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Author Topic: Keeping an eye on Kenilworth  (Read 2494 times)
grahame
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« on: November 06, 2021, 10:47:08 pm »

From Christian Wolmar - the sad story of Kenilworth with unreliable service, a break during Covid and back up to just a two hourly service with all the limitations that has compared to hourly.
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« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2021, 11:02:32 pm »

Back to hourly from next month?
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« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2021, 09:57:30 am »

And now services suspended indefinitely.
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Train services between Leamington Spa, Nuneaton and Coventry have been suspended indefinitely.
West Midlands Trains said staff shortages meant it was unable to provide services until further notice.
From the BBC» (British Broadcasting Corporation - home page) https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-coventry-warwickshire-59781146
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« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2021, 10:21:14 am »

And there is the conundrum.  Is it better to remove the whole service from certain routes indefinitely temporarily so that passengers on that route know they're getting nothing (or a replacement bus, organised in advance), and staff resources can be allocated onto different routes?  Or is it better to run as many as you can, but need to cancel a significant percentage (10% or more) so that a service, albeit a patchy one, remains in place?

IMHO (in my humble opinion) the GWR (Great Western Railway) ones to shelve in winter are West Ealing to Greenford in the east, Liskeard to Looe in the West and, gulp, the Transwilts in the bit in the middle.
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« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2021, 10:49:26 am »

And there is the conundrum.  Is it better to remove the whole service from certain routes indefinitely temporarily so that passengers on that route know they're getting nothing (or a replacement bus, organised in advance), and staff resources can be allocated onto different routes?  Or is it better to run as many as you can, but need to cancel a significant percentage (10% or more) so that a service, albeit a patchy one, remains in place?

IMHO (in my humble opinion) the GWR (Great Western Railway) ones to shelve in winter are West Ealing to Greenford in the east, Liskeard to Looe in the West and, gulp, the Transwilts in the bit in the middle.

............I hope you're hiding behind the sofa!  Smiley
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grahame
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« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2021, 11:26:08 am »

And there is the conundrum.  Is it better to remove the whole service from certain routes indefinitely temporarily so that passengers on that route know they're getting nothing (or a replacement bus, organised in advance), and staff resources can be allocated onto different routes?  Or is it better to run as many as you can, but need to cancel a significant percentage (10% or more) so that a service, albeit a patchy one, remains in place?

IMHO (in my humble opinion) the GWR (Great Western Railway) ones to shelve in winter are West Ealing to Greenford in the east, Liskeard to Looe in the West and, gulp, the Transwilts in the bit in the middle.

............I hope you're hiding behind the sofa!  Smiley

Yeah, yeah ...

You choose three very different examples there, IndustryInsider ... one on which the summer traffic is many times the winter traffic, one of which is within an urban area where for the most part there's a network of practical alternative fall back routes, and one which is neither of those.
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« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2021, 11:45:19 am »

Three very different routes, but I chose what I think are the most suitable GWR (Great Western Railway) route in each area for a problem that is more likely to resurface over winters to come - though hopefully it won't.

The parallels with the Leamington to Nuneaton route via Kenilworth and the TransWilts via Melksham are interesting. 

* You can still get from Leamington to Coventry by train, just as you can from Swindon to Chippenham or Westbury to Trowbridge.
* You can still get from Nuneaton to Coventry/Leamington by train changing at Rugby (and again at Coventry for Leamington Spa), just as you can from Westbury/Trowbridge to Chippenham/Swindon by changing at Bath.
* Which leaves Kenilworth and Melksham as islands in the middle where there's no alternative but a bus.  Both are similar in terms of population, Kenilworth a little bigger.

I take it the 'run as many as you can' option is preferred for the TransWilts?
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« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2021, 12:35:47 pm »

I’d tather have the certainty of knowing which I’m getting (and preferably in advance of the day of travel)

I go to Kenilworth quite a lot…..
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« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2021, 01:45:46 pm »

I take it the 'run as many as you can' option is preferred for the TransWilts?

Not necessarily - the preferred option, but already tried and failed, has been to prioritised trains key to passengers.  Taking Melksham times just because that's where I log, they are the 07:2x, 07:5x and 18:0x calls.

Here are the "priority train" stats:
The 18:0x call, so far this month, has failed to run on 5 days out of 22
The 07:2x has been scheduled 19 times and has always run (up to 20 minutes later, forgive, on one day)
The 07:5x call, so far this month, has failed to run on 4 days out of 21

Looking at some of the other services ...
The 21:xx call, so far this month, as failed to run on 8 days out of 24
The 05:xx has been scheduled and run on 18 days
The 19:1x has also been scheduled on 18 days but has failed to run on 6

I rather suspect a combination of:
a) Someone has some different priorities to the ones we were told
b) Some diagrams / staff and stock rotas and "fair weather" diagrams - they break if anything goes wrong and don't have any robustness factor in them
c) It's very easy if you're in 'control' and have a staffing problem at Westbury with a regional train arriving with no ongoing crew to "pull" the Swindon service to fill the gap.

