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Author Topic: North Dorset's three small stations  (Read 508 times)
froome
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« on: January 21, 2023, 09:13:47 am »

The line from Yeovil Pen Mill to Dorchester West goes through three small stations (all halts officially I believe) - Thornford, Yetminster and Chetnole, before arriving at Maiden Newton. We travel on this line a couple of times a year, and occasionally have used one of these to do a walk or bike ride. We went to Dorchester yesterday, so again had the delight of following this beautiful section of the line, which to my surprise had snow around it from Yeovil to Dorchester - I hadn't realised there had been that much snow fall earlier this week.

Anyway, this brings to mind two questions I've been meaning to ask about these stations.

1. Can someone provide me with the logic behind GWR (Great Western Railway)'s announcements on the train about these stations? They are basically completely ignored, so when you leave Yeovil Pen Mill, the screen says that the next station is Maiden Newton, and the on-train announcements say the same. So if you are heading to one of these stations and aren't 'in the know', so to speak, you panic and wonder whether this is a train that doesn't call at these stations. Why do this? Why not actually list the stations on the screen and mention them on announcements? It seems designed to put anyone off actually using them. (and yes I know that the train manager should come down and ask if anyone wants to get off at any of these, but it is easy to miss this)

2. More historically, how did these stations survive when most other similar village stations have vanished? I realise that this line only has slower stopping services, so there wasn't the same impetus to remove smaller stations to provide a faster service as has happened elsewhere, but many other local stations along the line have gone. So how did these survive? The area is still sparsely settled, so the total population ever likely to have wanted to use the stations will always have been small.

While Yetminster station is in the heart of the village, which itself is the largest of these villages (along with its neighbour Ryme Intrinseca), both Thornford and Chetnole are some distance from their small villages and from any local population. So while I'm not surprised that Yetminster has survived (though many similar haven't), I am astounded that the other two did. Obviously I am pleased that they all still do, and wished there were others, but it would be interesting to know a bit about the history behind this.
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IndustryInsider
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« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2023, 12:25:13 pm »

1. Can someone provide me with the logic behind GWR (Great Western Railway)'s announcements on the train about these stations? They are basically completely ignored, so when you leave Yeovil Pen Mill, the screen says that the next station is Maiden Newton, and the on-train announcements say the same. So if you are heading to one of these stations and aren't 'in the know', so to speak, you panic and wonder whether this is a train that doesn't call at these stations. Why do this? Why not actually list the stations on the screen and mention them on announcements? It seems designed to put anyone off actually using them. (and yes I know that the train manager should come down and ask if anyone wants to get off at any of these, but it is easy to miss this)

It's due to the way APIS (Advanced Passenger Information System) works on the units. 

If a train didn't stop at a request stop it would often get out of sync as the system would think it was at the previous stop still if the GPS doesn't pick up where the train is.  That used to be very common, now less so.  It is then relying on the doors being opened to recognise the train is at the station.  It is therefore the TM(resolve)'s responsibility to manually ensure that request stop information is given out clearly.  To put it diplomatically, some are better at that than others. 

Problems can also occur where a local door is used rather than all the doors opening.  In other words it sometimes doesn't really deserve the 'A' in APIS!
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« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2023, 12:48:50 pm »


2. More historically, how did these stations survive when most other similar village stations have vanished? I realise that this line only has slower stopping services, so there wasn't the same impetus to remove smaller stations to provide a faster service as has happened elsewhere, but many other local stations along the line have gone. So how did these survive? The area is still sparsely settled, so the total population ever likely to have wanted to use the stations will always have been small.

While Yetminster station is in the heart of the village, which itself is the largest of these villages (along with its neighbour Ryme Intrinseca), both Thornford and Chetnole are some distance from their small villages and from any local population. So while I'm not surprised that Yetminster has survived (though many similar haven't), I am astounded that the other two did. Obviously I am pleased that they all still do, and wished there were others, but it would be interesting to know a bit about the history behind this.

The practicalities of providing a replacement bus service if the train service ceased is the reason many of the smaller stations survived but larger centres of population lost their stations. This is why Sparkford and Limpley Stoke lost their stations as being situated on main roads meant that a bus service could easily be substituted. The Dorset halts as well as Avoncliff and Freshford survived because of limited road access.
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stuving
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« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2023, 03:02:08 pm »


2. More historically, how did these stations survive when most other similar village stations have vanished? I realise that this line only has slower stopping services, so there wasn't the same impetus to remove smaller stations to provide a faster service as has happened elsewhere, but many other local stations along the line have gone. So how did these survive? The area is still sparsely settled, so the total population ever likely to have wanted to use the stations will always have been small.

While Yetminster station is in the heart of the village, which itself is the largest of these villages (along with its neighbour Ryme Intrinseca), both Thornford and Chetnole are some distance from their small villages and from any local population. So while I'm not surprised that Yetminster has survived (though many similar haven't), I am astounded that the other two did. Obviously I am pleased that they all still do, and wished there were others, but it would be interesting to know a bit about the history behind this.

The practicalities of providing a replacement bus service if the train service ceased is the reason many of the smaller stations survived but larger centres of population lost their stations. This is why Sparkford and Limpley Stoke lost their stations as being situated on main roads meant that a bus service could easily be substituted. The Dorset halts as well as Avoncliff and Freshford survived because of limited road access.

