History of non-stop Welwyn Garden City to Finsbury Park morning-peak services

Discussion in 'Allocations, Diagrams & Timetables' started by benk1342, 15 May 2018.

  1. benk1342

    benk1342 Member

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    Hi,

    Does anyone have access to historic timetable data who could tell me when the non-stop morning-peak services from Welwyn Garden City to Finsbury Park were first introduced?

    Currently these run at 06:52, 07:55 and 08:25 but as we know these services are being slowed down with stops added at Hatfield and Potters Bar (arguably for good reasons) from 20 May. I’m curious to know how big of a change this is from a long-term historic perspective.

    I’ve only been commuting on this route for around five years so I don’t know the history personally.

    Thanks,
    Ben
     
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  3. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    The evening ones have certainly been there since as far back as the 90s, and if I remember rightly so were the morning ones. At home I have a WAGN timetable from 1998 so I’ll have a look when I get back from holiday if someone doesn’t get in first.

    I have a feeling the lack of Hatfield and Potters Bar stops was/is more to do with demand management than any desire to provide a fast service to/from Welwyn. No point in making extra stops if the trains are already full.
     
  4. Failed Unit

    Failed Unit Established Member

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    That is my memory as well. Which will make it very interesting next week. Less seats from WGC. Be interesting to see if people get left behind at potters bar.
     
  5. A0wen

    A0wen Established Member

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    Well if you go back far enough i.e. before electrification, there were the Cambridge Buffet Express services which were first stop WGC outside London. These disappeared with electrification in 1977/8 when through services between Cambridge and Kings Cross stopped.
     
  6. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    Back in the 90s the expectation was seats for most...

    It’s hard to say what will happen next week, and it’s likely things will be up in the air for a while whilst things settle down.

    It remains likely a lot of Hitchin and Stevenage passengers will continue to choose the slow services at least to begin with as it guarantees a seat today, and also avoids having to arrive early on the platform (watch people arrive 25 minutes early for faster services at Hitchin in particular!). However two things change next week - the stopping services change to Undesiros, and also become rather slower - both in terms of time and stops, so they may become less desirable.

    But a lot depends on unknown factors - how popular the Royston/Baldock services prove to be - especially in terms of how much they fill up north of Hitchin - and how many people choose to travel to Thameslink destinations in preference to King’s Cross. The second Cambridge Brighton hourly service will also be a change factor come December. It’s hard to say how much effect these factors may have.

    I can definitely see the stopping services continuing to fill at Knebworth and Welwyn North, that much is a given I think - but even with the low seating capacity of the reduced length undesiros this in itself shouldn’t cause the trains to be full by Welwyn GC unless Hitchin and Stevenage passengers pile on.
     
    Last edited: 15 May 2018
  7. benk1342

    benk1342 Member

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    My hope is that the vastly improved service from Welwyn North will mean the trains that stop at WGC are less full - we’ll see.

    Was that a peak hour commuter service?
     
  8. Failed Unit

    Failed Unit Established Member

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    I doubt it. I suspect lots of skip stopping of Welwyn north. Are they really going to delay multiple ECMl trains on this 2 track section.
     
  9. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    They do today, so the answer may well turn out to be yes.

    I don’t necessarily think the Baldock/Royston services will be the main problem. The Baldock turnarounds will cause chaos at times for sure, but the Welwyn North calls will probably manage okay. It’s the Cambridge stopping service that will be the worst - that just gets in the way everywhere.
     
  10. Failed Unit

    Failed Unit Established Member

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    Must admit it is not normal to get into Welwyn north without waiting for a least on fast train to pass. (Despite leaving knebworth on time).

    I can look back with fondness if the days I could change at Peterborough for Scotland with a decent connection.
     
  11. PeterC

    PeterC Established Member

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    Certainly later than 1989, I have the timetable for that summer and then it was three semi fasts with between 2 and 4 intermediate stops.
     
  12. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    I remember in the late 90s most fast up trains used the fast line south of Hitchin, and waits at Woolmer Green were rare - especially off peak. Things have changed for the worse over the years in this respect, as well as longer journey times. A lot of this is down to more long-distance services of course.

