Average Speed of UK National Rail Trains

S_tudent

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Hi,

As part of a project I am doing, I need to know the average speed of trains in the UK. The distance travelled by the train would be short (i.e less than a five mile journey). I have been trying to find the average speed of trains between stations that are less than five miles apart, but the sources I've found have varied between 35 and 65 mph. I would appreciate it if anyone here knew where to find such information and could point me in the right direction.

If you state a speed, please can you tell me how you know this, as I will need to reference my sources. Thank you very much.

(apologies if this is not the usual style of questions on this forum - I was not sure where else to look)
 
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TheEdge

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You are looking for a number that doesn't really exist, distance between stations doesn't have any relevance on speed.

Couple of examples where I drive trains, Stowmarket to Needham Market is 3 miles but the linespeed is 100mph, Woodbridge to Melton is about a mile and a half but the linespeed is 15mph for most of it.

When you are asking for speeds do you mean linespeed (as in the maximum speed limit) in which case it'll vary between probably at its lowest 10-15mph up to 140mph on HS1 or achieved speeds in which case it'll be anything between 0 - 140mph.
 

hexagon789

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You are looking for a number that doesn't really exist, distance between stations doesn't have any relevance on speed.

Couple of examples where I drive trains, Stowmarket to Needham Market is 3 miles but the linespeed is 100mph, Woodbridge to Melton is about a mile and a half but the linespeed is 15mph for most of it.

When you are asking for speeds do you mean linespeed (as in the maximum speed limit) in which case it'll vary between probably at its lowest 10-15mph up to 140mph on HS1 or achieved speeds in which case it'll be anything between 0 - 140mph.
I think he means the speed trains average on the national rail network between stations.

Assuming that, it will vary hugely by route depend on a number of factors.
 

telstarbox

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S_tudent

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I think he means the speed trains average on the national rail network between stations.

Assuming that, it will vary hugely by route depend on a number of factors.
Yes you're right, I (she) was hoping for an average speed :) Or information on train speeds from which I can calculate an average. Thank you
 

S_tudent

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hexagon789

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samuelmorris

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Hi,

As part of a project I am doing, I need to know the average speed of trains in the UK. The distance travelled by the train would be short (i.e less than a five mile journey). I have been trying to find the average speed of trains between stations that are less than five miles apart, but the sources I've found have varied between 35 and 65 mph. I would appreciate it if anyone here knew where to find such information and could point me in the right direction.

If you state a speed, please can you tell me how you know this, as I will need to reference my sources. Thank you very much.

(apologies if this is not the usual style of questions on this forum - I was not sure where else to look)
By less than 5 miles - does that mean very nearly 5 miles? Stations that are extremely close together (e.g. 0.2 miles) will of course have very low average speeds.

Some of the best examples for you here (RTT will only offer you data +/- 15 seconds and since different stations can have their own clocks, for specific info like average speed, it isn't always that accurate. Good enough to tell if a train is on time, but not something I'd use for performance data.)

Tube:
Bermondsey - London Bridge (1.20 miles, 1m49s): 39.6mph average
Source:

Finchley Road - Wembley Park (4.50 miles, 6m02s): 44.8mph average
Source:

National:
Ingatestone - Shenfield (3.425 miles, 3m48s): 54.1mph average
Source:

Hitchin - Stevenage (4.36 miles, 4m40s): 56.1mph average
Source:
 

SteveM70

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I have been trying to find the average speed of trains between stations that are less than five miles apart, but the sources I've found have varied between 35 and 65 mph.
One of the problems of looking at such short journeys is that the impact of rounding to e nearest minute (or 15 seconds if you look at the working timetable rather than the public timetable) is obviously far greater than on a longer journey.
 

yorkie

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Hi,

As part of a project I am doing, I need to know the average speed of trains in the UK. The distance travelled by the train would be short (i.e less than a five mile journey). I have been trying to find the average speed of trains between stations that are less than five miles apart, but the sources I've found have varied between 35 and 65 mph. I would appreciate it if anyone here knew where to find such information and could point me in the right direction.

If you state a speed, please can you tell me how you know this, as I will need to reference my sources. Thank you very much.

(apologies if this is not the usual style of questions on this forum - I was not sure where else to look)
How do you define the distance e.g. is the distance from Peterborough to Leicester the distance as the crow flies, or the route the train takes, or the comparable route by road? Where a train is booked to take a longer route e.g. York to Doncaster via Knottingley, or York to Leeds via Castleford, would the longer route be used for this purpose?

