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Author Topic: Withdrawal of through trains, Bristol Temple Meads to Waterloo - what it means  (Read 7943 times)
grahame
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« on: September 27, 2021, 04:27:26 am »

Link to 20th October 2021 Zoom meeting via http://www.passenger.chat/meeting

Discussions are at http://www.passenger.chat/25368 - this thread is 'summary' documentation and information for newcomers, initially posted 27th September 2021 but will be updated as appropriate.

The Department for Transport and South Western Railway are withdrawing all SWR» (South Western Railway - about) services between Bristol Temple Meads and Westbury in December 2021, ending all through services from London to places like Trowbridge and removing practical, attractive and well used journey opportunities without adequate replacement.  Reasons appear confused (see http://www.passenger.chat/25434 ), consulation absent and official information scant and misleading.

Withdrawal of through trains - Keynsham, Oldfield Park, Bradford-on-Avon and Trowbridge to London
Ending of direct services from Bristol Temple Meads and Bath Spa to South London (Clapham Jn and Waterloo)


What is planned?
Service loss, station by station
Does it make sense?
If not, what should be done?
How can we help to get that done?


See http://www.twotunnels.org.uk/waterloo/index.html

The following  "Announcement" is deep in the consultation headed "Timetable consultation December 2022", with a forward by Claire Mann of South Western Railway and Mark Killick, Route Director Wessex, Network Rail.  On page 37 of 43 which I have mirrored ( http://www.passenger.chat/SWR_Dec22_Consult.pdf ).

Quote
SALISBURY TO BRISTOL TEMPLE MEADS

The route between Salisbury and Bristol Temple Meads has historically been served by both SWR and Great Western Railway, with SWR running five 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.

* This (first) announcement of December 2021 changes is deep in a consultation about changes suggested for a year later (December 2022)

* It hides the complete removal of through trains from London to such towns as Trowbridge (population over 40,000) and Bradford-on-Avon (population over 10,000) and the reduction to a single daily service to Warminster (population around 20,000, remaining train at 07:50 from London) and Keynsham (over 15,000, remaining train at 06:20 from London)

* It is signed and lead by a Network Rail manager who's area does not even include any of the stations who's London services are withdrawn or decimated. His responsibilities stop to the north of Salisbury before the first station to loose services, which is in the Western region

* The statement that GWR (Great Western Railway) will continue to meet demand is incorrect. They are failing to meet demand at present, even while we still have some depressed ridership due to coronavirus, with short trains that don't have the capacity needed, and with far too frequent cancellations or trains terminating at Westbury rather than running their complete routes

* The statement that services will "connect" at Salisbury is incorrect too. Changing there will involve a wait of about 50 minutes in one direction and 59 minutes in the other direction - a very different thing to the 10 minutes or so which makes for a proper connection.

* Although we were told that all MPs (Member of Parliament) concerned had been informed, the news of the removal of the through London service came as a surprise to at least one of them as late as mid September when we spoke in person. Likewise, the withdrawal was news to the Town Clerk at one of the towns concerned, and to his elected Wiltshire (unitary and town) representative with best public transport knowledge.

* I have been in touch with passenger groups as follows: West Wilts Rail User Group, TravelWatch SouthWest, Melksham Transport User Group, Severnside Community Rail Partnership, TransWilts Community Rail Partnership, Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways, Railfuture (Severnside), Passenger Focus. All (bar one) have got back to me and are seriously concerned; many have expressed their concern in their reply to the "2022 Consultation" even though the 2021 change has been included in there as a statement of change, not a question about change. Although we are told that passenger group stakeholders and MPs were informed ahead of the consultation, I have not yet found anyone who was ... or who (now that they know) thinks it's a good idea for this December!

* A request under Freedom of Information to the Department for Transport in August asking how the change came about was answered - 20 working days after it was submitted - as follows: "The Department holds information that falls within the terms of your request, however we need more time to carry out a public interest test. The FOI (Freedom of Information) Act requires us to respond to requests no later than 20 working days from receipt. However, where the information is potentially exempt from disclosure, and a complex public interest test needs to be carried out to determine whether the information should be disclosed or not, the deadline can be extended by a further 20 working days. The deadline for answering your request is being extended for this reason."  ( http://www.passenger.chat/F0020156.pdf )  . I cannot see why it is not in the public interest to know how the decision to withdraw through trains to London was reached. The effect of a further 20 days in answering is to make it that much harder to practically challenge.

Overall, a pile of sh*t in how it has been done. It reeks of a decision being hidden away in a different regions's consultation for a different year, with wording which does not declare the true effect of what's already been decided to happen without any public consultation. The words used aren't even correct - GWR can't "continue" to provide something they're not providing at present, and lie is given to the promise of connections instead with timetables already on line from December showing a layover of one minute short of an hour, mid-journey.

