“Scotlands best ever railway”

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by Mingulay, 21 Nov 2018.

  1. Mingulay

    Mingulay Member

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    this is the proud boast of Abellio Scotrail used frequently by them in the media and repeated by Alex Hynes and Transport Scotland at every opportunity.

    Is this a statement of fact or merely an aspiration ? If so on what basis is it made or is it just a meaningless slogan ?

    Given the E / G electrification and Stirling Dunblane seems to be the justification for this and it will remain to be seen if it is the transformation of the service we were all promised , it is only a central belt improvement.

    As Scotland’s railway extends beyond that area is this a misleading statement?

    Given my own commuting experience under Abellio is poor and potentially to become poorer , I think it is misleading. Some will feel otherwise I know . But from a purely geographical perspective with other parts of the country seeing no investment should a nationwide statement be made.

    I wonder what the advertising standards folks would make of it ?

    Leaving aside that , to make such a Trump like statement just serves as a lightning rod to your critics when reality in Scotland is far from the claim.

    Given every journey this week so far has been either overcrowded shortformed delayed or cancelled and usually a combination of more than one of the above. I am not minded to cut Scotrail any slack. To repeat this claim just serves to irritate and reinforce the nonsense of this tag line.
     
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  3. sprinterguy

    sprinterguy Established Member

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    The inter-city trains initiative that should bring refurbished HSTs to the Edinburgh/Glasgow - Aberdeen/Inverness long distance services, and the scenic trains initiative that's supposed to bring refurbished Sprinter units to the Glasgow & South Western, West Highland and Far North lines are also elements of this improvement, which are much further reaching than Central Belt electrification.
     
  4. Mingulay

    Mingulay Member

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    Noted thanks. So are you saying it’s merely an aspiration then when all of the above comes to pass after the delay of HST ? If recent history and experience comes to pass plans tend to unravel.

    For most customers the big issue I’d delays and cancelled trains . Refurbished trains soon become tatty they neglect.

    But again. Best ever compared to what ? When? And how measured. ?
     
  5. scotraildriver

    scotraildriver Member

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    There will be 13 trains an hour between Glasgow and Edinburgh- the most there's ever been. And almost all 6/7/8 coaches. The highest capacity ever.

    Rolling stock up to over 1000 vehicles- highest ever. 70 brand new 385s.
    All rolling stock refurbished/wifi/sockets etc.

    HST - if they work will dramatically increase standards throughout the country.

    Electrification is a huge investment. It allows all the diesels onto other routes to boost capacity - the borders railway will see a 33% capacity increase when 170s are used from December.
    The Shotts route has been neglected for years - now it's like a whole new railway.

    Highland mainline improvements at Aviemore/Pitlochry and others to increase capacity.

    Redoubling of Aberdeen to Inverness.

    Rebuilding of Queen St. New platforms at Edinburgh. Dundee station totally rebuilt. Perth to begin soon.

    There is more behind the scenes work as well. Certainly in my long time on the railway there have never been so many trains, services, investment etc. The problem has been it's all been a bit too late to keep up with the massive increase is passenger numbers over the last 15 years. I don't think anyone could have predicted numbers would double. There is certainly "more" of everything than ever before. Look back to the last days of BR in 1997 - a sad,neglected unreliable railway that no one used. No one can deny the railway in Scotland is light years ahead of what it was then.

    Its not perfect by any means, and there will always be winners and losers but for a small country I think our railways are getting a pretty good deal - it's just creaking at the moment due to unforseen issues like the 385s. Hitachi have been a huge disappointment to Scotrail. As have Wabtec. Had they delivered on time most issues today wouldn't be happening. I just hope it's all resolved before too many people lose faith and abandon the railway.
     
    Last edited: 21 Nov 2018
  6. sprinterguy

    sprinterguy Established Member

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    Yes, it's currently aspirational.
    ""Best" due to the cumulative impact of planned improvements in frequency, seating capacity, journey times, reliability, punctuality, catering provision and ticket accessibility. The Public Performance Measure (PPM) gives a quantifiable measure of punctuality, Miles per Technical Incident (MTIN) a quantifiable measure of fleet reliability, Passengers in excess of capacity (PiXC) a measure of crowding, and the National Passenger Survey a more general feel for passenger's perception of the service.

