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If 20% of train services are to be cut due to the change in usage patterns, what would you cut?

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Bletchleyite

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Creating a speculative thread to discuss our ideas.

I think there's plenty of scope for simplification and reduction to levels representing demand, for example:
  • South WCML: base it on 2 reasonably fast, evenly spaced TPH per station (main stations will obviously get 4 or 6 as applicable, but 2 of them will be most useful), using more 12-car formations. As an example, how about 2tph all WCML stations to Tring, 2tph WFJ, Tring (for interchange), Cheddington, Leighton, Bletchley, MKC, 2tph Watford or Leighton, possibly Bletchley (certainly post EWR), MKC, Wolverton, Northampton, Long Buckby, Rugby, stations to Birmingham, plus the Crewe (Watford, MKC, Rugby then all stations to Crewe)? Mostly 12 car formations, 8 at quiet times, no 4s at all. Plus the Southern (8 car). If these were flighted from Euston it might well be possible to run them wholly on the slows except the Crewe?
  • WCML IC: at the same time, recast to 2tph (all 11-car formations) to Manchester and Birmingham.
  • TPE: 2tph Liverpool-Vic-onward, 2tph Manchester Pic main trainshed-onward, 1tph to each of the 4 north TPE branches (Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Scarborough, 'Ull), Edinburgh cut back to Newcastle as it was a silly idea to start with; Ordsall used for local services only though I'm not sure quite what.
  • Southport: cut to 1tph with New Lane/Bescar Lane/Hoscar either closed or request stops on all trains (they wouldn't often be requested as hardly anyone uses them). Run using 769s or 4-car formations of DMU. In compensation for the reduction it would run via Bolton and Castlefield rather than Vic as the Sandgrounders really seem to want. Perhaps a peak extra to Vic like there used to be. This would essentially just be a return to the pre-1998 timetable, which was a near-hourly (slightly oddly timetabled) Southport to Buxton - ideal for 769s!
I'm sure people can speculate their own.
 
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TPE: 2tph Liverpool-Vic-onward, 2tph Manchester Pic main trainshed-onward, 1tph to each of the 4 north TPE branches (Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Scarborough, 'Ull), Edinburgh cut back to Newcastle as it was a silly idea to start with

I’d focus most of the cuts in the south east, where commuting has taken the biggest hit.

With regards to TPE, if cut to 4 tph on the north trans pennine route I’d actually rationalise the TPE northern destinations. I.e. focus on Newcastle & Hull.
 

Bletchleyite

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I’d focus most of the cuts in the south east, where commuting has taken the biggest hit.

Yes, probably true. I can see it being viable to switch most of the SE to a standard pattern clockface all-day timetable more like what you tend to find operates in the SE on Saturdays (possibly, like Merseyrail, halve it after about 2000 and before about 0600). On routes where lengths are 4/8/12, 8 all day but 12 in the peaks would probably suffice for a much reduced level of commuting (you can get an idea by looking at Friday loadings pre-COVID in much of the SE). Where they are 5/10, what is needed will vary somewhat so will need individual cases considering. Where 8 is the max, probably 8 all day.

I'd be looking at the European style principles of:
1. Keep it consistent and clockface. Where demand varies, vary train lengths.
2. Same timetable every day, ideally in the long run including Sundays even if the "thinning period" was different.
3. Spare paths are a good thing, not a bad thing, as they provide resilience.
4. If you split anything off as a connection, make sure it actually does connect and look at platforming to ease it where feasible.

I also wouldn't reduce anything below hourly if it's currently hourly or better. Hourly is a bit of a "tipping point" frequency below which people usually just won't use it. But where there are routes like Lancaster-Leeds which are sub-hourly anyway, look at usage and connections and plan something that is actually useful, even if it's lower frequency than the maximum you can get out of a single unit (see also Conwy Valley, which would be better off with 4 well-timed round trips rather than the present 5 (usually 6) badly-timed ones).
 
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HST43257

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From my experience so far in the past 5 months or so, local trains are much busier than intercity ones. For this reason I’d suggest many intercity cuts to keep local trains running as much as possible.


For LNER, I’d combine the calling points on the 2 Leeds services to create a 1tph London to Leeds service as well as axing the xx00 Anglo Scot - the xx30 can make an additional stop at Berwick and that’s sorted.