There may have been another factor for the two smallest halts. The closure of most the smaller stations on the Bristol-Weymouth line was announced by the BRB(resolve) in August 1964, and after the required reports into local bus services (existing and potential), Barbara Castle's decision was dated 21/4/1966 (though I found it in the BL archive in the Somerset Standard of 17/6/1966).

The notice includes the following sentence: "She has noted the willingness of the Board to retain Thornford Bridge and Chetnole in the event of Yetminster remaining open." I wonder what the operational logic of that was.
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WSW Frome
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« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2023, 03:02:31 pm »

As indicated closure was refused ( by the Ministry of Transport) in the Beeching-era due to poor road access at these locations. Indeed the Beeching Report proposed closure of all stations Dorchester West to Sparkford, inclusive and the service would be "modified." (most certainly!).  This proposal included Yeovil Pen Mill and also Maiden Newton which still remained the junction for Bridport until c1975.

That sort of proposal seems barmy when it included the two principal stations but the overall intention would have been to close the service completely, perhaps like Stratford to Cheltenham, where local services were cut initially. Fortunately some sanity prevailed and the service continues in better shape than mid 1960's and even the Halts can provide some reasonable business.

If I recall parking has been enhanced near Thornford in recent times and the current platforms (Thornford and Chetnole) and shelters were relocated by BR (British Rail(ways)) from the closed Cattistock Halt. These replaced the previous timber constructions lit by paraffin lamps in the good old days!    
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froome
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« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2023, 05:45:21 pm »

1. Can someone provide me with the logic behind GWR (Great Western Railway)'s announcements on the train about these stations? They are basically completely ignored, so when you leave Yeovil Pen Mill, the screen says that the next station is Maiden Newton, and the on-train announcements say the same. So if you are heading to one of these stations and aren't 'in the know', so to speak, you panic and wonder whether this is a train that doesn't call at these stations. Why do this? Why not actually list the stations on the screen and mention them on announcements? It seems designed to put anyone off actually using them. (and yes I know that the train manager should come down and ask if anyone wants to get off at any of these, but it is easy to miss this)

It's due to the way APIS (Advanced Passenger Information System) works on the units. 

If a train didn't stop at a request stop it would often get out of sync as the system would think it was at the previous stop still if the GPS doesn't pick up where the train is.  That used to be very common, now less so.  It is then relying on the doors being opened to recognise the train is at the station.  It is therefore the TM(resolve)'s responsibility to manually ensure that request stop information is given out clearly.  To put it diplomatically, some are better at that than others. 

Problems can also occur where a local door is used rather than all the doors opening.  In other words it sometimes doesn't really deserve the 'A' in APIS!

I suspected the reason would be something like this, but is this really the case? As far as I recall, other halts on nearby lines, like Dilton Marsh, are listed on the screen on trains as the next station with an (x) beside their name, and are announced. I do remember this causing a problem with announcements on that service getting out of sequence.

But as you say, the 'A' in APIS really ought to be more advanced than this to allow for some sanity and simplicity, or we should just revert to manual announcements on services like this.
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bradshaw
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« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2023, 06:53:37 pm »

Parking is a layby on the nearby Longford Road, a 300m walk
« Last Edit: January 21, 2023, 07:05:07 pm by bradshaw » Logged
grahame
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« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2023, 07:54:24 pm »

As indicated closure was refused ( by the Ministry of Transport) in the Beeching-era due to poor road access at these locations. Indeed the Beeching Report proposed closure of all stations Dorchester West to Sparkford, inclusive and the service would be "modified." (most certainly!).  This proposal included Yeovil Pen Mill and also Maiden Newton which still remained the junction for Bridport until c1975.

That sort of proposal seems barmy when it included the two principal stations but the overall intention would have been to close the service completely, perhaps like Stratford to Cheltenham, where local services were cut initially. Fortunately some sanity prevailed and the service continues in better shape than mid 1960's and even the Halts can provide some reasonable business.

Much nearer to home (Indeed still on the Wilts, Somerset and Weymouth) in 1966,  all the stations between Trowbridge and Chippenham were closed - minor ones at Staverton, Holt and Lacock and in that case the major one at Melksham.   Services dropped to a daily train each way that lasted a year or two and a summer Saturday service from Wolverhampton to Weymouth via Oxford and Westbury that was there a bit longer.  Which may give you a clue as to what would have happened if Yeovil Pen Mill and Maiden Newton had closed.
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« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2023, 01:38:37 pm »

As indicated closure was refused ( by the Ministry of Transport) in the Beeching-era due to poor road access at these locations. Indeed the Beeching Report proposed closure of all stations Dorchester West to Sparkford, inclusive and the service would be "modified." (most certainly!).  This proposal included Yeovil Pen Mill and also Maiden Newton which still remained the junction for Bridport until c1975.

That sort of proposal seems barmy when it included the two principal stations but the overall intention would have been to close the service completely, perhaps like Stratford to Cheltenham, where local services were cut initially. Fortunately some sanity prevailed and the service continues in better shape than mid 1960's and even the Halts can provide some reasonable business.

If I recall parking has been enhanced near Thornford in recent times and the current platforms (Thornford and Chetnole) and shelters were relocated by BR (British Rail(ways)) from the closed Cattistock Halt. These replaced the previous timber constructions lit by paraffin lamps in the good old days!    

Here's the Ministry of Transport file about the closure in the National Archives at Kew.  I've looked at many similar files for lines further west and they are fascinating.  The papers are bound to include discussion about the merits or otherwise of retaining Thornford and Chetnole.  They will certainly include passenger counts.   https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C4336044
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