How can Cross country overcrowding be alleviated?

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12 Aug 2018
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Nah, get some FLIRTS in. All the seat bases have collapsed already on the IETs which means your day on a metal support bar. Horrible.

Why not use those 221s and 222s coming off lease in a few years. It'll provide plenty of capacity, 222s used on the core long distance routes, shorter 220
/221s cascaded to take over the regional routes XC runs and the rest of the medium to long distance routes XC run use the longer 220/221s.
 
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Spartacus

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Nah, get some FLIRTS in. All the seat bases have collapsed already on the IETs which means your day on a metal support bar. Horrible.

In my experience that depends on who's seat you're sat on, a TOC spec one, or an original one, I've found the TOC spec ones to be much better, such as the ones on TPE. Besides, that's the seats' fault, not the train they're bolted it.
 

cuccir

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I've somewhat reluctantly come to the view that I prefer the 5+4 coupled hourly service over the 5 and 4 twice an hour service. I'd rather be able to get a lower-stress option and make my plans around that, than be on the old overcrowded CrossCountry.

Of course that all falls apart if the hourly starts to become single sets...!

In an ideal world, you'd mix and match the two: perhaps an hourly Scotland - South West 9 car via Leeds AND an hourly Newcastle - Oxford/Reading 5 car via Doncaster. I'm aware the units don't exist for that :)
 

Deafdoggie

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I've somewhat reluctantly come to the view that I prefer the 5+4 coupled hourly service over the 5 and 4 twice an hour service. I'd rather be able to get a lower-stress option and make my plans around that, than be on the old overcrowded CrossCountry.

Of course that all falls apart if the hourly starts to become single sets...!

In an ideal world, you'd mix and match the two: perhaps an hourly Scotland - South West 9 car via Leeds AND an hourly Newcastle - Oxford/Reading 5 car via Doncaster. I'm aware the units don't exist for that :)
The problem are those of us in the North West wanting to get to the South West.
We had all those services removed, forcing at least one change at Birmingham.
There is now a sporadic service to Bristol, which is at least a start.
 

Geezertronic

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When going from Birmingham to Manchester on Wednesdays, there is always a 4+5 car set on the 06:53 outbound journey but until last week, there was only a 5 car set on the return journey which was crammed. I hope last week is a sign of what is to come when the 18:27 return service was a 4+5 car service to Bournemouth rather than Reading
 

class397tpe

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I've somewhat reluctantly come to the view that I prefer the 5+4 coupled hourly service over the 5 and 4 twice an hour service. I'd rather be able to get a lower-stress option and make my plans around that, than be on the old overcrowded CrossCountry.

Of course that all falls apart if the hourly starts to become single sets...!

In an ideal world, you'd mix and match the two: perhaps an hourly Scotland - South West 9 car via Leeds AND an hourly Newcastle - Oxford/Reading 5 car via Doncaster. I'm aware the units don't exist for that :)
Seems like they are unable to double up even with running half the number of services! More than half the XC services through Sheffield today are a single voyager, it's been like this for weeks.
 

kristiang85

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After many bad experiences, I absolutely loathe those CrossCountry services, so now when I want to go from Basingstoke to the North, I much prefer to go to London first and get the Avantis up. The more pleasant (and sometimes more expensive) journey makes up for not having to endure the hell that is those CrossCountry trains.
 

geoffk

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Yep, regularly travelling between Bristol and Durham went from a decent comfortable service on spacious HSTs and the occassional Mk2+47 if you were really lucky. The moment the Voyagers came in every single journey was on horribly overcrowded, cramped, noisy, sweaty, smelly trains. A real step down in service provision IMO. Virgin were allowed to make a right mess of it and nothing has ever been done to reverse it. Dreadful.
"Operation Princess" as it was called!
 

Snow1964

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Even if cross country was to return to its full timetable would there still be problems of crowding, my observations (which are mainly at Bristol nowadays suggests yes.

As far as I can work out the 220s and 221s replaced 40 year old class 47s and 20 year old HSTs, but they didn’t build enough (and the temporary deferment of building coach E became permanent)

20 years on and some cross country trains are using a few 40 year old HSTs and some 22 year old 170s alongside the 20 year old 220s and 221s. None of which in current formation seem to be ideal. Even coupled up none are matching those 500+ seat cross country trains that could be found on the busy trains in 1980s

Doesn’t seem to be either a plan for sufficient frequency or sufficient capacity in short term or mid term.
 

peteb

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Is there any possibility of the midland mainline stock to be cascaded to cross country as and when? It seems like a voyager to me but there are some longer sets without intermediate driving cabs so facilitating less crew per train and avoiding duplication of facilities. The seating layout is better on those too.
 

hexagon789

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Is there any possibility of the midland mainline stock to be cascaded to cross country as and when? It seems like a voyager to me but there are some longer sets without intermediate driving cabs so facilitating less crew per train and avoiding duplication of facilities. The seating layout is better on those too.
"midland mainline stock" meaning the East Midlands Railways Class 222s?

It has been discussed in depth in other threads.
 

