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London Midland service to Gloucester

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Harbornite

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I'm aware that LM dropped their hourly(?) service to Gloucester in 2009, but a parliamentary service survives. I hadn't seen it on realtimetrains until today.

http://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/train/P63390/2016/08/26/advanced


It seems to run every friday. My question is this: why is it down as an unknown (ZZ) service after Worcester Shrub Hill? Is this due to who is responsible for staffing?

Ta in advance.
 
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adrock1976

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What's it called? It's called Cumbernauld
I'm not sure, but the only explanation I can think of at this moment in time is that it could be crewed by LM staff, with either GWR or Crosscountry taking over the leg to Gloucester.

Another explanation is that it may be a runs as required beyond Worcester.

On a side note, as the Stourbridge Railway was my local line (I am originally from the West Midlands), I can remember Regional Railways Central operating the Birmingham NS - Cardiff Central along that route, calling at Cradley Heath (my local station), Stourbridge Junction, Kidderminster, Droitwich Spa, Worcester Shrub Hill, Cheltenham Spa, Gloucester, Lydney, Chepstow, Caldicot, Newport, and Cardiff Central. This was operated by Class 156 Super Sprinters every 2 hours. Furthermore, around the time when Ashchurch for Tewkesbury reopened, I think that is when the BHM - CDF services were rerouted via Bromsgrove, calling at Bromsgrove, Droitwich Spa, Worcester Shrub Hill, Ashchurch for Tewkesbury, etc. Today's services run directly along the Birmingham & Gloucester Railway, no longer serving Droitwich and Worcester.

In recent times, the calls at Ashchurch for Tewkesbury on the present day Nottingham - Cardiff services were controversially cut, which means that for most journeys to and from Birmingham, you have to do a ridiculous doubleback via Cheltenham Spa, or a not friendly platform change at Worcester Foregate Street.

There are a few Crosscountry services that that are routed via Worcester and Stourbridge for route knowledge, normally first thing and last thing on Sundays. Check out the PSUL website for further details.
 
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Harbornite

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I can remember Regional Railways Central operating the Birmingham NS - Cardiff Central along that route, calling at Cradley Heath (my local station), Stourbridge Junction, Kidderminster, Droitwich Spa, Worcester Shrub Hill, Cheltenham Spa, Gloucester, Lydney, Chepstow, Caldicot, Newport, and Cardiff Central. This was operated by Class 156 Super Sprinters every 2 hours. Furthermore, around the time when Ashchurch for Tewkesbury reopened, I think that is when the BHM - CDF services were rerouted via Bromsgrove, calling at Bromsgrove, Droitwich Spa, Worcester Shrub Hill, Ashchurch for Tewkesbury, etc. Today's services run directly along the Birmingham & Gloucester Railway, no longer serving Droitwich and Worcester.

In recent times, the calls at Ashchurch for Tewkesbury on the present day Nottingham - Cardiff services were controversially cut, which means that for most journeys to and from Birmingham, you have to do a ridiculous doubleback via Cheltenham Spa, or a not friendly platform change at Worcester Foregate Street.

There are a few Crosscountry services that that are routed via Worcester and Stourbridge for route knowledge, normally first thing and last thing on Sundays. Check out the PSUL website for further details.

An interesting post, cheers.

I was recently looking at the Stourbridge line user group website which also explains the services on the line. It should be made clear that all the Cardiff Central services via Stourbridge started at New Street; these ran until 1990 according to this document. One of the reasons given for axing Cardiff- New Street via Worcester was that the central Trains train would lose revenue because it would be overtaken by the Virgin Crosscountry one on the Gloucester route. This no longer matters now that the NE-SW and Brum/Notts to Cardiff Central are all operated by Arriva XC. There were also some New Street to Hereford services which ran via Stourbridge; these ceased in 2004.

Regarding XC, there is a turbostar early in the morning and one late in the day and the line proved useful back in 2014 when all XC Southwest- Northeast services were sent via Worcester and Rowley Regis etc. It is a shame that Worcester doesn't have any XC services any more (one reason for this is the Victorian landowner's opposition to railways in Worcester in the early years). However, this issue should partly be alleviated when Worcestershire Parkway opens.


