Aberdeenshire Locals - Too much, too soon?

Discussion in 'Allocations, Diagrams & Timetables' started by Clansman, 10 Sep 2019.

  1. Clansman

    Clansman Established Member

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    Those who are regulars to the ScotRail HST thread will know of my love hate relationship with the Aberdeenshire locals that were introduced in 2018 to provide a regular hourly service between Montrose and Inverurie, calling all stations in between. This is obviously a welcome addition to Aberdeenshire, as the whole transport system desperatley needs a lift up into the 21st century for it's rail links, as well as the need to speed up journey times on express services down to the central belt. In other words, the local services kill 2 birds with one stone in this regard.

    But given the issues with the HSTs in Scotland, as most members will surely be aware of by now, has resulted in a time scale which has severly detrimented the amount of diesel rolling stock available. More 170s and 158s going off lease than HSTs working their services, and more HSTs breaking down than 170s and 158s ever did. The list goes on, but I won't exhaust them any more on here than what they currently have been for 3 years on the HST thread already!!

    Long story short, Scotland's intercity routes are facing a capacity crisis as a result of the shambles of a HST introduction. When pointing at where capacity can be allocated from elsewhere, no other services merrit the chop more than the Aberdeenshire locals. Anyone familiar with these services will be aware of a sizeable number of 40 minute turnbacks, multiple ECS runs, low patronage, and the high risk of central belt based staff getting caught up in Aberdeenshire during disruption.

    I posted this in the HST thread in relation to finding capacity to cover for the current shortfall in rolling stock and reliability/crew issues;

    What's everyone else's view on this? With the beauty of hindsight, whilst these local services are a wonderful thing, and certainly the rail revolution promised by ScotRail years ago, isn't it a bit too much and too soon to put priority over running these services while intercity services in Scotland are facing a capacity and reliability crisis, right across the board?

    Though this does seem like a familiar case of 'if they could, they would'. But then again, it's ScotRail we're talking about!
     
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  3. Wilts Wanderer

    Wilts Wanderer Established Member

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    Could always obtain a PRM derogation and snap up some of the off-lease 142s - a pair of those on an Aberdeen-Glasgow express would be just fine :D
     
  4. 47271

    47271 Established Member

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    It isn't just the inefficient use of stock, Stonehaven and Laurencekirk passengers have been up in arms about the loss of direct services.
     
  5. Clansman

    Clansman Established Member

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    Wasn't aware there were many hits. Which direct services took the hit when these new services started?
     
  6. 47271

    47271 Established Member

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    I can't answer your question directly but this is the piece from the P&J a couple of months ago.

    https://www.www.pressandjournal.co....nity-appeals-for-return-of-rail-services/amp/

     
  7. 158756

    158756 Member

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    I don't know what the timetable was before, but Laurencekirk must have lost all the services it had before, because it's now only served by the Montrose stopper. Stonehaven has regular services to Edinburgh but not Glasgow.
     
  8. Clansman

    Clansman Established Member

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    Just checked, and wow, never realised how much of a cull Laurencekirk has taken. 1 train a day to Glasgow and one to Perth. Both after 5pm.
     
  9. PG

    PG Member

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    The trouble is that although Laurencekirk is in Aberdeenshire the Mearns area has strong cross border links into Angus.

    The case of the blind person mentioned in the P&J who attends college in Arbroath is a good example of this. Prior to the reopening of Laurencekirk station in 2009 the bus services were such that residents could travel to destinations in the neighbouring county of Angus easier than they could to Aberdeen.

    Without wishing to cast aspertions I am of the opinion that the area should count its blessings and be thankful for the rail services it has. The majority of users since reopening have been Abeerdeen commuters. Any resident wishing to use any of the 4 daily HST sevices has had to accept that these services pass through Laurencekirk non-stop and that a change of train is required in order to access them, so why should services to Glasgow plus the non HST Edinburgh sevices be treated differently?

    If the station had purely been served since reopening by only local trains then I doubt there would be so much fuss - its only because residents perceive that they've had something taken away from them that they are up in arms about it now.

    The harsh reality is that the needs of Intercity travellers (who are won through rail competiting with alternative transport modes) take precedent over a settlement en-route which has, through a quirk of fate, enjoyed direct links to both the Scottish capital and its main rival for the past decade.
     
    Last edited: 12 Sep 2019
  10. RailWonderer

    RailWonderer Member

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    Why doesn’t Scotrail renew 170 and 158 leases instead of giving them up for older HSTs which unsurprisingly are less reliable?
    Also TPE has 22 185s off lease Scotrail seems the most likely place for them to go if capacity is needed.
     
  11. PHILIPE

    PHILIPE Established Member

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    The system doesn't work like that. Overall movements are controlled by the DFT and the TOCs have to do as they are told. Even though Scotrail have responsibility for Transport within Scotland, so if the units have to go to cross border they have to go.
     
  12. PeterC

    PeterC Established Member

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    I am still trying to work out how you would "detour" to Montrose if travelling to the Central Belt from Laurencekirk. My Scottish geography isn't very good but I am sure that you have to go through Montrose even if not changing trains.
     
  13. FelixtheCat

    FelixtheCat Established Member

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    A few problems with using 185s:
    • Less capacity than a 3 car 170
    • Cannot run at some higher speed differentials because of their mass (far too heavy)
     
  14. Stopper

    Stopper Member

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    Dunno why people are shocked that ScotRail are cutting useful direct intermediate links as they’ve been doing that for a couple of years now. Laurencekirk users shouldn’t expect many (if any) direct services to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth, but to not have any to Dundee and Arbroath is quite frankly ridiculous. ScotRail won’t listen though, so don’t bother.
     
