3tph on North Downs Line

Discussion in 'Allocations, Diagrams & Timetables' started by Barn, 18 Jan 2017.

  1. Barn

    Barn Established Member

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    I understand from the Great Western franchise agreement that the intended date for the additional train per hour on the North Downs Line between Gatwick and Reading was May 2017.

    Is this still the plan? Does it depend on the commissioning of the additional Redhill platform, and is this on schedule?
     
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  3. Deepgreen

    Deepgreen Established Member

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    I understood the running of the extra train was wholly dependent on Redhill's platform 0 being in use. This will not be the case by May this year, as site works only started in earnest a couple of months ago. NR's programme shows it to be completed by December 2017, indicating the introduction of the extra train from May 2018, not 2017.
     
  4. Wilts Wanderer

    Wilts Wanderer Member

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    I also believe there are some other infrastructure-related issues concerning the existing route and potential problems from increasing the number of trains using the line by approx 50%.
     
    Last edited: 18 Jan 2017
  5. Hophead

    Hophead Member

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    Presumably also a lack of released Network Turbo stock would have been a factor if the infrastructure had been completed?
     
  6. Clarence Yard

    Clarence Yard Member

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    No - it would have just slowed down the mod programme and transfer to Bristol.

    It's level crossing assessments that are the sticking point at the moment.
     
  7. JonathanH

    JonathanH Established Member

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    If level crossing issues are stopping this now then I can't see any way that is going to be overcome.

    Wokingham - there is technically an avoiding route (with low bridge) but a pretty busy road nevertheless

    North Camp - bypassed by a bridge - presumably not really an issue

    Ash - not a particularly major route - can't see how this has major congestion issues

    Between Shalford and Chilworth - road is fairly busy but can't see this has a major knock on issue if it is down more

    Chilworth - minor road crossing

    On climb up from Chilworth - not congestion issue

    Betchworth - road busy at peak times - can imagine that there are some concerns about this being down more

    Reigate - potential for congestion as Reigate Hill and town centre get congested when crossing down - cannot be bridged or diverted

    Trains currently (nearly) cross at Reigate and Wokingham - presumably difficult to timetable this at 3tph.

    Given Reigate issue would appear insurmountable will 3tph ever happen?
     
  8. MarkyT

    MarkyT Established Member

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    The new road layout around Wokingham must be much better than it used to be. There are traffic lights interlocked with the crossing at the remodelled junction on one side now with a filter lane so vehicles waiting for the gates to open the gates don't block other traffic running parallel with the railway. The previous road layout had a mini roundabout right next to the crossing causing widespread stoppage every time the crossing was closed for traffic.

    Reigate - potential for congestion as Reigate Hill and town centre get congested when crossing down - cannot be bridged or diverted

    There used to be additional Virgin Crosscountry trains on the route in some hours (were they every hour?) under the original Operation Princess timetables.
     
  9. Phil.

    Phil. Established Member

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    Princess was never hourly. There was more freight in days of yore though.
     
  10. Deepgreen

    Deepgreen Established Member

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    If 'level crossing assessment' means physical alterations are needed to road layouts, this will presumably not happen even in time for the May 2018 timetable, let alone any earlier. Road projects are being cancelled at a pace. The busy crossings at Betchworth and Reigate alone cannot be altered without huge surrounding earthworks taking place - decades away at best.

    When was this requirement known about, and why would the 3tph requirement have been written into the franchise agreement if it was not achievable owing to external infrastructure constraints?
     
    Last edited: 19 Jan 2017
  11. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    Can't there be a derivation if that is the right term? So agree something that otherwise wouldn't be allowed.
     
  12. pdeaves

    pdeaves Established Member

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    It's more to do with Network Rail's scoring/assessment system. If a risk score goes up (in this case, more trains throughout the whole day, so more opportunity for a collision), so 'something' must be done to bring the score down. This does not necessarily mean build bridges (though that is admittedly the ultimate intention where crossings can't be closed) but could be improve the protection at a crossing (e.g. 2 barriers to 4 barriers). Yes, there were more trains over some parts of the route in the past, but the scoring system looks at more than just a peak hour.
     
  13. Deepgreen

    Deepgreen Established Member

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    'Derogation'. Possibly, depending on the factors in each case.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    I don't see what could be done to the existing four-barrier crossings, but some two-barrier examples could be fitted with four, I imagine. Are there not many two-barrier crossings around the country where far more than a combined two-way 6tph (and at higher speeds) are encountered.

    Indeed, it could be argued that the less frequent the trains, the more blase the road users may become, possibly increasing risk, rather than the reverse.
     
  14. FenMan

    FenMan Member

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    I am astonished that this has only become a factor now. It ought to have been covered when the plan was first mooted, particularly as the Wokingham pinch-point is hardly an unknown issue.