Anyway, here are some old timetables.

http://stourbridgelineusergroup.info/Timetable - 1987.pdf

http://stourbridgelineusergroup.info/Timetable - 1993.pdf

http://stourbridgelineusergroup.info/Timetable - 1997.pdf
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I found the article I was looking for which discusses the train services on the Stourbridge line throughout history.

http://www.stourbridgelineusergroup.info/PDF/Microsoft Word - Those Were The Days-1.pdf


By the 1970's, the Stourbridge line was at its lowest ebb. The first signs of recovery came in 1979 when WMPTE began a half-hourly off-peak service
between Birmingham New Street and Stourbridge Junction. Trains left New Street at 00 and 30 minutes past each hour, with the services at 00
continuing at least as far as Kidderminster. In the reverse direction, departures from Stourbridge were at 10 and 40, with the departures at 10 coming
north from Kidderminster.
In May 1983, a major change was made to the timetable. All Birmingham to Worcester services were concentrated on the Stourbridge route, with an
hourly semi-fast service calling at Cradley Heath (by now renamed from Cradley), Stourbridge Junction, Kidderminster, Droitwich Spa and one or both
Worcester stations. Some trains continued to Great Malvern or Hereford. A Sunday service was also reintroduced for the first time since 1965 with a
two-hourly frequency, and this was doubled to an hourly service the following year.
By 1987, an additional semi-fast service per hour had been introduced, giving Stourbridge Junction a 4-train per hour service to Birmingham.
So what did the 1987 timetable offer? Monday to Saturday highlights were
1. 4 trains per hour between Birmingham New Street and Stourbridge Junction, 2 all-stations and 2 stopping at Cradley Heath only.
2. A train every 2 hours to Cardiff Central via Worcester Shrub Hill, Cheltenham Spa, Gloucester and Chepstow.
3. 2 trains per hour between Birmingham New Street and Worcester via Kidderminster.
4. 15 trains per day to Great Malvern, with 4 of them extended to Hereford.
5. A direct rush hour service from Evesham to Birmingham New Street via Stourbridge Junction on Monday to Friday mornings, with a return
journey in the evening rush hour.
6. An early morning through service from Dorridge to Hereford via Stourbridge Junction.
7. Modern sprinter units on some services, including all Cardiff services.
8. 77 services in each direction on the Stourbridge Town branch.
Service highlights on Sundays were
1. All services operated by modern Sprinter units.
2. 14 trains in each direction between Birmingham New Street and Kidderminster. All intermediate stations except Cradley Heath and Stourbridge
Junction were closed on Sundays.
3. 3 through services to Cardiff Central via Worcester Shrub Hill, Cheltenham Spa, Gloucester and Chepstow, with 4 in the opposite direction.
4. 4 through services between Birmingham New Street and Hereford in each direction, with additional services to Great Malvern
Of course, there was another significant event in 1987 that would greatly affect the Stourbridge line in the future. On Friday 2 October, Class 47 diesel
47 484 "Isambard Kingdom Brunel" hauled a train bearing British Rail Chairman Sir Robert Reid through Snow Hill tunnel and into the newly rebuilt
Snow Hill station. The following Monday would see the restoration of train services from Snow Hill to Leamington Spa and Stratford-upon-Avon.
However, it would be 8 years before Stourbridge trains finally reached Snow Hill.
In the next article, we move forward to 1997 and see the significant changes that resulted from the building of the Jewellery Line.
If anybody is interested in the detail of the 1987 timetables, transcripts have been posted on the SLUG website.



