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Author Topic: Manchester to West Wales timetable change from December 2022  (Read 842 times)
welsh1980
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« on: October 26, 2022, 06:20:10 pm »

It appears that as a result of TFW getting MK4 sets into service from the December timetable change there will be some major changes on the West Wales to Manchester services.

Apparently there are only enough MK4 sets to run most of the services from Cardiff to Manchester and return. This results in all of the current Manchester departures to Milford Haven which depart at half past the even hour terminating in Cardiff with a replacement service from Cardiff to Milford. The only hour that they continue further West is 1630 from Manchester but this only goes as far as Swansea.

The departures from Manchester at half past the odd hour appear unchanged and will run through to Carmarthen. In the other direction, the Milfords will run through to Manchester and the other hour from Carmarthen will terminate in Cardiff Central.

This has resulted in some broken connections.  In the up direction there is a connection off the GWR (Great Western Railway) but that means a half hour earlier start/half hour longer journey with a wait in Cardiff or Newport. And only useful if travelling from Swansea/Neath/Port Talbot/Bridgend.  Not useful if travelling from Llanelli etc. In the down direction the wait in Cardiff is the best part of an hour off the 0830 and 1030 departures from Manchester.  And that connection only takes you as far as Swansea.  There are connections off the 0630, 1230 and 1430 but in the case of the 1430 you would also need to change at Swansea as well as Cardiff if heading to Carmarthen.  Currently its a direct train!  The 1630 goes to Swansea with a suitable connection to Milford.  The 1730, 1930 and 2030 all go to Cardiff as they do currently so no changes there.  The 1830 requires a change at Cardiff and the replacement connecting train still goes via the district line Mon-Thurs so useless for Neath and Swansea and a long wait for the next GWR service for those stations (pretty much the same as now).

I suppose the sensible thing would be to just travel on the through services to/from places West of Cardiff which still run every other hour.  However this isnt a lot of use for Haverfordwest and Milford passengers in the down direction. Unless one travels on the 0630 and 1630 Manchesters where there are good connections the wait is going to be the best part of an hour at Cardiff.  I realise there arent that many who travel the full journey and most people alight at Cardiff in both directions but the passengers who do make the journey and are used to the hourly through trains to Carmarthen (and 2 hourly to Milford) are going to find it an inconvenience.  Its a shame the connections cant be changed at least in those hours where there is nothing further West from Cardiff for an hour (or nearly an hour), sometimes there is a 3 minute connection time which isnt sufficient due to the 7 minute minimum connection at Cardiff.  Hopefully this will be looked at and amended.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2022, 06:29:25 pm by welsh1980 » Logged
DaveHarries
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« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2022, 10:56:07 am »

Good point. From memory - I haven't been there for a while - the platform at Milford Haven is not a very lengthy one so perhaps these new MK4 sets wouldn't fit into the station there?

Dave
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Hafren
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« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2022, 12:20:20 pm »

Looks like 5 Mk4 diagrams across the Manchesters and Holyheads. It's almost as if the 197s being not quite suitable for long-distance expresses has been acknowledged! I wonder if the 175s displaced by this will be used for much-needed strengthening. (And are any 197s entering service in the north, perhaps releasing more 175s?) It looks like there will be some Mk4s through to/from Swansea at the beginning and end of the day, when they would otherwise not be forming return journeys; the evening one looks reasonably useful, but the morning one is much too early to benefit most people in reality.

Some of the 175 journeys appear to divide and attach at Carmarthen - which is the first sign of the arrangement that is planned for Swansea in future. Hopefully there will be no more lone 2-car sets on main line journeys, except perhaps late evening. I wonder how this works with short platforms; the Swanline stations are max 4 car, and I'm not sure if the 175s have any form of SDO (Selective Door Opening). Will they just diagram max 4 car on the journeys that make the stops, in which case additional stops to cover for disruption could be a problem? Or is there an arrangement for this in place. (Recently I was on a 6 car formation where 2 trains were coupled following disruption, so perhaps it can be done, but being in the front set I'm not sure what was done with the rear set to accommodate those stops.)

When it was first made known that a few Mk4 journeys would work to Swansea, the plan was to run them as far as SWA» (Swansea - next trains) and run a separate DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) service from there, so running through to MFH probably isn't on the cards. Sectional Appendix (not hugely recent) gives MFH platform as 94m, so a bit short for a 5 car set, but I think I read that the Mk4s have (or will be fitted with) SDO.
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welsh1980
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« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2022, 11:24:47 am »

Yes, I dont think they were ever planned to run as far as Milford Haven. Originally it was to be Swansea every other hour with the existing Manchester-Carmarthen the other hour. Now its been cut back to Cardiff every other hour aside from one journey each way from Swansea.  I assume the set that ends in Swansea will be stabled there overnight ready for the first train the following morning?  I agree its far too early to be much use. Running it an hour or two later would be better.  The return departure leaving Manchester at 1630 is decent though.

