A few questions about Oxenholme (and the Windermere branch in general)

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Mintcake Maker

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Hi everyone, last week I saw the painters in at Oxenholme sprucing the place up a bit and was wondering if this was part of a rolling improvement off all stations or something specific to Oxenholme as the buffet on platform 2/3 has also been done up (new signage and bit of a change around inside)? (Not that I’m complaining :)).

This got me thinking, since VHF timetable means not every train stops at Oxenholme and most of the Windermere trains are a shuttle, would it be better to improve the facilities on Platform 2/3? The biggest bane for people is surely having to trek all the way around to the middle of Platform 1 to use the toilets, especially if you only have 5 minutes between connections and have a pushchair, wheelchair etc. I found some old photos of Oxenholme in the 60/70s on flickr however they don’t really show what buildings/facilities were available on Platform 2/3. Where there ever any toilets, bigger waiting room etc?

The reason I ask this is because it has been recently reported that Cumbria County Council (CCC) has announced a £7m fund to improve public transport and to reduce carbon emissions. So I was wondering why the heck are they not doing more to promote the use of the Windermere branch? In its current state it has the ability to move 2 full double decker busses from Kendal to Windermere an hour, if a passing loop was installed this would double (assuming the use of 185s). So my final 2 questions are:

1) If CCC were to spend some money improving the user experience on the Windermere branch what would you spend it (Say no more than £750k)? Better facilities at Oxenholme? Improve Kendal’s glorified bus shelter? I don’t think anything needs to be done at Windermere now; it’s in rather good shape along with Burneside and Staveley.

2) If CCC instead like the sound of a passing loop to improve frequency (subject to rolling stock of course) and improve the chance of electrification (2tph as opposed to the current 1tph) and are willing to stump up some money towards paying for it, along with some grant money from the EU and maybe DfT. How much would it cost to add a couple of hundred metres of passing loop and where would you place it? I assume you still need planning permission to redouble a section of track? That pretty much rules out anything past Plantation Bridge as that is in the LDNP planning area and it would take forever and a day to get through.
I was thinking the passing loop could be at Burneside station itself, slightly extend the current platform to comfortably fit a Cl185 build the passing loop along the straight section, relay the unprotected local level crossing at the south end of the current platform and buy a small strip of land that’s empty immediately opposite the current platform to form another platform. This passing loop position also avoids any potential clearance issues with old bridges found near Plantation Bridge and Staveley.

Sorry for the rather rambling odd collection of questions, it’s the first time I’ve ever started a forum thread on here (I mostly lurk and comment occasionally).
 
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The_Rail_WAy

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Ways of improving the Windermere banch:

(1) General improvement of facilities at Oxenholme, including a toilet on platform 2.
(2) A better connecting bus service at Oxnholme.
(3) Put gate on the crossing just after Burnside to stop that infuruating 5mph speed limit.
(4) Legnthen platforms at Burnside and Staveley - Ive seen so many people struggle to find the 'middle' carriage.
(5) Better facilities at Windermere, although its been upgraded recently some refreshments and a toilet where you dont have to ask for a code would be nice. This is Windermere after all - the 'gateway' to the Lakes.
(6) Put a run-round loop at the Windermere terminus to allow excursion services. The space is there to do it and Windermere ecursions will always be popular.
 

snail

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Better facilities at Windermere, although its been upgraded recently some refreshments and a toilet where you dont have to ask for a code would be nice.
I don't see the point - there is a Tea Room in the old station building (aka Booths supermarket) - which is miles better than its BR predecessor. :)
 

PaxVobiscum

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+1 for the Lakeland tearoom. Only been there a couple of times but has a very pleasant ambience and reasonable food.

Do I remember that it has a certain unusual feature in the Gentlemen's cloakroom?
 

The Planner

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Shed loads of cash for the odd kettle ? Unless the charter companies paid for the loop entirely then it stays on the back of the fag packet.
 

PaxVobiscum

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+1 for the Lakeland tearoom. Only been there a couple of times but has a very pleasant ambience and reasonable food.

Do I remember that it has a certain unusual feature in the Gentlemen's cloakroom?
Here we are - thanks to the wonders of modern technology, the 'unusual feature:
 

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Tomnick

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I don't know how easy it is to find a path for a top n tailed charter down the branch and straight back, but I'd imagine it'd be a lot harder to find a path for one that needs to spend time running round! No means of putting it 'inside' at the terminus under the existing signalling arrangements, and nowhere to hide the branch unit at Oxenholme either (unless it conveniently disappears to Manchester on a through service!)
 