The highlight of the 1987 timetable was the reintroduction of through services to Cardiff, this time via Gloucester rather than via Hereford.
Unfortunately, this initiative was short-lived with services diverted via Bromsgrove the following year, and later diverted away from Worcester to
operate directly down the Midland Main Line from Birmingham to Cheltenham. Some of the Cardiff services were diverted to operate to Great
Malvern and/or Hereford.
In 1993, a return direct service was reintroduced between Stourbridge Junction and London Paddington via Worcester. Unfortunately, the train ran
off-peak and was withdrawn within 18 months.
However, the most significant date of this period was Sunday 24 September 1995, when the Severn Valley Railway's BR 2-6-4T locomotive 80079
departed from Birmingham Snow Hill station at about 0940, hauling the first train from Birmingham Snow Hill to Stourbridge Junction for 28 years.
Special trains ran throughout the day, with timetabled services commencing the following day. As Stourbridge line users will know, three new stations
were opened - Jewellery Quarter, The Hawthorns and Smethwick Galton Bridge. The last of these replaced Smethwick West, which was due for
closure. However, a paperwork error meant that this station remained open for another year, with a parliamentary service of two trains every
Saturday. The 1130 Birmingham New Street to Hereford stopped at 1136, followed by the 1040 Hereford to Birmingham New Street at 1205. These
trains probably very few passengers boarding or alighting until the final Saturday before closure, when every rail enthusiast in the western hemisphere
decided that they had to visit Smethwick West before it closed. I was aboard the 1158 service from Stourbridge Junction to Stratford that day, and
that train had left Stourbridge in front of the Hereford service, which was running late. As we passed through Smethwick West, the number of people
waiting for the final service to New Street was unbelievable.
So what did the 1997 timetable offer? Monday to Saturday highlights were
1. All services had been privatised and were operated by Central Trains.
2. 4 trains per hour between Birmingham Snow Hill and Stourbridge Junction, with 1 train operating to/from Hereford, Great Malvern or Worcester.
2 of these trains ran semi-fast, stopping at Cradley Heath, Rowley Regis, Smethwick Galton Bridge and Jewellery Quarter only. The other 2 served
all stations between Snow Hill and Stourbridge Junction.
3. 1 train per hour between Birmingham New Street and Worcester, with some trains operating to/from Great Malvern or Hereford. These trains
ran fast from Birmingham New Street to Stourbridge Junction.
4. Cross-city services operated from Stourbridge Junction with 1 train per hour to/from Shirley, Leamington Spa, Dorridge and Stratford-upon-Avon.
5. 10 through services in each direction between Stourbridge Junction and Hereford, with a further 12 in each direction between Stourbridge
Junction and Great Malvern.
 
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Harbornite

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Please also note that we are asking for the Stourbridge Line-Gloucester services to be re-instated as part of the new West Midlands franchise, see the attached link for our consultation response.

http://www.stourbridgelineusergroup.info/consultation response.html

Interesting, I didn't know about this, although I did look through some of that response yesterday. I quite like the SLUG wensite and I read it every so often.

I can't see XC diverting their Cardiff services to call at Worcester Shrub Hill, but they will call at Worcesterhsire parkway which is better than nothing.

The London Midland service was axed due to low usage, did it run via Bromsgrove and Ashchurch, missing out Worcester?

However, Worcester is in definate need for better services to the southwest so it would be good if some services could be extended to Gloucester. Of course passengers could just double back into Birmingham and switch to New Street, but that is not as convinient,
 
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PHILIPE

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Interesting,mI didn't know about this.

I can't see XC diverting their Cardiff services to call at Worcester Shrub Hill, but they will call at Worcesterhsire parkway which is better than nothing.

The London Midland service was axed due to low usage, did it run via Bromsgrove and Ashchurch, missing out Worcester?

It ran from Worcester, but not during the peaks because of the unit being deployed elsewhere.
 

adrock1976

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What's it called? It's called Cumbernauld
Many thanks for posting the historic timetables - they were an interesting read.

Regarding the proposed Worcestershire Parkway, is that the Norton Parkway station that will be built in the area of where the Birmingham & Gloucester Railway (Midland) passes underneath the Oxford, Worcester, & Wolverhampton Railway (Great Western)?

Or am I getting confused with a proposed Parkway station between the 2 Worcester stations and Droitwich Spa?
 

Old Hill Bank

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Many thanks for posting the historic timetables - they were an interesting read.

Regarding the proposed Worcestershire Parkway, is that the Norton Parkway station that will be built in the area of where the Birmingham & Gloucester Railway (Midland) passes underneath the Oxford, Worcester, & Wolverhampton Railway (Great Western)?

Or am I getting confused with a proposed Parkway station between the 2 Worcester stations and Droitwich Spa?

Worcestershire Parkway as you say will be built at Norton, the other proposal you refer to is at Fernhill Heath and currently has no funding.

Have a look round our website, quite a bit to see both present and past. Link in my signature.
 

OwlMan

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I'm aware that LM dropped their hourly(?) service to Gloucester in 2009, but a parliamentary service survives. I hadn't seen it on realtimetrains until today.
Why is that a "Parliamentary service" - it doesn't cover any route that is not already covered by other services.
 

ac6000cw

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It is a shame that Worcester doesn't have any XC services any more (one reason for this is the Victorian landowner's opposition to railways in Worcester in the early years)[/url]

Yes, 'NIMBY'-ism isn't new...

