Liverpool Central to Chester or Southport in 30 minutes?

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Llandudno

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When Merseyrail’s new 777 units finally enter service, is it likely that their enhanced performance will generate significant journey time improvements to enable Southport and Chester to be reached in 30 minutes from Liverpool Central?
 
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Bletchleyite

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When Merseyrail’s new 777 units finally enter service, is it likely that their enhanced performance will generate significant journey time improvements to enable Southport and Chester to be reached in 30 minutes from Liverpool Central?

I don't know about 30 minutes, but certainly they will provide considerable journey time gains - the 507s and 508s are best described as sluggish, whereas Stadler's kit accelerates (well, almost) like a sports car.
 

TheSel

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When Merseyrail’s new 777 units finally enter service, is it likely that their enhanced performance will generate significant journey time improvements to enable Southport and Chester to be reached in 30 minutes from Liverpool Central?
Almost certainly not.

Yes, performance should be better than with the somewhat pedestrian 507/508s, but you have to remember that Liverpool Central - Southport has 15 intermediate stops, and Liverpool Central - Chester has 14 (two more in the other direction due to the 'loop').

Without quadrupling the track (and platforms), or very significant reductions in the number of station calls, 30 minutes will never be more than an aspiration, certainly not within my lifetime, anyway!
 

Llandudno

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Almost certainly not.

Yes, performance should be better than with the somewhat pedestrian 507/508s, but you have to remember that Liverpool Central - Southport has 15 intermediate stops, and Liverpool Central - Chester has 14 (two more in the other direction due to the 'loop').

Without quadrupling the track (and platforms), or very significant reductions in the number of station calls, 30 minutes will never be more than an aspiration, certainly not within my lifetime, anyway!
The current schedule allows 44 minutes from Liverpool Central to Chester including a generous 7 minutes running time for the 2 minute journey between Bache and Chester, so without including so much padding the faster trains could achieve a 35 minute run between Liverpool Central and Chester?

The current schedule allows 47 minutes from Liverpool Central to Southport, including 7 minutes running time between Birkdale and Southport for the 4 minute trip from Birkdale to Southport.
Could a tightening of the padding and the new trains achieve a 36-37 minute journey time?
 

S&CLER

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30-minute (or near 30-min.) timings from Southport to Liverpool Exchange were scheduled in 1935; e.g. the 08:05 stopped only at Birkdale, Formby, Hightown and Sandhills, reaching Exchange at 08:37. The 09:20 with 3 stops reached Exchange at 09:50 and the 09:40, also with 3 stops, reached Exchange at 10:10. All of these appear to have overtaken stopping trains on the former 4-track between Bootle and Bank Hall. The stock used at the time was the original L&Y build of 1904 and later years, the 10-foot wide trains, possibly with some of the dreadful compartment-stock "Lindberghs" built in the 1920s (and still in use in the 1950s, when they were very unpopular). Somewhere or other I read that a test train in 1904 reached Birkdale non-stop from Exchange in around 20 minutes, but I can't find the reference at short notice.

I don't feel that any gain from a few non-stop trains would outweigh the disruption to an easily understood standard timetable.
 

Ianno87

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I presume the Power Supply is being suitably boosted to make the most of the 777s capability?
 

TheSel

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The current schedule allows 44 minutes from Liverpool Central to Chester including a generous 7 minutes running time for the 2 minute journey between Bache and Chester, so without including so much padding the faster trains could achieve a 35 minute run between Liverpool Central and Chester?

The current schedule allows 47 minutes from Liverpool Central to Southport, including 7 minutes running time between Birkdale and Southport for the 4 minute trip from Birkdale to Southport.
Could a tightening of the padding and the new trains achieve a 36-37 minute journey time?
"achieve" - possibly. Whether that would be the routine schedule is another matter.
 

Bletchleyite

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The current schedule allows 44 minutes from Liverpool Central to Chester including a generous 7 minutes running time for the 2 minute journey between Bache and Chester, so without including so much padding the faster trains could achieve a 35 minute run between Liverpool Central and Chester?

