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Author Topic: Manchester to West Wales timetable change from December 2022  (Read 1978 times)
Hafren
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« Reply #15 on: December 18, 2022, 10:00:32 pm »

Some bedtime reading – draft 2023 timetables:

https://tfw.wales/draft-timetables-2023

I haven't checked if these are May or December.

A lot of 197 use as expected. Other operators' trains are shown where known – and now there are two (or more - only glanced so far) PAD» (Paddington (London) - next trains)-CMN afternoon/evening journeys... Hopefully this removes the pointless long layover at SWA» (Swansea - next trains) in the evening! Interestingly, one of them has a PAD-CDF» (Cardiff - next trains) running time suggestive of a return of the super-fast. The hourly dedicated Swanlines are also in there, but in the down direction they run just behind the GWR (Great Western Railway) and ex-Manchester journeys, so not providing the proper half-hourly CDF-SWA service that would have been desirable.

I hope the driver shortages (to pick on one current issue) will be a thing of the past, or the enhancements won't achieve much!

Edit: Checked the West Wales table now... a lot more GWRs to Carmarthen, and a lot better timed than now!
« Last Edit: December 18, 2022, 10:13:31 pm by Hafren » Logged
welsh1980
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« Reply #16 on: December 19, 2022, 04:44:06 pm »

Some thoughts.....  I assume this is going to be from December 2023 as i dont think enough 197s will be available by the May 2023 TT change although I could be wrong. 

Its about time Swanline got an hourly service although its a shame on the down direction there isnt a bigger gap between other services going West from Cardiff.  In the up direction it looks like they leave Swansea around 5 minutes after the GWR (Great Western Railway) so thats an improvement as before the GWR had almost caught it up by Bridgend.  They also appear to be making stops at Pencoed etc between Bridgend and Cardiff (another reason it needs to depart Swansea after the GWR) providing a half hourly service for these stations whilst Maesteg still has an hourly service but goes to Ebbw Vale now rather than Cheltenham Spa. 

When I saw the list of timetables it said Swansea-Cheltenham Spa so at first glance of this i mistakenly thought the Swanline's were going to Cheltenham Spa which could have made sense given both these routes are being increased to hourly.  But it makes sense to keep them stand alone and the timings probably dont fit. 

It seems that Swanline and Pembroke Dock will be using 153s (pairs) initially before being replaced with 197s (I assume because 197s will be used on the Maesteg-Ebbw Vale, Newport-Ebbw Vale which also gets an hourly service and the Cheltenhams).  Interesting they chose to use 153s on Swanline rather than on Maesteg-Ebbw Vale as a stopgap, perhaps its something to do with moving sets back and forth to Swansea from Canton for the HOWL and Pembroke Dock.

It appears the Manchesters will still run every 2 hours from West Wales to Manchester with the other hour starting/terminating in Cardiff.  It looks like everything booked for a 175 will be changed to a 197 by next December so the 175s days are numbered.  Sad to see them go but understandable.  I guess the 150s and 158s will still be needed for a while.  150s on Valleys and 158s on Cambrian. Plus of course we are keeping the 153s for the HOW (plus Swanline and Pembroke for a while)  So it looks like the 170s and 175s will be next to go. 

The new hourly Swanline will be good as it will be easier to plan days out knowing there is an hourly service.  Hopefully it will improve usage at these stations too with less people travelling to Swansea, Neath, Port Talbot etc from these local communities.  Even with the extra stops at Pencoed etc it will still be quicker than going to a mainline station to get a faster train to Cardiff/Swansea for many.

Overall great to see some much needed improvements i just hope they will be able to deliver when the time comes.
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Hafren
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« Reply #17 on: December 19, 2022, 09:54:56 pm »

I think the 2-hourly split at Cardiff on the Manchesters will remain because of the loco-haulage through the Marches; I wonder if there's a longer-term aspiration to extend more to SWA» (Swansea - next trains) once there are enough sets available. As far as I can see the plan is as now (which hasn't actually come to fruition yet) with the only extensions being at the beginning and end of the day when there isn't a need to balance another journey at CDF» (Cardiff - next trains) - rather like some Manchesters extend to TEN/PMD in the evening now. As an aside, I note the non-MFH extenders will extend to Fishguard, giving Fishguard a more even daytime service. At some point hourly MFH, or at least as far as Haverfordwest would be good, but in the current climate we should perhaps be happy that so many improvements are still being implemented!

I note that the late evening Swanline down service has disappeared. It was often busy although that will be mainly fuelled by bigger stations, but useful as a last train. It would be good to retain it even if only on Fri/Sat. With the removal of Swanline stops on the Manchesters, Pyle loses a lot of its peak extras. It seems much less busy with commuters than pre-Covid, but it's a big enough place to try to drum up demand with a better service at busier times. Running behind other services is probably sensible with 2 car trains, especially with the extra stops east of BGN, but in the down direction that flight of services isn't ideal. In the up direction there's better natural spread.

