3tph on North Downs Line

Minstral25

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Is your suggestion to make North Downs Line Peak tickets more expensive, or via London Peak tickets cheaper?
Neither. My point was the only thing that will drive people to use the North Downs 2tph fast from Reading specifically to Gatwick would be cheaper fares, which would not be good for the economics of the business case.

I see the North Downs as having a lot of potential when promoted as part of an East West route - linking Kent to Berkshire via Surrey and possible Sussex too and with a more local focus rather than just for a limited number of airport passengers.
 
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JamesRowden

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Neither. My point was the only thing that will drive people to use the North Downs 2tph fast from Reading specifically to Gatwick would be cheaper fares, which would not be good for the economics of the business case.

I see the North Downs as having a lot of potential when promoted as part of an East West route - linking Kent to Berkshire via Surrey and possible Sussex too and with a more local focus rather than just for a limited number of airport passengers.
The cheaper fares and simpler journey benefits of the North Downs Line already exist. Make the services more frequent / faster and that's the main downside of using the route gone.
 

Minstral25

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While there have been important flows into Reading and Guildford from the Blackwater Valley on the stopping services in the peaks, at almost all times of the daye, there is a clear preference for the faster trains on the route. I commuted from Reading to Reigate for twelve years, admittedly stopping in 2012. It was clear that east of Guildford, the Gatwick trains loaded substantially better than the ones which started at Redhill.

The numbers of people at Chilworth, Gomshall and Betchworth are not surpressed by the timetable. In the 3tph timetable, everything stopped at Guildford, Dorking Deepdene, Reigate and Redhill. Is the 'sneaking thought locally' around the idea that more people would use a service with more evenly spaced timing at the main stations?

Living in Reigate, if I want to travel to Reading or further west, I would prefer to do so on a train that takes 60 minutes rather than one which takes 80.

I don't think that recognises the kind of passengers who use this route off-peak. It isn't just Gatwick - my impression is that there is a fairly sizeable flow of long-distance leisure passengers from GWR destinations to places beyond Gatwick. Changing at Redhill isn't great (and is terrible when there are a lot of passengers with suitcases who need to use two lifts).
Passengers from smaller stations only have a train every 2 hours, that is not a convenient service and will inevitably supress potential passengers as cars would be easier than trying to time their trip around the rail service - I do not know if that is a lot or a few being supressed.

I too travel from Reigate to Reading a lot and concur with your thoughts. My point wasn't to scrap all fast services but that a 2ph local service with a third fast might be a more productive option. The great need is always the Reading to Gatwick flow but what about local flows, and does it need to be Gatwick that the fast goes too, perhaps it should go to Tonbridge/Maidstone and Ebbsfleet instead or even be extended from Gatwick to Brighton. So many options become possible if you are not focussed an 2tph for Reading to Gatwick passengers who have a fast alternative

Really? That is still 20 minutes longer and the fares via London are much more expensive.
As I corrected in my later post - it is about the same from Gatwick to Reading (85 minutes on both routes) and perhaps easier for longer distance travellers to go via London to Gatwick. I also said that fares were the main driver to North Downs and not the services which is not good for a business case. Even at 2tph it is beaten by number of services via Paddington which off-peak is effectively 4tph.


The (off-peak) journey time from Reading to Reigate is pretty much 60 minutes by car and 60 minutes by train. While the M25 has issues on the Surrey stretch clockwise in the morning and the M3 is busy towards its junction with the M25, I don't see what can really be done to make the route more competitive other than on the line of route. Putting more stops in won't help.

Even if we took the example of Dorking to Reigate which is a materially quicker journey on the train than on the A25, people appear not to be attracted to using the train over this kind of distance.
60 minutes from Reigate to Reading by car in the peak is not possible when the journey you are suggesting is likely to happen - I have been doing it for several years as office not close enough to a station to make rail useful and it takes 1 hr 20 minimum in morning and evening peaks.