    Someone must have dropped the ball. I just hope we're not going to see a re-run of the Heathrow Airtrack debacle.
     
  15. pdeaves

    pdeaves Established Member

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    I agree. Unfortunately the model does not seem to work that way. :(

    'FenMan':
    The level crossing model, or at least the seemingly heavy-handed approach from it, is quite new and is applied to all. It is causing hassles all over the place, some high profile, others not so much in the public eye.
     
  16. Deepgreen

    Deepgreen Established Member

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    The question may be if the percentage change (50%) in regular service is the trigger or the actual train numbers (2tph for both ways). As with any route, the line is subject to some small variation in train numbers (Belmond Pullman, NR, rare freight, etc.). I would have thought the common sense approach would be that line speed will not change so the risk/outcome of collision remains the same PER TRAIN, and the absolute number of trains remains very small. Aside from the equipping of two barrier crossings with four, there's virtually nothing to be done. The major crossings must surely be assumed to be safe now from a rail/road interaction viewpoint, excluding the risks associated with possible increased road congestion arising from more trains.
     
    Last edited: 19 Jan 2017
  17. MarkyT

    MarkyT Established Member

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    Changing from a 2-barrier to 4-barrier layout would produce a completely different type of crossing that would require new protecting signals, associated interlocking, considerably longer road closed time and either remote control with cctv monitoring or the new obstacle detector method with auto-lower. To accomplish all this would be fairly significant project if it is not already planned, and local road users at the sites concerned would not appreciate the additional road closed time for each train movement!
     
  18. TEW

    TEW Established Member

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    Although it's not set in stone this far ahead of time if you take a look in Open Train Times you can see changes to the North Downs timetable from May. Even if they don't come in in May it may provide an indication of what the extra trains will look like when introduced.
     
  19. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    The level crossing risk assessment model is complex. But in very approximate terms, a 50% increase in train service over a given time period leads to approximately a 50% increase in crossing risk.

    The changes in risk have to be assessed. All crossings are re-assessed every 3 years, and public highways every 18 months as a maximum interval. A significant service change requires a reassessment.

    If the risk score goes up then options to reduce the risk have to be assessed. There are plenty of low cost interventions that can help - changing signage, additional lights, minor changes to the road layout etc. Risk can be reduced by lowering linespeeds, and whilst not ideal it is often done.

    The assessments, mitigations proposed and decisions taken are recorded and signed off personally by an appropriately senior person. That is the person who is then on the hook with the BTP in the event of an incident. As you can imagine, it will be a brave person who accepts the increase in risk without mitigation.

    This issue on the North Downs line was identified many years ago, (as it was for increasing services to Kings Lynn) but funders have been hitherto reluctant to stump up the cash to solve...
     
  20. Wilts Wanderer

    Wilts Wanderer Member

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    Surely though if the DfT has specified 3tph in the GWR franchise agreement, then Network Rail stump up the cash from their own budget which is ultimately paid for by DfT grant. End of.
     
  21. Deepgreen

    Deepgreen Established Member

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    A further question is; given the failure to meet the franchise agreement to introduce a third tph from May 2017, where is the franchise agreement amendment that permits this? Is there a link, or has the failure simply been glossed over? Nothing would surprise me.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Indeed, and thanks for the note. However, are we really now in a position where a 3tph service is considered significantly more risky than 2?! I hark back to my point that the possible level of complacency engendered by less frequent trains may easily outweigh the actual risks of collision with a 1 tph service increase. I appreciate that the NDL may, or may not, see a speed reduction as risk mitigation, but my common sense antenna quivers a lot at this! I would also have hoped that the necessary mitigations would have been investigated when the service increase was mooted and set in franchise agreement stone (perhaps they are already known but unfunded), rather than apparently just drift on like this. Is there, I wonder, a parallel model that examines road traffic volumes and insists on speed reduction and/or expensive regime changes? My local example is the Betchworth level crossing, where the road traffic is now equivalent to a major 'A' road (it is a 'B' road) and has increased dramatically over the years, but with the 40mph speed limit having remained unchanged.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Indeed, but if the potentially high cost of changes (road layouts, re-signalling arising from full barrier crossings, etc.) permitting a train each way every 20 minutes or so is not met, apparently it will never happen! Such is our risk-obsessed world. I'm old-fashioned enough to think that if a car driver (which is what 99% of the vehicles using the small crossings on the NDL are) chooses to drive past red flashing lights then they take that risk on themselves and any resulting collision is almost certain to see the road vehicle destroyed and the train only crumpled slightly. Of course, vans and lorries MAY be involved (with the increased chance of serious train damage/injury), but the risk (again) must be absolutely tiny. Ho hum.
     
    Last edited: 20 Jan 2017
  22. tsr

    tsr Established Member

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    My understanding is that GWR are/were preparing diagrams for trains and crew - the latter in particular needing a bit of a boost for a reliable service - but they are unsure when the 3tph will now actually run.