In the Summer I had the opportunity to travel on a 195 a few times whilst in Yorkshire. I understand the 197s will be almost identical inside to a 195. Overall I liked the 195s. However there seems to be a lack of space for much luggage and the seats not as comfortable for long journeys as a 175.  We shall see what the reaction is when they are finally introduced.  From what ive heard they will start with the December TT change in North Wales (Conwy Valley and Liverpool-Chester I think at first then Manchester-Llandudno/Holyhead etc).  I wouldnt be surprised if its a while before we see them in the Cardiff/South Wales routes.

Recently there seems to have been an issue with 175 availability as there are often 2 or 3 sprinters being used on the Manchester-South Wales workings each day. although during the past week ive noticed things have improved and some days almost all have been 175s when they should be.  Hopefully if 2 or 3 175s are spare from December we will see more 4 car formations on the ones currently 2 cars and the need for less sprinters covering. There should be no reason for them all not to be 175s (the ones that arent MK4!) from December TT if all goes to plan. If the 2 car sets were doubled up and then the 3 car ones remained as they are along with the MK4 that will provide much better capacity come December whilst still enough platform space for Swanline stops. 

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Hafren
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« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2022, 11:48:35 am »

From RTT» (Real Time Trains - website) it looks like the Mk4s will run empty to form the Swansea starts & finishes; I assume the Carmarthen crews aren't trained on them so it's being covered by Cardiff crews. I wonder if more are due to enter service later on, so that it's more practical to run more to Swansea.

Other sources suggest the 'north' crews are being trained on the 197s first, and perhaps there's a desire to keep them near their Chester depot initially, so maybe for a while 'in service' use will be concentrated in the north. The use of 197s and Mk4s should release a fair number of 175s for doubling up, but equally are some to be used to help manage the shortage of other stock, e.g. by covering some local diagrams so more 150s are free for the Valleys? Or even covering for 170s - not sure if any are due to leave in December. (I think 9 170 diagrams - 3 for Ebbw Vale, 1 for the Cross Keys shuttle, 5 for MST/CHM). Having no 2-car trains on the Marches (except very early/late) would be a useful milestone to reach, just as it would be for CDF» (Cardiff - next trains)-PMH. The Swanline platforms are 4 car, so I wonder if the plan is just 4 car doublings or if there's another solution there.

I have major issues with lack of luggage space on 'express' stock, and if I need to make any Marches journeys with luggage (which isn't often) I think I'll be aiming for the Mk4s as much as possible! The suburban-style door layout doesn't help, as it means having to choose the section with both seats and luggage space available, rather than just walking into one long saloon.

RTT also suggests that Kidwelly and Ferryside will no longer be request stops. Their 'hit rate' was quite high, so this probably makes lives easier all round, but I wonder if this is particularly motivated by the plan to have doubled-up 175s without gangways.
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welsh1980
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« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2022, 09:58:28 pm »

I have heard that the 2 car 170s are leaving by the end of the year. Therefore I assume some of the 175s/153s/150s displaced by the MK4 and 197s in the North will be used to cover some 170s.  I think the Cross Keys-Newport is already a single 153.  Unsure when the 3 car 170s are going.  The West Wales to Manchesters have been very busy every time ive caught them recently whether thats between Swansea-Cardiff of East or Cardiff and definately need at least 3 if not 4 carriages on every train.

Kidwelly and Ferryside no longer being request stops does make sense given they stop at them almost all the time. 

The doors being in the middle of the train on the 197s should help dwell time.

Its also about time Swanline as a stand alone service was returned. Im surprised it hasnt returned already.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2022, 10:09:50 pm by welsh1980 » Logged
grahame
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« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2022, 03:35:48 am »

I have heard that the 2 car 170s are leaving by the end of the year. Therefore I assume some of the 175s/153s/150s displaced by the MK4 and 197s in the North will be used to cover some 170s.  I think the Cross Keys-Newport is already a single 153.  Unsure when the 3 car 170s are going.  The West Wales to Manchesters have been very busy every time ive caught them recently whether thats between Swansea-Cardiff of East or Cardiff and definately need at least 3 if not 4 carriages on every train.

Kidwelly and Ferryside no longer being request stops does make sense given they stop at them almost all the time. 

The doors being in the middle of the train on the 197s should help dwell time.

Its also about time Swanline as a stand alone service was returned. Im surprised it hasnt returned already.

So ...