That is teh main issue with Public transport as it assumes people live next to station and office which is rarely the case, so there is often 10 or 20 minutes at either end which makes public transport less useful. Now if we could find ways of alleviating that we would be onto a winner. I think the only answer is regular local buses to station removing any waiting time - hard and expensive to do.


The cheaper fares and simpler journey benefits of the North Downs Line already exist. Make the services more frequent / faster and that's the main downside of using the route gone.
It is still 4tph via Paddington, if you made North Downs 4tph to Gatwick there would be no room for any local service.

Reading to Gatwick (as a specific trip rather than service) is not best use for North Downs route in my opinion and that is the main point I am trying to make. Faster Guildford to Maidstone on North Downs as an example might be a lot better at removing cars from the roads and generating passenger traffic for rail.
 

Class 170101

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The 3tph is all about serving Gatwick, with key revenue from Dorking, Guildford, the Blackwater Valley and Reading. I agree that the Crossrail / Thameslink connection will alter the equation for passengers from Reading and further west, but it will still be longer, and I suspect more expensive. But that doesn’t change the equation for the majority of the traffic east of Reading.

It’s fair to say that the demand for Gatwick may not be so strong for the next few years.
For Reading passengers: Fast Train to Paddington (which many passengers will already be on) takes 25 minutes, Paddington to Farringdon 8 mins, and Farringdon to Gatwick 40 mins. Total travel 73 minutes plus 5 min for each transfer say 83 minutes total. Reading to Gatwick is 80 minutes on train plus 5 mins for transfer at Reading - 85 minutes. Not really a lot in it, especially when there will be a lot more services available via London even at 2tph RDG to GTW?

So maybe North Downs needs a new business case and making it the East/West connection for places just South of London may be it?? Dorking and Guildford/Blackwater Valley would still have good connections in this case. Would be good to know split of passenger numbers to understand the lines potential.
For direct trains to Gatwick and avoiding London I'd use the North Downs rather than travelling via London if I lived there. Moving a suitcase on the Underground can be challenging. The fares via the North Downs would also be cheaper than via London.

I would question the interchange times though whilst you might actually be albe to do it in five minutes NRES won't offer it. The fastest journey is via North Downs (79 mins) just doing a quick NRES checfk from Reading to Gatwick (assuming normal and not COVID timetable).
 

Minstral25

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For direct trains to Gatwick and avoiding London I'd use the North Downs rather than travelling via London if I lived there. Moving a suitcase on the Underground can be challenging. The fares via the North Downs would also be cheaper than via London.

I would question the interchange times though whilst you might actually be albe to do it in five minutes NRES won't offer it. The fastest journey is via North Downs (79 mins) just doing a quick NRES checfk from Reading to Gatwick (assuming normal and not COVID timetable).
Yes but when Crossrail is complete which these times are based upon, there will be step free access to all platforms and simple routes (this isn't getting down on Victoria/Bakerloo line discomfort but modern wide escalators). Even better the interchange at Old Oak in future years will make it even easier. There are also more trains via Paddington with Crossrail so waiting times could be less on that route.

There is viability today using North Downs for Reading to Gatwick but it is evaporating and if the business case for 2 tph Reading to Gatwick is all about getting people from Reading to Gatwick then that only works after Crossrail predicated on cheap fares. Which leads me to the unanswered question is Reading to Gatwick what the North Downs should have its entire timetable based upon and my conclusion is no.

What should the 3tph service become - my thought is that the fast trains should go to Tonbridge, Maidstone and possibly Ebbsfleet as there is much more traffic potential there than Gatwick from Reading.
 

JamesRowden

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It is still 4tph via Paddington, if you made North Downs 4tph to Gatwick there would be no room for any local service.
You don't need 4tph to fill the hole in Gatwick/Redhill to Reading journey opportunities, just the planned 3tph. It's the peak ticket price and simplicity which is the advantage of the North Downs (plus the off-peak ticket price if you split).

