Motorail

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Topgun333

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Do posters think that with ever more congested motorways that a motorail service could be reintroduced as a viable economic service? Where might services start and end? Could the infrastructure logistics work?

I'd be very tempted to avoid the M1 or M6 to Scotland if I could take my car by rail.
 
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edwin_m

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Great Western tried it 10 or 15 years ago on the West of England route, which unlike the WCML isn't duplicated by motorway all the way. They couldn't make it pay, probably because each wagon would only take about three cars so for it to carry a decent number the train would have to be huge. These days it's much more likely someone not wishing to drive but needing a car at the other end would take a train or a flight and hire a car.
 

Harbornite

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It would be awkward having to shunt the motorail vehicles around and the decline of loco hauled passenger trains doesn't help. I can't see it coming back to be honest. They were more popular at a time when cars were less reliable for long distance journeys.
 

DenmarkRail

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It would be awkward having to shunt the motorail vehicles around and the decline of loco hauled passenger trains doesn't help. I can't see it coming back to be honest. They were more popular at a time when cars were less reliable for long distance journeys.

We did this, when they did it on the GW, and it is like one of those things, you do once to show your kids what it is like, but never do it again because of how inconvinient it is.

Also stock only fitted 3 or so cars, and was never viable.
 

deltic08

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We did this, when they did it on the GW, and it is like one of those things, you do once to show your kids what it is like, but never do it again because of how inconvinient it is.

Also stock only fitted 3 or so cars, and was never viable.

The original daytime Kensington-Stirling motorail used cartic 4s able to load 8 per vehicle double decked. This prohibited 4x4s.

I would have thought a Dover-Inverness overnighter using 4x redundant Mk3 sleepers and a covered 5x double decker attached to the Euston-Inverness portion at Wembley, routed via Coatbridge and using class 73s between Dover and Wembley, would allow more coaches for Aberdeen, Ft William and Oban on the Highland sleeper and be good for Scottish tourism.

If this would be too heavy for the Highland main line to keep timings, then swap with Ft William/Oban portion as far as Stirling then run to Inverness with just Dover portion. This would allow more coaches for Euston-Aberdeen/Inverness train.
 

najaB

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I would have thought a Dover-Inverness overnighter...
It's a nice idea, and the logistics sound like it would work, but it doesn't address one key fact: people who can afford to take a sleeper plus car to explore the Highlands can probably afford to fly up and rent a car when they get there.

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Philip Phlopp

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It's a nice idea, and the logistics sound like it would work, but it doesn't address one key fact: people who can afford to take a sleeper plus car to explore the Highlands can probably afford to fly up and rent a car when they get there.

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk

There's a lot of people who instead of holidaying up north in a B&B, have since bought a holiday home and will keep their old car or some sort of 4x4 up there, so they only need a taxi or bus from the station out to their house and back again a week or a fortnight later.

A friend in London does that - she has a holiday home in Scotland, swaps her cars over when she gets a new one, and books the maximum time in advance, avoiding expensive days, usually costs her £30 or something for her return tickets.
 

tramdan

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While the answer is undoubtedly and unfortunately no, for me personally it is disappointingly so.

I drive an electric car and it would be an absolute dream for me to drive to my local main line station in an evening, pull into a Motorail carriage and go to sleep, only to wake up in the Scottish Highlands, Cornwall, or wherever.

Pipe dream of course, but it would work for me.
 

Philip Phlopp

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but it would work for me.

Other than the lack of charging points in the Highlands. If you've got a Renault Zoe or Nissan Leaf, you'll find many points out of the reach of an electric car, and lots of others will need you to stay for the night for a full charge.

Less of an issue with a Tesla and the bigger battery packs.
 

tramdan

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Other than the lack of charging points in the Highlands. If you've got a Renault Zoe or Nissan Leaf, you'll find many points out of the reach of an electric car, and lots of others will need you to stay for the night for a full charge.

Less of an issue with a Tesla and the bigger battery packs.

