May Virgin Trains timetable change

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thenorthern

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While I was waiting for the train today I noticed that there was a poster advertising some changes that are happening to Virgin Trains services from May. I can't find it posted on their website but from what I could gather major changes are:

16:30 London Euston - Preston - Glasgow Central will now no longer be a limited stop service and will call at all Virgin Trains stations from Warrington Bank Quay onwards with the exception of Oxenholme Lake District and Motherwell.

The 07:55 Manchester Piccadilly - London Euston will now additionally call a Lichfield Trent Valley and Tamworth.

Additional calls will also be added at Rugby, Nuneaton, Tamworth and Lichfield Trent Valley on some other services but I can't remember which ones.
 
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This has already been discussed fairly extensively in a previous thread, starting around here.

My main thoughts on the merits of additional intermediate ICWC calling points can be found here.

The change to the 16:30 from Euston is a good idea, to better serve Warrington and Wigan.

But Virgin needs to be careful not to jeopardise its well-regarded clock-face 3tph timetable on its Manchester route when adding additional calling points south of Crewe/Stoke. For the first time since 2009 (when the VHF - 'Very High Frequency' - clock-face timetable was introduced), the timetable between 08:00 and 20:00 will, from May 2016, no longer consist solely of direct xx:00, xx:20 and xx:40 departures from Euston to Manchester. By slowing down the 18:40 departure to call at Tamworth and Lichfield (changing the arrival time into Manchester Piccadilly from 20:49 to 20:53), it will be faster to catch the 18:30 departure to Warrington followed by a connecting regional train to Piccadilly (with an arrival time into Piccadilly of 20:52). Considering the difference is only 1 minute, I'm surprised Virgin hasn't set the arrival time of the 18:40 into Piccadilly as 20:52, to avoid this.
 
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snail

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it will be faster to catch the 18:30 departure to Warrington followed by a connecting regional train to Piccadilly (with an arrival time into Piccadilly of 20:52). Considering the difference is only 1 minute, I'm surprised Virgin hasn't set the arrival time of the 18:40 into Piccadilly as 20:52, to avoid this.
I think the phrase I'm looking for is "Are you being serious?"
 

All Line Rover

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thenorthern said:
Additional calls will also be added at Rugby, Nuneaton, Tamworth and Lichfield Trent Valley on some other services but I can't remember which ones.

I wasn't aware of the additional calls at Rugby. I have looked them up and they are very bizarre.

Northbound, the only additional service is the 12:10 Euston to Chester which has Rugby added as a calling point. This extends the journey time to Crewe and Chester by 3 minutes. [For the record, I'd like to see all xx:10 Euston to Chester services call at Rugby, because Rugby presently has a poor service to/from Crewe and a s**t service to/from stations north thereof.]

At Crewe this breaks the connection with the 13:59 to Winsford and Hartford (the connection becomes 9 minutes: the minimum connection time at Crewe is 10 minutes), but this connection can still be made by catching the 12:07 Euston to Liverpool instead, which lengthens the connection time at Crewe to over 15 minutes (which is the better option anyway: leave Euston 3 minutes earlier and have a considerably better chance of making the connection at Crewe).

At Chester, the connection with the 14:19 to Wrexham, Ruabon, Chirk and Gobowen is broken (becoming 3 minutes instead of 6 minutes: the minimum connection time at Chester is 5 minutes). However, as the Arriva Trains Wales departures from Chester to Wrexham, Ruabon, Chirk and Gobowen alternate between departing Chester at xx:19 (which is a tight connection with any train from Euston) and xx:30 (which provides a safe, but not excessively lengthy, connection with any train from Euston), it is understandable that Virgin might consider two-hourly journey opportunities from Euston to Wrexham, Ruabon, Chirk and Gobowen to be acceptable, and to leave it up to Arriva to provide better connections at Chester if hourly journey opportunities are desired.

Calling the 12:10 Euston to Chester, and only the 12:10 Euston to Chester, additionally at Rugby is bizarre because the 12:03 Euston to Birmingham, which calls at Rugby, remains unchanged, maintaining the clock-face timetable on the Euston to Birmingham route (which is a good thing!).

