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Author Topic: Futures - London to Bristol  (Read 800 times)
grahame
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« on: January 22, 2022, 10:49:18 am »

Broadgage would suggest that use of a 387 instead of an HST (High Speed Train) would have been a considerable downgrade.
IETs (Intercity Express Train) are however a considerable downgrade if compared to an HST, and a 387 is not much worse. Both are arguably middle distance commuter trains and not inter city.

But ... how much of the traffic had become, is now, and will be in the future "middle distance" traffic and not inter-city?  I suspect that the product would benefit from change to relect the new market as it has become and where it could be further sustainably developed.

Expanding in that:

Futures - London to Bristol - arising from a different route board on the forum.

History

We have moved "up" from occasional express trains to hourly, then further to half hourly, but with additional stops so that the services are no longer what I would call express, but now semi-fast.  Look back 100 years and the railway directors would be amazed that no trains run fast through Chippenham, or Swindon, or Reading or that all trains from Bristol Temple Meads via Bath to Paddington call at Didcot.

Current traffic

We are in what is a time of great change. And as such we should look, learn, observe, but note that rail planning is long term stuff and where we are is transient.  I have seen figures quoted for different traffic segments - example orders of magnitude:
30% - business traffic
60% - commuter traffic
90% - general leisure traffic
120% - holiday line leisure traffic
But, gosh, these vary as much as the rules have done!

Future traffic

Will business traffic regrow to where it was and carry on growing? Should the rail industry be fighting to get that 70% back while sitting smug that 120% on holiday leisure lines, or should it accept that business traffic is way on down, and tune resources to the handle a continued holiday growth, retaining the staycation market from 2021 and looking to build international guests on rail as they return in 2022, 2023 or later?

The shock of changed passenger numbers - the "blast" - has come from Covid and that's the big direct influencer of where we are at the moment.  But is has accellerated social change - "forward six years in change in six months of elapsed time" I recall in late 2020 - goodness knows where we are on the scale in 2022.  So we are looking at indirect change such as people learning how much more effective, for some, it is to work from home.  How well Zoom and (moderately) well Teams work as replacements for some face to face meetings.  But also metric changes from our more insular outlook from Brexit, effect of spiralling costs of energy and other sectors cutting travel budgets, and the sustainability / climate change / zero carbon shifts too.

Thoughts

Business travel will take a long time, if ever, recover to anything like its previous level. Commuter traffic may get back up to somewhat below previous level.  Leisure / general and leisure / vacation may exceed previous levels.  BUT that's simplistic.

Commuter journey numbers over the years will be down, but distances not necessarily so; a big growth sector of peopel who work in the office for x days an week and from home y days per week, where x + y = 5 and neither x nor y is zero. Time taken commuting will, perhaps, remain stable but you will see growth from places like Wantage and Corsham into London on a couple of days per week, and perhaps fewer journeys - same number of individuals but less journeys - from places like Maidenhead.  How much city commuter traffic there will be - potentially less hit because you can't rewires a building (for example) or serve a coffee from home - but then will those jobs / services be needed at the same level?

People who are no longer daily commuters are likely to want to get out more for their leisure - "I have been cooped up at home" syndrome.

A wide view needs to be taken - not only of passenger and market numbers as they compare and change pre-covid, but also other change related - i.e. pre-sustainable and pre-social-change.  Some in the rail industry may have felt they had a market for the taking but it's actually much more choice these days and cannot be relied upon to continue to grow as it has for several decades.

An example suggestion for the Bristol - London corridor

A) An hourly fast train - Taunton- Bridgwater - Weston-super-mare - Temple Meads - Bath Spa - Chippenham - Swindon - Reading - Old Oak - London Hauptbahnhof. "IET"

B) A regional train every 30 minutes - Temple Meads - Keynsham - Oldfield Park - Bath Spa - Box - Corsham - Chippenham - Royal Wootton Bassett - Swidnon - Wantage Road - Didcot - Reading - Twyford - Maidenhead - Hayes and Harlington - Old Oak - London Paddington. "387"

C) An hourly fast train - Cardiff - Newport - Pilning Westgate - Temple Meads - Bath Spa - Bradford-on-Avon - Trowbridge - Westbury - Dilton Marsh - Warminster - Salisbury - beyond. "158".