Also do you measure the time taken for each train from origin to destination or do you count between stops only? For example a XC train might have around 15 minutes in Birmingham, 10 minutes at Derby, around 5 minutes at Sheffield, and around 5 minutes at Doncaster. If that train has come from Southampton and is going to Newcastle, would you simply take into account the departure time at Southampton and the arrival into Newcastle, or would you want to use the sum of the total time spent moving?

And finally, do you want to calculate the actual speeds or the timetabled speeds? For example York to Poppleton is scheduled for around half the time as Poppleton to York. In reality the journey time is typically exactly the same time.

Until the question is defined, it is difficult to even start to answer! ;)
 

Grannyjoans

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The average speed of the slowest all-stops stopping trains I know of.

23mph: Wigan to Manchester Victoria all stops via Hag Fold. 47 minutes, 18 miles.

20.4mph: Manchester Piccadilly to Hadfield. 42 minutes, 14 miles.

22.8mph: Manchester Piccadilly to New Mills Central. 31 minutes, 12 miles. But unlike the previous two, the ancient 14X and 15X Units struggle to even achieve this average as it is all uphill and the stops are rarely more than a mile apart...


Are these the slowest trains on the network ?


In comparison east to west TPE services average around 50-55mph and Virgin Manchester to London services average 85-90mph!
 
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hexagon789

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One of the problems of looking at such short journeys is that the impact of rounding to e nearest minute (or 15 seconds if you look at the working timetable rather than the public timetable) is obviously far greater than on a longer journey.
Personally I would use the working timetable as it reflects more what the traction is intended to run a schedule at as well as being more precise with timings.
 

Bevan Price

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The easiest solution would be to take a stopwatch and travel on a selection of trains near where you live.
There is no simple answer - it depends on gradients, curvature, speed restrictions, etc. Line speed** is often irrelevant for short distances - most trains will often not reach maximum permitted speed before it is time to apply the brakes. And some drivers approach stops more cautiously than others -- and weather conditions also influence braking techniques.

** - Unless the line speed limit is very low.
 

samuelmorris

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The average speed of the slowest all-stops stopping trains I know of.

23mph: Wigan to Manchester Victoria all stops via Hag Fold. 47 minutes, 18 miles.

20.4mph: Manchester Piccadilly to Hadfield. 42 minutes, 14 miles.

22.8mph: Manchester Piccadilly to New Mills Central. 31 minutes, 12 miles. But unlike the previous two, the ancient 14X and 15X Units struggle to even achieve this average as it is all uphill and the stops are rarely more than a mile apart...


Are these the slowest trains on the network ?


In comparison east to west TPE services average around 50-55mph and Virgin Manchester to London services average 85-90mph!
Stratford to Richmond on London Overground, 17.36 miles scheduled for 63 minutes, 16.5mph average. That's got to be a contender.
 

D6975

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Slowest yet, some Cathcart Circle services are timed at 30 mins for the 8.04 mile trip. 16.08mph average.
(10 station stops between leaving Central and arriving back again)
 

Tom

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On a weekday, the slowest scheduled passenger service on the network is 0535 Ryde St Johns Road to Ryde Pier Head which takes 7 minutes to cover 1 mile 19 chains. The slowest on the mainland network is the 2354 Cardiff Bay to Cardiff Central which takes 10 minutes to cover 1 miles 62 chains. The slowest regular service on the network is the West Ealing to Greenford shuttle which is timed to do 2 miles 40 chains at an average speed of 12.5mph.

The mainland service with the shortest average distance between stops, that calls at more than two places (i.e. more than the origin/destination), is also the Greenford shuttle with an average 40 chains between stops.
 

Confused52

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Hi,

As part of a project I am doing, I need to know the average speed of trains in the UK. The distance travelled by the train would be short (i.e less than a five mile journey). I have been trying to find the average speed of trains between stations that are less than five miles apart, but the sources I've found have varied between 35 and 65 mph. I would appreciate it if anyone here knew where to find such information and could point me in the right direction.

If you state a speed, please can you tell me how you know this, as I will need to reference my sources. Thank you very much.

