Lack of Northbound Peaks on ECML from York

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daniel3982

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Have spent the last few days working up in the N.East & have noticed there's a bit of a big gap in the morning peaks for Northbound services from York. There is a service to Aberdeen at 7:37 but the next train northbound isn't until 8:28!

How come there is such a big gap? Are the trains that would normally be operating strengthening peak services elsewhere on the Network? Or are they just incredibly bunched (I think there's something like 6 within an hour from 08:28 onwards), I thought there was pretty much a clockface service on the ECML these days and 5 services to Darlington & beyond per hour (1 x TPE, 2 x XC & 2 x EC)?

It makes commuting northbound very difficult as you are either too early for work or too late! Have had to kill an hour in Darlington before starting work both of the last 2 days.

Also the £24.50 return per day for a 28 minute journey is incredible! There can't be many more expensive stretches of route in the country!
 
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142094

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The Aberdeen train starts at Leeds, with the rest that go north after that coming from King's Cross. The first northbound train starts at Doncaster.
 

David

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Have spent the last few days working up in the N.East & have noticed there's a bit of a big gap in the morning peaks for Northbound services from York. There is a service to Aberdeen at 7:37 but the next train northbound isn't until 8:28!
It's because of where the various services start from. The Aberdeen service starts from Leeds, where as the 08:28 service is from London.
 

daniel3982

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Can understand the lack of EC trains then (I guess the first service to Newcastle must leave London around 6:28 then? That seems quite late for business travellers mind...

But TPE and XC don't seem to be picking up the slack either.
 

142094

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The approx hour gap would no doubt be hard to change due to where the other services start from:

08.28 to Glasgow Central starts at Birmingham
08.34 to Newcastle starts at King's Cross
08.42 to Newcastle starts at Liverpool Lime Street
08.49 to Newcastle starts at Birmingham.
 

David

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Again, it's down to where the stock is stabled and where it comes from.

TPE, the 185s either come from Manchester, or where ever there is some stabled for the first trips each day. There isn't that many units stabled at York.

XC now. There are a few units stabled at Newcastle (Tyne Yard I think) over night, but mainly northbound trains start at Birmingham, so takes a bit of time to reach York.
 

tbtc

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Have spent the last few days working up in the N.East & have noticed there's a bit of a big gap in the morning peaks for Northbound services from York. There is a service to Aberdeen at 7:37 but the next train northbound isn't until 8:28!

How come there is such a big gap?
Interesting point - I hadn't realised the gap was that big at that time (considering the five trains an hour at other times)

Partly due to where stock is first thing in the morning, partly because of the need to meet rush hour flows (e.g. the demand in the morning rush hour on TPE is to take people from York to Leeds, not to take people from York to Darlington - they cut their Newcastle service at rush hour to concentrate resources on Leeds).

Generally the busiest flows on the ECML are southbound in the morning and northbound in the afternoon/evening.

There's also an element of "coincidence"/ bad planning:

  • 07.31 XC to Newcastle
  • 07.37 East Coast to Aberdeen

  • 08.34 East Coast to Newcastle
  • 08.38 XC to Glasgow
  • 08.42 TPE to Newcastle

So five trains in just over seventy minutes, but a huge gap between the second and the third one
 

142094

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All the TPE services through York to Newcastle start elsewhere - from memory the ones that start off at York go to Middlesbrough, Scarborough and then across the Pennines.
 

daniel3982

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Very interesting contributions all round, thanks for clearing it up for me. Just shows the difficulty in planning a railway & how it will never be able to suit everyone!

Thankfully I was only in Darlington for the last 2 days so it won't effect me in the future. But I guess it must cause a lot of problems for people living in Thirsk/Northallerton who would commute north for work/school too.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
The approx hour gap would no doubt be hard to change due to where the other services start from:

08.28 to Glasgow Central starts at Birmingham
08.34 to Newcastle starts at King's Cross
08.42 to Newcastle starts at Liverpool Lime Street
08.49 to Newcastle starts at Birmingham.
If there was a circa 08:00 XC service originating in Brum it would close the gap & could stop at all points serving commuters into York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle. Am sure it would do very well!

Even a TPE service at 07:49 would fill the gap somewhat.

Of course in an ideal world (ie pre-privatisation) you could've run a peak hour commuter calling at all points into York and north, hey even a 142! It's not like there's anything to get caught behind it!
 

DaveNewcastle

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From my recollection, the earliest East Coast shift for Newcastle-based crew is at 03:<something> in the morning (after having got yourself to Newcastle Central Station which might involve setting an alarm clock for 01:30 to be safe) in order to take a taxi for the 80+ miles to York, so that you are there in good time to work the first service of the day from York.