So - having analysed, what might I look at?   I'm very wary indeed here to suggest anything, as all that does is set a lower hurdle below what is already a separately thing service.  However ...
1. Round trips, single dedicated crew, morning peak through to early "off peak", prioritised
2. Daytime Frome to Chippenham bus, which already calls close to Trowbridge Station, to call at Melksham Station and Chippenham Station too, and accept train tickets
2a. Trains through the middle of the day to be run when staff available, with a view to being permanently restored once staff shortages are overcome (and genuine efforts to be made to have enough drivers and conductors for this to actually happen)
3. Round trips, single dedicated crew, from after-school time to mid evening
4. Afternoon/ evening  bus services from Bath via Melksham to accept rail tickets to Melksham and call at the top of Station Approach.

Above saves around a third of crew when middle of day trains don't run ... carries what are currently main flows by rail, has a solid fallback when they don't.   Exact timings to be worked out, but I give you (? 05:15), 07:15 and 09:15, then 14:15, 16:45 and 19:15 round trips from Westbury, 55 minutes later from Swindon, would seem to make sense.

Local solution .. and would almost certainly need adjustment with other services also being tailored in this sort of way. 





« Last Edit: December 27, 2021, 02:26:28 pm by grahame » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2021, 02:39:50 pm »

Not necessarily - the preferred option, but already tried and failed, has been to prioritised trains key to passengers.

Taking Melksham times just because that's where I log, they are the 07:2x, 07:5x and 18:0x calls.

Here are the "priority train" stats:
The 18:0x call, so far this month, has failed to run on 5 days out of 22
The 07:2x has been scheduled 19 times and has always run (up to 20 minutes later, forgive, on one day)
The 07:5x call, so far this month, has failed to run on 4 days out of 21

Looking at some of the other services ...
The 21:xx call, so far this month, as failed to run on 8 days out of 24
The 05:xx has been scheduled and run on 18 days
The 19:1x has also been scheduled on 18 days but has failed to run on 6

I rather suspect a combination of:
a) Someone has some different priorities to the ones we were told
b) Some diagrams / staff and stock rotas and "fair weather" diagrams - they break if anything goes wrong and don't have any robustness factor in them
c) It's very easy if you're in 'control' and have a staffing problem at Westbury with a regional train arriving with no ongoing crew to "pull" the Swindon service to fill the gap.

I always thought the priority trains pledge was probably rather a hollow one.  The three priority trains all run at a time when other routes have busier (read 'priority') and more frequent trains as well.  Therefore your supply of crew and trains is already stretched covering those other routes just as much, if not more, than at off-peak times.

Regarding c) above: That, I'm afraid, would usually be the right decision - as well as being the 'easiest' one.
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grahame
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« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2021, 03:37:21 pm »

Regarding c) above: That, I'm afraid, would usually be the right decision - as well as being the 'easiest' one.

In the immediacy of the crisis of a missing / crew, yes, it could be.  But really it should never (or hardly ever) get into that state on the day.
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« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2021, 06:10:35 pm »

There is a particular issue with the 17:36 ex-Swindon when there are infrastructure problems.  Normally they would be overcome with pilot working on the single line.  However it coincides with a shift change for the Swindon Mobile Operations Manager who acts as the pilot.  Discussions have been ongoing to resolve the problem but so far without success.
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grahame
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« Reply #12 on: December 27, 2021, 06:53:24 pm »

There is a particular issue with the 17:36 ex-Swindon when there are infrastructure problems.  Normally they would be overcome with pilot working on the single line.  However it coincides with a shift change for the Swindon Mobile Operations Manager who acts as the pilot.  Discussions have been ongoing to resolve the problem but so far without success.

"They" need to do rather more than sort out MOM (Mobile Operations Manager) shifts though, don't they?  The majority of cancellations of that service so far this month have been to due to train crew shortage.  Or could a MOM not changing his/her shift double up as drive or train manager as well as being pilot?

If the line was working properly, no need for a MOM ... better sort out the problems with the infrastructure than have a sticky plaster to hand to deal with the symptom every time it recurs?
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« Reply #13 on: December 27, 2021, 07:02:05 pm »

There can be no comparison between Coventry- Kenilworth - Leamington and the TransWilts. The former has an excellent bus service (up to 6 buses per hour daytime) running late into the evening and also on Sunday daytime. The latter has, at best, 2 buses per hour (only 1 per hour on Saturdays) with nothing after about 1730 and no Sunday service and the bus does not serve Chippenham station most of the time or serve Westbury at all and does not stop very near to Melksham station.
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« Reply #14 on: December 27, 2021, 10:35:03 pm »

You’re certainly right to highlight the much better bus service, though it seems to be quite a slow 35-40 minutes from Kenilworth to Coventry station. 

7-8 minutes on the train.  Let’s hope they return soon.
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