Ghost trains AKA parlimentry services

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wintonian

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It seems the BBC have done a short piece on this which can be seen here.

at some point later I'll find and add the Newhaven Harbour video here again being particularly relevant and a rather good video I think.

BBC News said:
You won't see them every day, and they rarely run when you might actually want to use them - but they're beloved by rail enthusiasts.

"Parliamentary" trains - also known as "ghost" trains - are strange services which often run just once a week and in one direction.

They exist in order to keep certain lines open, because without them the train operators would often have to close the route - something which costs time and money.

But tracking these trains down - and taking a journey on them - is the particular passion of a select group of ghost train "hunters".
BBC News went along for the ride.


Edit: the observant of you will note I meant Newhaven Marine not Harbour although Newhaven Harbour is in it.

Ghost train hunting - Newhaven.
 
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SprinterMan

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It seems the BBC have done a short piece on this which can be seen here.

at some point later I'll find and add the Newhaven Harbour video here again being particularly relevant and a rather good video I think.

Brilliant, Thanks :D
For a short little film that was really good.
Helsby-Ellesmere Port and Stockport-Stalybridge :P
I wish I had a partner who was interested in ghost trains like the guy in the film :P (I just wish I had a partner ;))

Adam :D
 
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transportphoto

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What a brilliant film! For once the media isn't criticising the railways!
 

MK Tom

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That was awesome! The only parliamentary service I've ever done is the Polesworth stopper... must do more!
 

Chapeltom

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Done the Stockport to Stalybridge line, was an experience and a half! Doing the Helsby to Ellesmere Port line as well in 3 weeks time, pure coincidence as I'm travelling to the Wirral to tick a few Wetherspoons and watch some football! Didn't realise until I showed my mate the itinerary.
 

David Goddard

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Did the 1553SuO Norwich - Manchester yesterday, the only service each week to use the Ely West Curve. Lived near Ely for over twenty years and took til now to cover this section.
 

tbtc

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Helsby-Ellesmere Port is not a "Parliamentary" service - it's got four trains a day!

Sorry but there's a big difference between "Parliamentary" and "not very frequent" - far too often lines with several services a week get muddled into the former category...

/rant
 

trentside

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A good film from the BBC about railways for once. Made for interesting viewing!

Enjoyed the Newhaven Marine film too - first time I've seen footage of a train actually at the station.
 

glenbogle

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How many ghost trains run on the network, don't think there are any in Scotland, can these be listed for enthusiasts or are there to many ?
Fantastic clip and a right looker from Northern Rail!! ;)
 

D6975

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Interesting bit of film, but why Helsby-Ellesmere Port?
4 trains a day in each direction, Mondays to Saturdays.
Hardly Ghost trains. That's more frequent than the Far North and Oban lines used to be.

Stockport - Stalybridge I've done countless times when it was a regular service, travelled on a few Park Royals on that route.
Knottingley - Goole I did last year, that's 2 a day in each direction.

In Scotland, there used to be a service from Fife that went across the bridge and turned right towards Glasgow. Does this still run?
 

6Gman

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Helsby-Ellesmere Port is not a "Parliamentary" service - it's got four trains a day!

Sorry but there's a big difference between "Parliamentary" and "not very frequent" - far too often lines with several services a week get muddled into the former category...

/rant

And historically 'parliamentary services' were something slightly different - the one train a day which (if I recall correctly) had to convey 3rd class passengers, at a certain fare, call at all stations etc

Present-day parliamentaries are a slightly different beast - services which exist solely to avoid closure procedures
 

tbtc

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How many ghost trains run on the network, don't think there are any in Scotland, can these be listed for enthusiasts or are there to many ?

IIRC the Fort William sleeper makes some people's definitions of a Parliamentary (being the only service over a couple of chords around Glasgow? cannot remember the details).

Plus a few years ago things like the north west chord at Thornton Junction would have probably made the list (but now probably has too many services that way - IIRC the teatime Sheffield to Dundee Voyager is often routed that way between Inverkeithing and Leuchars).

The thing about "true" Parliamentary services is that they often aren't noticeable from the timetable, it's the ones that are diverted via "freight" lines (like the Edinburgh "sub") that passengers wouldn't notice from the timetable.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
And historically 'parliamentary services' were something slightly different - the one train a day which (if I recall correctly) had to convey 3rd class passengers, at a certain fare, call at all stations etc

Present-day parliamentaries are a slightly different beast - services which exist solely to avoid closure procedures

True - these are often confused with "infrequent" services and "services that exist to keep up staff knowledge" (like the token Northern Rail service diverted via Derby which doesn't run on any tracks that aren't covered by XC/ EMT regularly but I've seen claimed as a "Parliamentary" service by people due to its infrequent nature)
 

glenbogle

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Interesting bit of film, but why Helsby-Ellesmere Port?
4 trains a day in each direction, Mondays to Saturdays.
Hardly Ghost trains. That's more frequent than the Far North and Oban lines used to be.

Stockport - Stalybridge I've done countless times when it was a regular service, travelled on a few Park Royals on that route.
Knottingley - Goole I did last year, that's 2 a day in each direction.

In Scotland, there used to be a service from Fife that went across the bridge and turned right towards Glasgow. Does this still run?

Yip Monday to Friday in both directions from Kirkcaldy to Glasgow.
 

aformeruser

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Helsby-Ellesmere Port is not a "Parliamentary" service - it's got four trains a day!