Now if you or I sat down in front of a big map and planned how to run the operations of a Railway Operating Company, we might not select that option. But they did. That's how the mornings start for EC crews.
 

tbtc

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Very interesting contributions all round, thanks for clearing it up for me. Just shows the difficulty in planning a railway & how it will never be able to suit everyone!

Thankfully I was only in Darlington for the last 2 days so it won't effect me in the future. But I guess it must cause a lot of problems for people living in Thirsk/Northallerton who would commute north for work/school too.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---

If there was a circa 08:00 XC service originating in Brum it would close the gap & could stop at all points serving commuters into York, Darlington, Durham and Newcastle. Am sure it would do very well!

Even a TPE service at 07:49 would fill the gap somewhat.

Of course in an ideal world (ie pre-privatisation) you could've run a peak hour commuter calling at all points into York and north, hey even a 142! It's not like there's anything to get caught behind it!
There are Northern services (ex Saltburn) from Darlington to Newcastle at 07.20 and 08.22 which fill part of the gap between Darlington/ Durham and Newcastle at those times in the morning.

However this means Northern using a DMU (142/156) that is a lot shorter than the (XC/ East Coast/ TPE) "Intercity" stock that normally runs the York - Darlington - Newcastle services, yet it means Northern divert their own precious DMUs away from serving the Durham Coast/ Sunderland at rush hour.

If you could run a (long) train from York at (say) eight o'clock in the morning then this could replace the Northern service north of Darlington, give more seats between Darlington/ Durham/ Newcastle and allow Northern to improve capacity through Hartlepool/ Sunderland.

The closest I can find to a "spare" train (of a reasonable length) is the GC HST that isn't needed in Sunderland until 08.42, but that would be too early to run a service from York that gets into Newcastle at rush hour (plus, of course, all the complication about different TOCs and all that)

Frustrating
 

Bevan Price

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Your post prompted me to look back how things used to be, and it was much worse in the steam age. For example, from the 1954/55 Timetable, York morning departures (after the overnight sleepers had gone) were:
06:40 to Edinburgh, calling at most of the (now closed) stations to Darlington (arrive 08:16)
08:35 to Newcastle (semi-fast, Darlington arrive 09:45
09:46 (09:10 Leeds - Glasgow), Darlington arrive 10:29
10:05 to Edinburgh, semi-fast, Darlington arrive 11:10
11:30 (08:02 Birmingham - Newcastle), Darlington arrive 12:13

A total of 5 trains.
Of course, at that time, outside London, there were probably a lot fewer people commuting daily between towns 40+ miles apart. And the little (now closed) stations such as Beningborough & Tollerton had just one morning train in each direction, but no way of getting home in the evening - no wonder that they closed with such useless services.
.
 

yorkie

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Also the £24.50 return per day for a 28 minute journey is incredible!
Can you clarify what the reference to the 28 minute journey time means? Are you saying that a faster journey time makes the price better or worse value?

I'd expect a faster journey to be better value, but then the opening statement does not make sense if you agree with that.

There can't be many more expensive stretches of route in the country!
There must be loads of more expensive stretches. This particular stretch is 44 miles in length.

Ashford - Stratford Int is only around 6 miles further yet costs well over double that, £59.00 for a day return at that time! (Journey time 31 minutes), but if you avoid HS1 then the price drops to £49.30, but that's still nearly double the price, though the journey time increases significantly to around 80 minutes.

Ebbsfleet - London costs a fiver more, £29.40, yet is around 20 miles shorter distance!

Moving away from HS1, Northampton to Watford is a very similar distance (48 miles) yet costs £38.70. The only direct train in the morning peak takes around 50 minutes.

There are hundreds, if not thousands of other examples.

I totally agree with you that the prices are too high, but this particular route is actually not one of the more expensive ones.

XC have crew and stock at Leeds,
Why cant they run a 07:30 service to Edinburgh or something?
To clarify, are you suggesting that XC hire additional staff and lease additional stock to operate an 0730 Leeds-Edinburgh and an ECS return?

While many of us would agree that an additional service would be most welcome, it is not that simple.

To directly answer the question: there's no reason they can't, but of course they won't as it is not cost effective to do so, the DfT has not allocated them additional stock, nor put such a service in the franchise specification. There's no way XC would recoup the additional costs of running such a service, so they won't do it.
 
