Messy schedules

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Dunderhead

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As someone used to the very neat and predictable train schedules on routes radiating from London, I have noticed when looking at timetables that First Great Western's north-to-south routes in the West of England seem to be rather unpredictable when it comes to the start and end points of the services and the timings. One particular example is the route which runs between Gloucester, Bristol and Westbury and is frequently extended to various destinations on the South Coast and northwards to Great Malvern and the like - I can't find any stations served by the route that are served at regular times each hour, and in particular the stations on the line to Weymouth which are served only by these services, such as Yeovil Pen Mill, seem to have very erratic service.

I guess I am just wondering whether there is any operational reason why this is the case, and why the services haven't been standardised to have the same timings each hour off-peak and consistent extensions? Or is this actually normal for the regional railways?

Also, how consistent is the rolling stock?

I do hope this is comprehensible, it's very late...
 
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Schnellzug

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That's true, although they do mostly fit into the xx49 path southbound from Bristol T.M., but northbound they are more or less completely random, and there are several 3 hour gaps. Another shortcoming is that turnrounds at Weymouth are mostly about a hour, except for one the busiest trains of the day (particularly in Summer), the one that comes into Weymouth at 1103, which is scheduled to go out again at 1110. This can sometimes be rather over-optimistic. I suppose the problem with retiming that, though, would be that to put it any earlier from Bristol would make it unattractively early, and it wouldn't be any help timing it later coming back, as there's a 2 hr 15 min gap already. All this considered, though, it is a bit unsatisfactory.
The rolling stock, though, i'm pleased to say, is nicely random; you can get 150/1s, 150/2s (mostly), the odd 153, & the couple of two-car 158s they have left, while 3-car 158s are not uncommon in Summer.
 

D1009

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As someone used to the very neat and predictable train schedules on routes radiating from London, I have noticed when looking at timetables that First Great Western's north-to-south routes in the West of England seem to be rather unpredictable when it comes to the start and end points of the services and the timings. One particular example is the route which runs between Gloucester, Bristol and Westbury and is frequently extended to various destinations on the South Coast and northwards to Great Malvern and the like - I can't find any stations served by the route that are served at regular times each hour, and in particular the stations on the line to Weymouth which are served only by these services, such as Yeovil Pen Mill, seem to have very erratic service.

I guess I am just wondering whether there is any operational reason why this is the case, and why the services haven't been standardised to have the same timings each hour off-peak and consistent extensions? Or is this actually normal for the regional railways?

The Weymouth route has always been a nightmare to plan due to a number of factors. As has been pointed out it forms part of a standard pattern between Bristol and Westbury, apart from that :

The amount of business does not justify an hourly service.
There are lengthy single line sections.
They have to fit in between the Paddington - West of England service which is not an even interval due to different stopping patterns.
Rolling stock utilisation has to be maximised to minimise costs.
 

tbtc

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As someone used to the very neat and predictable train schedules on routes radiating from London, I have noticed when looking at timetables that First Great Western's north-to-south routes in the West of England seem to be rather unpredictable when it comes to the start and end points of the services and the timings

You are correct, though I would say that there's been a general improvement in the number of routes with "clockface" times over the years (Eureka on the ECML being one example).

The situation that your rightly mention with the Weymouth - Bristol - Great Malvern route is a muddle of a timetable (with a regular "core" section through Bristol), but there used to be a lot more of these (like the entire Cross Country network) which means that these messy rural timetables become more "noticeable" (if that makes sense)
 
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