Are modern trains faster than steam? Bolton to Manchester Vic

Discussion in 'Allocations, Diagrams & Timetables' started by Syllopsium, 13 Aug 2019.

  1. Syllopsium

    Syllopsium Member

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    Contentious headline, obviously the answer is yes. However..

    Some older friends in the pub were discussing that there used to be a Bolton to Manchester Express in the days of steam which took 18 minutes to get in. At the time it would be to a station that no longer exists, but the closest now would be Victoria.

    There seems to be no such thing as a train which goes directly from Bolton to a main Manchester station, or the reverse. Technically there is the Manchester Airport to Glasgow train, which calls at MAN, MCO, then BON to pickup only. The time between Manchester Piccadilly and Bolton is.. 18 minutes.

    So, over fifty years and no improvement despite all the electrification!

    However, that stops at an additional station, and the time at Bolton is obviously the departure time so straight away modern Diesel/Electric trains are faster.

    How much faster? How quick could a direct train be if someone wanted to run it?
     
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  3. Hadders

    Hadders Established Member

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    Don’t know how fast a train could technically go but bear in mind that the network is far, far more busier and congested than in the days of steam.
     
  4. The Planner

    The Planner Established Member

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    How much faster should it be? take out the Oxford Road stop and you could likely do it in 13½ or 14 minutes.
     
  5. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    Pre-Dec 2007, the old xx58 Virgin Cross Country departures from Piccadilly, if they got a clear route the whole through Salford Crescent ahead of the xx00 Victoria-Clitheroe, could be at Bolton at around xx12 or so....then wait time until xx24!

    Main changes Bolton-Manchester are:
    -"Fast" trains now generally go to Piccadilly (the Windsor Link didn't exist until 1988), which is physically further. Cross-Manchester journeys are now considerably faster, not requiring either the old Centreline bus or a squeal via Ashton Moss.
    -There are more frequent trains today (~8tph between Bolton and Manchester)
    -Salford Crescent station didn't exist.
     
  6. RLBH

    RLBH Member

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    Ah, but - how often were the steam trains? That's the big difference.

    If the steam-era service ran once an hour, you'd have to wait an average of 48 minutes from deciding to catch the next train to Bolton and arriving there. If the modern service runs six times an hour, then you only have to wait 23 minutes. Which is, in real terms, cutting the journey time in half without speeding the trains up at all!
     
  7. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    Withdrawing stops at Salford Crescent would be very unpopular, and would probably inhibit connections significantly. The service is better now because Salford Crescent station exists. There is a frequent service from Bolton via both Manchester Oxford Road and Manchester Victoria. There are probably a lot of ways the service could be improved, chiefly with longer trains and hopefully also nicer interiors. But faster journeys are probably not a priority.

    The service is significantly faster than the Metrolink service from Bury to Manchester City Centre. The latter has the overall advantage of being more frequent however, and dropping you off at a wider choice of more central locations.
     
  8. thenorthern

    thenorthern Established Member

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    Its not just speed, its easier to keep a constant speed with diesel and electric trains meaning they are more likely to be on time. Also the acceleration is much better on diesel and electric.
     
  9. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    Bolton does have the advantage of regular direct services to all of Piccadilly, Oxford Road, Deansgate, Salford Crescent, Salford Central and Victoria; not sure how you'd be able to get better than that; including the option of changing at Salford Crescent to pick up something else off the Atherton line bound for Victoria!

    There's a contingent of Boltonians who seem obsessed about getting Metrolink...without realising how slow it would be to Manchester!
     
  10. superkev

    superkev Established Member

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    Bradford to Man vic is currently 1 min faster than the 1965 timetable. 54 years of progress -- hmm.
    Preston Blackpool despite all that money incredibly still has a 70 overall limit so probably slower than Steam which could "crack on a bit"
    K
     
  11. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    How many intermediate station calls did you get for that journey time I wonder...
     
