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Faster services - Food for thought

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Shrop

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Does anyone think there may be value in the provision of faster services on existing routes? If we presume for a moment that a way can be found around the capacity constraints of the lines, then we have the following. (Please don’t read this in the context of practical proposals as we don’t have the line capacity, however it’s food for thought and some of the points ought to be worth developing if we use lateral thinking rather than tunnel vision!)

All London to Birmingham trains presently have three intermediate stops, which we know cost around 5 minutes each, so the present 82 minute journey time could be below 70 minutes for a non stop train. Running just one in three trains (ie an hourly service) this way would be pretty attractive.

Alternatively, what about Southampton to Manchester? Every train has 15 intermediate stops, and even at just four minutes per stop (including slowing, dwell and speeding up times) this is worth an hour end to end. Suppose fast trains were to stop only at Birmingham and Oxford, this could offer a Manchester to Birmingham journey time of around 70 minutes instead of the present 90, Birmingham to Oxford in 55 minutes instead of 70, and avoiding Reading would be a real bonus for not having to reverse, and for pathing.

Similarly with Plymouth to Birmingham/Manchester/Leeds/Newcastle, where an hour or more could also be saved. It’s all very well having every train stopping at Totnes, Newton Abbott, Tiverton, Taunton, Bristol Parkway, Cheltenham etc, but how about stopping only at Exeter and Bristol TM? Longer distance passengers would be able to settle down and enjoy their faster journey instead of having to shuffle around every 15 minutes while others push past, often wanting seats where the reservation system has failed to work properly.

Finally, passengers travelling from London to South Wales used to be able to reach Wales (Newport) in 1h24m back in the 1970s, quicker than they can 45 years later after the huge electrification disruption and expense.

Fairly idealistic but largely impractical I acknowledge, but perhaps not all of it should be dismissed out of hand.
 
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Peterthegreat

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Does anyone think there may be value in the provision of faster services on existing routes? If we presume for a moment that a way can be found around the capacity constraints of the lines, then we have the following. (Please don’t read this in the context of practical proposals as we don’t have the line capacity, however it’s food for thought and some of the points ought to be worth developing if we use lateral thinking rather than tunnel vision!)

All London to Birmingham trains presently have three intermediate stops, which we know cost around 5 minutes each, so the present 82 minute journey time could be below 70 minutes for a non stop train. Running just one in three trains (ie an hourly service) this way would be pretty attractive.

Alternatively, what about Southampton to Manchester? Every train has 15 intermediate stops, and even at just four minutes per stop (including slowing, dwell and speeding up times) this is worth an hour end to end. Suppose fast trains were to stop only at Birmingham and Oxford, this could offer a Manchester to Birmingham journey time of around 70 minutes instead of the present 90, Birmingham to Oxford in 55 minutes instead of 70, and avoiding Reading would be a real bonus for not having to reverse, and for pathing.

Similarly with Plymouth to Birmingham/Manchester/Leeds/Newcastle, where an hour or more could also be saved. It’s all very well having every train stopping at Totnes, Newton Abbott, Tiverton, Taunton, Bristol Parkway, Cheltenham etc, but how about stopping only at Exeter and Bristol TM? Longer distance passengers would be able to settle down and enjoy their faster journey instead of having to shuffle around every 15 minutes while others push past, often wanting seats where the reservation system has failed to work properly.

Finally, passengers travelling from London to South Wales used to be able to reach Wales (Newport) in 1h24m back in the 1970s, quicker than they can 45 years later after the huge electrification disruption and expense.

Fairly idealistic but largely impractical I acknowledge, but perhaps not all of it should be dismissed out of hand.
Are you suggesting these trains are instead of existing services or in addition to?
 

swt_passenger

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You cannot speed up all these services, particularly XC, because on mixed traffic routes they’ll catch up the stoppers and freights running ahead of them. If XC skips all those stops, you have to re-provide the links some other way - potentially with more stoppers.

But if you disregard capacity issues, (and existing line speed limits), then you're entering a completely speculative situation, which is why we have a speculation forum...
 
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Shrop

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Are you suggesting these trains are instead of existing services or in addition to?
They can't be in addition at present as there isn't the line capacity, but they could form part of plans for future timetables by incorporating some adjustments of other services to accommodate them.