Apologies for the off topic response, but this is absolutely not true. There are plenty of charging points in the Highlands, rapid chargers are all over. See PlugShare.com and you can see them all. I own a Leaf and can charge to 80% in less than 30 minutes at one of these, and do over 120 miles on a full charge.
 

PeterC

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I drive an electric car and it would be an absolute dream for me to drive to my local main line station in an evening, pull into a Motorail carriage and go to sleep, only to wake up in the Scottish Highlands, Cornwall, or wherever.
Now Motorail with charging built in sounds good. Sadly the economics would never work out.
 

jon0844

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The advantage of taking your own car is you can keep all your stuff in it, rather than hiring a car and having to lug your stuff in cases. Plus hiring a car can be fun at times when many firms try various tricks to con you or rip you off.

But I can see why motorail won't work. Expensive to run and then you'd have to promote it to people who wouldn't even think to look it up or know it existed.
 

deltic08

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It's a nice idea, and the logistics sound like it would work, but it doesn't address one key fact: people who can afford to take a sleeper plus car to explore the Highlands can probably afford to fly up and rent a car when they get there.

I was thinking more of tourists using the Chunnel or Dover-Calais/Dunkirke ferries for holidays in Scotland who take camping equipment with them. It could just be seasonal as many times in the Summer the Highland Sleeper is fully booked and could do with an extra sleeper or two particularly on Fridays to Scotland and Sundays from Scotland.

Caravanners could be in Scotland within 12 hours from Dover with converted small wheel bogied freighliner flats . I don't like towing more than 200 miles in one go and would take me three days to travel that distance by road.

At one time there was a daily Stirling-Inverness motorail to avoid the notorious A9 between Perth and Inverness attached to a Glasgow-Inverness service. It was incredibly cheap at something like £45 return at 1969 prices. It stopped at Stirling for about ten minutes to attach a couple of car carriers then at Perth, Pitlochry and Aviemore for foot passengers only. Southbound took less than 5 minutes to detach wagons at Stirling.
 
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Shaw S Hunter

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It strikes me that this is yet another thread on here discussing suggestions for reviving operations from the past history of railways. The reality is that railways are a relatively expensive method of transport provision which rely on heavy/bulk usage to be economically viable. And with motoring being overwhelmingly the most popular mode of transport railways need to concentrate on those flows (passenger or freight) which can genuinely compete with roads and generate decent volumes. Choosing to do otherwise makes subsidy unavoidable though this can certainly be justified where this meets a social need. I do not think any sort of motorail service meets any of these criteria.
 

alex17595

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What about a service for just motorbikes, you can fit more into a single coach (Not sure how many) and not many bikers want to sit on a motorway for hours on end. Some ruder just on a CBT can't even use motorways at all! (I went to Dover on my 125, took 9 hours !) The Scottish highlands seemed very popular with bikers when I was there, especially ones from Europe.
 

The Ham

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Basically, the current train network is too busy and so TOC's want as many bums on seats per train so that they can and spread the loadings over the day.

If you can get 3 maybe 4 cars per coach length for a journey that costs £100 per person (assuming 70 seats per coach at 50% full) then you would be looking at between £700 and £1200 per car to have the same income over that length.

Basically motorail was a good way of attracting more customers on a network which had spare capacity.

Could something like the channel Tunnel's vehicle trains work in HS2, where that could take lorries off the roads and giving the drivers a rest break whilst still moving, then maybe but only at times when the network could cope with it or if the trains could still run at the same speeds the passenger trains.

Although I could see that if there was space for such a service that it could be quite well used. Giving your drivers a 2 hour break whilst they travel twice as fast as normal could without burning their own fuel be very attractive to firms if the price was right. However, in reality the price would probably by too much.
 

najaB

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What about a service for just motorbikes, you can fit more into a single coach (Not sure how many) and not many bikers want to sit on a motorway for hours on end.
I can't see it working as a standalone service, but it definitely could work as an add-on to an existing service. The only problem is that almost all Anglo-Scottish services run as fixed rakes, the Sleeper is the only regular loco-hauled service. And it's already at the limit most of the stations.
 

bavvo

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I can't see it working as a standalone service, but it definitely could work as an add-on to an existing service. The only problem is that almost all Anglo-Scottish services run as fixed rakes, the Sleeper is the only regular loco-hauled service. And it's already at the limit most of the stations.