The main thing to be gained on the Chester line is "enough slack", partly to put the Capenhurst stops back in (it's a bit of a confusing irritant to have a system that operates an all stations service except one station, and there's likely to be more housebuilding in the area anyway so will be more demand over time) and partly so the turnaround at Chester is acceptably long; at the moment it's way too tight and so punctuality can suffer with no layover at the other end.
 

S&CLER

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I presume the Power Supply is being suitably boosted to make the most of the 777s capability?
Apparently so; e.g. a new sub-station is being built at Hillside (it may have been completed by now, not sure, but I saw construction in progress a couple of months ago).
 

Bletchleyite

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Apparently so; e.g. a new sub-station is being built at Hillside (it may have been completed by now, not sure, but I saw construction in progress a couple of months ago).

Yep, another one somewhere between Maghull N and Ormskirk, too (I forget exactly where) which was causing a brief outbreak of NIMBYism.
 

S&CLER

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Yep, another one somewhere between Maghull N and Ormskirk, too (I forget exactly where) which was causing a brief outbreak of NIMBYism.
I think it was the outer end of the Ormskirk branch that suffered the worst voltage drop on Merseyrail.
 

The Planner

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The current schedule allows 44 minutes from Liverpool Central to Chester including a generous 7 minutes running time for the 2 minute journey between Bache and Chester, so without including so much padding the faster trains could achieve a 35 minute run between Liverpool Central and Chester?

The current schedule allows 47 minutes from Liverpool Central to Southport, including 7 minutes running time between Birkdale and Southport for the 4 minute trip from Birkdale to Southport.
Could a tightening of the padding and the new trains achieve a 36-37 minute journey time?
Does it? just looking at 2C30 today shows 46 minutes including the 3½ Merseyrail put in for performance. That only drops it to 42½ minutes. Bache to Chester has a SRT of 3 minutes. If you are stopping at all stations then you have ½ minute dwells regardless at 14, so 7 minutes straightaway.
777 SRTs are in the system now so I will see what differences there are if I get chance.
 

Llandudno

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Does it? just looking at 2C30 today shows 46 minutes including the 3½ Merseyrail put in for performance. That only drops it to 42½ minutes. Bache to Chester has a SRT of 3 minutes. If you are stopping at all stations then you have ½ minute dwells regardless at 14, so 7 minutes straightaway.
777 SRTs are in the system now so I will see what differences there are if I get chance.
I have been looking at the current public timetables published on the Merseytravel website.
 

Djgr

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30-minute (or near 30-min.) timings from Southport to Liverpool Exchange were scheduled in 1935; e.g. the 08:05 stopped only at Birkdale, Formby, Hightown and Sandhills, reaching Exchange at 08:37. The 09:20 with 3 stops reached Exchange at 09:50 and the 09:40, also with 3 stops, reached Exchange at 10:10. All of these appear to have overtaken stopping trains on the former 4-track between Bootle and Bank Hall. The stock used at the time was the original L&Y build of 1904 and later years, the 10-foot wide trains, possibly with some of the dreadful compartment-stock "Lindberghs" built in the 1920s (and still in use in the 1950s, when they were very unpopular). Somewhere or other I read that a test train in 1904 reached Birkdale non-stop from Exchange in around 20 minutes, but I can't find the reference at short notice.

I don't feel that any gain from a few non-stop trains would outweigh the disruption to an easily understood standard timetable.
In the dying days of Liverpool Exchange there used to be an hourly Southport express, which stopped around four times en route. Don't know what time it managed for the journey but we always planned our excursions around this train!
 

jamesst

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Don't forget the current timetabling are covid schedules which allow more generous running times on the Chester and Southport lines.
 

Dr Hoo

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A feature of the Southport line timetable in the early years of electrification was an hourly non-stop in 25 minutes from Liverpool Exchange then (reverse) all stations to Crossens. Somehow fitted in with a 20-minute frequency all-stations.
 