You cannot speed up all these services, particularly XC, because on mixed traffic routes they’ll catch up the stoppers and freights running ahead of them. If XC skips all those stops, you have to re-provide the links some other way - potentially with more stoppers.

But if you disregard capacity issues, (and existing line speed limits), then you're entering a completely speculative situation, which is why we have a speculation forum...
Yes, I've already recognised the limitations, but I do think there's food for thought here, as part of plans for future timetabling, and incorporating adjustments if there is merit in developing them. I don't think we should only focus on the reasons why we can't do things ...
 
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Watershed

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Does anyone think there may be value in the provision of faster services on existing routes? If we presume for a moment that a way can be found around the capacity constraints of the lines, then we have the following. (Please don’t read this in the context of practical proposals as we don’t have the line capacity, however it’s food for thought and some of the points ought to be worth developing if we use lateral thinking rather than tunnel vision!)

All London to Birmingham trains presently have three intermediate stops, which we know cost around 5 minutes each, so the present 82 minute journey time could be below 70 minutes for a non stop train. Running just one in three trains (ie an hourly service) this way would be pretty attractive.

Alternatively, what about Southampton to Manchester? Every train has 15 intermediate stops, and even at just four minutes per stop (including slowing, dwell and speeding up times) this is worth an hour end to end. Suppose fast trains were to stop only at Birmingham and Oxford, this could offer a Manchester to Birmingham journey time of around 70 minutes instead of the present 90, Birmingham to Oxford in 55 minutes instead of 70, and avoiding Reading would be a real bonus for not having to reverse, and for pathing.

Similarly with Plymouth to Birmingham/Manchester/Leeds/Newcastle, where an hour or more could also be saved. It’s all very well having every train stopping at Totnes, Newton Abbott, Tiverton, Taunton, Bristol Parkway, Cheltenham etc, but how about stopping only at Exeter and Bristol TM? Longer distance passengers would be able to settle down and enjoy their faster journey instead of having to shuffle around every 15 minutes while others push past, often wanting seats where the reservation system has failed to work properly.

Finally, passengers travelling from London to South Wales used to be able to reach Wales (Newport) in 1h24m back in the 1970s, quicker than they can 45 years later after the huge electrification disruption and expense.

Fairly idealistic but largely impractical I acknowledge, but perhaps not all of it should be dismissed out of hand.
I'm sure all the Bristol to Birmingham and Newport to London passengers would be awfully pleased with such services - but as you allude to, it's simply not practicable with the current network, or even any foreseeable future version thereof.

Over recent years there had been movements in the direction of having more non-stop services - for example, "Norwich in 90", as well as the various GWR "superfasts".

But in a post-Covid world, it is highly questionable whether there's a sufficiently large market to justify the worsening in connectivity which these non-stop services inevitably impose on the intermediate stations.

You also have to bear in mind that with far more services on today's railway, extra 'padding' (by way of engineering or performance allowances) is pretty much the only way that small-scale disruption can be absorbed before it spirals all over the country.

The nearest you are going to get is HS2, however much of that ends up being built...
 

swt_passenger

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They can't be in addition at present as there isn't the line capacity, but they could form part of plans for future timetables by incorporating some adjustments of other services to accommodate them.


Yes, I've already recognised the limitations, but I do think there's food for thought here, as part of plans for future timetabling, and incorporating adjustments if there is merit in developing them. I don't think we should only focus on the reasons why we can't do things ...
Well you’re by no means the first to think of this, but every previous discussion has basically worked out that it can’t be done without masses of additional infrastructure. In the limit, higher speeds mean lower frequencies because headways have to increase.
 

37424

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Some of those you mention are going to get much quicker journey times under HS2, and XC services do the number of longer distance passengers justify missing a large number of stops out, plus of course the missed out stations get a less frequent service or you have to produce an additional stopping train. Summer Saturday trains to the West Country still tend to be more fairly limited stop because there are a large number of customers mainly for the end destination
 

tbtc

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On a railway as busy and complicated as the one we have, there are general trends but also data to suggest the opposite is true - some things appear cyclical - e.g. the GA franchise was all about completely replacing all trains (even relatively modern ones) at the same time that First were signing up to a SWR franchise - you can find evidence to back up which ever way you think the tide is flowing.