Xenophon PCDGS

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You can still have a good day out with about 5-6 hours stay at Windermere due to the fact that First TPE run a direct service from Manchester Airport to Windermere about 0929 which couples up to a set to Blackpool, giving a six-coach set as far as Preston where they split... then there are two direct return services from Windermere to Manchester Airport in the 1700-1815 time slot.
 

Joseph_Locke

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Why don't you think bigger?

Here's one prepared about 160 years ago:

Come off northwards short at Staveley, up the Kentmere valley, tunnel under the reservoir and pass, down the valley past Bampton and rejoin the West Coast past Redhills. Much flatter gradients, no need to crawl round Hayfell, and a four-track west coast to boot.

No imagination, these youngsters ...
 

DynamicSpirit

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Ways of improving the Windermere banch:

(1) General improvement of facilities at Oxenholme, including a toilet on platform 2.
(2) A better connecting bus service at Oxnholme.
(3) Put gate on the crossing just after Burnside to stop that infuruating 5mph speed limit.
(4) Legnthen platforms at Burnside and Staveley - Ive seen so many people struggle to find the 'middle' carriage.
(5) Better facilities at Windermere, although its been upgraded recently some refreshments and a toilet where you dont have to ask for a code would be nice. This is Windermere after all - the 'gateway' to the Lakes.
(6) Put a run-round loop at the Windermere terminus to allow excursion services. The space is there to do it and Windermere ecursions will always be popular.
(7) Path to allow direct access to Windermere station from the village centre (through the Booths car park and down the bank - would be far quicker than the current route)
(8) New entrance to Kendal station from the Eastern end of the platform down to the main road the line goes over at that point (instead of the silly entrance at the end of a long cul de sac that it currently has). Along with
some better facilities at the station (indoor waiting room and ticket machine would be nice).
(9) Passing loop somewhere to allow more frequent services (would be essential if excursions trains are to be possible without disrupting current services).
(10) (Now we're getting more expensive)... Do something with the junction just south of Oxenholme to get rid of the speed limit southbound trains from Windermere face exiting Oxenholme (presumably because of needing to cross the main lines).
(11) Extension/re-routing to serve Bowness and Ambleside.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I don't see the point - there is a Tea Room in the old station building (aka Booths supermarket) - which is miles better than its BR predecessor. :)
Relies on having local knowledge though to know it's there, which most touristy-type visitors won't have.
 

VTPreston_Tez

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As has been recently mentioned:
(12) Rename Oxenholme Lake District 'Kendal South' and Kendal 'Kendal North' or something of the sort. I seem to recall a few complaints about it.
 

RichmondCommu

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As a keen fell walker of many years I try and head up to the Lakes three to four times a year. Given my skepticism about joined up transport thinking outside of the SE I will confess that all such journeys are made in the car braving the M40 / M6 on a Friday afternoon. However, regular bus services from Windermere to Coniston / Great Langdale and Grasmere connecting with trains from Oxenholme might make me think twice. Especially if these buses were backpack friendly and connected with the last train of the day.

And don't just stop at connections from Windermere. A similar service from the Cumbrian Coast line would be great for places like Wasdale and Ennerdale. And how about a similar service from Penrith to Keswick and beyond for the Northern Fells?

I appreciate that this maybe an impossible wish list but if we are serious about taking cars out of Lakeland we need to remember that many people travel far beyond Ambleside in pursuit of a few days in the hills. As always marketing is the key. Surely this is a better way of spending the funding available rather than a costly loop, although increasing train lengths /platforms would double capacity.
 

themiller

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If the Windermere branch is to be electrified, I assume that it will have to be operated by 4-car EMUs so platform extensions will be useful if the TOC is to avoid SDO although SDO would be cheaper.
 

Joseph_Locke

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If the Windermere branch is to be electrified, I assume that it will have to be operated by 4-car EMUs so platform extensions will be useful if the TOC is to avoid SDO although SDO would be cheaper.
Why assume 4-car? I appreciate that electrifying this one is quite a way off, but the likely candidates for the newly wired northwest are all cascades, which will include 323s by then (sorry, that sounded far too positive - I meant may possibly include if electification of OXW happens within the remaining lifetime of any current EMU).
 

philjo

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Ideally in addition to wiring the branch the 2nd platform at Windermere would be reinstated and able to accomodate pendolinos (Kendal platform also to be extended).
The 2 Euston-Lancaster services can then extend to terminate at Windermere calling at Oxenhollme, Kendal and Windermere. (they currently run into the siding at Carnforth anyway)
This would help to promote more travel to Windermere.
Current services can be stuffed with luggage especially on Friday afternoons.