For TPE and XC, I agree with how it broadly is at the moment, though I’d thin out some TPE services:

TPE
1tph Redcar Central to Manchester Airport 6 car
1tph Newcastle to Liverpool Lime Street 5 car
1tp2h Hull to Manchester 6 car
1tp2h Scarborough to York 5 car
1tph Cleethorpes to Manchester 6 car

XC
1tph Manchester to Bournemouth 8-10 car
1tph Edinburgh to Plymouth (some extensions at either end) 7-10 car
1tph Cardiff to Nottingham 4-6 car
1tph Birmingham to Cambridge 4-6 car


Now Avanti is a bit more difficult in my opinion. I’d merge the 2 London to Manchester via Stoke services, similar to my London to Leeds LNER idea. London to Glasgow via Trent Valley can run bi-hourly while the London to Edinburgh via Birmingham stays the same (1tp2h). But then how do the Chester, Liverpool and Manchester (via Crewe) services get thinned out?
Could there maybe be 1tp2h London to Manchester via Crewe, with the Chester/Holyhead service starting from Crewe and the Liverpool service running with a 1tp2h frequency?


For intercity/long distance EMR services, I’d say:
1tph London to Sheffield 5-8 car
1tph London to Nottingham 5-8 car
1tp2h Sheffield to Norwich 4 car (TPE covers Hope Valley)
1tph London to Corby 5-8 car
 
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yorksrob

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The key thing to me is that vital regional services which already have services of one train an hour or less, should not see reductions. Reductions should be made on routes with frequent services, but for which the justification for that frequency has fallen away.

Going to twice an hour on Manchester/Birmingham - London is an example where this is sensible. Thinning out some Thameslink core frequency might be another.
 
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I expect commuting will take the biggest long term hit, so cutting the peak extra services would seem to make sense, extending the off-peak timetable throughout the day. In the long term it would make the railway more efficient as a lot of rolling stock is used only for the peaks. It would also mean that many of the bottlenecks would be under less strain, as presumably they are most strained during peaks. Furthermore, having a clockface timetable throughout the day including the peaks would make timetabling simpler for the planners and the passengers. What proportion of services would this approximately account for?

The other services I'd cut would be the airport dedicated services (although how much air traffic reduces in the long term remains to be seen), which largely seems to have happened.
 

Parallel

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Another thing to look at is if other services that run on the route already but only stop at some stations could be made into stopping trains. Maybe not a great example but Shrewsbury-Birmingham WMT service could stop at all stops after Wolverhampton, replacing the need the Walsall trains to extend through.

I wonder if we will see more portion working too and services splitting/joining which would save on paths and train crew.
 

backontrack

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For LNER, I’d combine the calling points on the 2 Leeds services to create a 1tph London to Leeds service as well as axing the xx00 Anglo Scot - the xx30 can make an additional stop at Berwick and that’s sorted.
Why not alternate the 00:30 Edinburgh and the second Leeds?

3tp2h London - Leeds
3tp2h London - Newcastle - Edinburgh
4tp2h London - York (terminator, Edinburgh fast, Edinburgh fast, 00:30 Edinburgh) -> change onto TPE/XC in either direction
 

Ianno87

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So, I'll repeat again....

Over what timescale is this 20% reduction?

Is this in say 5 years time, once the Covid period is ended and normal growth can resume?

Or is this in 30 years' time?


A 20% reduction on 2019 demand takes it back to the level it was in 2011.

Apply some organic growth on that and you'll soon be needing 2019 levels of service to accommodate it, perhaps tailored to be less "peaky".

Recasting to bake in reduced levels of service risks being a very short-sighted move.
 

py_megapixel

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I'd make direct Cheltenham to London trains a peak-time only thing. (In addition, the first off-peak service in the morning and the off-peak service immediately before and after the evening peak could be made direct to and from London, respectively, for tourism purposes). Off-peak, a shuttle to Swindon for connections to another London service could be offered instead.
 

HamworthyGoods

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I'd make direct Cheltenham to London trains a peak-time only thing. (In addition, the first off-peak service in the morning and the off-peak service immediately before and after the evening peak could be made direct to and from London, respectively, for tourism purposes). Off-peak, a shuttle to Swindon for connections to another London service could be offered instead.

doesn’t that go against the view that leisure travel is more likely to recover than peak commuting - surely your proposal is the wrong way round?
 

DB

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I’d focus most of the cuts in the south east, where commuting has taken the biggest hit.

With regards to TPE, if cut to 4 tph on the north trans pennine route I’d actually rationalise the TPE northern destinations. I.e. focus on Newcastle & Hull.

Given that Newcastle is well served by other operators from at least York, if any that would be the one to cut. TPE is the main operator to Scarborough and Middlesbrough so they really couldn't afford to lose that.
 

TheBigD

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Whilst there may be some low hanging fruit surely growing revenue at the same time should be a priority.