The "fast journey times on selected services" vs "stable balanced service" argument goes round in circles... a TOC will introduce a headline grabbing "express" (e.g. to London in the morning rush hour) - designed to provide a juicy journey time to stick on the billboards - then adding a minute or two for engineering work t subsequent timetable changes, add in another stop or two, and then there's essentially nothing to separate it from the other services.. wait a year or two and then repeat the trick...

The general trend seems to be for the "stable balanced service" approach though. The new EMR timetables will balance the long distance London services more than they currently are, and the current paths are more balanced than then first "four trains per hour" that National Express introduced around twenty years ago - which suggests a combination of (1) more passengers preferring a 'turn up and go" frequency (than just one train per hour) and (2) there's no space to accommodate "fast" and "slow" services on each line - e.g. if you dump all of the intermediate London - Birmingham stops on one train an hour (which presumably must take at least ten minutes longer than the other two services) then does that mean that the Euston departures are every twenty minutes, or that the New Street arrivals are every twenty minutes, or that the "slow" train is overtaken en route? Whereas having three evenly spaced Birmingham trains per hour (and three evenly spaced Manchester trains per hour) creates a more balanced WCML timetable.

There's also the point that a number of long distance "InterCity" services are the main service on some local flows - e.g. if you speed up the London - Birmngham services so that they omit Coventry then a lot of Coventry - Birmingham passengers are going to try cramming on the next local service... same with Wakefield to Leeds or Stockport to Manchester... speeding up the long distance services means that you might have a hundred additional people at Wakefield trying to find a seat on the 150 that runs in a path just behind the now-non-stop express service?
 

HSTEd

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The general trend in the UK railway has been towards a sort of "metro-isation", where stopping patterns gradually become more and more standardised.

The days of crack expresses seem to be long behind us.
Especially with the ultra high performance multiple units we have now, that dramatically reduce the journey time losses of stopping somewhere.
 

Bald Rick

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The key question - how do you persuade the good folk of the places that lose service that this is good for them?
 

EastisECML

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In an ideal world I think from a Newcastle centric view I'd like to see the Plymouth - Edinburgh service broken up into Plymouth - Birmingham and Birmingham - Leeds semi-fast services. Then a fast train per hour from/calling at Plymouth - Exeter - Bristol TM - Cheltenham - Birmingham - Derby - Sheffield - Leeds/Doncaster - York - Darlington/Durham - Newcastle. And one from Cardiff - Newport - Gloucester - Birmingham - Derby - Sheffield - Leeds/Doncaster - York - Darlington/Durham - Newcastle.

And for TPE 2 tph from Liverpool - Manchester Victoria - Leeds - York - Darlington/Durham - Newcastle - Edinburgh.

To cover the smaller stations:

2 tph York - Thirsk - Northallerton - Yarm - Thornaby - Middlesbrough
2 tph Middlesbrough - Thornaby - Stockton - Durham - Chester le Street - Newcastle
1 tph Newcastle - Cramlington - Morpeth - Alnmouth - Berwick - Dunbar - Musselburgh - Edinburgh
 

Bigman

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Speeding up the Leeds - Kings Cross for starters. Just 1 fast express an hour would be good that doesn't have to stop at various combinations of Doncaster/Newark/Grantham/Peterborough/Stevenage.
 

Hadders

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Would there be sufficient passengers to fill a train without intermediate calls. I doubt it could ever work from a timetable point of view.
 

Bigman

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Would there be sufficient passengers to fill a train without intermediate calls. I doubt it could ever work from a timetable point of view.
Shouldn't be an issue for a 5 car IET. 1 stop at Wakefield gives you sub 2 hour timing so should be attractive. Better still if this fast service was the one extended to Bradford or Skipton.
 

AGH

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Its a choice / balance between hub focus I. E. You have fast services between key locations fed from other locations or a point to point service where everyone can go to where they want. In some circumstances the former makes sense in some the latter. From my local perspective the liverpool to Manchester corridor suffers from the need to serve everyone and there has been no line capacity improvements save for reversing cuts (4 tracks at Huyton) that I can remember. Historically Merseyrail many many years ago had fast and semi fast services. If there was capacity improvement then I then on key routes (Southport at peak) then this would be a benefit. They key as always is creating capacity. Some lateral thinking and passing places could achieve this at relatively low cost imo
 

37424

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Speeding up the Leeds - Kings Cross for starters. Just 1 fast express an hour would be good that doesn't have to stop at various combinations of Doncaster/Newark/Grantham/Peterborough/Stevenage.
The proposed full IET timetable would have had an additional semi fast train to Harrogate every 2 hours above the half hourly frequency which would have allowed an hourly service from Leeds only stopping at Wakefield and Doncaster, it also included a 2 hourly service to Bradford. That timetable didn't happen due to covid and whether it happens in the future who knows, but currently there is an hourly service which only stops Wakefield, Doncaster and Peterborough which isn't that bad really.
 