D) A regional train also every 30 minutes - Temple Meads - St Annes - Keynsham - Saltford - Oldfield Park - Bath Spa - [alternate Freshford and Avoncliff] - Bradford-on-Avon - Trowbridge - Westbury - beyond. "Turbo"

E) An hourly fast train - Swansea (details t.b.a) - Swindon - Reading - Old Oak - London Hauptbahnhof. "IET"; with A) makes up a 30 minute express service Swindon to London. Every 2 hours starts back from West Wales

F) A regional train every hour, Cardiff to Swindon and on to Paddington as B)
G) A regional train every hour, Cheltenham / Gloucester to Swindon and on to Paddington as B)

B, D together - a 15 minute service between Bristol and Bath (30 mins at St Anne's and Saltford)
B, F and G together - a 15 minute service between Swindon and Paddington (*)
A and E together - a 30 minute service for London (Hauptbahnhof) - Euston / St Pancras / King's cross with a shuttle light underground linking them.

* - Alternative - 3 per hour Swindon to Paddington, and one service to Oxford and Cambridge, with hourly Evesham to Paddington service taking that regional service up to 4 per hour.

Customer service

All trains described as "fast" to be First Class only.  That's power to each seat, no more than 2+2 wide, free WiFi, tables at seat, trolley service with low cost (but not totally free) snacks. Good luggage space.

Regional trains to be to decent current standard class regional level. No catering, WiFi but not necessarily power.

Two other train classifications not shown above - Local (which will be inward from Didcot) and Express (for which the line isn't long enough).  Express examples in the South West - "3 hour expresses" from Plymouth to London, running every 2 or 3 hours. Also Plymouth - Exeter - Taunton - Bristol - Birmingham - then (each every 3 hours) Derby - Sheffield - York - Newcastle - Edinburgh, Preston - Carlisle - Carstairs - Glasgow, Stoke-on-Trent - Manchester - Leeds - Hull

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ellendune
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« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2022, 01:45:49 pm »

Where does Bristol Parkway feature in your plan?  I don't see it mentioned. 
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GBM
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« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2022, 01:59:24 pm »

Where does Bristol Parkway feature in your plan?  I don't see it mentioned. 
Cornwall also cut off (again!)  Huh
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grahame
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« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2022, 02:31:06 pm »

Where does Bristol Parkway feature in your plan?  I don't see it mentioned. 
Cornwall also cut off (again!)  Huh

This is a look at the line from Bristol Temple Meads to London via Bath and Didcot and other trains that run on a part of that, which includes trains E) and F) both of which serve Bristol Parkway.  In my example of other classifications, I talked about "expresses" from the South West to the North and Scotland - long distance passenger trains of quality to provide for journeys where flying has had the market for a while, but I did not go on to put in the "fast" and "regional" services there; Parkway will very much feature on those services and on local ones in the Bristol area.

I would anticipate that Cornwall to London services would not be on the Temple Meads to Didcot line; I am very much aware of the disappointment at the loss of the one or two through services from Chippenham to Penzance in (?) December 2019. Service A) with a connection at Taunton would provide that ... I have not speculated on the detail for Cornish services on this thread but suspect the 3 hour expresses, an hourly fast and an hourly regional would be the sort of thing coming up if I did a Plymouth / beyond to Newbury / London exercise.

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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2022, 03:48:32 pm »

Quote
We have moved "up" from occasional express trains to hourly, then further to half hourly, but with additional stops so that the services are no longer what I would call express, but now semi-fast.  Look back 100 years and the railway directors would be amazed that no trains run fast through Chippenham, or Swindon, or Reading or that all trains from Bristol Temple Meads via Bath to Paddington call at Didcot.
I think that's not what most people understand by "fast". It might well be what most people on this forum understand as "fast" but it's railway jargon. For the average passenger, or potential passenger, a fast train is one that gets there quickly, regardless of the number of intermediate stops. I don't know what the timetable was like in 1922 – neither how long it took to get from Bristol to London, nor where the train stopped on the way – but it seems likely that more stops are now made precisely because the trains are faster, so can stop and start again numerous times while still achieving a decent time on the journey. I have seen an old film about a recordbreaking London to Edinburgh train in the 1930s which made no stops, and compared it with the current timetable; no surprise, 21st century trains are faster end to end even while making several other calls. Obviously there will be other factors, such as growth of other towns and shifting journey patterns.
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grahame
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« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2022, 10:38:48 pm »

I don't know what the timetable was like in 1922 – neither how long it took to get from Bristol to London, nor where the train stopped on the way ....