There is a good cafe in Booths supermarket but I think the one in Lakeland is better (though it can get busy - but they have a pager system while queueing for tables so you can browse the store while waiting and the pager will let you know your table is now ready).
 

The Planner

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Being lazy and not checking when the Lancaster set returns, could you get the Pendo to Windermere, sit it for 30 mins and back to Lancaster in the same time the set does now ? if not then it causes a big imbalance.
 

Joseph_Locke

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Being lazy and not checking when the Lancaster set returns, could you get the Pendo to Windermere, sit it for 30 mins and back to Lancaster in the same time the set does now ? if not then it causes a big imbalance.
11-car Pendo to Windermere? You'd be able to get the whole population in it on the return!

More seriously, when HS2 strips the VHFs off West Coast, wouldn't the world be looking at a "medium" inter-urban unit for this kind of thing (e.g. 350)?

What is the patronage like Windermere to Euston? You'd need some good numbers.
 

MidnightFlyer

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I think there's a market from Windermere / Kendal to Euston, however probably not enough to justify an 11-car Pendolino or any massive rediagramming to fit it. Most of the rumours about this are usually from here, but I'm sure in the past it has been proposed for the spare WCML path to be used on a slow service to Lancaster, removing Warrington, Wigan and Lancaster from the Glasgow trains. As is sometimes the case on the VWC, if a Voyager had to be used due to a lack of a 390 (though I doubt this problem will exist as much with the new sets?), then I think there would be justification in extending some (particularly Friday) evening services from Lancaster-Windermere. It is a very popular area, usually for weekend holiday makers, but also with tourists, the latter seems to generate sizeable traffic at Oxenholme from most London trains every day of the week - usually Japanese / Chinese students (I always thought this was because Beatrice Potter was a massive part of English language learning / study over there!).
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
As has been recently mentioned:
(12) Rename Oxenholme Lake District 'Kendal South' and Kendal 'Kendal North' or something of the sort. I seem to recall a few complaints about it.
I'd go for Oxenholme to 'Kendal Main Line' and Kendal to 'Kendal Town' or similar - I think the 'North' would be quite misleading! Yes, the complaints were from here I recall, I don't really think that many people outside of RailUK Forums or Kendal have a problem with it!
 
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tbtc

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I think there would be justification in extending some (particularly Friday) evening services from Lancaster-Windermere. It is a very popular area, usually for weekend holiday makers, but also with tourists, the latter seems to generate sizeable traffic at Oxenholme from most London trains every day of the week - usually Japanese / Chinese students
This is a problem that a few routes have. How do you provide capacity to suit tourist demand (mainly summer weekends) without overkill for the majority of the year?

At the moment a three coach 100mph 185 is overkill for the stand alone branch shuttle most of the time (lets not get into an argument about the 2007 timetable change...), but its going to be crammed. How do you solve that? Are there any routes nearby that can give up their stock at these times?

To go back to the Beeching thread, the railway isn't great at dealing with seasonal demand to seaside towns - totally uneconomic to keep stock "spare" for over forty weeks a year, not enough capacity to deal with all the tourists who want to go there during the school holiday "peak".

At least with lines that are dominated by commuters (e.g. some London area routes) the peak travellers travel enough times a year to justify the stock (even if the services are empty during the middle of the day).

(and if you can't justify enhancements for a few busy weekend services then its even harder to justify them for a handful of steam excursions a year)

To get back to the Windermere branch, if it's electrified then there's an easy future for it (with through trains to Manchester/ Liverpool etc). If not then it becomes harder to see easy improvements.
 

snail

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Being lazy and not checking when the Lancaster set returns, could you get the Pendo to Windermere, sit it for 30 mins and back to Lancaster in the same time the set does now ? if not then it causes a big imbalance.
No. The Lancaster terminators have 40 minutes from arrival to departure (eg 1230 EUS arrives 1500, return dep 1538), during which time they go to Carnforth sidings.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
However, regular bus services from Windermere to Coniston / Great Langdale and Grasmere connecting with trains from Oxenholme might make me think twice. Especially if these buses were backpack friendly and connected with the last train of the day.
There is an hourly bus service, the 555, between Windermere and Grasmere. It runs from Lancaster to Keswick most of the day including evenings. Windermere to Coniston isn't that direct a route, would it really be popular enough?
 

PR1Berske

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It's a problem that the railway system is so inflexible that the problems recognised above about Friday extensions etc. can't be considered. (Well that and the additional problems of diagrams and such.) Yes more real world realities colliding with problems in need of solution!