Reading to Gatwick (as a specific trip rather than service) is not best use for North Downs route in my opinion and that is the main point I am trying to make. Faster Guildford to Maidstone on North Downs as an example might be a lot better at removing cars from the roads and generating passenger traffic for rail.
That is an issue with the Redhill-Tonbridge and Tonbridge-Maidstone service level.
 

Class 170101

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Yes but when Crossrail is complete which these times are based upon, there will be step free access to all platforms and simple routes (this isn't getting down on Victoria/Bakerloo line discomfort but modern wide escalators). Even better the interchange at Old Oak in future years will make it even easier. There are also more trains via Paddington with Crossrail so waiting times could be less on that route.

There is viability today using North Downs for Reading to Gatwick but it is evaporating and if the business case for 2 tph Reading to Gatwick is all about getting people from Reading to Gatwick then that only works after Crossrail predicated on cheap fares. Which leads me to the unanswered question is Reading to Gatwick what the North Downs should have its entire timetable based upon and my conclusion is no.

What should the 3tph service become - my thought is that the fast trains should go to Tonbridge, Maidstone and possibly Ebbsfleet as there is much more traffic potential there than Gatwick from Reading.
Will still be one change at Reading for the North Downs route to Gatwick compared to two via Old Oak Common / Paddington and Farringdon as well as the cheaper fare via North Downs.
 

JonathanH

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My point wasn't to scrap all fast services but that a 2ph local service with a third fast might be a more productive option.
That is exactly what happens at peak times - the fast trains all become stoppers in the Blackwater Valley.

What should the 3tph service become - my thought is that the fast trains should go to Tonbridge, Maidstone and possibly Ebbsfleet as there is much more traffic potential there than Gatwick from Reading.
I think you defeat your own argument with that - the further east you run the trains at no better than 70 mph from Reading, the easier it is for the journey to be quicker via London. If Reading to Gatwick is better via Farringdon, Reading to Tonbridge or Reading to Maidstone is even more so.

Reading to Gatwick is a link that has been operational now for 40 years.

We perhaps need a speculative thread at this point (or to resurrect this one).
 

David Goddard

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How much cross Guildford traffic is there on the stopping trains? For example do people travel from Farnborough North to Redhill, or from Betchworth to Reading? Many opportunities for this line, many of which have been discussed earlier in this thread, some of which are more speculative, granted.

Like all enthusiasts who like to think outside the box I have my own thoughts which would go hand in hand with other, more major schemes to enhance connectivity and frequencies but this is not the place for these.
 

Bikeman78

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Living in Reigate, if I want to travel to Reading or further west, I would prefer to do so on a train that takes 60 minutes rather than one which takes 80.
I agree that people don't generally like going on stopping trains for long distances. In the 1980s the Gatwick to Reading train did not stop at Reigate. My late grandmother used to cycle to Redhill to catch the fast train there.
 

Wilts Wanderer

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I would question the interchange times though whilst you might actually be albe to do it in five minutes NRES won't offer it. The fastest journey is via North Downs (79 mins) just doing a quick NRES checfk from Reading to Gatwick (assuming normal and not COVID timetable).
Thats an interesting point - the official interchange time at Paddington is 15 mins. I wonder if this will remain the same for main line interchange with Crossrail?
 

infobleep

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There are 4 Thameslink trains per hour between Redhill and Gatwick so no great need for extension to Gatwick by GWR trains - probably adds 10-15 minutes max to journey time. And currently usage is probably very low.

Long term the whole link needs to be questioned when you can use Crossrail from Reading to Farringdon and then Thameslink to Gatwick will only take about 20 minutes longer - faster overall if you change at Paddington (which is where your fast service that you change from at Reading will continue to).