Below is London to Bristol for 1910 ... forgive the long post and I've kept the images large enough to read. I will do a separate post to comment















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grahame
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« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2022, 11:20:15 pm »

Here's a London to Bristol comparison:

1910 - all day:
00:00 - 4 stops - 175 minutes
05:30 - 5 stops - 178 minutes
07:30 - 4 stops - 165 minutes
09:00 - 6 stops - 180 minutes
11:00 - 0 stops - 120 minutes
11:55 - 3 stops - 149 minutes
13:00 - 0 stops - 120 minutes
14:30 - 6 stops - 172 minutes
16:15 - 1 stop  - 130 minutes
17:15 - 7 stops - 195 minutes
18:30 - 1 stop  - 142 minutes
20:05 - 7 stops - 180 minutes
21:50 - 5 stops - 190 minutes

2022 - just over a couple of hours:
11:02 - 5 stops - 93 minutes
11:32 - 5 stops - 97 minutes
12:02 - 5 stops - 97 minutes
12:31 - 5 stops - 94 minutes
13:02 - 5 stops - 93 minutes

In each case, some extra journeys via other and slower routes and with sometimes with changes.
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grahame
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« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2022, 08:58:35 am »

Further suggesting from that ...

Departures pattern from Bristol via Bath

and on via Chippenham
xx:02 - fast - 4 stops - 89 minutes to London Hauptbahnhof (A)
xx:07 - regional - 15 stops - 119 minutes to London Paddington (B)
xx:37 - regional - 15 stops - 119 minutes to London Paddington (B)

and on via Trowbridge
xx:19 - regional via Bath and Westbury (D)
xx:32 - fast via Bath and Salisbury (C)
xx:49 - regional via Bath and Westbury (D)

Frequencies (per hour):
Bath - 6
Keynsham and Oldfield Park - 4
Chippenham, Swindon, Bradford-on-Avon, Trowbridge and Westbury - 3
St Annes Park, Saltford, Box and Corsham - 2
Freshford and Avoncliff - 1
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« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2022, 10:49:08 am »

I know that I have a vested interest but there is a reasonable  traffic from the North Somerset stations to East of Bristol; so I would change this:

Quote
A) An hourly fast train - Taunton- Bridgwater - Weston-super-mare - Temple Meads - Bath Spa - Chippenham - Swindon - Reading - Old Oak - London Hauptbahnhof. "IET (Intercity Express Train)"

to:
A) An hourly fast train - Taunton- Bridgwater - Highbridge - Worle - Yatton - Nailsea - Temple Meads - Bath Spa - Chippenham - Swindon - Reading - Old Oak - London Hauptbahnhof. "IET"

This is 3 additional stops at the country end but avoids the Weston loop.
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grahame
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« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2022, 11:39:22 am »

I know that I have a vested interest but there is a reasonable  traffic from the North Somerset stations to East of Bristol; so I would change this:

Quote
A) An hourly fast train - Taunton- Bridgwater - Weston-super-mare - Temple Meads - Bath Spa - Chippenham - Swindon - Reading - Old Oak - London Hauptbahnhof. "IET (Intercity Express Train)"

to:
A) An hourly fast train - Taunton- Bridgwater - Highbridge - Worle - Yatton - Nailsea - Temple Meads - Bath Spa - Chippenham - Swindon - Reading - Old Oak - London Hauptbahnhof. "IET"

This is 3 additional stops at the country end but avoids the Weston loop.

You may be right - separate look useful at services into Bristol (and where they would go beyond) from the South West, and provided that the length and the type of train matches and through traffic and though reliability is sensible, no reason why a regional outer train cannot be come a fast or even express as it gets towards a more congested area.  Probably the same thing hinted at above for Cornwall.  Should we look at a separate "Western Peninsular SnTB" thread?
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« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2022, 11:53:19 am »

My view that the existing stopping pattern of the regular half-hourly Bristol TM(resolve)-London trains may actually be already the optimal from a connection point of view as they hit all the main junction points for other non-London bound services. Start removing these and some journeys off the main line start to require an additional change, as does downgrading these to a multiple-stop regional service also causes a time penalty. Also send at least one of those up to Oxford (and possibly beyond) instead of London ...