The Swanline timings look too tight. The existing timings are tight enough; the proposed timings look like 175 timings without any dwell time! And the 175s timings as they stand are optimistic (e.g. PTA (Passenger Transport Authority)-BAJ is timed as 2 minutes for a 175 but really takes a good 3 mins) and rely on liberal use of 1 minute dwell times and recovery time to keep up. I wonder if 197s are significantly better performers than 175s. With 153s to be used in the interim, the timings won't be achievable.

If I've read correctly, the 5 car Manchesters are to go down to 2 west of SWA, whereas 3 was I think the plan. Perhaps this is an interim measure until more 3 car sets are available, and some 2 car units are cascaded to PMD (bearing in mind they'll need more of whatever type goes west of SWA). However with the GWR (Great Western Railway) extensions there's much more capacity overall west of SWA. Some of those GWR extensions to CMN run quite close to TFW journeys (but I haven't checked closely - could be the way padding is implemented). I wonder if this is based on headways being improved; I believe SWA-CMN resignalling is due to be completed in 2023.

I hope this is all achievable by Dec 2023. I'm tired of the various current issues. The improvements hidden in the timetable for Dec 2022 (5 booked LH diagrams anbd CMN splits suggesting longer 175 formations) offered some hope but haven't materialised, and probably won't for a while yet.
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welsh1980
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« Reply #18 on: December 20, 2022, 07:36:22 pm »

I was surprised to see that the Manchester services will extend to Fishguard every 2 hours. In the other direction because of the way the timings work the return journey from Fishguard will terminate in Cardiff whilst the service going through to Manchester will be from Milford. Hourly to Haverfordwest would be useful given its quite a large town, the largest in Pembrokeshire I think and could do with a better service east to Carmarthen/Swansea and beyond.

The timings for Swanline have always been a bit too tight IMO (in my opinion) and they could do with an extra minute or so for each stop. The stops are so frequent between Swansea and Port Talbot there is barely any time once the train gets going before it slows down again.  This is why them being picked up by what should be the fast regional express trains isnt ideal.  If they are using 153s as a stopgap until the 197s are free that could run into problems with keeping to time. 197s should be good for Swanline with the doors in the middle of the carriages.

Hopefully there will be a late Swanline from Cardiff. Either that or the stops get picked up by the last Cardiff-Carmarthen as now. Currently there is a massive gap in the evening with a Swanline departing Cardiff around 1904 then nothing until the last one at 2315.  So having hourly Swanline until 2050 is a good thing but we need a later train as well.

I think the original plan may have been to have the MK4's go to Swansea every 2 hours and turn there with a replacement between Swansea-Carmarthen (or wherever it was terminating Fishguard, Milford etc) then the other hour run through to Carmarthen/Milford from Manchester as now.  This would have been better IMO rather than them terminating in Cardiff. But there just dont seem to be enough with them being used on some Holyheads too. 



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ellendune
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« Reply #19 on: December 21, 2022, 09:35:58 am »

So there is a now a  Milford Haven to Manchester service but not vice versa.  Does that not at least half justify the original intensions of the new dead railway that was only ever completed from Carmarthen to Aberyswyth?
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grahame
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« Reply #20 on: December 21, 2022, 10:01:24 am »

So there is a now a  Milford Haven to Manchester service but not vice versa.  Does that not at least half justify the original intensions of the new dead railway that was only ever completed from Carmarthen to Aberyswyth?

I used to be concerned about unbalanced services, but these days I understand if there's asymetry at the ends - looking at the one way through service between Weston-super-mare and Severn Beach that runs out at Avonmouth in one direction. In practical terms, through journeys between just St Andrews Road and Severn Beach to stations south of Temple Meads aren't going to be huge in the great scheme of things.

Fishguard through to at least East Wales to and from BOTH daily boat services from and to Rosslare makes sense. I have personally ONLY used the service in transit to / from Ireland, so cannot comment on loadings of the other services.  There is a real need to connect all the way through to English destinations off the last boat arrival.

I am not seeing what's using the Swansea District line, nor the curve that bypasses Swansea station, in the new timetable. Have I missed something?  I haven't looked at the Carmarthen avoider either ...
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welsh1980
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« Reply #21 on: December 21, 2022, 12:27:56 pm »

Im not sure what is happening with the Swansea District Line and Swansea avoider at Landore.

At the moment Monday-Friday we have the 12xx Fishguard-Cardiff and 15xx Cardiff-Llanelli (which used to be a Swanline but now the Swanline stops are picked up by the 1604 Cardiff-Fishguard instead creating a big gap in the afternoon but better timings for peak time).  Also what was the 1830 Manchester-Carmarthen, since the TT change last week is now split at Cardiff but the replacement still goes via the district line Mon-Thurs.