  15. Kite159

    Kite159 Veteran Member

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    Am I right in thinking before the hourly stopper, Laurencekirk only was served mainly in the peaks with a few additional calls during off-peak hours, with overcrowded 170s heading to Glasgow/Edinburgh?

    Should long distance services call at every lamppost along the route?
     
  16. PG

    PG Member

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    I'd put the use of "detour" down to journalistic licence ie anything to jazz up a story.
    I guess if Dundee had a North facing bay platform it would have made more sense to use that as a southern terminus instead of Montrose.

    Or, slightly more controversial, use Laurencekirk itself as the southern terminus? It has a siding which could be used for stabling though with a revised timetable that might not even be required.
    If it did become the southern terminus for the Aberdeenshire local services that raises the possibly even more unpopular scenario of southbound connections having to be via Stonehaven or even Aberdeen!

    Kind of reminds me of the intermediate stations between London and Norwich... all supported Norwich-in-90... but they didn't realise that it would negatively affect their own service.
     
  17. FelixtheCat

    FelixtheCat Established Member

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    My guess is that Montrose is used as the southern terminus because of the single track between there and Usan. If one could double that section, there should be space for an Aberdeen to Dundee local service.
     
  18. Altnabreac

    Altnabreac Established Member

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    Exactly my understanding. There is a local service Arbroath - Dundee as well so in theory that could be extended to Montrose if capacity were available at Usan.

    However the question has to be asked would that actually be any better for the people of the Mearns? Southbound connections at Montrose are generally about 10 mins and northbound they are usually well under 15 minutes as well.

    By comparison the time penalties for travelling all the way to Glasgow or Edinburgh on the semi fast services that could likely be extended to Montrose would be greater than this so you'd be better changing to the fast services at Montrose anyway.

    I can see if you do a regular Laurencekirk - Arbroath journey the changes aren't ideal but the vast majority of journeys are going to be Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow and all 3 of these options are improved by the new service.
     
  19. 47271

    47271 Established Member

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    The underlying problem highlighted in the P&J piece is one of a lack of reliability exacerbated - as far as I can see - by the need to change trains at Montrose. So I think the complaining users would be okay with the changes if the service was being operated effectively? That's my interpretation anyway.
     
  20. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    At the moment it seems to me to be a lose-lose situation. If you don't run the locals then while you free up units, the passengers from those locals have to now fit onto the InterCity services and if you do run the locals then the InterCity services end up short-formed and without enough capacity for the longer-distance traffic as it were.

    It's not easy to strike a balance on this.
     
  21. Arctic Troll

    Arctic Troll Established Member

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    I doubt it, it seems to be mostly that they perceive that they've lost something. Laurencekirk, to be fair, has, and I'm surprised Stonehaven isn't a regular stop given the London expresses stop there.
     
  22. 47271

    47271 Established Member

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    Except that apparently the locals have very few people using them, and those who do are unhappy because they have to change, and often miss their connections because of poor reliability.

    As I recall the whole idea was to run the intercity services as HSTs and the locals as 158s. There's barely enough stock to run the long distance services as 170s right now, so surely that in itself is an argument to revert the timetable until such time as full resource is available?
     
  23. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    I thought the locals were to be the 170s freed up by the HSTs.
     
  24. Clansman

    Clansman Established Member

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    Most are 158s that have been freed up by the 385s in the central belt, and Dundee and Perth services from Edinburgh which are now primarily operated by 170s nowadays.
     
  25. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    Certainly they are presently predominantly 158s, I've seen that mentioned a few times, but if all things were going as planned - weren't they to be 170s?
     
  26. Clansman

    Clansman Established Member

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    I was under the assumption they were to be 158s, and most 158 operated routes around the Central Belt and Taysisde were to be 170s.
     
  27. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    Ah okay, I thought they were to be 170s.
     
  28. Clansman

    Clansman Established Member

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    The locals are lucky to have 20 people on them, except the peak time Stonehavens which ran before May, which used to fill a 170 and cause the booked refurb HST to Edinburgh to be full and standing as far as Montrose. Scrapping them and reverting to the pre May timings would be very welcome just now, for the sake of capacity while ScotRail still desperatley need it.

    Ideally there'd be the infrastructure capacity to support an Aberdeen-Glasgow local by the time everything's completed HST wise. Since there are more locals to compliment the HSTs across the entire Glasgow/Aberdeen and Edinburgh route, if Usan can be sorted then surely there's scope to join them all together and fill in the shortfalls that the new HST services currently causing an apparent uproar in from the mighty population of Laurencekirk.
     
  29. John Bishop

    John Bishop Member

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    I don’t think having a 170 over a 158 operating the locals is really the main issue here. Given the reported numbers using the service, a 158 seems the most appropriate traction for the moment.

    If we look at Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley Intercity services southbound, they don’t call at the surburban stations en route, passengers wishing to use this service need to get to either Central or Waverley to use it.
    I think the same should apply to Intercity services from Aberdeen providing the local services are maintained. It’s only 12 minutes or so from Laurenckirk to Montrose where passengers can transfer onto all stopping Intercity services there. I see no need for them to stop at Laurenckirk.
     

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