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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2022, 11:39:39 am »

Here's a London to Bristol comparison:

1910 - all day:
00:00 - 4 stops - 175 minutes
05:30 - 5 stops - 178 minutes
07:30 - 4 stops - 165 minutes
09:00 - 6 stops - 180 minutes
11:00 - 0 stops - 120 minutes
11:55 - 3 stops - 149 minutes
13:00 - 0 stops - 120 minutes
14:30 - 6 stops - 172 minutes
16:15 - 1 stop  - 130 minutes
17:15 - 7 stops - 195 minutes
18:30 - 1 stop  - 142 minutes
20:05 - 7 stops - 180 minutes
21:50 - 5 stops - 190 minutes

2022 - just over a couple of hours:
11:02 - 5 stops - 93 minutes
11:32 - 5 stops - 97 minutes
12:02 - 5 stops - 97 minutes
12:31 - 5 stops - 94 minutes
13:02 - 5 stops - 93 minutes

In each case, some extra journeys via other and slower routes and with sometimes with changes.
Thanks for the clear summary.

So the services we have now are both more frequent and faster, even though none of them are "fast". A non-stop service might give a good headline along the lines of "Bristol to London in just one hour!" but given that it would probably create pathing difficulties with knock-on effects on local services, would it be a good idea overall?

Also, and mostly, hooray for modern trains!
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grahame
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« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2022, 12:04:14 pm »

So the services we have now are both more frequent and faster, even though none of them are "fast". A non-stop service might give a good headline along the lines of "Bristol to London in just one hour!" but given that it would probably create pathing difficulties with knock-on effects on local services, would it be a good idea overall?

73 minutes eastbound, 68 minutes westbound between Bristol PARKWAY and Paddington ...  the none-stop super-fasts that ran from December 2019 for a few months. (see http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/nrtt20/Table%20125.pdf ).  That latter train 81 minutes into Temple Meads after a three minute public timetable stop at Parkway, with the regular half hourly trains all taking around 15 minutes longer - 3 minutes per stop - along the way.

"Every Hour, in an hour and a half" would seem to be a good aim, and allow 3 stops along the way - perhaps 4 if the train could start under electric power from Temple Meads, Bath Spa and Chippenham.

I note that "3 hours to Plymouth" was achieved early in the day, before the lines became cluttered with regular pattern trains; I have made no secret of (and remain attached to the idea) of clock face express or fast trains rather than infrequent superfast or flyer trains; they are great publicity but unless your passengers are very lucky that they want to travel at 'flyer time', they will end up losing all the time they gain in catching the flyer in waiting for it, or in killing time at destination because they are early!
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« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2022, 12:50:38 pm »

Also, and mostly, hooray for modern trains!
Of course it's not just the trains; hooray for modern signalling too!
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« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2022, 12:56:45 pm »

So the services we have now are both more frequent and faster, even though none of them are "fast". A non-stop service might give a good headline along the lines of "Bristol to London in just one hour!" but given that it would probably create pathing difficulties with knock-on effects on local services, would it be a good idea overall?

73 minutes eastbound, 68 minutes westbound between Bristol PARKWAY and Paddington ...  the none-stop super-fasts that ran from December 2019 for a few months. (see http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/nrtt20/Table%20125.pdf ).  That latter train 81 minutes into Temple Meads after a three minute public timetable stop at Parkway, with the regular half hourly trains all taking around 15 minutes longer - 3 minutes per stop - along the way.
IIRC (if I recall/remember/read correctly) these were an early transport victim of Covid?
Quote
"Every Hour, in an hour and a half" would seem to be a good aim, and allow 3 stops along the way - perhaps 4 if the train could start under electric power from Temple Meads, Bath Spa and Chippenham.
That does sound like a decent aim. But if we already have, more or less, every half hour, and in under ten minutes more than half an hour, my feeling is we have something better already, and that the extra two stops allow greater flexibility of journey patterns and therefore hopefully more passengers and greater revenue per train.

Quote
I note that "3 hours to Plymouth" was achieved early in the day, before the lines became cluttered with regular pattern trains; I have made no secret of (and remain attached to the idea) of clock face express or fast trains rather than infrequent superfast or flyer trains; they are great publicity but unless your passengers are very lucky that they want to travel at 'flyer time', they will end up losing all the time they gain in catching the flyer in waiting for it, or in killing time at destination because they are early!
Yep!
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