The Windermere branch could do well from what I'd loosely call "summer season" extensions, just to test the water. I'm sure a half dozen or so Euston services being extended across every weekend for 5 or so months would give a good indication of popularity and passenger uses - though taking out Warrington/Wigan would be a must, we've got those pesky Euston - Blackpool pipe-dreams to think about to remember :D:D
 

Joseph_Locke

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It's a problem that the railway system is so inflexible that the problems recognised above about Friday extensions etc. can't be considered. (Well that and the additional problems of diagrams and such.) Yes more real world realities colliding with problems in need of solution!

The Windermere branch could do well from what I'd loosely call "summer season" extensions, just to test the water. I'm sure a half dozen or so Euston services being extended across every weekend for 5 or so months would give a good indication of popularity and passenger uses - though taking out Warrington/Wigan would be a must, we've got those pesky Euston - Blackpool pipe-dreams to think about to remember :D:D
An absence of OLE is hardly the railway being inflexible, and your "water-testing" would involve route clearance for class 390s pan-down; not an overnight job (the north Wales coast is a case in point).

Also, where do you attach / stable / fuel / maintain the Thunderbird? Might not a 221 be better on such a diagram, if you can find one?
 

PR1Berske

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An absence of OLE is hardly the railway being inflexible, and your "water-testing" would involve route clearance for class 390s pan-down; not an overnight job (the north Wales coast is a case in point).

Also, where do you attach / stable / fuel / maintain the Thunderbird? Might not a 221 be better on such a diagram, if you can find one?
I am a "civilian", I can't possibly answer those questions!
 

DynamicSpirit

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Personally, if the Windermere branch requires a passing loop, I would build it at Kendal.
Out of interest why? Kendal is almost at one end of the line - wouldn't it be better built nearer the mid-point in order to have maximum impact on capacity?
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
This is a problem that a few routes have. How do you provide capacity to suit tourist demand (mainly summer weekends) without overkill for the majority of the year?
...
To get back to the Windermere branch, if it's electrified then there's an easy future for it (with through trains to Manchester/ Liverpool etc). If not then it becomes harder to see easy improvements.
Electrification would seem to make a lot of sense once Manchester-Wigan is done, since it's a relatively short stretch, and not electrifying it means either a lot of running a lot of diesel-under-wires or killing all the through trains to Preston/Manchester.

Personally I wouldn't say the current trains are overkill - when I've used the line (which has often been in the winter or midweek) trains have generally seemed well used (I do seem to recall reading that when the new trains were introduced, passenger numbers rose considerably, but I don't recall the source). On environmental grounds there do seem to me to be good grounds for upgrading, since (IMO) places like Windermere, Bowness and Ambleside are being all but ruined by the numbers of cars in them - so there's quite a need to get more visitors to use public transport instead. A passing loop to allow a half-hourly service would be great. The line runs parallel to quite a busy road that is used for commuting into Kendal, and it seems plausible that the current infrequent (and slow) service is suppressing demand.

One possibility that has often occurred to me would be opening new stations (or at Carnforth, re-opening platforms) so you could linking with better service further south. For example extending from Oxenholme to call at Carnforth, Hest Bank, Lancaster, Galgate (could serve Lancaster University and become a Parkway station for Lancaster), Garstang (tricky as the current railway doesn't go near the town, but a sizeable population centre), Broughton (parkway for north Preston) and Preston. Based on the population levels I would suspect there'd be easily enough patronage to supply a half-hourly service, though I don't know what pathing/capacity problems that would cause with the Virgin etc. trains on the main line. (No doubt someone with far more knowledge than I have will be along soon to explain why it's a silly idea ;) )

I'm intrigued by the suggestion a few people have made to run Pendolino's from London. I'm dubious though as I don't know what infrastructure changes would be required to accomodate such long trains (certainly you'd be looking at massive platform lengthenings), and I'm not sure that would be worth it for the sake of a couple of trains a day.
 
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PR1Berske

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There's no space at Broughton for a station, but I am sympathetic to a plan like yours

I can see, at some point Carnforth having its platforms on the main line AND a "Lancaster University Parkway" at Galgate.....but this maybe a topic for another thread ;)
 

Whistler40145

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The reason I mentioned Kendal as a passing loop is that it has a disused platform that could be easily re-instated, unless it isn't structurally safe?

A long loop would benefit Charter Trains & longer service trains. Also, my idea of a loop at Kendal would be bi-directional, so that any Charter Train could be held until a service train has cleared the section.

Alternative is to provide a double track section from Windermere to Staveley or Kendal with a single line through to Oxenholme?

Also, how could the connection to the WCML at Oxenholme be improved?



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