    This has led to a nuisance with a situation of extra crews being proposed to be allocated to the route, but no agreements being reached regarding what they'll actually be doing...
     
  23. swt class 450

    swt class 450 Established Member

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    Is there any idea yet of the calling patterns of the trains once the three trains per hour in each direction is introduced? Will Betchworth / Dorking West / Gomshall / Chilworth finally get an hourly service?
     
  24. swt_passenger

    swt_passenger Veteran Member

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    Station calling requirements are in the franchise SLC2, section E, on pages 64 to 68:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploa...stern-service-level-commitment-2-22032015.pdf

    But if you want to try and translate that, (from the way lawyers have described it), into a timetable, then good luck.

    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---

    In the case of Wokingham, they might have to look at SWT's intended 4 tph all day as well, so the change may be 4 tph to 7 tph, even if they don't all start on the same day...
     
    Last edited: 20 Jan 2017
  25. Barn

    Barn Established Member

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    The new service could be the opposite - an even more limited stop service calling only at Reading, Wokingham, Guildford, Dorking Deepdene, Reigate, Redhill and Gatwick Airport (i.e. skipping North Camp and Blackwater).

    That would be compliant with the franchise agreement although GWR could presumably serve more stations so long as they are within the maximum journey time envelope.
     
  26. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    So was the changes in level cross requirements new legislation that was only thought of after the franchise was awarded?

    Will the idea simply now be kicked into the long grass and quietly forgotten about publicly or do they ac us let wish to resolve it in favour of running more trains?
     
    Last edited: 20 Jan 2017
  27. Barn

    Barn Established Member

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    Strangely the franchise was only let in 2015 because it was an interim direct award to the incumbent pending the next competition.

    Seems like a lot can go wrong in 2 years.
     
  28. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    The DfT pay for a steady state railway and certain specified improvements. If it's not specified, it's not in the budget.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    No - no new legislation in that respect
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    I'm afraid it's not like that, rightly or wrongly.

    Firstly, an increase from 2tph to 3tph (actually 4tph to 6tph across the crossing) is a 50% increase in risk. That is very significant. It can tip some crossings into the 'higher risk' category where extra mitigations must be applied.

    Secondly, I have never known an operator or prospective franchisee take into account level crossing mitigation when proposing a new service. It's not their problem (until they can't run the service, at which point they just blame NR).

    Thirdly, thesame risk model does take into account changes to road traffic. However, level crossing risk is entirely owned by NR, so if road traffic doubles, and the risk doubles, it is up to NR to sort it. It might not seem right, but that's how it is.

    A long time ago, in a job far, far away, I had to stop (or more correctly, postpone) a proposed service improvement as Level Crossing risk had not been considered. The line in question had scores of crossings, and there were incidents on them frequently (several times a year) many of which resulted in injuries to crossing users. Indeed the company had been in court on more than one occasion regarding these incidents. There was no funding from the operator or the service specifier to improve the level crossings. It was going to cost over £50k just to reassess them, let alone do any work. Why would I put the company and myself at further risk, and let the operator sit back and take all the credit and the extra revenue?
     
  29. Barn

    Barn Established Member

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    So if 3tph is not happening in the near future, and additional GTR services are also not happening without a third platform at Reigate, will the new £50m Platform 0 works at Redhill actually serve any useful purpose? Was that platform's business case dependent on improvements that will not happen?
     
    Last edited: 21 Jan 2017
  30. infobleep

    infobleep Established Member

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    So was it the case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing? I'm not sure how one can specify in a franchise for 3 trains per hour but then once awarded say it can't happen for safety reasons.

    Whilst saying it can't happen someone is building a third platform at Redhill, which is being built so that three trains per hour can run but three trains per hour can't run as there are safety issues.

    I hope that isn't a white elephant.

    Are Great Western Railway obliged by their franchise agreement to hire and train staff for the third service, even though it can't be run? If that is the case, can they claim compensation for it not being able to run?
     
  31. Minstral25

    Minstral25 Established Member

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    The issue needs some thought.

    It was always high risk putting three trains per hour in each direction through Reigate Level Crossing as the A217 is an exceptionally busy road - many people using it as an alternative from the M25 to Gatwick Airport or Crawley rather than M23. Currently it closes around twice an hour, in peak times it causes congestion all the way to the M25 (1.5 miles away) and right through Reigate town centre. Increasing this will inevitably cause additional disruption to local road users and also to the A25/A217 junction and there are no plans I am aware of to alleviate this risk.

    So perhaps the Reading - Gatwick services need to be the only through services at 2 per hour and remove the all stations service between Guildford and Redhill, but how does that leave the small stations at Betchworth, Dorking West, Gomshall, Chilworth and Shalford. Or does one Gatwick service do 2 extra stops and the other 3?
     

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