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Author Topic: Closures of loops and through services - on this day, 10th December  (Read 735 times)
grahame
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« on: December 10, 2023, 03:03:30 »

One upon a time, many years ago, I was giving a course in Stockport and stayed in a hotel in Central Manchester. Being before my "Rail Campaign" days, I was surprised that the train I took out to Stockport had in-train announcements on intermediate stations including Bradford-on-Avon and Trowbridge, and ended up in Waterloo.

That train most likely used the Maindee Curve at Newport (closed 10th December 2005 - http://www.railchronology.free-online.co.uk/Maindee%20curve.htm ) and ran through from Bristol via Trowbridge to London Waterloo (service ceased 10th December 2021 - http://www.passenger.chat/25368 ).

"On this day" - 10th December - a day of closures.  Yes and no and "yes BUT"s.  I have a natural regret at the passing of any rail service, but with modern trains - be they dual locomotive services such as HSTs (High Speed Train), push pulls such as the loco and coaches withdrawn from TransPenine after such a short time, or multiple units, a reversal is practical along the way.  So the passing of the Maindee curve is tinged with nostalgic sadness rather than being a major protest.  Defending the service on the Rhubarb loop might be difficult too, though it remains vital as a diversion route and I would wish to listen very carefully to the Bristol Rail Campaign and others before accepting the loss of its parliamentary service.

Few people are going to use a through service from Manchester to Waterloo. Originally put on to connect at Waterloo with trains to France and Belgium, together with services from the likes of Maesteg and Carmarthen to Waterloo, they built - however - a strong clientele from Bristol and Bath to South London, and provided the only direct useful service from Bradford-on-Avon and Trowbridge to London.  Their loss was a sleazy scheme of civil servants and/or their political masters to cut something in the south where it wouldn't loose seats and would demonstrate to the north that it was levelling up. It inconvenienced the less able members of the public travelling on tighter budgets and with difficultly making changes easily change trains due to their own physical or mental limits, the luggage they have or the lack of connectional information and fares. None of these are limitations that apply to the typical civil servants with just a briefcase (or light pack these days), an ability to trot across Paddington, and a ticket paid for out of someone else's pocket.

The loss of the Bristol to Waterloo service was a travesty - as was Bristol to Oxford in around 2004, and Bristol to Brighton in 2022.  The irony is that the savings made by taking SWR» (South Western Railway - about) off the Bristol to Salisbury leg have been replaced by 5 extra GWR (Great Western Railway) trains a day running from Bristol to Salisbury where they end-to-end with Salisbury to Waterloo service which - err - are improved from today.  The awful connections at Salisbury that resulted from the removal of the through trains from Bristol to Waterloo are much mitigated and with all trains running with compatible class 158 and 159 trains, surely it makes sense to restore through running??
« Last Edit: December 10, 2023, 07:37:27 by grahame » Logged

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grahame
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« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2023, 03:39:41 »

And as we look at changing services - the art of the possible just might include

Weymouth - Westbury - Swindon - Oxford - Bedford, hourly.
Cross-platform both way connections ...
* at Westbury with Portsmouth/Brighon to Swansea service
* at Swindon with Carmarthen to Old Oak and Paddington service
* at Oxford with Southampton to Manchester service
* at Bletchley with London to Glasgow service
* at Bedford with London via Nottingham service
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grahame
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« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2023, 08:27:09 »

10th December 2021

Bristol Temple Meads, mid afternoon:


Bristol Temple Meads, mid afternoon:


Approaching Salisbury, late afternoon:


London Waterloo, just arrived, early evening:


On the final departure from Bristol:
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Mark A
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« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2023, 09:05:33 »

It would be good to share those photos of busy services to and from Bristol with the new manager for the Exeter line as it will be useful for them to help get to know a currently unrepresented part of their patch.

Mark
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« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2023, 12:36:18 »

AFAIK (as far as I know) Maindee East curve remains available for use. I have travelled along it on a charter train in the relatively recent past. It was presumably closed for "normal" passenger use with due statutory process!
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Mark A
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« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2023, 13:19:22 »

The Maindee east curve - the following link throws some light on its use... now, what was the (fairly recent) date at which it was singled?

http://www.railchronology.free-online.co.uk/Maindee%20curve.htm

The Manchester - Waterloo train, its route widely portrayed as a joke, and as a result, the subject of various newspaper columns, is a hill I will die on (or, more accurately, have died on). End-to-end passengers may have been in a minority but, Eurostar at Waterloo or not, the service loaded well for its entire route as it enabled a multitude of otherwise poorly connected journeys.

The wider picture is that while the infrastructure's there (if now weakened by the singling of the east curve at Maindee junction) the latent demand from the public for rail travel via Bristol and the Severn Tunnel and up the Welsh Marches has no train operating company interested or motivated to champion it.

'Regional Railways' were building a sound business there in terms of passenger loadings and this was an axis on their network whose balance sheet was heading into the black, and then a reorganisation of various TOCs (Train Operating Company) killed Regional Railways itself, along with the services, some of them loading very healthily and trending upwards, all carried out under the banner of 'Moderation of competition'. Bristol to Waterloo services were a survivor that continued to thrive and in 2018 were intended for further expansion, until another change of TOC and a pandemic enabled the dead hand of the Treasury to descend.

The book below from one Gordon Pettitt and Nicholas Comfort tells a story and is worth seeking out. Available from your local library via an interlibrary loan if necessary.

Mark



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Worcester_Passenger
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« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2023, 09:41:05 »

I seem to recall that, at the start of privatisation, there was a sudden panic about several of these links.  Somehow it had not been noticed that the parliamentary services, often Summer-only, that kept them notionally served had been withdrawn.  Indeed there was one such link in Yorkshire where the service had not been run and the track had been lifted. Or is my memory failing?
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