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Purple Orange

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In an ideal world I think from a Newcastle centric view I'd like to see the Plymouth - Edinburgh service broken up into Plymouth - Birmingham and Birmingham - Leeds semi-fast services. Then a fast train per hour from/calling at Plymouth - Exeter - Bristol TM - Cheltenham - Birmingham - Derby - Sheffield - Leeds/Doncaster - York - Darlington/Durham - Newcastle. And one from Cardiff - Newport - Gloucester - Birmingham - Derby - Sheffield - Leeds/Doncaster - York - Darlington/Durham - Newcastle.

And for TPE 2 tph from Liverpool - Manchester Victoria - Leeds - York - Darlington/Durham - Newcastle - Edinburgh.

To cover the smaller stations:

2 tph York - Thirsk - Northallerton - Yarm - Thornaby - Middlesbrough
2 tph Middlesbrough - Thornaby - Stockton - Durham - Chester le Street - Newcastle
1 tph Newcastle - Cramlington - Morpeth - Alnmouth - Berwick - Dunbar - Musselburgh - Edinburgh

That should be a part of the main TPE spine route, but I’d keep Huddersfield in there and I’d combine it with a 2 tph Hull service and a 2 tph semi fast service:
  • 2 x Piccadilly - Huddersfield - Leeds - York - Darlington - Durham - Newcastle - Berwick - Edinburgh
  • 2 x Liverpool - Victoria - Huddersfield - Leeds - Hull
  • 2 x Manchester Airport - all stops - Victoria - Stalybridge - Huddersfield - Dewsbury - Leeds - York - Scarborough
  • 2 x Victoria - Wigan - Preston - Lancaster - Carlisle - Glasgow/Edinburgh (alternating).
The Liverpool-Hull & Airport-York using 6-car bi-mode commuter trains, with the Piccadilly - Edinburgh using 7-car 802s and Victoria - Glasgow/Edinburgh using 7-car 807s.
 

37424

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That should be a part of the main TPE spine route, but I’d keep Huddersfield in there and I’d combine it with a 2 tph Hull service and a 2 tph semi fast service:
  • 2 x Piccadilly - Huddersfield - Leeds - York - Darlington - Durham - Newcastle - Berwick - Edinburgh
  • 2 x Liverpool - Victoria - Huddersfield - Leeds - Hull
  • 2 x Manchester Airport - all stops - Victoria - Stalybridge - Huddersfield - Dewsbury - Leeds - York - Scarborough
  • 2 x Victoria - Wigan - Preston - Lancaster - Carlisle - Glasgow/Edinburgh (alternating).
The Liverpool-Hull & Airport-York using 6-car bi-mode commuter trains, with the Piccadilly - Edinburgh using 7-car 802s and Victoria - Glasgow/Edinburgh using 7-car 807s.
Not sure what point your making there I think current North TPE timetable assuming it gets back to something like the pre covid timetable with the new rolling stock is good enough for the moment. You also appear to be having 6 fast/semi fast services which takes all the existing capacity up where is the capacity for the stopping services between Manchester and Huddersfield?, it would seem also Middlesbrough no longer gets a service.
 

Purple Orange

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Not sure what point your making there I think current North TPE timetable assuming it gets back to something like the pre covid timetable with the new rolling stock is good enough for the moment. You also appear to be having 6 fast/semi fast services which takes all the existing capacity up where is the capacity for the stopping services between Manchester and Huddersfield?, it would seem also Middlesbrough no longer gets a service.

My thinking is in a post TRU world, where there will be 4 fast, 2 semi-fast and 2 stoppers. The stoppers should be northern and I’d have Middlesbrough as Northern to/from Darlo, Newcastle & York. I don’t see the need or point of sticking to a set destination forever on that score, if it means a more uniform and reliable service. Everywhere to everywhere and all that.
 