  12. al78

    al78 Established Member

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    That only applies if people turn up at the station without checking the timetable, aiming to get the next train whenever that is. If I am catching a train which is an hourly service, I don't just turn up at the station at a random time, but I turn up at the station about 10 minutes before a train is due after checking the timetable. No need to turn up and wait three quarters of an hour if you can choose when to arrive at the station.
     
  13. Chrisyd

    Chrisyd Member

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    Looking at this afternoon, service 2J20 is scheduled to leave Bolton at 1649 and arrives at Manchester Victoria (beyond Exchange!) at 1707, so 18 minutes plus you have the option to get off at Salford Crescent or Salford Central, which depending on where you are actually going in Manchester City Centre could mean a quicker door to door time!
     
    Last edited: 13 Aug 2019
  14. muddythefish

    muddythefish On Moderation

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    I don't think so. The railways around Bolton / Manchester were very busy with freight in steam days - one train after another or so it seemed to us spotters by the lineside. The railway seems very quiet by comparison these days.
     
  15. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    The equivalent station (I'm assuming the original was Exchange) would be Victoria. Fast trains seem to be booked in 18mins, or 19 if terminating at MCV, with two stops, so 14-15 mins would be the non-stop time.
     
  16. superkev

    superkev Established Member

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    I believe it stopped at Halifax and Rochdale. The current equiverlent stops additionally at Hebden Bridge and Littleborough.
    A retired fireman assures me Bradford Man vic was easily possible in 55min with a good Black 5 (current time 61min.)
    Perhaps we should order some of those. Bet it wouldn't take 2 years to get them working either. Progress!!
    K
     
  17. Justapunter

    Justapunter Member

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    The locos were always slow on that run. I used to try my best to get a 31, 37 or 47 rather than an old unit or a pacer/sprinter. The Manchester Blackpools were often locohauled, plus the Glasgows or the boat trains. 156s were an improvement when they arrived. But they weren’t really that high powered to accelerate well.

    But they were not quick. I used to have Lostock as my local station, and they really struggled to get any decent pace up. Even pre Salford Crescent, it was a trundle, not a dash. Usually slow pace from about the scrapyards on the way into Salford and and slow the other way from Farnworth through to Trinity street. They really rocked and rolled on the first generation DMUs.

    Even out past Lostock they rarely got a shift on towards Chorley.....

    And if you were on a 142, especially on the clitheroe route, you really didn’t want to be going much faster than that .....
     
  18. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    A Black 5 couldn't match the timing, and have the same intermediate stops as today, and meet modern dwell time requirements for power doors...
     
  19. chorleyjeff

    chorleyjeff Member

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    In steam days the lines in Lancashire were clogged with unfitted mineral and goods trains that made the money. Mostly the passenger trains worked around the non passenger trains. Railway traffic in industrial and mining areas was "far,far more busier" than now, but of course there are far more passengertrains ( albeit short ones )
     
  20. chorleyjeff

    chorleyjeff Member

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    My memory of Preston to Manchester and Blackpool trains in steam days was that they were pedestrian except for a few peak time commuter trains. A Black 5 had similar performance to a type 2 diesel which was OK once up to line speed and not uphill. Perhaps I should look up the relevant time tables.
     
  21. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    And lots of various bits of goods lines, loops, 4 tracking to accommodate them that now doesn't exist.
     
  22. chorleyjeff

    chorleyjeff Member

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    And how long did it take to enter, or often back into a siding or reverse onto the opposite way line,then drag an unfitted goods/mineral train on its way again ? What was the maximum permitted speed of an exhibition nfitted freight ?
    At Preston local goods traffic was suspended during the midweek peaks to get out of the way of passenger trains but not for the rest of the day. After all goods/mineral trains made most of the railway money in the North and Midlands and maybe elsewhere.
    It is fantasy to think that steam era passenger trains were fast. A very few passenger trains were in any way fast. The remainder sparse and not fast. Think of the typical farce that was the
    Preston to Southport trains that were 90 ton engines pulling the same weight of carriages but still progressing in a leisurely and infrequent way.Same for the East Lancs and Hellifield lines. And try getting from Liverpool to Preston during a weekday afternoon - I had to do it via Wigan and Chorley on three trains or wait for the teatime commuter train.
    Passenger trains give a much better service than in steam days and usually quicker.
     