When I say questioned I mean changing the purpose from a Fast Reading to Gatwick link to a more regional connectivity basis to relieve the M25, which could mean a very different pattern of service from the 3tph plan.
I live in Guildford and semi regularly travel to Haywards Heath and back. The waiting time is usually more than 15 minutes. Today from Haywards Heath it was a 5 minute wait at Three Bridges and a 22 minute wair at Redhill. Alternatively if I wanted to only change once, I could have a 42 minute wait at Redhill. I appreciate it's a Sunday but people do travel on Sundays.

This Monday if one departs on 16:58 Haywards Heath to Guildford via Redhill, it includes a 4 minute wait at Three Bridges and a 31 minute wait at Redhill. You arrive at 18:40

In fact if you don't put in via Redhill, National Rail Enquiries recommend you get the 16:50 to Clapham Junction; then go up to Waterloo and then pick up a train from there, zooming back through Clapham Junction to arriving into Guildford at 18:35. I'm not certain if the double back is allowed bur as it saves 7 minutes, it is recommended!

Not everyone on thr North Downs Line has a starting or finishing destination of Gatwick Airport or Reading.

This wasn't the case when fast trains ran to Gatwick Airport! I'm not saying it was perfect but they didn't recommend traveling via Waterloo!
 

Minstral25

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I live in Guildford and semi regularly travel to Haywards Heath and back. The waiting time is usually more than 15 minutes. Today from Haywards Heath it was a 5 minute wait at Three Bridges and a 22 minute wair at Redhill. Alternatively if I wanted to only change once, I could have a 42 minute wait at Redhill. I appreciate it's a Sunday but people do travel on Sundays.

This Monday if one departs on 16:58 Haywards Heath to Guildford via Redhill, it includes a 4 minute wait at Three Bridges and a 31 minute wait at Redhill. You arrive at 18:40

In fact if you don't put in via Redhill, National Rail Enquiries recommend you get the 16:50 to Clapham Junction; then go up to Waterloo and then pick up a train from there, zooming back through Clapham Junction to arriving into Guildford at 18:35. I'm not certain if the double back is allowed bur as it saves 7 minutes, it is recommended!

Not everyone on thr North Downs Line has a starting or finishing destination of Gatwick Airport or Reading.

This wasn't the case when fast trains ran to Gatwick Airport! I'm not saying it was perfect but they didn't recommend traveling via Waterloo!
Today the Quarry line was shut for engineering works and the service was heavily reduced as usual at Redhill to allow the fast service through. No 9R's running at all so service between Gatwick and Redhill was hourly.

Normally between Redhill and Gatwick there are 4 trains per hour from Thameslink leaving at 18 and 12 minute gaps, in reverse direction arrive at 10 and 20 gaps. So you would not expect much more than a 15 minute wait either arriving or departing from Redhill. I do note the timing of many Reading arrivals at Redhill on the Covid Timetable just misses a Gatwick train and it is about 15 minutes to the next one. But going the other way the Peterborough train often has a cross-platform connection of about 3 minutes and the Bedford is only 13 minutes before the Reading departure some hours.

I do note NRE normally suggests via Clapham for Haywards Heath currently.
 

infobleep

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Today the Quarry line was shut for engineering works and the service was heavily reduced as usual at Redhill to allow the fast service through. No 9R's running at all so service between Gatwick and Redhill was hourly.

Normally between Redhill and Gatwick there are 4 trains per hour from Thameslink leaving at 18 and 12 minute gaps, in reverse direction arrive at 10 and 20 gaps. So you would not expect much more than a 15 minute wait either arriving or departing from Redhill. I do note the timing of many Reading arrivals at Redhill on the Covid Timetable just misses a Gatwick train and it is about 15 minutes to the next one. But going the other way the Peterborough train often has a cross-platform connection of about 3 minutes and the Bedford is only 13 minutes before the Reading departure some hours.

I do note NRE normally suggests via Clapham for Haywards Heath currently.
Indeed they do, which is more expensive and as I say, they even suggest doubling back via Waterloo currently if you depart at 1650.
 

