3tph on North Downs Line

tornado

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Can't agree, I'm afraid. It's easily the most important station on the Surrey stretch between Reigate and Guildford and is well used (with ticket sales data being possibly misleading). As well as the town of Dorking itself, it offers an interchange with a north-south route and several bus routes. It's also doubtful if the faster journey would be of any real benefit given the apparent difficulty of fitting it into the paths en route.

The logic of missing out Dorking is that it is the smallest station on the new "very fast" train, and officially equal in users to North Camp and Blackwater which are skipped. But I take your point that unofficial numbers may be higher. In my experience seems to be mainly under 25s alighting there!

On diesel, It’s worse than the existing stock.

Uh-oh. That doesn't bode well for keeping the same timetable. It would have to be very strong on the 3rd rail sections to make up the difference.

One advantage not discussed much is interior noise. I do find the current stock a bit noisy as a passenger so hopefully the 769s will improve on that.
 
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JonathanH

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Uh-oh. That doesn't bode well for keeping the same timetable. It would have to be very strong on the 3rd rail sections to make up the difference.
Hasn't the 3tph timetable been specifically written around the performance of the 769s, not Turbos?
 

infobleep

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The logic of missing out Dorking is that it is the smallest station on the new "very fast" train, and officially equal in users to North Camp and Blackwater which are skipped. But I take your point that unofficial numbers may be higher. In my experience seems to be mainly under 25s alighting there!



Uh-oh. That doesn't bode well for keeping the same timetable. It would have to be very strong on the 3rd rail sections to make up the difference.

One advantage not discussed much is interior noise. I do find the current stock a bit noisy as a passenger so hopefully the 769s will improve on that.
How about increasing the number of services that stop at Dorking West, given that has step free access and Dorking Deepdene doesn't? A train every 2 hours for parts of the day is rubbish.
 

FenMan

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It won’t be the same timetable. It’s been rewritten for the 769s.

I don't see how it will change much. The layover for the stopper at Guildford, so the fast service can pass it, is a given. As are the paths between Wokingham and Reading that interweave with the Waterloo services. Which leaves the Redhill-Gatwick stretch. Despite several years' notice (!), and a new platform being successfully built at Redhill in the meantime for the very purpose of accommodating the extra service, where is NR on this? I'm smelling a basic, and fundamental, planning failure.
 

KT530

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Yes, coming from Reading the first slowdown was a little before Blackwater, and the second was almost immediately before North Camp.

Does anyone know about the acceleration performance of the new 769s? With so many stations on this route, if the stopper can get back up to speed more quickly, potentially that could provide small improvements across the timetable. Also would be interesting to know if the acceleration is better on diesel or electric.

Plenty of time between Wokingham and Guildford, so if the train reaches line speed it will invariably catch up with the stopper.

Signallers are also getting used to the new paths - the faster trains need the crossing lowered earlier. If North Camp LC isn’t lowered as the train passes Ash, then the train will lose 2 minutes on approach.

December 2019 timetable appeared to be 769 timings, but with Covid that’s now a distant memory until the timetable is recast again.
 

infobleep

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Plenty of time between Wokingham and Guildford, so if the train reaches line speed it will invariably catch up with the stopper.

Signallers are also getting used to the new paths - the faster trains need the crossing lowered earlier. If North Camp LC isn’t lowered as the train passes Ash, then the train will lose 2 minutes on approach.

December 2019 timetable appeared to be 769 timings, but with Covid that’s now a distant memory until the timetable is recast again.
So did they do a 769 timetable and then switch back to a timetable for turbos, abet with the stopping train still waiting at Guildford to be overtaken?
 

Clarence Yard

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I disagree. There are three DfT requirements that affect the ND route. Firstly there is the Thameslink programme, then there is the revised/additional services on the SWML and finally the North Downs 3TPH itself. One has been around for decades, the ND 3 TPH has been a DfT requirement since 2006 and the SWML has been around for 5 or so years.

Each has been taken forward by NR and the DfT as a discreet project, with no co-ordination in either organisation. This is not uncommon on the Network and leads to the TOC concerned and the local NR teams to muddle through with the DfT franchise "minders" prodding each TOC to comply as they see fit. NR HQ planning sit back as the intimate knowledge of the inter-actions do not sit with MK, so they just do their "part D" timetabling process stuff.

I suppose Regional Planning entities would solve all this and I can see why the likes of Andrew Haines see this as the way forward. If there is any case that would back up his alleged wishes, the ND 3 TPH saga is certainly the one to quote.

The 769 saga is just the icing on the cake.
 