But the $64,000 question is really not HOW it has been done - perhaps that's there to divert us away from giving attention to WHAT is being done and how to help (yes, I said help), the DfT» (Department for Transport - about), SWR, GWR and Network Rail. We all need to come up with a proper service to continue to serve current passengers rather than have them switch to private cars or not travel at all, and to encourage even more passengers as they return from Covid and build further as we move towards a carbon neutral, climate friendly, future.

It is absurd to scrap a well used, well liked service with no adequate alternative - it may well be that changes can usefully be made (indeed we have suggested some) that make it better, more robust, more cost effective, greener, more attractive, offering other opportunities too, in line with other December 2022 changes.  I do not object to change. I object to rushed, unconsulted, hidden change based on false assumptions which will significantly degrade something that's working well at present.

Why are journeys on the current service not easily replace by other existing services?

1. They provide the only direct trains to and from London without change for towns totalling around 90,000 residents. Over 40% of passengers will not take the train if they have to change!  With nearly an hour to wait at Salisbury, we estimate the loss of fare-paying though passengers on the route would be more like 80%

2. They provide extra capacity on the overcrowded Bristol to Westbury and Salisbury, and Salisbury to London, routes; you have only to see a cancellation (example 18.9.2021) to have the GWR "alternatives" full and standing all the way up the aisles.

3. Although Bristol Temple Meads, Bath Spa and Westbury have other trains to London, they go to Paddington Station which is inconvenient for many people headed for the south of London, especially those with heavy luggage, disabilities, or inexperienced tail users.  South London and West London are very different destinations.

4. They provide a day return facility at an affordable price ( £59.60, versus £86.80 off peak to Paddington from Bristol Temple Meads, for example, £91.60 versus £230.00 anytime )

5. Some of the services fill long gaps in the GWR timetable, and provide the final service of the day.

6. They provide connections at Clapham Junction (the busiest railway junction in the UK (United Kingdom)?) and Waterloo (the busiest station for passengers in the UK) to Kent, Surrey, and East Sussex - most of those journeys are otherwise very awkward including cross London transfers from the Bristol / Bath area.

7. They provide though regional services within central southern England between Andover / Basingstoke / Woking and Warminster / Trowbridge / Bath / Bristol

Service Loss, Station by station

Bristol Temple Meads

Departures to London (Waterloo), December 2019:
M-F 08:49, 12:49, 15:50, 19:35, 22s25
Sat 08:50, 12:48, 15:50, 19b35, 22s23
Sun 13:04, 16:04, 21s35

Departures to London (Waterloo), December 2021:
M-F NO DIRECT SERVICE
Sat NO DIRECT SERVICE
Sun NO DIRECT SERVICE
Arrivals from London (Waterloo), December 2021:
M-F NO DIRECT SERVICE
Sat NO DIRECT SERVICE
Sun NO DIRECT SERVICE

All services shown here to / from London (Waterloo) via Salisbury, except
b - service does not run east of Basingstoke
s - services do not run east of Salisbury
additional services run by GWR to London (Paddington)

Keynsham. 

Departures to London, December 2019:
M-F 08:56, 12:56, 15:57, 19:42, 22s32
Sat 08:57, 12:55, 15:57, 19b42, 22s30
Sun 13:11, 16:11, 21s42

Arrivals from London, December 2019
M-F 07s47, 08p06, 11:57, 14:57, 21:59
Sat 07s45, 12:04, 15:03, 19:03, 22:01
Sun 12:03, 15:05, 21:01

Departures to London, December 2021:
M-F 17p35
Sat NO DIRECT SERVICE
Sun NO DIRECT SERVICE
Arrivals from London, December 2021:
M-F 08p04
Sat NO DIRECT SERVICE
Sun NO DIRECT SERVICE

All services to / from London (Waterloo) via Salisbury, except
b - service does not run east of Basingstoke
p - services to / from London (Paddington)
s - services do not run east of Salisbury

Oldfield Park.

Departures to London, December 2019:
M-F 09:03, 13:03, 16:04
Sat 09:04, 13:02, 16:04, 19b59
Sun 13:18, 16:18

Arrivals from London, December 2019:
M-F 07s40, 11:50, 14:50
Sat 07s38, 11:57, 14:56, 18:56
Sun 11:56, 14:58

Departures to London, December 2021:
M-F NO DIRECT SERVICE
Sat NO DIRECT SERVICE
Sun NO DIRECT SERVICE
Arrivals from London, December 2021:
M-F NO DIRECT SERVICE
Sat NO DIRECT SERVICE
Sun NO DIRECT SERVICE

All services to / from London (Waterloo) via Salisbury, except
b - service does not run east of Basingstoke
s - services do not run east of Salisbury

Bath Spa

Departures to London (Waterloo), December 2019:
M-F 09:07, 13:07, 16:08, 19:51, 22s41
Sat 09:08, 13:06, 16:08, 19b54, 22s39
Sun 13:22, 16:22, 21s51

Departures to London (Waterloo), December 2021:
M-F NO DIRECT SERVICE
Sat NO DIRECT SERVICE
Sun NO DIRECT SERVICE
Arrivals from London (Waterloo), December 2021:
M-F NO DIRECT SERVICE
Sat NO DIRECT SERVICE
Sun NO DIRECT SERVICE