    Running the new timetable on simsig has been very illuminating, and I really feel for the signallers with this new timetable when things go wrong. There are so many pitfalls and delay multipliers that will be ready to show up the moment things start going off book.
     
  13. Royston Vasey

    Royston Vasey Established Member

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    It’s probably carrying more passengers than what you deem it to be “getting in the way of”
     
  14. Failed Unit

    Failed Unit Established Member

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    Probably is. But it is only on the fasts for the pesky Viaduct. Stuck on the slow getting held up by 313s the rest of the time.

    I think southbound these fasts exist because of operating flexibility.

    At the moment it joins the fast at either WGC, Marshmoor (most normal place), potters bar or new Barnet.

    Stopping at Hatfield would mean it can join the fast at WGC. (Mainly happens if 0817 is late). I understand why it doesn’t stop at potters bar as stopping on the fast at potters bar is not desirable.
     
  15. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    Regardless of relative passenger loadings you have conflicts:
    1) with the 313s between Finsbury Park and Welwyn, and in Welwyn down platforms too especially at peak times
    2) with everything between Digswell and Woolmer Green
    3) with 4tph Thameslink between Woolmer Green and Hitchin
    4) with 2tph Thameslink and 2tph KX to Ely/Kings Lynn north of Hitchin, with very different stopping patterns.
    5) with Greater Anglia and Cross Country at Cambridge.

    This simply isn’t going to do wonders for performance, especially if they ever get extended to Maidstone and thus import delays from elsewhere. At lease with this timetable they will get long turnarounds at KX - so watch them go to the bottom of the regulating queue and be left to run later and later...
     
  16. SprinterMan

    SprinterMan Established Member

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    This may prove useful to you:
     

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  17. gingerheid

    gingerheid Member

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    They were in the summer 1999 timetable at broadly the same times.

    The winter 1986 timetable only had an 0700.
     
  18. Cricketer8for9

    Cricketer8for9 Member

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    So given the capacity constraints on the ECML which services should be removed?
     
  19. Failed Unit

    Failed Unit Established Member

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    Swap the ones that stop at Welwyn North with Welwyn Garden city. For the following reasons.

    1. passenger numbers. Welwyn North’s are significantly worse than most others on southern section.

    2. It is on a 2 track section, increasing performance risk to the entire ECML

    3. I understand a stop at Welwyn North takes 2 paths. Again this is a congested route so wasting such a scare resource for such a small number of people is criminal.
     
  20. notverydeep

    notverydeep Member

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    I have a copy of the May 1986 timetable which has the following morning peak (that is arriving in London between 07:00 and 10:00) trains from Welwyn Garden city to King's Cross (KGX), with their calling points:

    07:00 to KGX 07:22 22 minutes Finsbury Park (the only working non-stop to Finsbury Park)
    07:02 to KGX 07:33 31 minutes Hatfield, Brookman’s Park, Potters Bar, New Barnet, Oakleigh Park, Finsbury Park
    07:30 to KGX 07:55 25 minutes Hatfield, Potters Bar, Finsbury Park
    07:51 to KGX 08:17 26 minutes Hatfield, Potters Bar, Finsbury Park
    08:07 to KGX 08:37 30 minutes Hatfield, Brookman’s Park, Potters Bar, New Barnet, Finsbury Park
    08:16 to KGX 08:42 26 minutes Hatfield, Potters Bar, Finsbury Park
    08:34 to KGX 09:03 29 minutes Hatfield, Potters Bar, Finsbury Park
    08:46 to KGX 09:12 26 minutes Hatfield, Potters Bar, Finsbury Park
    09:00 to KGX 09:26 26 minutes Hatfield, Potters Bar, Finsbury Park
    09:28 to KGX 09:57 29 minutes Hatfield, Potters Bar, Finsbury Park

    I would gladly swap the new timetable for this range of trains in the key 07:45 to 08:45 timeband!