Out:
4 x 2 car + 8 x 3 car. 32 carriages of 170 (12 units)

In:
51 x 2 car and 26 x 3 car. 182 carriages of 197 (77 units)
37 x Mk4 carriages

Which strongly suggest to me from my uninformed English view that there are other units outbound too.  Did some of the 197s replace the Pacers?  TfW also have 36 x 150 (72 carriages) and 24 x 158 (48 carriages) and 26 x 153 (26 carriages) with 3 more noted as "pending transfer in" - where are they in the equation?  Class 197 comes with standard-only and first-and-second varients suggesting to me that they'll be taking on between them a very wide range of service.

Swanline - currently served every 2 hours each way by long distance trains.  Experience and analysis more locally to me suggest that traffic would blossom with a. service hourly each way; I'll leave it to Welsh comment to balance the benefit of having through service from west of Swansea to east of Cardiff calling, versus the slowing of those longer distance services in order to make the extra stops.  The line was dropped from electrification plans, so each stop will have a bigger effect on end t end schedule with it still being diesel.
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welsh1980
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« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2022, 12:59:37 pm »

The 77 x 197s will on paper replace all 175s and 158s eventually (with the MK4 sets also replacing some 175s) plus a few 150s and 153s as they (197s) will be used on the Conwy Valley, Pembroke Dock etc.  The only old stock being kept are some 153s for the Heart of Wales line and possibly the Shrewsbury to Crewe stopper as they interwork with the Heart of Wales Line.

I think the pacers were replaced on paper with the introduction of 170s, 769s and extra 153s.  Using the 170s on Maesteg-Cheltenham and Ebbw Vale routes and extra 153s on Pembroke Dock and possible other routes allowed more 150s to be on the Valley Lines replacing pacers (along with the 769s on some Valley/Cardiff local routes).

Speaking as someone who lives close to a Swanline station, an hourly service would be ideal and id be much more likely to use my local station rather than travel to a larger station if I knew there were more suitable times.  Currently with it being 2 hourly i dont like to be tied to a certain time to return for example. With an hourly service it would be much more flexible.  Having said that I do still use Swanline stations when the timings work for me.


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Hafren
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« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2022, 08:37:07 pm »

So ...

Out:
4 x 2 car + 8 x 3 car. 32 carriages of 170 (12 units)

In:
51 x 2 car and 26 x 3 car. 182 carriages of 197 (77 units)
37 x Mk4 carriages

Which strongly suggest to me from my uninformed English view that there are other units outbound too.  Did some of the 197s replace the Pacers?  TfW also have 36 x 150 (72 carriages) and 24 x 158 (48 carriages) and 26 x 153 (26 carriages) with 3 more noted as "pending transfer in" - where are they in the equation?  Class 197 comes with standard-only and first-and-second varients suggesting to me that they'll be taking on between them a very wide range of service.

The ultimate intention is for the non-Valley Flirt fleet to cover the services currently operated by 170s. I haven't seen an introduction date, but they are frequently to be seen on training/test runs, so hopefully quite soon. They'll be 4 car, so longer than the 170s, but I don't think the total number will be too different, which means a follow-on order would be needed for any new services to run. I've also read that they'll be diverted to cover Valleys work until electrification has progressed sufficiently to use the intended new stock there.

The 197s and Mk4s will also be used in longer formations than the 175s in practice, with 5 cars on the Manchesters (attach/detach with 3 cars west of SWA» (Swansea - next trains)), and 4/5 cars for any Mk4 services, so I'd hope total vehicles in well exceeds total out if we're to balance the books!

I'm not convinced the Pacers will be fully replaced until the new Valleys fleets are in place. As such it's just as well commuter demand is down!


Quote
Swanline - currently served every 2 hours each way by long distance trains.  Experience and analysis more locally to me suggest that traffic would blossom with a. service hourly each way; I'll leave it to Welsh comment to balance the benefit of having through service from west of Swansea to east of Cardiff calling, versus the slowing of those longer distance services in order to make the extra stops.  The line was dropped from electrification plans, so each stop will have a bigger effect on end t end schedule with it still being diesel.

Definitely some under-service here! It could be argued that demand will always be low at the likes of Baglan, as the stops are so close together and in areas reasonably well covered by buses (in the daytime at least), but the likes of Pyle are very underserved, and the smaller stops would do much better if a proper turn up and go service were provided. Currently the Cardiff for 9am market isn't covered at all. I think part of the problem with Swanline is it's never been seen as important enough to work out how best to serve it, and therefore it isn't given the opportunity to grow. Before my time, but I think the original service was an hourly Pacer to/from Bridgend, but demand wasn't great, so it fell back to a two-hourly stop on the expresses (as it was when I arrived in the area).