All services to / from London (Waterloo) via Salisbury, except
b - service does not run east of Basingstoke
s - services do not run east of Salisbury
additional services run by GWR to London (Paddington)

Bradford on Avon

Departures to London, December 2019:
M-F 05p35, 09:24, 13:23, 16:25, 20:02, 22s52
Sat 09:22, 13:20, 16:25, 20b10, 22s50
Sun 13:34, 16:34, 22s02

Departures to London, December 2021:
M-F 05p35
Sat NO DIRECT SERVICE
Sun NO DIRECT SERVICE
Arrivals from London, December 2021:
M-F NO DIRECT SERVICE
Sat NO DIRECT SERVICE
Sun NO DIRECT SERVICE

All services to / from London (Waterloo) via Salisbury, except
b - service does not run east of Basingstoke
p - services to / from London (Paddington)
s - services do not run east of Salisbury

Trowbridge

Departures to London, December 2019:
M-F 05p41, 09:29, 13:30, 16:31, 20:08, 22s58
Sat 09:28, 13:27, 16:31, 20b17, 22s56
Sun 13:40, 16:40, 22s08

Departures to London,  December 2021:
M-F 05p41
Sat NO DIRECT SERVICE
Sun NO DIRECT SERVICE
Arrivals from London, December 2021:
M-F NO DIRECT SERVICE
Sat NO DIRECT SERVICE
Sun NO DIRECT SERVICE

All services to / from London (Waterloo) via Salisbury, except
b - service does not run east of Basingstoke
p - services to / from London (Paddington)
s - services do not run east of Salisbury

Westbury

Departures to London (Waterloo), December 2019:
M-F 07:40, 09:40, 11:36, 13:40, 15:42, 16:40, 17:45, 20:16, 22s18, 23s07
Sat 08:10, 09:40, 11:43, 13:38, 16:40, 20b24, 23s05
Sun 10s43, 13:50, 16:50, 18s50, 22s17

Departures to London (Waterloo), December 2021:
M-F 07:40, 11:36, 14:13, 15:44, 23s12
Sat 08:10, 11b43, 23s12
Sun 10:43
Arrivals from London (Waterloo), December 2021:
M-F 09:50, 11b50, 12b50
Sat 10:53, 19:54
Sun NO DIRECT SERVICE

All services to / from London (Waterloo) via Salisbury, except
b - service does not run east of Basingstoke
s - services do not run east of Salisbury
additional services run by GWR to London (Paddington)

Warminster

Departures to London, December 2019:
M-F 07:48, 09:48, 11:48, 13:48, 15:50, 16:48, 17:54, 20:24, 22s26, 23s14
Sat 08:18, 09:48, 11:50, 13:46, 16:48, 20b32, 23s12
Sun 10s51, 13:59, 16:58, 18s58, 22s24

Departures to London, December 2021:
M-F 07:48, 11:43, 14:50, 15:51, 23s20
Sat 08:18, 11b50, 23s20
Sun 10:51
Arrivals from London, December 2021:
M-F 09:43, 11b43, 12b42
Sat 10:45, 19:46
Sun NO DIRECT SERVICE

All services to / from London (Waterloo) via Salisbury, except
b - service does not run east of Basingstoke
s - services do not run east of Salisbury


So should it just be left alone then?

Possibly NOT - but is should not be withdrawn until an adequate alternative is put in place - and indeed there is an opportunity in December 2022 to provide something better - encouraging even more passenger use, whilst at the same time saving the cost (crew, rolling stock, crew, train paths) of "extra services".

From December 2022, the "Bristol Metro" will increase the local (all stations) service from Bristol Temple Meads to Westbury from one to two trains per hour.  I see no reason why the extra services cannot take over the paths of the Bristol to Waterloo trains in the hours that they run and be extended from Westbury to Salisbury, from where they become the second train in the hour to London (Waterloo).    As a regular (hourly) clockface service, this would address other service issues between Westbury and Salisbury too, and be very useful and marketable, especially to the leisure market which is of growing importance.   Class 158 and 159 trains already run (with GWR and SWR) all the way along the route, and class 165 and 166 are used or have been both in the Bristol suburbs and long distance from London as far as Hereford.  There may even be an option of using class 769 units (also now on GWR and with 3rd rail capability) to run the Bristol to Waterloo service on electric traction from Basingstoke into Waterloo.

How can we help to get that done?

1. The community is a powerful voice in supporting and marketing rail use, as shown by the Community Rail movement and achievements over the years in Devon and Cornwall, Severnside, on the Heart of Wessex, and at Melksham for example.  We can and would help.

but

2. There is a crisis of trust in the DfT, Network Rail and SWR who appear to be less than open and consultative in this matter - and indeed appear to be pulling a "fast one" on us.  It stinks.

Want to comment on this topic?   Please follow up at http://www.passenger.chat/25368
« Last Edit: November 24, 2021, 04:55:42 am by grahame » Logged

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