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How might a national timetable be planned now if all Beeching-axed lines had never closed?

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PTR 444

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As somebody with a strong interest in planning speculative timetables for real and fantasy railway routes, I’ve often wondered about how a national railway timetable might look today if the Beeching axe never happened, and no lines had closed since then. It’s a hypothetical scenario and nobody knows whether there would ever be sufficient demand for these routes now (pre-Covid) had they remained open, but it’s hard not to imagine how routes such as the Great Central, Waverley, Castleman Corkscrew and Somerset & Dorset might fit into a 21st century service pattern.

Having recently discussed SWML Dorset service patterns on another thread, I thought I’d begin in the same area. You could run 3tph fast from London Waterloo to Dorset on the SWML, with 2tph to Weymouth and 1tph to Swanage. One of these would use route via Ringwood, Wimborne and Broadstone to provide better connectivity from these ever-growing settlements to further afield. This service would skip Brockenhurst although I am not sure if it would still be quicker than running via Bournemouth. Even so, both services via the coastal route would be calling at Branksome and Parkstone anyway, slowing them down somewhat.

In addition to this, I would use Bournemouth West as the main terminus for local services. There would be 1tph to Bristol via the S&DJR, 1tph to Salisbury via the other S&DJR, 1tph to Southampton Terminus via Ringwood and 2tph to Lymington via New Milton, which would absorb the existing shuttle service from Brockenhurst.

As previously said, this is a hypothetical scenario and I can’t say for certain whether these service patterns are most suited to current demand flows in the area. One notable quirk of this plan however is that Wareham and Hamworthy would have more trains per hour to London than Poole and Bournemouth would.

This is just the beginning of a bigger plan, so please feel free to add on your own proposals in your local area.
 
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30907

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Interesting idea.
IF Ringwood was electrified it might have a through service (detached at Southampton?) but I very much doubt it would run towards Wareham, as the demand beyond Wimborne would be back into Poole and Bournemouth.
Swanage would get a service via Bournemouth (detached from the other fast as in the 1967 timetable).
Broadstone to Hamworthy would just get its parly, using a diesel unit off the S&DJ (for non locals, there were two different S&DJs, both finishing at Bournemouth :) )
 

Mikey C

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If the Great Central had stayed open in full, then the major expansion of Chiltern services into Marylebone would never have happened as there wouldn't be the capacity, so we wouldn't have had the Marylebone to Snow Hill services...
 

MarkyT

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If the Great Central had stayed open in full, then the major expansion of Chiltern services into Marylebone would never have happened as there wouldn't be the capacity, so we wouldn't have had the Marylebone to Snow Hill services...
The old GWR axis through High Wycombe traditionally went into Paddington rather than Marylebone of course. The GC only shared the route between South Ruislip and Ashendon Junction. Capacity to accomodate Birmingham expresses as well at Paddington would be a challenge with today's service levels on the GWML though! On the shared GC/GWR section there were more platform loops and through lines in the traditional infrastructure than exist today that could allow trains with different calling patterns to overtake each other, although that was clearly at the cost of significantly longer journey times for the stoppers that pulled over to let the expresses pass.
 

Rail Blues

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And if the network was maintained at the size it was pre-axe we'd have probably had much older rolling stock and even less electrification than we have now, less frequent services.
 

Sad Sprinter

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If the Great Central had stayed open in full, then the major expansion of Chiltern services into Marylebone would never have happened as there wouldn't be the capacity, so we wouldn't have had the Marylebone to Snow Hill services...

Crossrail probably would have been built earlier because there would have been a greater need to relieve Paddington.
 

PTR 444

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Interesting idea.
IF Ringwood was electrified it might have a through service (detached at Southampton?) but I very much doubt it would run towards Wareham, as the demand beyond Wimborne would be back into Poole and Bournemouth.
Swanage would get a service via Bournemouth (detached from the other fast as in the 1967 timetable).
Broadstone to Hamworthy would just get its parly, using a diesel unit off the S&DJ (for non locals, there were two different S&DJs, both finishing at Bournemouth :) )
I expect if the Castleman Corkscrew route remained open, it and the Broadstone - Poole spur would have been electrified along with the rest of the Weymouth line in 1988. Even if no regular passenger services used the bit between Broadstone and Hamworthy, it would have likely seen plenty of use through diversions and potential summer Saturday specials to Weymouth.
 
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HSTEd

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There would be a massive programme of closures and rationalisations to save money to run trains to places people actually want to go
 

Glenn1969

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Or there wouldn't because large swathes (particularly in Yorkshire) now serve areas that are urbanised and could possibly justify a railway. Thinking Halifax- Bradford via Queensbury, maybe Halifax- Keighley for Dales connections. Leeds- Wetherby, Spen Valley, Harrogate- Ripon- Northallerton and Barnsley- Wombwell- Wath- Doncaster and Malton- Pickering- Whitby- Scarborough
 

zwk500

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I expect if the Castleman Corkscrew route remained open, it and the Broadstone - Poole spur would have been electrified along with the rest of the Weymouth line in 1988.
I expect that had it lasted that long, it'd have been closed when the electrification happened as the costs of upgrading it would have been so far off the scale. A very, very similar thing happened to Tunbridge Wells West-Eridge.
 

Mikey C

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The old GWR axis through High Wycombe traditionally went into Paddington rather than Marylebone of course. The GC only shared the route between South Ruislip and Ashendon Junction. Capacity to accomodate Birmingham expresses as well at Paddington would be a challenge with today's service levels on the GWML though! On the shared GC/GWR section there were more platform loops and through lines in the traditional infrastructure than exist today that could allow trains with different calling patterns to overtake each other, although that was clearly at the cost of significantly longer journey times for the stoppers that pulled over to let the expresses pass.
Even without the Birmingham services, the rest of the Chiltern line is far busier than it was then, with towns expanding significantly in recent years, driven by both the M40 Motorway and the improved service on the Chiltern Line, with the 165s and especially the 168s improving what was a Cinderella line. And indeed because the services are now geared towards the needs of the towns it passes through, rather than express trains from Manchester and Nottingham!
 
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