Southbound, the only additional service is the 10:40 Glasgow to Euston which has Rugby added as a calling point (as the only intermediate calling point between Warrington and Euston): arriving in Rugby at 14:23 and departing at 14:24. This is another bizarre change because the hourly Birmingham to Euston service which calls at Rugby currently arrives in Rugby at 14:22 and departs at 14:23, and from May will continue to arrive at 14:22 but will depart at 14:26, extending the arrival time into Euston by 1 minute. So the only additional southbound service Rugby is getting is one that will depart at the same time as the existing hourly service, with the existing hourly service retimed to depart 2 minutes later!

Has anyone any idea what Virgin is playing at here?

--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
snail said:
I think the phrase I'm looking for is "Are you being serious?"

I suspect it is simply an oversight on Virgin's part. They did something similar a few years ago with some of the xx:40 Euston to Manchester services, which were timed to depart and arrive at Crewe at xx:11 (which is not in keeping with Cheshire East council's advertisements that the journey time from Euston is 90 minutes; it also broke a couple of connections at Crewe). Virgin fixed this quickly after they were notified (i.e. arrive xx:10, depart xx:11).

Having journey planners display journey opportunities involving multiple trains on Europe's "flagship" and "most frequent" rail route isn't ideal. Of course it isn't sensible to travel via Warrington: you'll most likely miss the connection!
 
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thenorthern

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With the additional train calling at at Tamworth and Lichfield Trent Valley I reckon Virgin Trains will cash in by offering a large amount of cheap advanced fares to London as the 0755 Manchester to London train is usually carting fresh air about most of the time.

Not sure why Rugby has been added as an additional call on a single Chester train though
 

All Line Rover

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With the additional train calling at at Tamworth and Lichfield Trent Valley I reckon Virgin Trains will cash in by offering a large amount of cheap advanced fares to London as the 0755 Manchester to London train is usually carting fresh air about most of the time.

Not in standard class, it isn't (except on Fridays). Even first class is fairly well loaded. The train was quiet(ish) back when it was 11-car and Virgin were charging a minimum of £110 STD / £205 1ST for 'Advance' tickets rather than the present minimum of £20 STD and £53 1ST.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
All Line Rover said:
Southbound, the only additional service is the 10:40 Glasgow to Euston which has Rugby added as a calling point (as the only intermediate calling point between Warrington and Euston): arriving in Rugby at 14:23 and departing at 14:24. This is another bizarre change because the hourly Birmingham to Euston service which calls at Rugby currently arrives in Rugby at 14:22 and departs at 14:23, and from May will continue to arrive at 14:22 but will depart at 14:26, extending the arrival time into Euston by 1 minute. So the only additional southbound service Rugby is getting is one that will depart at the same time as the existing hourly service, with the existing hourly service retimed to depart 2 minutes later!

This too has caused a slight cock-up with the journey planners.

Until the timetable change, they display:

BHM 13:30 to EUS 14:56

BHM 13:50 to EUS 15:15

From the timetable change, they display:

BHM 13:30 to EUS 14:56

BHM 13:33 to RUG 14:11 (LM), then RUG 14:24 to EUS 15:14 (VT)

BHM 13:50 to EUS 15:16

Hmm... Ideally the Glasgow train should have an arrival time of 15:16 in the public timetable to prevent journey planners displaying the above.
 
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thenorthern

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Its strange to think that prior to 2007 the Birmingham - North West - Scotland trains were operated by Virgin Cross Country and served Stafford.

I will be honest though I think many of the new stops along the Trent Valley are 4 years too late as now that London Midland has the Project 110 for the Trent Valley local services that avoid Northampton the time saving of taking Virgin Trains isn't as great.
 

All Line Rover

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Its strange to think that prior to 2007 the Birmingham - North West - Scotland trains were operated by Virgin Cross Country and served Stafford.

And those services should continue to call at Stafford. I'm sure there is a valid reason for not doing so considering it is otherwise such an egregious omission.

I will be honest though I think many of the new stops along the Trent Valley are 4 years too late as now that London Midland has the Project 110 for the Trent Valley local services that avoid Northampton the time saving of taking Virgin Trains isn't as great.