  23. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    That's true, but a "turn up and go" service is an advantage to many people. No need to plan your day around the timetable, and if you get to Bolton station five minutes late then you're only 10min or so late into Manchester instead of an hour. The attractiveness of service is measured by something called "generalised journey time" which includes an average waiting time depending on frequency - a minute waiting is actually counted as more than a minute (if you see what I mean) because people are less happy and comfortable hanging around on the platform than if they were on the train and getting somewhere.

    The surviving route to Bolton was Lancashire and Yorkshire so I think it would have been Victoria. The LNWR had a route to Bolton branching off the Liverpool line and passing through Little Hulton, terminating at a different station to the south west whose name escapes me.
     
  24. Bevan Price

    Bevan Price Established Member

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    My fastest times (loco hauled) fom Manchester Victoria to Bolton are 14m 00s by a Class 47 (+5 coaches) and 14m 50s by a Black 5 (+6 coaches). In the opposite direction, my fastest is 12m. 01s by a Class 31.

    The LNWR route was from Manchester Exchange to Bolton Great Moor Street (Morrisons occupies much of the former station site at Bolton, after removal of the embankment / viaduct formerly carrying the station and approach lines.). Great Moor Street once had through portions to/from London Euston, but trains were mostly slower than the former L&YR route.
     
  25. RLBH

    RLBH Member

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    True-ish, I think. If the train service is infrequent, there's still more time elapsed between 'I need to go to Bolton' and getting on the train. Whether that time is spent at home, in the office, or at the station, it's still going to affect the attractiveness of rail travel.
     
  26. ac6000cw

    ac6000cw Established Member

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    Exactly - that's why the railway (where there is a big enough potential market to support it) has been moving for years towards more frequent services on a clockface timetable - a 'turn up and go' 4 tph with 3-car trains is much more attractive to potential passengers than 1 tph with 12-car trains.

    But yes, in steam days, train frequencies and speeds were probably much more variable than today - there were a small number of 'crack' trains on various routes, but I suspect that the running of those was actually disruptive to other traffic (but good for PR purposes, like the 'Cheltenham Flyer'), whereas the majority of passenger trains were somewhat more pedestrian to fit in with the general traffic flow and maximise overall line capacity.
     
  27. RLBH

    RLBH Member

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    Worth noting that high frequency services are more valuable over short distances. Using BR figures for journey time elasticity, going from 1tph to 4tph on a 1-hour trip would increase usage by 27% or so; the same improvement on a 15-minute trip would increase usage by about 79%. On a 4-hour trip, the same figure drops to just 8%.

    It's obvious, of course, that a turn-up-and-go service would be more beneficial on shorter journeys, but it's nice to have numbers.
     
  28. Llama

    Llama Member

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    Bradford to Manchester Victoria is possible in 45 minutes with the usual 'semi fast' stopping pattern (Halifax, Hebden Bridge, Todmorden, Rochdale) and any 158. There is quite a bit of padding in the timings on some services.

    The stunting of 'progress' is down to making the TOCs look punctual.
     
  29. RLBH

    RLBH Member

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    Reliability isn't just about the operator look good! Most passengers would rather have a 50 minute journey completed 3 minutes early, than a 45 minute one two minutes late, even though it takes 47 minutes in either case. The former gives a bit more margin for whatever they were going to do on arrival; the latter might lead to them missing something, or believing that they could miss it, and they're less likely to choose the train again.
     
  30. Llama

    Llama Member

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    True, but we are talking about a 45 minute journey which 'takes' 59 minutes with this route.
     
  31. Eric

    Eric On Moderation

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    I've noticed when using this line they the train (normally a 158) will arrive early at the stations and then be forced to wait 60-90 seconds to depart in time.

    Too much padding has been put in the Bradford to Man Vics.
     

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