TheBigD

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For the first time in long while, there are 2 separate diagrams covered by 2 cars on the Birmingham-Stansted route today
The route has been pretty much all 3 car since 170518-523 were lengthen to 3 car sets, and 2 car sets were the exception.
 

Geezertronic

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Even if cross country was to return to its full timetable would there still be problems of crowding, my observations (which are mainly at Bristol nowadays suggests yes.

As far as I can work out the 220s and 221s replaced 40 year old class 47s and 20 year old HSTs, but they didn’t build enough (and the temporary deferment of building coach E became permanent)

20 years on and some cross country trains are using a few 40 year old HSTs and some 22 year old 170s alongside the 20 year old 220s and 221s. None of which in current formation seem to be ideal. Even coupled up none are matching those 500+ seat cross country trains that could be found on the busy trains in 1980s

Doesn’t seem to be either a plan for sufficient frequency or sufficient capacity in short term or mid term.

It was proposed a long while back (2011 ?) that the 220 & 221 sets (and maybe 222 sets) could have an additional coach with a pantograph to make the sets bi-mode under the code name "Project Thor" that has been discussed several times on the forum. It came to nothing mainly due to politics I guess.
 

trebor79

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It was proposed a long while back (2011 ?) that the 220 & 221 sets (and maybe 222 sets) could have an additional coach with a pantograph to make the sets bi-mode under the code name "Project Thor" that has been discussed several times on the forum. It came to nothing mainly due to politics I guess.
Wasn't there a load of issues such as:
No high voltage bus line between cars
The assembly line having been long since dismantled
New vehicles would need to meet modern standards
etc?
 

class397tpe

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Even if cross country was to return to its full timetable would there still be problems of crowding, my observations (which are mainly at Bristol nowadays suggests yes.

As far as I can work out the 220s and 221s replaced 40 year old class 47s and 20 year old HSTs, but they didn’t build enough (and the temporary deferment of building coach E became permanent)

20 years on and some cross country trains are using a few 40 year old HSTs and some 22 year old 170s alongside the 20 year old 220s and 221s. None of which in current formation seem to be ideal. Even coupled up none are matching those 500+ seat cross country trains that could be found on the busy trains in 1980s

Doesn’t seem to be either a plan for sufficient frequency or sufficient capacity in short term or mid term.
I wonder how many extra units they would require to return to their full pre-covid timetable, run every service coupled up to at least 9-cars, and replace the HSTs. The demand is easily there for that level of service.

Would taking the 20 5-car Avanti 221s + 21 5-car & 4 7-car 222s be enough? They could run on separate diagrams (just as the HSTs are now), as 222 can't couple to 221 or 220. The aim should really be the pre-covid timetable with at least 9 cars everywhere, except the extremities e.g. Plymouth-Penzance and Edinburgh-Aberdeen. Question is what they would do with the 7-car 222s as you can't really double them up due to platform lengths, perhaps put them on Nottingham-Cardiff to allow more doubling up of 170s?
 

Geezertronic

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Wasn't there a load of issues such as:
No high voltage bus line between cars
The assembly line having been long since dismantled
New vehicles would need to meet modern standards
etc?

Those could have contributed to it, I'm not sure it even got that far down the design phase to look at how the low level issues could be resolved. Hopefully someone has some better information on it
 

trebor79

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Those could have contributed to it, I'm not sure it even got that far down the design phase to look at how the low level issues could be resolved. Hopefully someone has some better information on it
I guess fairly early on you get to "Oh, we're going to have to design a completely new vehicle to comply with standards. And build a new assembly line and tooling. And it's going to be a very small production run so there are few vehicles to dilute these costs over. Oh, and we're going to have to do major surgery to the systems on the existing vehicles. Gosh this is all going to be horribly complicated and terrifically expensive".
The mistake was allowing Virgin to go ahead with a ridiculous plan and utterly trashing what was a high quality rail service. You didn't have to be some kind of genius or industry expert to realise that running new trains with loads of wasted space and less than half the seating capacity of the old ones was going to lead almost instantly to severe problems.
 

quantinghome

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The mistake was allowing Virgin to go ahead with a ridiculous plan and utterly trashing what was a high quality rail service. You didn't have to be some kind of genius or industry expert to realise that running new trains with loads of wasted space and less than half the seating capacity of the old ones was going to lead almost instantly to severe problems.
That was in the first flush of franchising where there was minimal oversight of franchises. Not sure the regulator would have had the authority to stop the plan.
 

trebor79

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That was in the first flush of franchising where there was minimal oversight of franchises. Not sure the regulator would have had the authority to stop the plan.
The plan was in the franchise application? They shouldn't have awarded the franchise to Virgin.
 

fkofilee

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I wonder how many extra units they would require to return to their full pre-covid timetable, run every service coupled up to at least 9-cars, and replace the HSTs. The demand is easily there for that level of service.