It's a different world now, given growth since the 1990s, so surely an hourly service is worth a try! When Arriva came along, dedicated trains were provided, off-peak at least, but using 'spare' capacity - one diagram tended to be linked to Heart of Wales services, and the other used off-peak slack in the Valleys diagrams, with many peak and early/late journeys being covered by expresses and start/end of day slack on main line diagrams. The demise of Pacers means there may well be no opportunity to use Valleys slack now. Essentially, 4 dedicated units would be needed for a dedicated hourly service. It would be a good use for something like a small 170 fleet, really; also use it to provide an hourly service on the Swansea District Line, and use those journeys to give Pyle a half-hourly service. I must stop daydreaming...
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welsh1980
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« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2022, 12:50:05 pm »

Am I correct in thinking before the December 2005 TT change Arriva/Wales and Borders only provided a 2 hourly service between Cardiff and Swansea which extended to various destinations after Cardiff - a few to Manchester, Bristol, Gloucester etc. These also called at Swanline stations. Then when the December 2005 timetable came in they stopped the services to Bristol and had an hourly service to Manchester.  Plus an extra 2 hourly for Swanline.  So there was a massive increase in services.
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Hafren
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« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2022, 08:41:18 pm »

Yes - before Dec 2005 most of the long-distance services (to/from various places pre-clockface era) that went west of Cardiff served Swanline, roughly every two hours, although in the down direction I think towards the end it was hourly for a significant part of the afternoon. There were some that went beyond Bristol to Penzance/Plymouth or Waterloo - remnants of the Wales & West era. I can't remember exactly when those through services stopped (around 03-05), but I have a feeling extensions might have continued as far as Bristol for a bit longer to maintain the Cardiff-Bristol service level. When the Dec05 timetable draft came out, they were still showing through journeys to Bristol and Penzance - a bit ridiculously, they were extensions of the Holyheads, running through to Cardiff and back out! But by the time Dec05 was finalised, ATW (Arriva Trains Wales (former TOC (Train Operating Company))) had stopped running to SW England.

I think an hourly Carmarthen to Manchester express was a franchise commitment; in the draft, CMN-MFH was to be almost entirely a shuttle connecting with the expresses, which didn't go down well. The Dec05 draft was a bit too clockface, without much peak variation, and few or maybe even none of the Manchesters were to make Swanline stops, leaving just the two-hourly stopper.
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welsh1980
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« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2022, 09:21:53 pm »

I have a feeling it all changed with the December 2005 timetable and that's when they stopped the ATW (Arriva Trains Wales (former TOC (Train Operating Company))) services to Bristol and the West of England.   With an hourly service to Manchester plus the two hourly Swanline the service level between Swansea and Cardiff went from approximately 1.5 trains per hour to 2.5 trains an hour.

I remember there was a daily service to Penzance which around 2004/2005 departed Swansea around midday. I dont think this one did Swanline stops as it wasnt part of the 2 hourly pattern. Most of the Swanline stoppers went to either Manchester or Bristol.  I seem to remember there was an hourly service going West, not sure if it was Carmarthen and Milford alternating as now.

I guess as Wessex trains operated a half hourly service to Bristol TM(resolve) the ATW services werent required. Im not sure if Wessex Trains operated half hourly services to Bristol before Dec 2005 and thats why some ATW were required. 

I wondered if it was a franchise commitment to run Manchester-Carmarthen or actually from Manchester-Cardiff and Cardiff-Carmarthen and just run them as through services as its easier, especially as they use 175s. 

« Last Edit: November 01, 2022, 09:27:24 pm by welsh1980 » Logged
grahame
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« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2022, 08:48:07 am »

Sample Swan Line timetables (Monday to Friday, late morning, eastbound) from 6 different decades

(EDITED to add more timetables - 10:10)















« Last Edit: November 02, 2022, 10:08:06 am by grahame » Logged

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welsh1980
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« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2022, 06:26:08 pm »

Thanks for posting those timetables. Very interesting. I believe the last but one timetable posted is just before December 2005.  I think the 1233 from Neath was the one that went to Penzance (this didnt make Swanline stops, no doubt as it was already a very long journey to Penzance!).  I believe the 1150 went to Manchester and the 950 went to the Westcountry somewhere (possibly Exeter or Plymouth).  Hard to believe the service between Cardiff was so infrequent.  Sometimes only 1 train an hour.
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Hafren
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« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2022, 08:39:41 pm »

The 12.33 from Neath was the Penzance. The one time I remember using it, it was a 153 (I think booked for a while) which was cozy running just before the London. At Newport it attached to a service from Manchester so it was 3/4 car into England.

In a way not much better now in the down direction, with the Manchesters running just behind the Londons! It's understandable that two compeltely different flows can't be made perfectly half hourly, but that's a good argument for Swanlines to fill the other half of the hour.

Another little piece of history is that 12:44 from SWA» (Swansea - next trains), which was the XC (Cross Country Trains (franchise)) to I think Newcastle. I can't remember what year that stopped running - possibly when Operation Princess was complete.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2022, 09:40:15 pm by Hafren » Logged
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