True. And as I explained in outline in the thread I linked to above, the majority of Virgin's Euston to Lichfield fares are almost half the price of Euston to Crewe and Manchester fares, but only a handful of Euston to Lichfield passengers are replaced by Lichfield to Crewe/Manchester passengers. It would therefore make economic sense to focus on building the premium few-stops-very-long-distance market, which continues to expand year on year.
 

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True. And as I explained in outline in the thread I linked to above, the majority of Virgin's Euston to Lichfield fares are almost half the price of Euston to Crewe and Manchester fares, but only a handful of Euston to Lichfield passengers are replaced by Lichfield to Crewe/Manchester passengers. It would therefore make economic sense to focus on building the premium few-stops-very-long-distance market, which continues to expand year on year.

And a lot of that also has to do with terrible connections. I would be a regular Tamworth to Manchester passenger on the 2030 from Euston if it called at Crewe. As it does it runs non-stop from Lichfield to Warrington, which is rotten for getting to Manchester.
 

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Has anyone any idea what Virgin is playing at here?

Improving Scotland/North West/North Wales-Rugby connections by the sound of things. Not much to do with Rugby-Euston services.
At Chester, the coast connection is more important than Wrexham, and this is maintained.
ATW won't want to alter the Holyhead-Cardiff times, though the long-delayed Chester-Wrexham redoubling scheme, when it completes later this year, might change things.
 

gary47

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Its strange to think that prior to 2007 the Birmingham - North West - Scotland trains were operated by Virgin Cross Country and served Stafford.

I will be honest though I think many of the new stops along the Trent Valley are 4 years too late as now that London Midland has the Project 110 for the Trent Valley local services that avoid Northampton the time saving of taking Virgin Trains isn't as great.
in Aug 2014 I had an email off Stafford mp with email from Virgin trains enclosed saying from Dec 2015 Stafford was going to have an hourly service alternating to Glasgow and Edinburgh still waiting for that service to happen
 

JonathanH

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in Aug 2014 I had an email off Stafford mp with email from Virgin trains enclosed saying from Dec 2015 Stafford was going to have an hourly service alternating to Glasgow and Edinburgh still waiting for that service to happen

ie that the (London to) Birmingham to Scotland trains would start stopping at Stafford instead of passing through non stop

That doesn't look very easy to do as between Birmingham and Wolverhampton those trains are up behind the stopping service and between Wolverhampton and Crewe they are closely followed by the London-Crewe-Manchester train. Then further down the line beyond Preston they have to take their place in the "flight" of fast trains (ie London to Glasgow, Birmingham to Scotland, Manchester to Scotland) that has to leave capacity for freight services. Not to mention the fact that the Manchester to South Wales train waits at Crewe for the Birmingham to Scotland train to cross its path.

You'd imagine that changes like get considered and then it is realised that they just wouldn't work in practice.
 

The Planner

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It is the Euston Manchester that stops you adding a Stafford call in as it is on headway 3 minutes behind it at Norton Bridge, unless you make it an extended one or ran it slow line to Crewe, but that would cause a clash with the TPE train later on as mentioned.
 

gary47

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It's still very poor that a county town like Stafford only 1 train a week to Glasgow none to Edinburgh I presume none back. Only one Virgin service a day to holyhead at 6am with an arriva train back about 5am. X country di the same with there sun Manchester to Bristol not calling at Stockport, Macclesfield or Stafford don't know what xc are playing at
 

Ianno87

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It's still very poor that a county town like Stafford only 1 train a week to Glasgow none to Edinburgh I presume none back. Only one Virgin service a day to holyhead at 6am with an arriva train back about 5am. X country di the same with there sun Manchester to Bristol not calling at Stockport, Macclesfield or Stafford don't know what xc are playing at

But Stafford does have an hourly Scotland link through a same-platform interchange at Crewe (both ways, no less). Not exactly a massive hardship, and speeds journeys for everyone else.