Would taking the 20 5-car Avanti 221s + 21 5-car & 4 7-car 222s be enough? They could run on separate diagrams (just as the HSTs are now), as 222 can't couple to 221 or 220. The aim should really be the pre-covid timetable with at least 9 cars everywhere, except the extremities e.g. Plymouth-Penzance and Edinburgh-Aberdeen. Question is what they would do with the 7-car 222s as you can't really double them up due to platform lengths, perhaps put them on Nottingham-Cardiff to allow more doubling up of 170s?
222s are being made into 5 cars so a fleet that is standardised.
 

philthetube

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The plan was in the franchise application? They shouldn't have awarded the franchise to Virgin.
At the time the plan was seen as a good thing by most if not all, the problems were not really foreseen by anyone
 

Bletchleyite

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At the time the plan was seen as a good thing by most if not all, the problems were not really foreseen by anyone

While this Forum didn't exist then, uk.railway absolutely did foresee the problems. They were obvious - if you improve something beyond recognition that is already busy and reduce the overall capacity slightly you will get overcrowding.
 

Andy Pacer

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For the first time in long while, there are 2 separate diagrams covered by 2 cars on the Birmingham-Stansted route today
The route has been pretty much all 3 car since 170518-523 were lengthen to 3 car sets, and 2 car sets were the exception.
Any idea if these are actually booked as 2 cars or were short formed on the day?
 

The Ham

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"midland mainline stock" meaning the East Midlands Railways Class 222s?

It has been discussed in depth in other threads.

Indeed, including the suggestion of fewer but longer 222's so they don't need to be paired with anything and maybe lengthening some of the 4 coach Voyagers to get a neat universal 5 coach fleet.

It was proposed a long while back (2011 ?) that the 220 & 221 sets (and maybe 222 sets) could have an additional coach with a pantograph to make the sets bi-mode under the code name "Project Thor" that has been discussed several times on the forum. It came to nothing mainly due to politics I guess.

There were some engineering issues, see below.

Wasn't there a load of issues such as:
No high voltage bus line between cars
The assembly line having been long since dismantled
New vehicles would need to meet modern standards
etc?

IIRCa a lot was down to needing to have 2 pantograph coaches added to the 5 coach units, increasing the number of new coaches beyond what was thought to be necessary. In part as it would have meant an increase in seating from 260 to circa 350 on about 1/3 of the fleet, which would have added 30% capacity across the whole fleet.

However it doesn't appear that the suggestion was made to directly replace a coach in the 5 coach sets and then run a smallish fleet of 8 or 9 coach units from the excess coaches.

A 5 coach units would have required 2 new coaches and one excess coach to create a 8 coach units, resulting in a fleet of 10. Whilst it would have required two excess coaches to create a 9 coach units, resulting in a fleet of 7.

However that would have meant that rather than 42 pantograph coaches for the 5 coach fleet it would have been 27 to 30 (giving a total of about 65 rather than 79).

Now bearing in mind that a 8 coach units would have had broadly the same capacity as a 4+5 pairing and a 9 coach units as a 5+5 pairing it would have allowed the retirement of the HST's and still provided a reasonable capacity increase (as there would be no 200 seat 4 coach units as they would all have been 260 seat 5 coach units adding about 30% to the capacity of the units) as well as a few extra sets which were the same capacity as a pair of units before the upgrade allowing a few extra days to run in pairs (at least over the core).

It may not have saved the project, but it could have made enough of a difference to have made it happen. As not only would it have been cheaper (especially as it could have seen the HST's withdrawn) but the total fleet capacity increase would have appeared more reasonable (depending on the option taken forwards somewhere about +10 to +20% rather than +30%) and the operation of the services would have been better (universal 5 coach fleet other than a few 9 coach units which could have allowed a 9 coach units or a pair of 5 coach units to provide the same service without much issue on overall capacity). Even seat reservations could have worked easily, for instance first class is in coach X and Y (2 different end coaches in the pair of units or the end coach and the half coach next to it on the longer units) with once end coach or part of a standard coach not having any reservations. It may have resulted in some odd letter formations (depending on which way around each set in the pair was) but it could have worked.

Chances are we'd still be taking about overcrowding on them now, however from a much better baseline.
 

TheBigD

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Any idea if these are actually booked as 2 cars or were short formed on the day?

I assume just short formed. Both diagrams are back to 3 car today, though the first Cambridge to Birmingham service was a 2 car this morning.
 

Andy Pacer

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I assume just short formed. Both diagrams are back to 3 car today, though the first Cambridge to Birmingham service was a 2 car this morning.
Would be a shame if there were routinely 2 car formations out regularly again, I thought the idea was the remaining 2 cars would run in 2 x 2 formation.
 

TheBigD

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XC have effectively lost a 3 car 170 as one is now on hire to EMR for the summer period (presumably to allow Skeggy trains to be strengthened for the summer).
 

quantinghome

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While this Forum didn't exist then, uk.railway absolutely did foresee the problems. They were obvious - if you improve something beyond recognition that is already busy and reduce the overall capacity slightly you will get overcrowding.
How specific was the franchise agreement regarding capacity? I get the impression the first-round franchisees had a lot more leeway to alter their plans. Wasn't VXC's original idea a combination of multiple units and loco-hauled sets?
 

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