Horizon22

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I didn't see it mentioned above but from 14th September there will be 4 additional round trips Monday to Friday with 3tph on Saturdays.
 

JonathanH

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Yes it would, but I suppose its preffered for a Saturday trial service that has a lot of conflicts on route before it becomes a SX service
Wasn't Saturday originally only going to be 2tph even long term? It remains quite possible that what is in the open data feed this far out is aspirational rather than what will actually happen.
 

Horizon22

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Wasn't Saturday originally only going to be 2tph even long term? It remains quite possible that what is in the open data feed this far out is aspirational rather than what will actually happen.
Well its 6 weeks out, but anyway that isn't where I got the details from.
 

infobleep

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So I take it these additional trains will run to Gatwick Airport?

Will we suddenly go from just 2 Reading to Gatwick Airport services on a Sunday and 1 Gatwick Airport to Reading service, to many more trains every day?
 

cle

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I agree that people don't generally like going on stopping trains for long distances. In the 1980s the Gatwick to Reading train did not stop at Reigate. My late grandmother used to cycle to Redhill to catch the fast train there.
I could see that any service which went beyond Reading (e.g. a Brighton to Oxford) could run fast Gatwick - Redhill - Guildford - Reading as a fast regional route. Wokingham and Reigate shouldn't be so controversial to skip. Shame the line itself isn't optimized to faster running, it might be quite useful!
 
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I could see that any service which went beyond Reading (e.g. a Brighton to Oxford) could run fast Gatwick - Redhill - Guildford - Reading as a fast regional route. Wokingham and Reigate shouldn't be so controversial to skip. Shame the line itself isn't optimized to faster running, it might be quite useful!
There is a 9.15 to Reading that is Reigate/Deepdene/Guildford/Wokingham/Reading it used to go through to Oxford about 10 years ago and was fast GFD-RDG
 

FenMan

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But as stated above, it isn’t. It’s about getting people from Dorking, Guildford, the Blackwater Valley and Reading to Gatwick.
I live on the NDL and change at Gatwick when travelling to Brighton and Lewes. Redhill is totally unsuitable for this purpose.
 

David Goddard

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I live on the NDL and change at Gatwick when travelling to Brighton and Lewes. Redhill is totally unsuitable for this purpose.
Same here when travelling from Reading, likewise when going to Eastbourne. There are no trains to Brighton or the East Coastway from Redhill, as they all run down the Quarry line
 

infobleep

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Same here when travelling from Reading, likewise when going to Eastbourne. There are no trains to Brighton or the East Coastway from Redhill, as they all run down the Quarry line
Eastbourne was always a problem as youf train would usually arrive into Gatwick Airport as the train to Eastbourne left, leading to a 30 minute wait for the next one. Going via Brighton wasn't any faster though.

In theory you could travel up part of thr Redhill line to London and back down again and still have time to catch the train to Eastbourne from Gatwick Airport.

Currently of course there are times of the day where they recommend travelling from Redhill to East Croydon and back down to Gatwick Airport on the quary line. It's not a permitted route of course.

That's more to do with a lack of trains to Gatwick Airport than three trains an hour not running.
 

FenMan

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Eastbourne was always a problem as youf train would usually arrive into Gatwick Airport as the train to Eastbourne left, leading to a 30 minute wait for the next one.
*cough* I've successfully made this extremely unofficial connection several times. But the argument being put forward is that Redhill is an adequate interchange for NDL passengers travelling south. It simply isn't.
 

JonathanH

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*cough* I've successfully made this extremely unofficial connection several times. But the argument being put forward is that Redhill is an adequate interchange for NDL passengers travelling south. It simply isn't.
...and never could be. Even if Redhill had a service to somewhere beyond Gatwick or Horsham, it could never have the range of destinations offered by running the North Downs trains through to Gatwick.

It also isn't set up for easy interchange given the stairs and one lift to each platform.
 
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