For example, would stopping the Stansted-Birmingham trains at Hinckley and Narborough giving those growing towns/suburbs a half hourly service to Leicester and Birmingham and withdrawing the 2 peak time extras be a better option than cutting out 1 in 5 of the services?
(other examples welcome!)

Could low hanging fruit could include...

Either the Norwich-Stansted or the Birmingham-Stansted terminate at Cambridge.
The 2 hourly Kings Cross York's withdrawn.
The peak hour extras that run on a lot of routes allowing some stock to be returned to the leasing companies, assuming the lease allows an early return.
Do Birmingham and Manchester need 3 trains an hour to London or would 2 suffice.
Would withdrawing the new fast Bristol-Paddington's trains allow an hourly Penzance-Paddington service to operate and the castle HST sets withdrawn?

Just my musings...
 

DB

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Whilst there may be some low hanging fruit surely growing revenue at the same time should be a priority.

For example, would stopping the Stansted-Birmingham trains at Hinckley and Narborough giving those growing towns/suburbs a half hourly service to Leicester and Birmingham and withdrawing the 2 peak time extras be a better option than cutting out 1 in 5 of the services?
(other examples welcome!)

Could low hanging fruit could include...

Either the Norwich-Stansted or the Birmingham-Stansted terminate at Cambridge.
The 2 hourly Kings Cross York's withdrawn.
The peak hour extras that run on a lot of routes allowing some stock to be returned to the leasing companies, assuming the lease allows an early return.
Do Birmingham and Manchester need 3 trains an hour to London or would 2 suffice.
Would withdrawing the new fast Bristol-Paddington's trains allow an hourly Penzance-Paddington service to operate and the castle HST sets withdrawn?

Just my musings...

The danger of returning stock to the leasing companies is that they will have to pay to store it, and might choose to scrap some of it instead. Then what happens if demand bounces back more quickly than expected?
 

DB

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Easy. Put the fares up to increase the yield or find some other way of rationing use - eg compulsory reservations.

And thereby put more cars on the road. Doesn't exactly fit with emissions reduction, does it?
 

The Planner

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So, I'll repeat again....

Over what timescale is this 20% reduction?

Is this in say 5 years time, once the Covid period is ended and normal growth can resume?

Or is this in 30 years' time?


A 20% reduction on 2019 demand takes it back to the level it was in 2011.

Apply some organic growth on that and you'll soon be needing 2019 levels of service to accommodate it, perhaps tailored to be less "peaky".

Recasting to bake in reduced levels of service risks being a very short-sighted move.
This. Considering any sizeable recast is two years in the making dependent on where it is, start messing with a sizeable geographic areas that interact and you are looking at three minimum. Unless you recast or re-write with paths that sit there as strategic like we do with freight that can be "switched on" without an intervention.
 

43096

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The danger of returning stock to the leasing companies is that they will have to pay to store it, and might choose to scrap some of it instead. Then what happens if demand bounces back more quickly than expected?
There’s also the issue that you cannot just hand stuff back to the leasing company when you want to. There’s normally long term contracts in place for them and they can’t just be unilaterally broken.
 

Bletchleyite

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Road pricing ought to take care of that if you were taking a fully integrated approach.

How does road pricing do anything if the train is compulsory reservation and full? It's then drive or don't go, and people are going to choose drive, even if it's a bit expensive.

The danger of returning stock to the leasing companies is that they will have to pay to store it, and might choose to scrap some of it instead. Then what happens if demand bounces back more quickly than expected?

There is some stock that really needs scrapping - most notably classes 150, 153/155 and 156, which are the older ex-BR designs and have polluting, old-style engines. So bin all that off and cascade, if anything is spare. The railway direly needs its environmental credential or electric cars will do it serious harm.

Mini-HSTs are older, but they have had new engines more recently. Consider the 150 as a 1980s build house with its original boiler, but the mini-HST as a 1970s house that has had a new condensing boiler fitted a few years ago, a new front door and a decent coat of paint.
 

2L70

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LNER have already started to withdraw the daytime Lincoln - London services with a connecting coach to Newark Northgate.

If you pulled the York Stoppers need to put in some additional calls at Retford and Grantham.

And where does open access come into this? Hull Trains provides a useful link Doncaster - Selby and GC up the Durham Coast in addition to their core London business.

is there a need for the likes of FEC?
 

py_megapixel

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doesn’t that go against the view that leisure travel is more likely to recover than peak commuting - surely your proposal is the wrong way round?
Good point.

