Express trains

Discussion in 'Allocations, Diagrams & Timetables' started by CaledonianBlue, 21 Jul 2019.

  1. CaledonianBlue

    CaledonianBlue Member

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    Partly inspired by the "what is inter city" and by a recent journey, my question is what significance, if any, does the Express label have these days?

    For example I see the ScotRail Express label is applied to seemingly any old service between Glasgow and Edinburgh that for example stop at most of the stops en route (Croy, Falkirk High. Polmont, Linlithgow, Haymarket; missing only three, Bishopbriggs, Lenzie, Edinburgh Park). Seems a bit more semi-fast than Express?

    I remember the 'good old days' when the fast trains between those cities stopped only at Falkirk High and Haymarket. More like an Express.

    I also recall the days when Euston-Glasgow stopped only at Preston, Carlisle and Motherwell (setting down only) - now that was a proper express and I can't help envying those days rather than the train stopping at all sorts of intermediate places, often filling up and crowding with local traffic between Warrington and Lancaster in particular.

    I know there must be operational and financial reasons for the above pattern but as a passenger can't help feeling short-changed, that they put in these new fast trains but then wilfully hamper them by stopping them too often.

    Nice to still do Edinburgh - Newcastle - York - London, with York-London non stop, that's more like it!
    (What are the the longest timetabled not stop runs these days?)

    Also Gatwick Express - nicely non stop.

    If Express means anything these days, what are the Express services worthy of the name, and why?
     
    Last edited: 21 Jul 2019
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  3. JonathanH

    JonathanH Established Member

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    At one time they only stopped at Haymarket. Fact is they are now timed as 42 minutes even with the extra stops which is a pretty good service and offers more fast services to more people.

    We have a better network and more journey opportunities as a result of modern stopping patterns.
     
  4. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    It used to alternate, the half-hourly service was one half-hour Haymarket only - 41 mins and the next half-hour was Falkirk High and Haymarket - 43 mins.

    That was from 1972 until at least 1980 by the late 1980s both services called at Falkirk High and each service called additionally at one of Polmont or Linlithgow taking the journey time out to 48 mins.
     
  5. hexagon789

    hexagon789 Established Member

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    Maybe they need a reminder of the past?

    post-6887-0-16146200-1429736606-1.png
     
  6. bionic

    bionic Member

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    Trans-Pennine Express call at far too many intermediate stations to warrant that name. Trans-Pennine Semi-Fast doesn't quite have the same ring to it though! :D
     
  7. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    This thread is already getting hung up about names just like the inter-city one. 'Express' is a marketing name on the modern commercial railway and has no definitive meaning. The railway is a mass transport undertaking with the (express :) ) purpose of moving people as effectively as possible. As Jonathan says above:
    We have a better network and more journey opportunities as a result of modern stopping patterns.
    Also, newer trains are better equipped for frequent stops with their improved braking and acceleration characteristics. Compare that with the sheer waste of energy, stopping and restarting HST trains!
     
  8. Tractor37

    Tractor37 Member

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    Welcome to this TransPennine Express service calling at all shacks between Leeds and Huddersfield or vice versa
     
  9. Mag_seven

    Mag_seven Established Member

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    In days gone by, "express" would signify a fast train with limited stops. The limited stops were required to maintain low journey times given the speed limits and traction available at that time. Today with faster line speeds and better acceleration the same journey times can be maintained with more stops. Thus today the term "express" has become mainly just a "marketing" or "PR" term. This is most noticeable on GWR where trains such as "The Cheltenham Spa Express" and the "Torbay Express" are no quicker than any other Paddington to Cheltenham or Paddington to Paignton service and they have the same number of stops.
     
  10. Wilts Wanderer

    Wilts Wanderer Established Member

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    Transpennine Express had a rather hollow ring to it when I travelled on a crush loaded 185 in the evening rush hour between Manchester and Preston a few years ago. Neither trans-Pennines nor express in nature!
     
  11. CaledonianBlue

    CaledonianBlue Member

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    Personally I don't see the thread as getting 'hung up' about names; I see that as part of the debate. Sure, Express could be just a marketing name with no meaning; and/or that we don't need old-style express trains because of acceleration and passenger loading. i welcome hearing such views; but they are not the only views.

    Surely there is also a case that we might have express trains that are actually like what the term used to mean, longer distances with fewer stops (HS2 anyone?).

    It's not as if they don't exist; presumably LNER and predecessors still see value in some trains only stopping twice between Edinburgh and London, and Gatwick Express made a virtue of their Express nature! (Despite being able to accelerate and decelerate at Clapham, Croydon)
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Djgr

    Djgr Member

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    Unfortunately there are lobbyists to stop Trans-Pennine Express at every blade of grass between Liverpool and Newcastle.
     