    I've had a look into the source of the quote "to build the best railway Scotland's ever had", and it's origin as far as I can tell is the Improvement Plan announced between Network Rail and Scotrail in March of this year. This is centered around 20 recommendations:
    Details of which can be found by following the link below:
     
  7. Journeyman

    Journeyman Established Member

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    At the moment it has to be said it feels rather hollow - the HST is conspicuous by its absence, and in the last couple of weeks there's been quite a few short-forms on the E&G. I have no idea whether ScotRail is going to be able to properly run its new timetable in a couple of weeks time.

    I think the slogan needs retiring, it just sounds a bit pathetic at the moment.
     
  8. sprinterguy

    sprinterguy Established Member

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    That doesn't tally with my recollections from that year of clean and well patronised pairs of class 156s on the West Highland line, and of bustling commuter trains in the form of modern class 158 units disgorging crowds of passengers at Edinburgh Waverley. There were certainly plenty of passengers using Scotrail services then, and passenger numbers were already on the up by 1997. Though I can certainly agree that "there is certainly "more" of everything than ever before" and that Scotland's railways have and continue to improve since then.
     
  9. scotraildriver

    scotraildriver Member

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    There were passengers, but half of what there are now. 2 trains per hour between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Imagine that now! And reliability was awful. I spent half my shift at the time trying to fix 158s.
     
  10. sprinterguy

    sprinterguy Established Member

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    Half of what there is now is still a lot more than "no one", though, even when intended as hyperbole. As only a casual observer back then I certainly defer to your experience "at the coal face" at the time, and I definitely agree that Edinburgh - Glasgow has come on leaps and bounds, when we're now looking towards a fifteen minute frequency of brand new 8-car electric trains.
     
  11. scotraildriver

    scotraildriver Member

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    The investment now was a pipe dream back then. I certainly would never have envisaged the E & G as it is now as we battled to keep the 158s going. A 2 train per hour service which was more often than not short formed as a 2 car 158 was actually just about sufficient most of the day. Nowadays that would be utter carnage!
     
  12. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    Surely it is a marketing statement and therefore an aspiration. Can such a state of affairs ever said to have been reached?
     
  13. sprinterguy

    sprinterguy Established Member

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    Yep, definitely couldn't see that working nowadays! o_O From (hopefully) 4-car 158s every half hour twenty years ago to (eventually) 8-car 385s every 15 minutes represents four times the capacity just on the main Edinburgh - Glasgow via Falkirk route, let alone the reopening of the Airdrie - Bathgate link and improvements to the Shotts line, and it's all certainly been needed!
     
  14. Mingulay

    Mingulay Member

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    You make some very fair and balanced observations there . As one of the losers you point out with the new timetable , I just feel very hoodwinked by all the hype that sustained us thru all the years off poor service and disruption with engineering works of a better commute at the end of it . When you commute 5 days a week that's about 12 hours min of your working week spent on a train . Its a big part of your daily strife and stress when its usually late , sometimes cancelled , frequently overcrowded, often unheated in the winter (158) it just grinds you down. So when some corporate body keeps telling you its going to be or is quicker , more frequent, longer , I don't recognize it . Yes the job for Dunblane is not finished and the new timetable yet to go live , but it certainly will be no quicker , certainly fewer in peak , some longer journeys with a change as well , it just does not match the expectation or billing .

    As an aspirational tag line its great, but it sets the bar high and so sets expectations high nationally beyond E/G .If you fall short , then it becomes a liability .

    Your right of course compared to the 90s things are much better , but many of those improvements were pre Abellio. Also for most commuters memories and comparisons are more likely to be over the last 8/10 years max, not 25 years . People often look back at the dim and distant with nostalgia more likely than with a critical eye.

    One area where I feel things are very much better is train crew who I think are very customer focused and with good humour connect with passengers when things go wrong , sympathetic and try to help .

    Accepting its a huge investment and new trains all welcome . If the journey times are no better or worse longer and the new trains get grubby and dirty , in no time, it will not feel a better railway at all for those who use it daily . Really wish passengers could use bins . We can all do our bit .
     