Bald Rick

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There has definitely been coordination on them within NR. And various explanations of what the issues are, and wha the solutions should be. I’ll leave it there.
 

cle

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If Dorking was a proper interchange (same station complex / name / publicized as such on maps and journey planners) - it might work. Possibly useful as a feeder for the local villages, but then Redhill and Guildford will always have infinitely better services north and south. Unless you need Epsom or Wimbledon specifically (fasts from Guildford skip it) - or Horsham, but very slow frequency. If that line still had coastal services, I might agree with you. And Dorking as a town is a reasonable size, but either car-centric or dormitory in nature.

The fast should be similar to the old XC in pattern - and aim to run on to Oxford one day.
 

tornado

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If Dorking was a proper interchange (same station complex / name / publicized as such on maps and journey planners) - it might work. Possibly useful as a feeder for the local villages, but then Redhill and Guildford will always have infinitely better services north and south. Unless you need Epsom or Wimbledon specifically (fasts from Guildford skip it) - or Horsham, but very slow frequency. If that line still had coastal services, I might agree with you. And Dorking as a town is a reasonable size, but either car-centric or dormitory in nature.

The fast should be similar to the old XC in pattern - and aim to run on to Oxford one day.

The old XC only stopped at Guildford, and made Reading to Guildford in 32 mins, Guildford to Redhill in 28 mins, total 1 hour. This is only 2 minutes faster than the new fast train which also calls at Wokingham, Dorking, and Reigate. Although I guess a few improvements since 2004 might mean a modern Guildford-only would be a few minutes faster.

However, if you are travelling along the whole line there is something to be said for the feeling of not having to stop at the many smaller stations, even if the time saving is only a matter of a few minutes. I imagine, in particular, people going from Reading to Gatwick Airport would prefer not to stop at all!
 

Wilts Wanderer

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Just to clear this up, the 3tph timetable require some (but not much) modification to accommodate 769 diesel timings, which is fully agreed and in place from December. Whether it is modified or descoped in any way due to Covid remains to be seen, but the timings themselves are all in hand. Certainly no basic planning failure in this case.
 

tornado

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Just to clear this up, the 3tph timetable require some (but not much) modification to accommodate 769 diesel timings, which is fully agreed and in place from December. Whether it is modified or descoped in any way due to Covid remains to be seen, but the timings themselves are all in hand. Certainly no basic planning failure in this case.

From the sounds of it the new 769 timings might mean a tad slower service then currently? Would be interesting to see how GWR promote "new longer trains,....but slower than before"!
 

FenMan

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From the sounds of it the new 769 timings might mean a tad slower service then currently? Would be interesting to see how GWR promote "new longer trains,....but slower than before"!

It's all about a through journey to Gatwick for passengers interchanging at or starting from Reading. So the through journey time and frequency on the NDL to Gatwick needs to be competitive(ish) compared with an airport trip that involves the faff and cost of using the Underground from Paddington to Victoria/London Bridge.

NR have known about this for a very long time and yet, still, haven't done the necessary to do it. So, individual incompetence, a fundamental planning failure or hoping the clear directive from the DfT just goes away can be the only explanations. Which is it?

World-beating.
 

JN114

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The difference as I understand is low single figure minutes end to end. 769s are slightly slower than Turbos on diesel - being equivalent to a sprinter in performance by (and validated as such on the fairly steeply graded Rhymney line) - but the difference is hardly earth-shattering.

It’s going to need to “lose” 30 minutes or so before via Paddington and Victoria becomes quicker.
 

Yodiethedog

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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?

I'm assuming this requires the introduction of 769s on the route, which (don't quote me on this) I'm guessing have faster acceleration than turbos
 

Clarence Yard

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The work to accommodate 3TPH presumably is what Fenman is going on about.

The problem has not been entirely of NR’s making. The DfT specified both the Thameslink and SWR franchise competitions to include timetables that had other operators services at then current levels (not necessarily at the same times either!) but the GWR franchise had 3 TPH on the ND route. Every bid timetable gets a high level sign off at NR HQ but the franchise award timescales precluded NR taking a proper, detailed and co-ordinated look. It is a fault of how the process has been allowed to develop, not the individual players.

Until recent times it is fair to say that some key players at NR have been very lukewarm about the 3 TPH because of the effect on both the SWML and BML but the last couple of years has seen a real change of heart and some great progress has been made. Having both SWR and GWR under the same OG has helped immensely on the TOC side too.

The 769 units should have roughly the same performance characteristics as the 165/0 units when they operated on the route. Great on the stoppers, much better than the 165/1 or 166, but ever so slightly slower on the fasts. The theoretical times that are in the timing systems are thought to be a bit pessimistic but until a unit gets out there on the route and confirms what they actually can or cannot do, nobody really knows.
 

infobleep

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The work to accommodate 3TPH presumably is what Fenman is going on about.