On weekends, I think the afternoon Fishguard-Cardiff goes via Landore on both Saturday and Sunday, unsure if anything goes via the district on Saturday but I think on Sunday at least one  Cardiff-Milford goes via the district.

Id imagine they will still have to keep up route knowledge for the occasions when engineering works take place between Swansea-Llanelli.
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Hafren
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« Reply #22 on: December 21, 2022, 09:59:03 pm »

The timetable appears to be generic weekday, albeit with the last Milford having a note saying it only extends on Fridays (as per recent change). I wonder if one of the evening services will similarly continue to run via the District FX to maintain route knowledge.

There's also a non-balanced working at Llanelli - one of the Swanline diagrams appears to start the day there. It wouldn't surprise me if the intention is to run that ECS (Empty Coaching Stock) via the District to maintain route knowledge. But I assume the reason there are more now is that both Cardiff and Carmarthen crews need to maintain route knowledge. Perhaps this is one of the things that will tweaked in time, unless it's all do be done in the weekend timetable or with ECS movements.

Llanelli, incidentally, gains a number of short workings. But I think the main reason for these workings is to fill in the layovers on the HoW(resolve) diagrams. The extra trains added recently make for longer layovers and less efficient diagramming, especially if there's to be no interworking with other routes in preparation for use of a dedicated fleet; the Llanelli extras fill these gaps in the diagrams. If this increased frequency yields extra use, perhaps in time a local metro-level service with some stops at Cockett, Loughor etc might be a nice aspiration.

I think Landore and Carmarthen avoiders might not be such a problem for route knowledge, as they are single signal sections with a regularly-traversed junction at either end. I think I once read that route knowledge on such lines can be retained by driving the adjacent lines regularly. I can't remember if that was a from reliable source of if there were any technical aspects that might affect it. Carmarthen avoider might even be covered by shunt moves at the start and end of the day - a lot start and end the day there but I'm not sure to what extent they just pile up in the two platforms or are shunted around. (I think they use the sidings a bit as well.)

I doubt through running to MFH was high on the agenda. Manchester-Carmarthen is the flagship product, and I suspect what happens west of CMN is just about finding the most efficient way to diagram the service. Fishguard is a winner in this respect. On the subject of Fishguard, I note that the late last journey has gone - the extension of the last Swanline that has also gone. (Possibly disappeared this Dec as well from a look at RTT» (Real Time Trains - website), but I haven't looked too hard.) I think it disappeared once before, when the boat was retimed, and a mid-evening journey replaced it, but then reintroduced because people wanted their late journey back. So maybe that demand will reappear, but post-Covid maybe the landscape has shifted too much for that to reintroduction happen again. It might be good for all the West Wales branches to have a later last train on Fri & Sat - perhaps on a 'use it or lose it' basis, and not quite as late as the last FGH was!

Re the last Swanline, perhaps the rationale for its disappearance is that Maesteg will have a later last train, so Pontyclun et al retain that last train. Not so good for Swanline proper, though.
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welsh1980
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« Reply #23 on: December 31, 2022, 05:04:52 pm »

I imagine the Landore loop and Carmarthen avoider isnt an issue as it is such a short amount of track.  Even the district line isnt much of an issue for a guard/ticket inspector given there are no stops on the line. The main role of the guard is to ensure any passengers for Neath and Swansea arent still on board! The last time i caught the 1830 Manchester I was alighting in Port Talbot anyway, but it was the going via the district line they were very efficient at walking through the train and checking where everyone was alighting and ensuring anyone for Neath and Swansea changed at Port Talbot. 

I used my Swanline station today for a trip to Cardiff as the timings worked out ok for me.  The up journey was going through to Manchester and 3 carriages but fairly quiet unlike a usual Saturday when everytime ive used it recently its been rammed.  When waiting for my return journey at Cardiff the Manchester service (1453) was formed of a 150 and departed about 3 minutes before the train from West Wales (from Swansea today due to engineering works) arrived.  So definitely wouldn't have maintained a connection! Seems a bit pointless splitting the service when the MK4's arent even ready yet, maybe May would have been more realistic.  And today one was subbed for a 150 not even a 175!! The 1512 Swanline was also a 2 car 175. Thats usually a pair of 153s on a Saturday.  150 on Manchester and 175 on Swanline seemed the wrong way around!   Overall a fairly quiet problem free journey in both directions to end the year.  Lets hope before this time next year the service will always been as efficient with the much needed improvements all implemented. 
« Last Edit: December 31, 2022, 05:18:13 pm by welsh1980 » Logged
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