37424

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My thinking is in a post TRU world, where there will be 4 fast, 2 semi-fast and 2 stoppers. The stoppers should be northern and I’d have Middlesbrough as Northern to/from Darlo, Newcastle & York. I don’t see the need or point of sticking to a set destination forever on that score, if it means a more uniform and reliable service. Everywhere to everywhere and all that.
I would keep the service to Middlesbrough I think you need some decent connectivity to Teesside and I'm not sure there is really a need for a half hourly TPE service to Scarborough, I suspect an hourly TPE service and an hourly local service to York would be good enough as originally proposed in the Arriva Northern franchise, and I'm not sure even that is really needed in winter.
 

EastisECML

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That should be a part of the main TPE spine route, but I’d keep Huddersfield in there and I’d combine it with a 2 tph Hull service and a 2 tph semi fast service:
  • 2 x Piccadilly - Huddersfield - Leeds - York - Darlington - Durham - Newcastle - Berwick - Edinburgh
  • 2 x Liverpool - Victoria - Huddersfield - Leeds - Hull
  • 2 x Manchester Airport - all stops - Victoria - Stalybridge - Huddersfield - Dewsbury - Leeds - York - Scarborough
  • 2 x Victoria - Wigan - Preston - Lancaster - Carlisle - Glasgow/Edinburgh (alternating).
The Liverpool-Hull & Airport-York using 6-car bi-mode commuter trains, with the Piccadilly - Edinburgh using 7-car 802s and Victoria - Glasgow/Edinburgh using 7-car 807s.
I'd change that slightly to give Ordsall the 4 tph it was meant to have, give Liverpool 4 tph to Manchester and Leeds, and keep the Middlesbrough train intact.

2 tph Liverpool - Victoria - Huddersfield - Leeds - York - Darlington - Durham - Newcastle
2 tph Liverpool - Victoria - Huddersfield - Leeds - Hull
2 tph Manchester Airport - all stops - Victoria - Stalybridge - Huddersfield - Dewsbury - Leeds - York - Scarborough/Middlesbrough
2 tph Manchester Airport - all stops - Victoria - all stops - Huddersfield
2 tph Victoria - Wigan - Preston - Lancaster - Carlisle - Glasgow/Edinburgh (alternating)

Infact I'd be tempted to hand the Scarborough service over to Northern Connect and double the frequency of the Middlesbrough service to give Thirsk and Northallerton a much more steady service. I've also got rid of TPE ECML Edinburgh services to avoid over reaching. I think ideally Newcastle to Edinburgh would be covered by 2 tph fast (XC and LNER) and a 1 tph local semi-fast service.
 

Purple Orange

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I'd change that slightly to give Ordsall the 4 tph it was meant to have, give Liverpool 4 tph to Manchester and Leeds, and keep the Middlesbrough train intact.

2 tph Liverpool - Victoria - Huddersfield - Leeds - York - Darlington - Durham - Newcastle
2 tph Liverpool - Victoria - Huddersfield - Leeds - Hull
2 tph Manchester Airport - all stops - Victoria - Stalybridge - Huddersfield - Dewsbury - Leeds - York - Scarborough/Middlesbrough
2 tph Manchester Airport - all stops - Victoria - all stops - Huddersfield
2 tph Victoria - Wigan - Preston - Lancaster - Carlisle - Glasgow/Edinburgh (alternating)

Infact I'd be tempted to hand the Scarborough service over to Northern Connect and double the frequency of the Middlesbrough service to give Thirsk and Northallerton a much more steady service. I've also got rid of TPE ECML Edinburgh services to avoid over reaching. I think ideally Newcastle to Edinburgh would be covered by 2 tph fast (XC and LNER) and a 1 tph local semi-fast service.

Yeah perhaps swapping Scarborough over to Northern is better. I’m unsure about Edinburgh though - what makes XC a more appropriate provider than TPE? TPE has longer trains and they are electric.
 

EastisECML

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Yeah perhaps swapping Scarborough over to Northern is better. I’m unsure about Edinburgh though - what makes XC a more appropriate provider than TPE? TPE has longer trains and they are electric.
Cross Country will be due new trains soon? But yeah, post HS2 there's a chance XC will be broken up to cover Birmingham to Manchester, Leeds, York & Hull. So TPE taking full responsibility for Leeds - Newcastle - Edinburgh might make sense. Especially if LNER is also cut back.
 
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