The problem has not been entirely of NR’s making. The DfT specified both the Thameslink and SWR franchise competitions to include timetables that had other operators services at then current levels (not necessarily at the same times either!) but the GWR franchise had 3 TPH on the ND route. Every bid timetable gets a high level sign off at NR HQ but the franchise award timescales precluded NR taking a proper, detailed and co-ordinated look. It is a fault of how the process has been allowed to develop, not the individual players.

Until recent times it is fair to say that some key players at NR have been very lukewarm about the 3 TPH because of the effect on both the SWML and BML but the last couple of years has seen a real change of heart and some great progress has been made. Having both SWR and GWR under the same OG has helped immensely on the TOC side too.

The 769 units should have roughly the same performance characteristics as the 165/0 units when they operated on the route. Great on the stoppers, much better than the 165/1 or 166, but ever so slightly slower on the fasts. The theoretical times that are in the timing systems are thought to be a bit pessimistic but until a unit gets out there on the route and confirms what they actually can or cannot do, nobody really knows.
Yes it’s been quite fun seeing an M.D. of the TOC proposing the 3tph become the M.D. of the TOC that was firmly against it.
These posts make me feel it's what the people at the top want and those with view below don't count. I appreciate it may not actually be like that.
 

FenMan

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Done the necessary what?

Clearly, various issues have been highlighted up thread. The trial fasts in the current timetable need to be extended to Gatwick, preferably using 3rd rail when the 769s arrive. I'm yet to be convinced the long discussed issues regarding timetabling at Gatwick and availability of sufficient juice have been resolved.
 

Bald Rick

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Clearly, various issues have been highlighted up thread. The trial fasts in the current timetable need to be extended to Gatwick, preferably using 3rd rail when the 769s arrive. I'm yet to be convinced the long discussed issues regarding timetabling at Gatwick and availability of sufficient juice have been resolved.

The third train won’t be going to Gatwick until the work there is finished.
 

tornado

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Has any thought been given to coordinating the arrival/departure time of the 3rd train at Reading with onward GWR connections? e.g. Oxford, Bristol, Worcester etc.

It seems for some connections, going on the current Saturday timetable, it works perfectly, but for others it doesn't. Just a few minutes +/- adjustment of the 3rd train would make these work. Particularly the trains arriving at Reading seem badly timed.
 

JonathanH

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Has any thought been given to coordinating the arrival/departure time of the 3rd train at Reading with onward GWR connections? e.g. Oxford, Bristol, Worcester etc.

It seems for some connections, going on the current Saturday timetable, it works perfectly, but for others it doesn't. Just a few minutes +/- adjustment of the 3rd train would make these work. Particularly the trains arriving at Reading seem badly timed.
The main constraint appears to be the path available at the Gatwick end. They are effectively the pattern which has been established since the mid 1990s. In that time, the pathing of Oxford, Bristol, Worcester trains has all changed. Trains leave and arrive Reading for Western destinations throughout the hour so a bad connection from Bristol is a good connection from South Wales or the West Country etc.

I don't think the specific connections at Reading are foremost in the mind when planning the North Downs (or any other) timetable. There are too many other constraints.
 

Clarence Yard

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Exactly right. You arrive/depart from Reading from/to Gatwick when you can to get through all the constraints en route. It’s not an easy route to time trains on.
 

tornado

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Ok, seems fair enough.

Are the 3tph planned for Sundays as well? Not clear from the information so far.
 

JonathanH

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Ok, seems fair enough.

Are the 3tph planned for Sundays as well? Not clear from the information so far.
2tph timetable for Sundays is already in place and represented an uplift on what was run for about a decade previous.
 

Deepgreen

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If Dorking was a proper interchange (same station complex / name / publicized as such on maps and journey planners) - it might work. Possibly useful as a feeder for the local villages, but then Redhill and Guildford will always have infinitely better services north and south. Unless you need Epsom or Wimbledon specifically (fasts from Guildford skip it) - or Horsham, but very slow frequency. If that line still had coastal services, I might agree with you. And Dorking as a town is a reasonable size, but either car-centric or dormitory in nature.

The fast should be similar to the old XC in pattern - and aim to run on to Oxford one day.
It's not just Epsom or Wimbledon when heading north; it's Boxhill, Leatherhead, Ashtead, Epsom, then stations to Earlsfield, and stations to Balham on the Victoria side from Epsom. A lot of student traffic uses Deepdene. There is significant interchange (I used to do it in the company of many others often), but they will never warrant being called by the same name while the two stations are situated as they are (something like Bank/Monument but above ground). It's a few minutes' walk and screens at each show the other station's services as well as buses. Of course, DD is still a dump and very passenger-unfriendly.

Yes it’s been quite fun seeing an M.D. of the TOC proposing the 3tph become the M.D. of the TOC that was firmly against it.
It's almost as if better co-ordination to give improved passenger service can be achieved by unified management, rather than artificial competition. Surely not.
 
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