  15. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

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    It's hard to ignore @scotraildriver 's facts here - with all of the electrification and brand new EMUs, it's a big step forward on most lines (other than Fife) - if 2019 won't be the "best ever railway" in Scotland then I'm not sure when was - huge investments and improvements (but, y'know, the train from Dunblane to Edinburgh will leave a couple of minutes before seven come December rather than a couple of minutes after, and that counts for more with some people than millions of pounds of investment).

    If not now then when was it better?

    1997, when Edinburgh to Glasgow was just a half hourly 158 via Falkirk High (plus an hourly Shotts service that stopped at every lamppost other the Breich and a bi-hourly ECML service)?

    The days when there were generally only three trains per hour to Fife (one each way round the circle and one to Dundee/ Aberdeen) with 117s on peak services.

    No extensions Larkhall/ Tweedbank/ Alloa (or stations on existing lines at Dalgetty Bay/ Laurencekirk etc), a big gap from Airdrie to Bathgate... Dunbar was at the mercy of long distance services (with no "local" trains).

    And, since we are talking about "Scotland" rather than "Scotrail", just three trains a day down the ECML to Leeds/ Sheffield/ Birmingham, huge gaps in the service down the WCML to Manchester (which was run by 158s IIRC).

    Seriously - it's come a long way. Not every improvement was overnight (National Express deserve credit for a number of things) but... complaining about the latest set of improvements seems a bit unfair!
     
  16. Altnabreac

    Altnabreac Established Member

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    I can certainly remember commuting to Livingston North circa 2006 when the majority of trains were 2 car 158s with a frequency of 2tph and frequent cancellations or skip stopping. So none of these sort of reliability, crowding etc problems are new.

    Services on this route are now either 3 or 6 car EMUs with a 4tph frequency.

    Attempting to service the current number of passengers at Livingston North and Bathgate with a 2tph 2 car DMU service would be completely impossible. However it does have to be acknowledged that running those extra services will have an impact on journey times and reliability for other routes. Newbridge Junction is certainly busier. Life for the Linlithgow commuter may have got worse because of this.

    However you can't turn the clock back and try and run an old service pattern. Otherwise you end up moaning like David Spaven about journey times being the same on the E-G as they were in 1971. Well that's true David but in 1971 those services didn't have any conflicts at Newbridge Junction as there was no passenger service to Bathgate. Equally there were no stops at Croy, Falkirk or Linlithgow in the fast services.

    So do we turn back the clock to 2000 when Falkirk and Linlithgow had good services but Livingston didn't or do we turn back to 1971 when the E-G was fast (though infrequent) but intermediate stations were worse off?

    And in 5 years time the people from Gartcosh and Cumbernauld could well be saying "Do we turn the clock back to when we didn't have direct trains to Edinburgh?"

    None of which means we shouldn't keep demanding better. Bathgate reliability used to be dire because of the single track section from Newbridge. This is fixed now but single track at Milngavie and the junctions at Hyndland and Newbridge cause the issues. The solution is not to reduce frequencies down to 2tph on A-B but to build Almond Chord, redouble to Milngavie and rebuild Hyndland station.
     
  17. scotraildriver

    scotraildriver Member

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    I have to admit the removal of direct trains between Edin Park,Linlithgow and Polmont to Stirling is a bit odd but I do think it will help reliability and it will definitely mean a seat! There is hope that extending the Cumbernauld services to Edinburgh will stimulate Eastbound passengers from the likes of Stepps, Greenfaulds etc. Given the success when eastbound trains began stopping at Croy it might well be a good call. We'll need to see.
     
  18. Stopper

    Stopper Member

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    I think it depends how you take the statement. It may be “Scotland’s best ever railway” but it also certainly isn’t close to being good enough. I’ve said for ages that the E-G can’t be properly improved without the Almond Chord. There are many other things that need to be done too, but it may well be “Scotland’s best ever railway” currently.
     
  19. Mingulay

    Mingulay Member

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    Well despite the all the plaudits above. My commute today. Cancelled this am. 17.27 got stuck behind a failed train at Camelon, for about 25 mins and so the inevitable short stopping at Stirling to kick off the Dunblane and Bridge of Allen passengers to catch a delayed Glasgow train to arrive 40 mins late in Dunblane. I recall Alex Hynes had said short stopping was no longer to happen? So this week not a train on time or not overcrowded. What will tomorrow bring? The unloved Dunblane passengers plight continues !
     