Y Ddraig Coch

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Don't forget the current timetabling are covid schedules which allow more generous running times on the Chester and Southport lines.

Why? Surely trains are much quieter currently? Shouldn't they be running way ahead of schedule rather than behind?
 

LNW-GW Joint

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There's no way to improve timings Rock Ferry-Liverpool round the loop, or Bache-Chester, the infrastructure is too restricted.
Trains are often held outside the TfW depot at Chester anyway, waiting for the outbound to pass - there's only one electrified platform at Chester.
I've gained 10 minutes on usual schedules on the odd occasions when the current units have been sent one-stop Chester-Hooton-Rock Ferry, but that's about it.
I've found the 50x units are very slow stoppers, more than slow starters.
They tend to brake very gradually and coast into stations.
777s should gain time at every stop if they are allowed to use maximum power.
 

Ianno87

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There's no way to improve timings Rock Ferry-Liverpool round the loop, or Bache-Chester, the infrastructure is too restricted.

A bit better acceleration/braking, and better dwell times at stops ought to add up to a small timetabled improvement.

E.g. Rock Ferry-Liverpool and back is 11(?) stops. 5 seconds improvement at each adds up to just shy of 1 minute.
 

TheSel

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Not directly comparable, I guess, but I have found the timetable for the Liverpool (Exchange) - Southport line from 7 May 1973 onwards.

Most 'all stops' journeys Southport - Liverpool were scheduled in 39 minutes, with generally a 15 minute headway.

There was one Monday - Friday journey that left Southport at 0816 (eleven minutes behind the 0805 'all stops'), which called all stops to Formby (0830 - at which point it was still 11 minutes behind the one in front), and then went non-stop to Liverpool Exchange, arriving at 0846 - two minutes behind the 0805 ex Southport. This journey was thus scheduled in precisely 30 minutes, end to end.

Most 'all stops' journeys Liverpool - Southport were scheduled in 38 minutes - again with the same general 15 minute headway.

There was a Monday - Friday journey that left Liverpool Exchange at 1702, ran non-stop to Waterloo (1711), and then called all stops to Southport, arriving at 1735, so 33 minutes end to end.

There was also a Monday - Saturday at 2315 from Liverpool Exchange, calling only at Waterloo, Blundellsands & Crosby, Formby and Ainsdale that was scheduled to arrive in Southport at 2343. This journey was thus scheduled in 28 minutes end to end.


I have also found the Liverpool - Rock Ferry [change] - Chester timetable for the same period.

Including the change at Rock Ferry, most services from Liverpool to Chester took 50 minutes, Monday - Saturday. The general pattern was

Liverpool Central xx25
Rock Ferry (arr) xx37
Rock Ferry (dep) xx38
Chester (arrive) xx15

In reverse, the general pattern was:

Chester (dep) xx25
Rock Ferry (arr) xx58
Rock Ferry (dep) xx06
Liverpool Central xx18

... most journeys thus taking 53 minutes, with a more comfortable allowance to change trains at Rock Ferry.

However, on Sundays, the Rock Ferry - Chester DMU service called only at Bromborough, so the service was far quicker. No nice 'clock-face' frequency, but eleven trains each way, with a total journey time of typically 39 minutes Liverpool - Chester, and as little as 36 minutes for one or two of the Chester - Liverpool services.

For example:

Liverpool Central 0910 - Rock Ferry 0922 [change] Rock Ferry 0926 - Chester 0949. 39 minutes.

Chester 1010 - Rock Ferry 1032 [change] Rock Ferry 1034 - Liverpool Central 1046. 36 minutes.

Edit:

I should have added that on Sundays, there was even an 'extra' (to the standard 30 minute frequency) EMU from Liverpool Central to Rock Ferry at 1156 (arriving in Rock Ferry at 1208), whose sole purpose appears to have been to offer a connection into the 1216 DMU to Chester. Without this, the connection into the 1216 ex Rock Ferry would have been the [standard clock-face] 1140 ex Liverpool Central.
 