Sorry but there's a big difference between "Parliamentary" and "not very frequent" - far too often lines with several services a week get muddled into the former category...

I thought a parliamentary service meant it runs at times not convenient to passengers with the intention of having very low usage allowing the operator to say no-one uses it and apply to close it. The idea behind 1 single train per week was under BR it was cheaper to run that single service every week than go through the closure procedure.

Technically since privatisation the service frequencies on such lines run to the minimum franchise requirement and operators like Northern have to provide that.
 

ainsworth74

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Did anyone else spot that they ran shot of a 185 backwards at around 3:16?

Good little video and nice to hear a positive story for once. Though I wonder why the BBC are suddenly so interested in Parlys as the One Show did a similar piece not so long ago covering the Chiltern service into Paddington.
 

hluraven

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Good little video and nice to hear a positive story for once. Though I wonder why the BBC are suddenly so interested in Parlys as the One Show did a similar piece not so long ago covering the Chiltern service into Paddington.

Which isn't a parliamentary, but a route knowledge working.
 

tbtc

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I thought a parliamentary service meant it runs at times not convenient to passengers with the intention of having very low usage allowing the operator to say no-one uses it and apply to close it. The idea behind 1 single train per week was under BR it was cheaper to run that single service every week than go through the closure procedure.

Technically since privatisation the service frequencies on such lines run to the minimum franchise requirement and operators like Northern have to provide that.

To me, it means running at the minimum level required to keep the line "open" (and not have to go through the expensive procedure of getting it officially closed) - nothing to do with franchise commitments, nothing to do with whether that token service is "convenient" to anyone.

The once a week service to Stalybridge fits that criteria. Same with the once a week service on the chord from Runcorn to Chester.

Lines with a few services a week (even a few services a day like Ellesmere Port) are something else entirely.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Which isn't a parliamentary, but a route knowledge working.

Precisely!

It's far too regular for a Parliamentary service (being daily).
 

Harbon 1

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Wasn't there a piece on this on Jeremy Vine's show on radio 2 a few months ago? About a Chilton service running into Paddington on a Monday night, and it was the best part of empty? Or something along those lines anyway :P (if you'll pardon the pun)

It'd be great to do one of these services, but I would have a job explaining it to my friends :lol:
 

Jube45667

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There's the Sheffield to Cleethorpes line via Gainsborough Central and Brigg, 3 trains each way, Saturdays only. Been like that for years.
 

142094

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I can understand using the term 'ghost stations', where no-one hardly uses them, but as has been said the Ellesmere Port - Warrington BQ train is hardly a Parliamentary service, comparing it with other lines which have even less trains per day. Unfortunately there isn't a hard and fast definition of what a Parliamentary service is these days.
 

Daz28

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If a TOC, with the agreement of the relevant authority, were to just stop services on a line without taking the formal closure process, what law would be broken, and who could take action against whom?
 

billio

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York to Sheffield via Pontefract. One train each way a day. Arrival in Sheffied or Meadowhall hardly gives you anytime to do anything. Ok there are lots of other trains from york to Sheffield, but not from many of the intermediate stations.
 

aformeruser

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If a TOC, with the agreement of the relevant authority, were to just stop services on a line without taking the formal closure process, what law would be broken, and who could take action against whom?

The operator has to provide the minimum service level specified in the franchise agreement. If that is one working per week between Stockport and Stalybridge, then they are breaching the franchise agreement if the line is open and they don't provide the service (subject to normal reasons for a cancelled service being acceptable.)

If an operator breaches the franchise agreement they can be fined or even stripped of the franchise. I would imagine though that less serious action would be taken against Northern for not running the Stockport to Stalybridge then with EMT not running one of the Sheffield-London services they are required to run. (Both examples not actual breaches.)
 

MK Tom

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You can also have parliamentary stops on normal services can't you? Like Polesworth and Pilning...
 

aformeruser

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The once a week service to Stalybridge fits that criteria. Same with the once a week service on the chord from Runcorn to Chester.

These aren't actually the same.

Stockport-Stalybridge is a year round service in one direction only.

Chester-Runcorn is a seasonal service in one direction only.

Why wasn't the minimum requirement the same? Was Chester-Runcorn actually part of a seasonal service such as Liverpool to a North Wales holiday resort?
 

Darandio

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Completely pedantic of course, but I'd also like to point out to the fella that Tees-side Airport station is not in Middlesbrough. They are not even particularly close, I certainly wouldn't like having my arse kicked that far!
 

142094

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York to Sheffield via Pontefract. One train each way a day. Arrival in Sheffied or Meadowhall hardly gives you anytime to do anything. Ok there are lots of other trains from york to Sheffield, but not from many of the intermediate stations.

There is actually two trains per day in each direction, but still not exactly a great service.
 

thelem

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It seems to me services like the Newhaven Marine one are pushing things a bit far and making the closure procedures a bit of a joke - surely it shouldn't count as having run unless passengers are able to travel on it.

It makes sense to make it difficult to close a line - after all you can't just change your mind in a few years and start running trains on it again. At best it'll need a bit of maintenance, at worst there'll be buildings on the trackbed. If you keep even one passenger carrying train per week, then all you need to do to bring that line into use is divert some diagrams onto it - no new investment needed.

It sounds like it should be a bit cheaper to close lines though. I'm not sure what the process is at the moment, but maybe there could be some fast track procedure to close uncontentious lines - perhaps just an agreement between the government, franchisee and passenger focus?
 
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