You never know, the TOCs might have applied some common srnse and figured that people from Stafford travel much more regularly to Manchester, Liverpool, Brum and London than they do to Scotland, Bristol or Holyhead...
 

gary47

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I always find it cheaper to have straight through trains and Crewe is a horrible place to have to change at
 

JonathanH

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I always find it cheaper to have straight through trains and Crewe is a horrible place to have to change at

Just because the trains pass through Stafford doesn't mean that they should stop there. The "hardship" for someone from Stafford travelling to Scotland having to change at Crewe is no worse than it is for someone from Chester or Shrewsbury. Should they both also have direct services to Scotland?
 

gary47

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They stop at Sandwell and wolverhampton and Stafford is a Virgin train station
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
How does that train to Glasgow on a sat morning manage to stop at Stafford then
 

Ianno87

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They stop at Sandwell and wolverhampton and Stafford is a Virgin train station
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
How does that train to Glasgow on a sat morning manage to stop at Stafford then

The Sandwell call is to maintain an hourly service to Euston (obviously other services exist for this purpose from Stafford via the Trent Valley), not for the purposes of giving a Scotland link.

The Sat morning call will be possible because the train is on it's first trip of the day from Birmingham, so it can depart Brum slightly earlier, not being constrained by a path through from Euston, and there will be fewer other trains to interact with around Brum first thing in the morning so a slightly earlier timing is possible without clashing with something else.
 

JonathanH

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Through trains are cheaper?

They probably are in some cases - eg in the case of Stafford to Glasgow when there is a Virgin Trains only fare for the advance purchase ticket and that is a £1 or two lower than the VTWC and connections fare or you don't need to get a quota on two trains.

In the case of Stafford to Scotland it may be possible to get a VT only fare if you take the Liverpool train to Crewe and have a longer connection instead of taking the later LM train there.
 

thenorthern

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Regarding Stafford the town itself isn't that big and Stoke-on-Trent, Tamworth, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Burton upon Trent and Cannock are all larger Stafford and all except Stoke receive a poorer service than Stafford or in the case of Newcastle it has no train services at all.

Stafford also has little or no interchange potential which makes it less attractive as a calling point for Virgin Trains.
 

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It's still very poor that a county town like Stafford only 1 train a week to Glasgow none to Edinburgh I presume none back. Only one Virgin service a day to holyhead at 6am with an arriva train back about 5am. X country di the same with there sun Manchester to Bristol not calling at Stockport, Macclesfield or Stafford don't know what xc are playing at

Given how full all of the trains that skip Stafford are on Sundays I'd imagine they're trying to reduce overcrowding. If Manchester to Birmingham passengers get more space in exchange for Stafford to Birmingham passengers using LM that doesn't sound too problematic for Sundays only.
 

thenorthern

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There is considerable interchange potential with services to the Trent Valley.

Not exactly as the Stafford - Trent Valley service starts at Crewe so its possible to catch the train there and both Edinburgh and Glasgow have an admittedly more expensive but direct link to Tamworth via the East Coast already.
 

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Not exactly as the Stafford - Trent Valley service starts at Crewe so its possible to catch the train there and both Edinburgh and Glasgow have an admittedly more expensive but direct link to Tamworth via the East Coast already.

With the ridiculous time penalty for going via Stoke-on-Trent? No thanks...
 

thenorthern

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With the ridiculous time penalty for going via Stoke-on-Trent? No thanks...

Considering stopping the Scotland - West Midlands train at Stafford would mean a 30 min wait for the Trent Valley service there wouldn't be much benefit for Trent Valley passengers.
 

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It is the Euston Manchester that stops you adding a Stafford call in as it is on headway 3 minutes behind it at Norton Bridge, unless you make it an extended one or ran it slow line to Crewe, but that would cause a clash with the TPE train later on as mentioned.

Could they stop in the southbound direction bearing in mind most of the trains have 12 minute stop at Wolverhampton without affecting other services?

(I realise the calling pattern would unbalanced northbound and southbound).
 

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Likelihood no, the XC Manchester Bomo is up its chuff at Stafford, the Virgin would probably require to depart Stafford around xx.22½, the XC arrives 2 minutes later, that doesn't work as it needs to be 3. The killer in this is the LM Shrewsbury train at Wolverhampton North, that pops out 3 minutes after the current Virgin and the XC is 3 or 4 minutes behind that, make the Virgin later and it all starts to ripple out and cause problems.
 
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