section: https://www.somersetlive.co.uk/news/local-news/saturday-train-services-through-bath-6029954
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grahame
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« Reply #206 on: October 09, 2021, 06:27:29 am »


A user comment on that article ...

Quote
I have always travelled on the 9.28 train from Trowbridge to Waterloo. Because I can book up early I could usually secure a first-class seat for LESS than a standard class seat, and travel in relative comfort all the way. It was a very enjoyable experience. Now it's a scrunched-up trip to Salisbury in a deplorable GW (Great Western) 165 unit, change there and go as far as Basingstoke ... then change again! The difference is breathtaking and unacceptable. The train companies are poisoning the well to deter customers (and have succeeded with me) in a way the old British Rail could only dream of. It's patently obvious that they simply don't want our business.

My bolding.

The attractions of "The Waterloo"s
1. They are direct [from Trowbridge]
2. They take you to South London
3. They are comfortable
4. They have enough capacity for you to be able to sit down
5. They offer attractive fares

Take away all five of those attractions and you are going to lose lots of customers, and lots of goodwill.

On fares, read words carefully:
(1) Attractive
(2) Cheap
(3) Low Cost
(4) Affordable
and it's no mistake that government seems to be going with No. 4 which is "affordable".  Not looking at attractive, not looking at cheap, not looking at low cost. Indeed, those people who still travel by train from Trowbridge to London will find themselves paying MORE for a LESS convenient service ... many people who can find another way to make the journey (such as driving) are likely to do so.  Of course, that latter all helps make Wiltshire's case for the A350 upgrades ...
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« Reply #207 on: October 09, 2021, 09:48:59 am »

I've commented on the Somerset Live Bath article. To help, look for the little thumbs up icon by the comment, click it.

Reading the (limited) coverage in local papers, it's remarkable the extent to which the authors rely on quotes pulled from the Twitter.

https://www.somersetlive.co.uk/news/local-news/saturday-train-services-through-bath-6029954

Mark
« Last Edit: October 09, 2021, 10:47:46 am by Mark A » Logged
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« Reply #208 on: October 09, 2021, 07:42:46 pm »

Probably the best media coverage of the issue to date: https://theweekin.co.uk/news/latest-breaking-news/campaign-to-fight-end-of-bristol-to-waterloo-through-trains/
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« Reply #209 on: October 09, 2021, 08:15:30 pm »


That looks really rather good.  I suspect a strong technical hand in the writing thereof  Grin Grin - Thank you, whoever it was, if you read here!
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