My understanding is that the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway also didn't have the money to buy the necessary land in already well developed towns and cities - it would have liked to have served Stourbridge but it was too expensive. To keep costs low the line went through open country to the east of Birmingham (via Camp Hill) to the Saltley area, and the Lickey Incline was cheaper than winding the line around the hills to reduce the gradients. So they ended up building a 'straight shot' from Birmingham to Gloucester as that was all they could afford, basically. Going in the other direction from Birmingham on the 'Midland Railway' system, the original North Midland Railway Derby-Leeds route avoided Sheffield for similar cost reasons.

Due to it's two stations and awkward railway geography, Worcester has always been a difficult place to serve economically - Foregate Street is well positioned, but it's cramped and trains on the north-south axis have to reverse there, costing a lot of time (and going via Stourbridge is much slower than via the Lickey). Shrub Hill has the space and avoids reversal, but it's not really in the city centre. Very difficult choices all round when balancing operating costs versus revenue...
 

GlosRail

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It does seem to have a high cancellation rate as well including last night where it stopped at Woccester due to a train crew issue.
 

Harbornite

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Why is that a "Parliamentary service" - it doesn't cover any route that is not already covered by other services.

It was perhaps the wrong terminology. It's because it's the only LM service to Gloucs that runs during the week.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
According to this, Crosscountry called at Worcester Shrub Hill until 2008. I never knew that.

http://www.projectmapping.co.uk/Resources/TOCs 19.3 2007-8.pdf
 

Class172

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Why is that a "Parliamentary service" - it doesn't cover any route that is not already covered by other services.
It was perhaps the wrong terminology. It's because it's the only LM service to Gloucs that runs during the week.
Perhaps it is because London Midland were contractually obliged to provide a service to Gloucester? Given the original service's cancellation, the weekly one-way service to Gloucester would satisfy this.

If I recall, the service was rather flawed to start with. Rather than complementing the existing service every two hours to provide a consistent 1tph, the LM service followed the FGW departures by 20 mins(?) so was never going to attract customers.

According to this, Crosscountry called at Worcester Shrub Hill until 2008. I never knew that.

http://www.projectmapping.co.uk/Resources/TOCs 19.3 2007-8.pdf
I can vaguely remember the trains passing though, however at that time I think the majority were still Central Trains liveried - certainly it didn't last long.
 

tbtc

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Why is that a "Parliamentary service" - it doesn't cover any route that is not already covered by other services.

Agreed.

We either need a specific word for a service that is the only train of the week, a service intended primarily to tick a box by keeping a line technically open (or the only call at a station in a week)...

...or we need to stop confusing "Parlimentary" with "the minimum required in the franchise specification" / "infrequent" / "driver training" / "the only route a specific TOC does on a line" etc.

Perhaps it is because London Midland were contractually obliged to provide a service to Gloucester? Given the original service's cancellation, the weekly one-way service to Gloucester would satisfy this.

If I recall, the service was rather flawed to start with. Rather than complementing the existing service every two hours to provide a consistent 1tph, the LM service followed the FGW departures by 20 mins(?) so was never going to attract customers

I remember it being a bit lop-sided, but in fairness to LM, the layovers meant that it was always going to be hard to provide a bi-hourly service that matched with FGW's bi-hourly service.

Currently, the FGW/GWR services are at 09:37, 11:36, 13:37 etc from Gloucester, getting to Worcester at 10:17, 12:16, 14:17 etc.

The DMU sits at Foregate Street for around three quarters of an hour until 11:03, 13:03, 15:03 etc and gets back to Gloucester at 11:45, 13:44, 15:44 etc (i.e. once the northbound service has already left).

So, whilst it'd be possible for LM to provide a bi-hourly service with one DMU (it's roughly forty minutes in each direction plus twenty minutes lay over), they'd need two DMUs if they wanted to dovetail with FGW/GWR.

There's also the issue of when the LM DMU became available off-peak (and when it was required in the afternoon), which may have affected paths. For example (and I don't know this - I am just guessing) if your "spare" DMU was one which did a morning service on a route that needed strengthening in the peaks, it may not be free at Worcester until nine. But then do you wait around until 10:03 (so that you are an hour between the FGW/GWR services) or do you send the unit towards Gloucester promptly so that it is back in Worcester later in the day at a time that suits strengthening a busy Snow Hill service?