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Llandudno

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Not directly comparable, I guess, but I have found the timetable for the Liverpool (Exchange) - Southport line from 7 May 1973 onwards.

Most 'all stops' journeys Southport - Liverpool were scheduled in 39 minutes, with generally a 15 minute headway.

There was one Monday - Friday journey that left Southport at 0816 (eleven minutes behind the 0805 'all stops'), which called all stops to Formby (0830 - at which point it was still 11 minutes behind the one in front), and then went non-stop to Liverpool Exchange, arriving at 0846 - two minutes behind the 0805 ex Southport. This journey was thus scheduled in precisely 30 minutes, end to end.

Most 'all stops' journeys Liverpool - Southport were scheduled in 38 minutes - again with the same general 15 minute headway.

There was a Monday - Friday journey that left Liverpool Exchange at 1702, ran non-stop to Waterloo (1711), and then called all stops to Southport, arriving at 1735, so 32 minutes end to end.

There was also a Monday - Saturday at 2315 from Liverpool Exchange, calling only at Waterloo, Blundellsands & Crosby, Formby and Ainsdale that was scheduled to arrive in Southport at 2343. This journey was thus scheduled in 28 minutes end to end.


I have also found the Liverpool - Rock Ferry [change] - Chester timetable for the same period.

Including the change at Rock Ferry, most services from Liverpool to Chester took 50 minutes, Monday - Saturday. The general pattern was

Liverpool Central xx25
Rock Ferry (arr) xx37
Rock Ferry (dep) xx38
Chester (arrive) xx15

In reverse, the general pattern was:

Chester (dep) xx25
Rock Ferry (arr) xx58
Rock Ferry (dep) xx06
Liverpool Central xx18

... most journeys thus taking 53 minutes, with a more comfortable allowance to change trains at Rock Ferry.

However, on Sundays, the Rock Ferry - Chester DMU service called only at Bromborough, so the service was far quicker. No nice 'clock-face' frequency, but eleven trains each way, with a total journey time of typically 39 minutes Liverpool - Chester, and as little as 36 minutes for one or two of the Chester - Liverpool services.

For example:

Liverpool Central 0910 - Rock Ferry 0922 [change] Rock Ferry 0926 - Chester 0949. 39 minutes.

Chester 1010 - Rock Ferry 1032 [change] Rock Ferry 1034 - Liverpool Central 1046. 36 minutes.
Obviously in the days when trains were held for connections!

It’s infuriating to arrive at Chester (from north Wales) to see the Merseyrail train depart from the adjacent platform just as the Welsh train arrives. Not so much of an issue Monday-Saturday 7am-7pm when a 15 minute frequency operates, but not great evening and Sundays when Merseyrail are every 30 minutes
 

Bletchleyite

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Obviously in the days when trains were held for connections!

It’s infuriating to arrive at Chester (from north Wales) to see the Merseyrail train depart from the adjacent platform just as the Welsh train arrives. Not so much of an issue Monday-Saturday 7am-7pm when a 15 minute frequency operates, but not great evening and Sundays when Merseyrail are every 30 minutes

An answer to that could potentially be to swap the Chester and Ellesmere Port services to the opposite 15 minutes off peak?
 

Llandudno

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An answer to that could potentially be to swap the Chester and Ellesmere Port services to the opposite 15 minutes off peak?
The Merseyrail 15 minute frequency should really continue until 8pm in the evening, and perhaps the Chester service should be every 15 minutes on Sundays from 10am as well.

But we are veering off topic...!
 

Gareth

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Maybe a 20 minute frequency should be introduced as a shoulder, or even a replacement for the half hour frequency.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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An answer to that could potentially be to swap the Chester and Ellesmere Port services to the opposite 15 minutes off peak?
It's not that long since Merseyrail did the reverse swap to the current pattern.
There was a logic to it but I forget what it was.
 
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