  13. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    Most mainlines have a selection of slow and faster services but apart from the examples mentioned: TPE is just a name for a regional operation, Gatwick express is a blatant con - a premium priced service that takes one minute less than a regular Southern train; generally the term 'Express' is hardly ever mentioned on the railway. Gone are the days when signalmen cleared the lines for the express of the day, touching their forelocks as they waved to the engine driver as he steamed past the windows of the signal box.
    The fastest trains in the UK are just part of normal services. Nobody calls Eurostars the 'Paris Express' or 'Brussels Express', even the SE class 395 trains are just treated as normal services. The railway has matured enough to just provide the mix of services that meet the needs of travellers, (or at least try to).
     
  14. CaledonianBlue

    CaledonianBlue Member

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    OK I agree the label Express seems to be so inconsistently used it may be meaningless. But if we temporarily forget the word Express (and the forelock-tugging signalmen)...

    I think its debatable that the modern railway provides a sufficient mix of slower and faster services on some of the routes mentioned. The West Coast route London - Glasgow seems to only have trains that operate like a regional stopping service between Warrington and Lancaster/Carlisle; the Glasgow-Edinburgh route seems to only have trains that stop at two or more intermediate 'commuter' stations. ('seems' = I have not read the timetables exhaustively). I'd say there is not a meaningful choice of faster and slower services on those routes.

    On the other hand, the Paris and Brussels Eurostars do not slow down to become regional stopping services as they pass through particular regions along the route.

    Even the fact that the Gatwick Express manages to extract a premium (for being non stop, perhaps?) may actually tell us something about customer preference, and you could say it's not a 'con' but actually part of the mature railways catering to needs of travellers, if people are prepared to pay for it. I'd say it's more of a con to call a Glasgow-Edinburgh train calling at 5 intermediate stations an 'express'.

    Perhaps my question could be recast as: why do some ('inter city') lines manage to offer a meaningful mix of faster and slower services, while others do not?
     
    Last edited: 23 Jul 2019
  15. JonathanH

    JonathanH Established Member

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    There is an argument that there should be a stopping train between Crewe and Preston (including via Newton-le-Willows). If things had been different in the late 90s maybe this would have been introduced but TPTB didn't want it to be operated with slam door rolling stock. More recently, London Midland weren't given running rights to Preston.

    This may not be the best use of capacity on this stretch of line. To date it has just made sense for Preston, Wigan, Warrington and Crewe to be linked by long distance trains using available capacity on them. Also, there isn't really a spare path or enough Pendolinos to give Warrington and Wigan a separate service to Euston from the Anglo-Scottish train so even with a stopping service over the route the 'fast' trains would still have to stop at both.

    Edinburgh Glasgow via Falkirk High is a great service even with the 'commuter' stops. There is no point running non stop between the two just for vanity purposes.

    Line capacity (especially where there are two instead of four tracks), demand, legacy of how they were operated under BR, efficiency.
     
    Last edited: 23 Jul 2019
  16. CaledonianBlue

    CaledonianBlue Member

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    Good answers, points taken and understood, thanks.

    Nevertheless as a passenger I look forward to the day an enterprising competitor offers a non stop Edinburgh to Glasgow option (maybe onward to Newcastle etc), and London-Preston-Carlisle-Glasgow (even just one a day, is it too much to ask?).
     
  17. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    It has become quite common to brand dedicated airport rail services with the name XXX Express, so Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted Express are following a widespread airport pattern.
    There's Arlanda Express for Stockholm and Leonardo Express for Rome Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino for instance, both premium operations paralleled by cheaper local services.
     
  18. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    Yes, I've been on the FCO express many time though not for a few years. At least that was non-stop to Termini, whereas the locals stopped at Ostiense as I recall. It was a different type of rolling stock though, - not like GatEx which is promoted from a bog standard Electrostar by means of red vinyls. GatEx is a stretch of imagination to call it by that name as its timing is to all extents the same as a regular service. I suppose visitors are ingorant of local travel options and business travellers don't care.
     
  19. Saperstein

    Saperstein Member

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    Gatwick Express was better in the days of the Loco Hauled Mark IV rake.

    Today it’s just a Southern service by any other name.

    Saperstein.
     
  20. Wilts Wanderer

    Wilts Wanderer Established Member

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    I think you’ll find it was air-con Mark II coaches.
     
  21. Saperstein

    Saperstein Member

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    Ah, OK thanks! But my point still stands.

    I mean, at the time the only other GTW - VIC services were CIG,VEP ect (421,423?).

    And along came better stock on Gatwick Express, blimey it even had a telephone!

    Today the only difference to me is the colour of the livery and maybe some cosmetic changes on board, oh and now it runs from Brighton.

    Saperstein.
     
  22. Peter C

    Peter C Established Member

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    The "Cathedrals Express" which runs (or definitely used to run) up the Cotswold Line a few years ago was called this in official announcements, posters, and online, but I haven't heard of it in a long while. Anyone care to shed light on this?

    -Peter
     
  23. swt_passenger

    swt_passenger Veteran Member

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    It’s still one of GWR’s “named trains” according to their website:
    https://www.gwr.com/about-us/meet-our-trains
    ...and is also highlighted in the route pdf timetable here:
    https://www.gwr.com/~/media/gwr/pdfs/timetables/2019/may/t6.pdf?la=en
     
  24. Peter C

    Peter C Established Member

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