Really, if there were a spare DMU to allocate to make this link hourly, it should have been operated by FGW as part of their hourly Bristol - Gloucester service (of which only half the trains currently extend towards Worcester).

A nice idea (I'm all in favour of an hourly link), but not really LM's responsibility to solve.

Then again, how many people actually sit on the FGW/GWR DMU from Worcester to Bristol via reversal at Gloucester (rather than changing at Cheltenham onto a significantly faster Voyager)? Would the whole Gloucester - Worcester service fit better with LM anyway?

(I may be getting my dates mixed up, but in the back of my mind I'm conflating the money spent at Stourbridge on two non-standard units to free up a single 153 with the time that LM suddenly had a spare DMU to operate a daytime Gloucester service - one may have happened well before the other though)
 

PHILIPE

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The GWR units don't sit at Foregate St. They go to Great Malvern. In any case, where would they sit at Foregate with just 2 tracks.
 

Class172

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The GWR units don't sit at Foregate St. They go to Great Malvern. In any case, where would they sit at Foregate with just 2 tracks.

There are a couple of services that terminate at Foregate St. but yes the majority do continue onwards. The situation isn't helped by the lack of flexibility around the worcester triangle: something that will hopefully be improved eventually.
 

PHILIPE

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There are a couple of services that terminate at Foregate St. but yes the majority do continue onwards. The situation isn't helped by the lack of flexibility around the worcester triangle: something that will hopefully be improved eventually.

Very often, they don't reach Great Malvern and turn round at one of the Worcester stations due to siganlling problems, late running or a multitude of other sins
 

Class172

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This caught my eye whilst browsing the Stakeholder Brief for the West Mids Franchise.
5.18 We will be asking bidders to explore and set out innovative approaches to improving the offer to the passenger between Worcester and Gloucester and Worcester and Birmingham. This will allow them to investigate if they can overcome constraints with train availability, station capacity, freight movements and engineering requirements to provide more services.
5.19 We will not be specifying the continuation of the current single weekly late evening Friday only West Midlands Franchise service between Worcester and Gloucester due to low usage. All other services on this line are currently provided by Great Western Railway (GWR)

So it would appear that as suspected, the existing Gloucester service is written into the franchise.
 

ChrisHogan

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This caught my eye whilst browsing the Stakeholder Brief for the West Mids Franchise.


So it would appear that as suspected, the existing Gloucester service is written into the franchise.

I, and no doubt others, highlighted the very poor connections at Worcester from the Stourbridge line going towards Cheltenham and Bristol in our responses to the WM franchise consultation. The alternative, going via Galton Bridge to New Street, is little better, especially in the evening when connections are so poor. This, and more Birmingham to Worcester services via Bromsgrove, appear to be no more than heavily caveated aspirations and I doubt whether we will see either in the franchise award documents.

A few corrections to the chronology earlier in this thread. The Nottingham to Cardiff service of XC can be traced back to an SPC running all stations Newport to Gloucester in the 1980s sponsored by the Western sub-sector of RR. This was extended to Birmingham via Stourbridge in 1987 still under the Western sub-sector with the arrival of Sprinters. It transferred to the Midland sub-sector in 1990 and was diverted via Bromsgrove to provide a better service there.

When Regional Railways Central was inaugurated on 6/4/92 there were six return journeys each way each day with two positioning journeys between Shrub Hill and Cardiff and vice-versa.

The next change was in the wake of the opening of the Jewellery Line. The Worcester to Hereford legs of the Stourbridge line services were added to the New Street to Worcester services while the Nottingham service was diverted via Spetchley with limited stops to provide the sub-two hour interurban timing between Cardiff and Birmingham considered commercially important. Frequency improved to hourly. (This was nothing to do with the VXC Voyager timetable that was several years later.)

Regional Railways South West & Wales took over the stops at Lydney, Chepstow etc. with its own service, some of which came through to Birmingham.

That was the position at franchising. Subsequently Wales & West was remapped and the Wales & Borders Birmingham service was cut back to Gloucester and Central Trains reinstated stops at Lydney and Chepstow in alternate services. The FO service to Gloucester that still exists (but is withdrawn from the new WM franchise) was an SRA requirement identified with the Wales & Borders remapping now to be withdrawn due to "low usage", having been carried forward from the CT to the LM franchises. The main service was remapped in 2007 from CT to XC.
 
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