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swt_passenger

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XC have crew and stock at Leeds,
Why cant they run a 07:30 service to Edinburgh or something?
Because the crew and stock based at Leeds is already providing the southbound service that starts there, so you'd fix one problem and cause a gap in the peak service between Leeds and New St - which is where the caacity is needed...
 

DarloRich

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It was very frustrating when I lived in York and commuted to Darlington. The 0737 was the only train that could get me to work on time. (I don’t think there was an XC train running at that time)

It was fine but it did mean an early start from home. However it was very frustrating if the train was delayed or cancelled as there was a long wait and a call to work telling them you would be late.

A more even spread of trains would be better but i guess there is no money to run those services.


I cant see an extra service starting from anywhere other than York and running to Newcastle for the reasons 142094 sets out @ #5. I cant see EC or XC wanting/being able to run such a service. That leaves TPE, Northern or GC at a push.

Whilst TPE do stable overnight at York I would imagine all of their units are diagrammed off there in the morning to cover York- Leeds/Manchester route where there will be greater demand.

I cant imagine that GC would be interested in such a service, even if they were allowed to run it. They would have to send an HST set ECS from Heaton to York to work back and then to Sunderland all in time to cover the 0842 off Sunderland.

I wonder if in an ideal world a Northern service could be run York-Thirsk-Northallerton-Darlo and then take the path of one of the early Darlo-Newcastle services perhaps the early one would be best as the later one is ram jammed by after Durham.

This would give another service north (at least between York & Darlo) but would mean chopping off one of the Saltburns at Darlo. Perhaps they might allocate one of their "new" EMU's to this service in the future. :lol:

So the only realistic service provider is Northern but I doubt their stock could stretch to cover it. I do like the idea of a GC HST all pots stopper York-Newcastle on a morning.
 

Jonny

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The irony is that, during that gap, the last (!!!) northbound Northern Rail runs between Darlington and Newcastle runs.

As for the fare, it's decent value given the distance and speed involved (less than 50p/mile for a round trip)

Agreed though, there are some massive gaps and I would dare to say that it doesn't get better across the day. Now, if only Northern could get a hold of the off-lease 317/7s... ;)
 

34D

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Of course in an ideal world (ie pre-privatisation) you could've run a peak hour commuter calling at all points into York and north, hey even a 142! It's not like there's anything to get caught behind it!
In the early 90s there was an evening peak Leeds-Darlington and return (all stops via Garforth I think) which was usually a class 141.
 

sprinterguy

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To clarify, are you suggesting that XC hire additional staff and lease additional stock to operate an 0730 Leeds-Edinburgh and an ECS return?

While many of us would agree that an additional service would be most welcome, it is not that simple.

To directly answer the question: there's no reason they can't, but of course they won't as it is not cost effective to do so, the DfT has not allocated them additional stock, nor put such a service in the franchise specification. There's no way XC would recoup the additional costs of running such a service, so they won't do it.
Do either the 09:00 Glasgow Central - Plymouth or the 08:20 Aberdeen to Plymouth run as a pair of Voyagers for any section of their journey? If they do, then the present 05:56 Derby to Newcastle (the 07:31 departure from York) could be extended to Edinburgh, arriving at 10:05 and then run back with the unit that forms either the 09:00 from Glasgow (Rapid 5 minute turnaround at Waverley) or the 08:20 from Aberdeen (Over an hours wait), acting as the second unit that would have been added further down the route.

An additional 06:15-06:20ish departure from Derby could run to Newcastle using the unit that would have otherwise formed the 05:56 from Derby to fill in the gap at York by providing an 08:00 departure to Newcastle, still arriving in time to form the stock for the 09:35 Newcastle to Southampton, which I presume is what the 05:56 Derby to Newcastle currently goes on to do.

That would mean that no extra rolling stock would be required, though an extra traincrew most likely would be.

P.S. To move the complaints with ECML timetabling further north, I've only just realised just how abysmally the Crosscountry services to Edinburgh integrate with the EC timetable north of Newcastle: Every hour, the two trains an hour to Newcastle, one XC and one EC, depart virtually on top of each other! Even worse, in the 14 minutes between 12:38 and 12:52, there are no less than three trains depart Newcastle for Edinburgh (Two East Coast, one Crosscountry), and then NOTHING until 13:38! There's a few other hours like this throughout the day, too. I thought the new Eureka timetable was intended to eradicate conflicts like this? That's appalling!
 
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4SRKT

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When I saw this thread I thought it was about 25 years too late to be moaning that duffs had taken over all the Liverpool > Newcastles consigned the 45s to history.
 
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