(apologies if this is not the usual style of questions on this forum - I was not sure where else to look)
Can I suggest that you explain what you want to use the number to calculate. That way the forum members will have an idea of what basis the average you want should ne determined. Please also let them know if there are geographical constraints which apply to the way you want to use the results, for example outer London or Scotland, perhaps from or to a particular station or a particular class of journey such as commuter or school. In essence we probably need to know what thesis you are trying to prove, disprove or discover to help properly. This is, of course, repeating what Yorkie said in different words but he is nevertheless correct.
 

Grannyjoans

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Just for good measure, on the heritage scene it takes 55 minutes for a train on Bury ELR to get from Rawtenstall to Heywood. 12 miles. An average speed of just 13.09mph!
 

S_tudent

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Thanks to everyone who has replied so far!
I will look over all sources suggested, and explain further what I mean.

When trying to find an average speed between two stations, I will be incorporating stops. So for example if the train travelled a distance (along the tracks) of 10km, and stopped twice, so that the overall journey including stop times was 10 minutes, I would find the average speed using speed=distance/time from these two figures.

I hadn't thought about trains taking different routes from the same initial point to the same destination, I would probably work out the speed for both journeys and calculate a mean.

Overall, what I was hoping to find was an average speed for all journeys less than five miles along the tracks.

Essentially, I am trying to calculate the carbon emissions of various forms of transport to school. From the department for transports figures I know most children only travel on average 3.2 miles to school, which is why I am only trying to find average speeds for journeys of less than five miles (https://assets.publishing.service.g...ment_data/file/822089/nts-2018-factsheets.pdf). I have also found the average carbon conversion factor for train journeys in gCO2eq/km (equivalent grams of carbon dioxide emitted per kilometre), from DEFRAS 2019 carbon conversion factor spreadsheet. Since I am finding this value to include in a worksheet for children, I want to make the question as easy as possible for them to answer. So when I am asking them about their journey to school, I am not asking them the distance they travelled, as I feel most children, in particular younger children, will not know. Instead I am going to ask them how long they spent on the train (/bus/car/ walking). Hence the need for calculating an average speed for the trains!
I know the answer will be very approximate, and that it will have substantial uncertainty associated with it. But that isn't too big a problem provided when I write it up as part of my project I discuss this uncertainty :)

My constraint is currently UK.

I hope this helps, I really appreciate all the help so far! :) !!!!
 
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samuelmorris

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Thanks to everyone who has replied so far!
I will look over all sources suggested, and explain further what I mean.

When trying to find an average speed between two stations, I will be incorporating stops. So for example if the train travelled a distance (along the tracks) of 10km, and stopped twice, so that the overall journey including stop times was 10 minutes, I would find the average speed using speed=distance/time from these two figures.

I hadn't thought about trains taking different routes from the same initial point to the same destination, I would probably work out the speed for both journeys and calculate a mean.

Overall, what I was hoping to find was an average speed for all journeys less than five miles along the tracks.

Essentially, I am trying to calculate the carbon emissions of various forms of transport to school. From the department for transports figures I know most children only travel on average 3.2 miles to school, which is why I am only trying to find average speeds for journeys of less than five miles (https://assets.publishing.service.g...ment_data/file/822089/nts-2018-factsheets.pdf). I have also found the average carbon conversion factor for train journeys in gCO2eq/km (equivalent grams of carbon dioxide emitted per kilometre), from DEFRAS 2019 carbon conversion factor spreadsheet. Since I am finding this value to include in a worksheet for children, I want to make the question as easy as possible for them to answer. So when I am asking them about their journey to school, I am not asking them the distance they travelled, as I feel most children, in particular younger children, will not know. Instead I am going to ask them how long they spent on the train (/bus/car/ walking). Hence the need for calculating an average speed for the trains!
I know the answer will be very approximate, and that it will have substantial uncertainty associated with it. But that isn't too big a problem provided when I write it up as part of my project I discuss this uncertainty :)

My constraint is currently UK.

I hope this helps, I really appreciate all the help so far! :) !!!!
Thanks for the insight on why you're after this data - the problem I would have with your request is that the average journey for a child to get to school will presumably be a national figure - I would go as far as to say perhaps the majority of schoolchildren in the UK don't have the option of using rail to get to school as even if there is rail transport in their area it may be to go to other towns/cities rather than for local travel within the one they already live in/near to. Then there is also the fact that even if they did use the train, their journey from home to the station, and from the station to school, may constitute a fair part of those 3.2 miles.