  20. Stopper

    Stopper Member

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    Dunblane services have always been unreliable, they are absolute joke services. Electrification should have improved that but to counteract that they’ve decided to chuck a further 2tph between Edinburgh and Camelon.
     
  21. sprinterguy

    sprinterguy Established Member

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    He committed to the elimination of skip stopping, not terminating trains short of their destination, which in this instance presumably allowed the delayed unit to recover it's correct schedule on the return working so as to not inconvenience further passengers later in the evening.
     
  22. Mingulay

    Mingulay Member

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    Oh yes I get that , but in doing so further delay already delayed passengers .
     
  23. Highlandspring

    Highlandspring Established Member

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    So what do you suggest? Should the delay be allowed to spread throughout Scotland and carry on irrecoverably until it all resets itself at close of service, assuming of course there aren’t any units left out of place as a result?
     
  24. sprinterguy

    sprinterguy Established Member

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    Yeah it's unfortunate and frustrating if you're stuck in that position, particularly at this time of the year when the unexpected wait on the platform will inevitably be cold, but it reduces disruption to a greater number of passengers by ensuring that unit gets back in sync for the remainder of its diagram, avoiding further disruption to its own and surrounding services.

    I recognise that I'm really quite lucky in that any, very occasional, major late running usually sees trains turned around at my home station, although the flip side of that coin is that if the disruption is local then trains get diverted away by a different route entirely!
     
  25. Mingulay

    Mingulay Member

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    No , I accept it has to be done for that reason. But we are on occasion taken off a late running train at Stirling that is still there 30/45 mins later , dark and switched off. It did not go anywhere! Done for the night ?

    I would also suggest Stirling station staff try to take a leaf out of on board staff , who usually tell you when the next train is, if its on time and what platform . In contrast Stirling station staff seem totally indifferent to offloaded passengers , no announcement to offer assistance , not all passengers are regulars.

    Last year we were off loaded at Stirling . The station staff then made an announcement for us to board an Aberdeen train which will now also stop at B of A. Good work I thought , customer focused . We all got on . The guard then said he was not instructed to stop at B of A , so you need to get off , so we then had p@ssed off customers arguing with him he was wrong the station staff said it is now cleared to stop at B of A. He then took the huff and would not proceed till we all accepted he was in the right and made no offer to check out with the station staff . Just a shambles . He kept that Aberdeen train sat for 10 mins, delaying everyone, whist he took issue with everyone complaining to him . Not great ! So he no doubt caused delays for many approaching trains all of Scotrails own making .

    I think more can be done to mitigate the grind of skip stopping by station staff.

    Anyway , need to get used to it as new timetable will require a change at Stirling for us now on some trains which is dismal .
     
  26. Deepgreen

    Deepgreen Established Member

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    The thread title needs an apostrophe.
     
  27. Stopper

    Stopper Member

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    While EGIP has brought an improvement, for most of the E-G stations, it still isn’t enough. If the Almond Chord was completed, then we’d absolutely have Scotland’s best ever railway.
     
  28. Carntyne

    Carntyne Member

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    EGIP is still to come to fruition, with all Class 385 operation in December, then 8 car 385 operation next December and 42 mins on all/most journeys though.
     
  29. Stopper

    Stopper Member

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    7-car 385s and 8-car 365s still aren’t enough in peak times so I’m not sure an extra carriage will help. What I mean though is that EGIP was scaled back so much that it still isn’t providing every station with the necessary service. Almond Chord should be able to do that.
     
  30. Carntyne

    Carntyne Member

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    8 car 365 units are managing a peak quite alright, never mind the even longer 385 8 car units to come.
     
  31. snookertam

    snookertam Member

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    Is this all because there's a couple of less trains between Dunblane and Edinburgh during the morning/evening peaks?

    I think part of the problem is that Abellio/ScotRail are frequently making promises of 'Jam tomorrow' which aren't coming to fruition, at least not when they're promised. I've little doubt that the promised improvements will eventually happen, but if you're a passenger commuting daily on an unreliable route then I can get why this would be frustrating.

    As for the investment, isn't most of it from the Scottish Government/Transport Scotland? I thought it was them who procured the 385s and funded the EGIP electrification? The comparison with the state of things in 1997 could arguably be an example of how much better it is with having a devolved administration in Edinburgh taking to do with things.
     

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