What would probably make the most sense, on second thoughts, would be a reversion to the timetable a few years ago which saw Swindon shuttles with about half of them extended to London - however, fewer could go to London, thereby reducing the number of diagrams needed.

In an ideal world, the Swindon terminators could be operated by the same stock as the London ones, so that they could interwork - maybe pairs of 3-car 158s?
 

Bletchleyite

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What would probably make the most sense, on second thoughts, would be a reversion to the timetable a few years ago

While I wouldn't fully go back to the late 90s, with e.g. XC only a few a day or mostly 1tph to each WCML destination, there is a lot in the pre-1998 timetables to commend - it was after that that "railway mania" kicked in with frequencies raised to excessive levels. Would the pre-1998 timetable with a few upgrades actually represent the need here fairly well? Even Castlefield largely worked (though some services didn't, e.g. the Liverpool-Norwich which was chronically unpunctual and seriously overcrowded at 2-car).
 

HST43257

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Why not alternate the 00:30 Edinburgh and the second Leeds?

3tp2h London - Leeds
3tp2h London - Newcastle - Edinburgh
4tp2h London - York (terminator, Edinburgh fast, Edinburgh fast, 00:30 Edinburgh) -> change onto TPE/XC in either direction
3tp2h to Leeds and 3tp2h to Edinburgh is too much - 2tp2h (or 1tph) to each should be perfect. They’re prime examples of air expresses with 2tph to each. Halve that and you have a slightly busier, but still incredibly safe service AND that brings costs down.
 

Bletchleyite

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3tp2h to Leeds and 3tp2h to Edinburgh is too much - 2tp2h (or 1tph) to each should be perfect. They’re prime examples of air expresses with 2tph to each. Halve that and you have a slightly busier, but still incredibly safe service AND that brings costs down.

There's also that a timetable on a 2 hour cycle is less easy to understand than one on a 1 hour cycle. Though I suppose people travelling on LNER are more likely to be booking in advance rather than needing a service that's easy to remember.
 

HST43257

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There's also that a timetable on a 2 hour cycle is less easy to understand than one on a 1 hour cycle. Though I suppose people travelling on LNER are more likely to be booking in advance rather than needing a service that's easy to remember.
very true - the only LNER service where I’d have 1tp2h is the York stopper, as that’s the current service.
 

ChristopherJ

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My post-COVID timetable plan.

In metro areas, every 15 minutes.
In urban areas, every 30 minutes.
In intercity/rural areas, every 1 hour.

Every train to be 8 cars maximum, with extensions to 12 cars in peak time.

Simples.
 

Peter0124

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From my experience so far in the past 5 months or so, local trains are much busier than intercity ones. For this reason I’d suggest many intercity cuts to keep local trains running as much as possible.


For LNER, I’d combine the calling points on the 2 Leeds services to create a 1tph London to Leeds service as well as axing the xx00 Anglo Scot - the xx30 can make an additional stop at Berwick and that’s sorted.


For TPE and XC, I agree with how it broadly is at the moment, though I’d thin out some TPE services:

TPE
1tph Redcar Central to Manchester Airport 6 car
1tph Newcastle to Liverpool Lime Street 5 car
1tp2h Hull to Manchester 6 car
1tp2h Scarborough to York 5 car
1tph Cleethorpes to Manchester 6 car

XC
1tph Manchester to Bournemouth 8-10 car
1tph Edinburgh to Plymouth (some extensions at either end) 7-10 car
1tph Cardiff to Nottingham 4-6 car
1tph Birmingham to Cambridge 4-6 car


Now Avanti is a bit more difficult in my opinion. I’d merge the 2 London to Manchester via Stoke services, similar to my London to Leeds LNER idea. London to Glasgow via Trent Valley can run bi-hourly while the London to Edinburgh via Birmingham stays the same (1tp2h). But then how do the Chester, Liverpool and Manchester (via Crewe) services get thinned out?
Could there maybe be 1tp2h London to Manchester via Crewe, with the Chester/Holyhead service starting from Crewe and the Liverpool service running with a 1tp2h frequency?


For intercity/long distance EMR services, I’d say:
1tph London to Sheffield 5-8 car
1tph London to Nottingham 5-8 car
1tp2h Sheffield to Norwich 4 car (TPE covers Hope Valley)
1tph London to Corby 5-8 car
Why 1tp2h London-Glasgow and Liverpool? Surely they should stay with their current hourly service (Perhaps without or with a reduced London-Brum-Glasgow and the xx:33 Liverpool extras). These routes are busy especially on summer holidays/for leisure and that should be the first travelling market to bounce back
 
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