For a personal case study, I lived (and still do live) 10 miles as the crow flies from the secondary school I attended. In the early days I used two buses to get home, latterly I used two trains and one of those buses, and then when I was older, just the two trains and a 30 minute walk (about 2 miles). - from Chelmsford to Brentwood, changing at Shenfield, if you're interested.

That constituted 11.5 miles by rail (track distance) and about 2.5 miles on foot and took, including waiting for the train, about 65 minutes. Back when I used the buses it was around 75-80 minutes total. Since so much of the journey was on-foot, the best average speed would have been 13mph if you took the total distance travelled, or only 9mph if you took the 'as the crow flies' distance, yet that train journey incorporated one of the examples I posted above, a service that covered 9.5 of those miles in less than 11 minutes.

In summary, the railway timetable actually has minimal impact for most people on whether trains make an effective transport method or not - for many, getting to/from the station and whether the services run at a suitable time is far more of an issue (and of course how reliable they are but my experience of buses was that they're considerably worse!). I'm fortunate to live in an area where train services are frequent. If you lived somewhere that only received an hourly service which either got you to school 30 minutes too early or 30 minutes too late, you would much prefer a different mode of transport.

With regard to carbon emissions, taking an average figure for time renders the issue largely meaningless. A 20 minute journey on the jubilee line shared with 1000 other people on the same train would have a very minimal carbon footprint. A 20 minute journey on a DMU with hardly anybody else aboard will have a huge carbon footprint, even if they cover a relatively similar distance. If you want accurate data, your best bet is to ask specifically which stations people use when they travel, rather than just how long they travel for. Suppose you asked me what method I used to get home from school and I said 'the train', then you asked me how long it took me and I said '65 minutes' - you'd attribute that to a huge journey, but in reality, I'm only on the move for 14 minutes on a railway line that's electrified, and spent the rest of that time walking, or waiting for a train. Compared to the stereotypical school run mum sitting in heavy urban traffic in an SUV to drive their kids to school, I think you'd get a disproportionate outcome for my carbon footprint versus theirs.
 

hwl

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With regard to carbon emissions, taking an average figure for time renders the issue largely meaningless. A 20 minute journey on the jubilee line shared with 1000 other people on the same train would have a very minimal carbon footprint. A 20 minute journey on a DMU with hardly anybody else aboard will have a huge carbon footprint, even if they cover a relatively similar distance. If you want accurate data, your best bet is to ask specifically which stations people use when they travel, rather than just how long they travel for. Suppose you asked me what method I used to get home from school and I said 'the train', then you asked me how long it took me and I said '65 minutes' - you'd attribute that to a huge journey, but in reality, I'm only on the move for 14 minutes on a railway line that's electrified, and spent the rest of that time walking, or waiting for a train. Compared to the stereotypical school run mum sitting in heavy urban traffic in an SUV to drive their kids to school, I think you'd get a disproportionate outcome for my carbon footprint versus theirs.
Agreed on the first bit, back in my school days those who took the train to school were typically doing 5+ miles on the train.

As regards to carbon emissions diesel vs electric will be a big difference as will passenger loading as you point out and it should also be borne in mind that NR traction electricity contract is baseload nuclear with minimal footprint.
 

43066

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You are looking for a number that doesn't really exist, distance between stations doesn't have any relevance on speed.

Couple of examples where I drive trains, Stowmarket to Needham Market is 3 miles but the linespeed is 100mph, Woodbridge to Melton is about a mile and a half but the linespeed is 15mph for most of it.

When you are asking for speeds do you mean linespeed (as in the maximum speed limit) in which case it'll vary between probably at its lowest 10-15mph up to 140mph on HS1 or achieved speeds in which case it'll be anything between 0 - 140mph.
To be pedantic line speed on HS1 is 186mph (possibly 200mph for E320 sets? Not sure whether they achieve that this side of the channel).

The fastest domestic journey by average speed in the U.K. is St Pancras - Ashford Intl. IIRC from a recent thread discussing speeds.
 
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hexagon789

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To be pedantic line speed on HS1 is 186mph (possibly 200mph for E320 sets? Not sure whether they achieve that this side of the channel).

The fastest domestic journey by average speed in the U.K. is St Pancras - Ashford Intl. IIRC from a recent thread discussing speeds.
HS1 is 230km/h max to Ebbsfleet, 300 beyond there. The e320s don't run at 320km/h anywhere, the maximum on all sections of LGVs they use is 300km/h.
 

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