    All of these apart from the 07:02 and 08:07 called at Welwyn North. These, plus an additional train at 08:05 (non-stop to KGX), gave Welwyn North 5 tph (trains per hour) in the hour between 08:00 and 09:00 (and 6 trains in 70 minutes!)…

    This timetable notes that Welham Green is under construction and would open later in the year. Arlsey station was also yet to be (re)opened in this timetable and of course the electrification of the Royston to Cambridge section was after this timetable.

    One further interesting point about the 1986 GN services is that quite a few of the peak fast trains from Peterborough and Huntingdon were HSTs, with one HST even stopping at St. Neots, Sandy and Biggleswade! One wonders whether with the possible incorporation of the residual GN King's Cross services into the 'LNER' operation after the current TSGN contract ends, might see the return of the odd Intercity set to this flow, prior to their first Morning long distance run. I'm not sure what time the last 91 or HST diagram to start at the London end of the East Coast is...
     
    Last edited: 17 May 2018
  21. Failed Unit

    Failed Unit Established Member

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    Often see a mk4 set leaving Bounds Green for kings cross at about 0830. I think it forms the 0900 Edinburgh service. Possible I guess but unlikely. The overcrowding would be something else as people try to avoid the newer less comfortable multiple units.
     
  22. benk1342

    benk1342 Member

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    Wow thanks everyone.

    Overall it sounds like the non-stops for the most part started at some point in the 90s. So while their removal next week is in a sense "the end of an era" for fast trains from WGC to London, it's clear that services have varied quite a bit over the last half century.

    The 1986 timetable does look good, but is more similar to what we're getting from next week than it is to the current services.
     
  23. notverydeep

    notverydeep Member

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    Kind of answering my own question with a look at Real Time Trains suggests that the last ECS into King's Cross is at 08:13 from Bounds Green http://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/train/Y70749/2018/05/17/advanced to form 1S09 the 09:00 to Edinburgh (this is presumably what you have seen).

    I guess this set could have an inward working from Peterborough / Huntingdon to arrive at roughly this time added to its diagram and so perhaps an 8 car EMU set (an HST or 91 couldn't match the capacity of a 12 car set) could be used for an additional train or to strengthen other workings to 12 cars... This does appear to be the only such working after 07:00, although a working arrives from Ferme Park sidings at 07:43 http://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/train/Y70708/2018/05/17/advanced to form the 08:30 to Newcastle (1N08)...
     
  24. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    I assume there simply isn't a path over Welwyn Viaduct for it to work in passenger service - and even an 8-car EMU can shift more passengers per path than the 5 x MkIV carriages of a VTEC set, so better running an EMU.

    Probably the only empty train to arrive at a London terminal in the 0800-0859 hour.
     
  25. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    As promised I've dug up some old timetables (found them during a clear up recently, and thought I would keep them just in case they came in useful any time!).

    In general most services called at Hatfield and Potters Bar. Below I've listed the whole peak up and down service, and starred those which were fast between Welwyn Garden City and Finsbury Park.

    NSE timetable from 4th October 1993
    Evening peak - down services from King's Cross at 1620, 1650, 1720, 1750, 1820, 1850.
    Morning peak - up services from Welwyn Garden City at 0627, 0649, **0708**, 0735, 0749, 0824, 0855.

    WAGN timetable from 28th September 1998
    Evening peak - down services from King's Cross at 1606, 1636, 1652, **1706**, **1736**,** 1806**, **1836**.
    Morning peak - up services from Welwyn Garden City at **0701**, 0710, **0725**, **0755**, 0810,** 0825**,** 0855**.

    Hope that's useful.
     
  26. benk1342

    benk1342 Member

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    That’s great! That narrows it down to the mid 90s then.

    Clearly the fast service has been eroded since 1998 so this is really the final nail in the coffin - for now.

    So far I am finding that I prefer the new timetable’s increased flexibility and having people spread more evenly across trains, rather than packed onto 2 very fast services each morning. Of course it remains to be seen whether they can work out the kinks with the cancellations and clearly other stations are not fairing as well as we are.

    Thanks
    Ben
     

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