True, but the motorail wagons don't need to be adjacent to the platforms at intermediate stations, they can hang off the back.
 

alex17595

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I can't see it working as a standalone service, but it definitely could work as an add-on to an existing service. The only problem is that almost all Anglo-Scottish services run as fixed rakes, the Sleeper is the only regular loco-hauled service. And it's already at the limit most of the stations.

I thought it would be best to Tag it on the back of a Sleeper (Caledonian/Riviera) You don't even need a proper ramp to disembark bike you could just have a side door onto a platform. Could even be used for bicycles on the events you see where the normal trains are busy (London-Brighton one for example.)
 

Tim R-T-C

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The simple answer to this question - if it would make money, someone would have proposed it.

There are dozens of open access applications flying around at any time and to date there has not been a single practical one involving motorrail or sleeper services.

Even on the continent where motorrail over vast distances makes it even more viable, services are now all but non-existent.
 

A0wen

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The simple answer to this question - if it would make money, someone would have proposed it.

There are dozens of open access applications flying around at any time and to date there has not been a single practical one involving motorrail or sleeper services.

Even on the continent where motorrail over vast distances makes it even more viable, services are now all but non-existent.

Given the French haven't been able to retain a Motorail service from Calais to the south as it wasn't viable - and they're much more inclined to throw huge subsidies at such things - then in the UK it stands no chance.

Add in the distance in France was much further and has a much higher tourist demand than from the south of the UK to Scotland has.
 

Greenback

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The economics don't work, and will probably never work. The reasons brought up in this thread are all factors.
 

47271

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What about a service for just motorbikes, you can fit more into a single coach (Not sure how many) and not many bikers want to sit on a motorway for hours on end. Some ruder just on a CBT can't even use motorways at all! (I went to Dover on my 125, took 9 hours !) The Scottish highlands seemed very popular with bikers when I was there, especially ones from Europe.
Interesting idea, I'm not sure that we've ever had motorbikes brought up before.

Under present operations, it's actually platform length at Euston that's the limiting factor on the capacity of the Highlander. By the time it gets north of Edinburgh it's been divided and major stations in the Inverness section such as Stirling and Perth can accomodate it comfortably.

Anyway, there's another huge problem - and this applies to motorbikes too - discussed in the last thread on this subject. Which station could you drive a vehicle into the middle of nowadays? Certainly not Euston, so I'm not sure where this train would set off from?
 

bavvo

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The simple answer to this question - if it would make money, someone would have proposed it.

Well First did... and it didn't. :(

I'd love to know the full story behind the brief reintroduction of Motorail on the Paddington to Penzance route a few years ago. Presumably they must have thought there was some chance of it working even though they were using very low capacity wagons (3 cars per Wagon). Was it well used? How long did it last?
 

edwin_m

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Well First did... and it didn't. :(

I'd love to know the full story behind the brief reintroduction of Motorail on the Paddington to Penzance route a few years ago. Presumably they must have thought there was some chance of it working even though they were using very low capacity wagons (3 cars per Wagon). Was it well used? How long did it last?

They used converted GUVs I think, some form of van anyway, with sections of wall that hinged downwards to form ramps, rather like what used to be done with horse boxes. So they could load from the side, whereas all previous car-carrying wagons had to be shunted to an end loading dock. Side loading of double-deck car carriers would never have been possible because the decks needed to be above and below platform level to fit in the gauge, and probably needed connecting pillars that would block the side access. Also double deckers would have prevented carriage of SUVs, which given the prices probably being charged would have formed a large slice of the clientele.
 

Phil.

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Yes, they were converted GUVS. The first year that they were re-introduced there was virtually no advertising at all. I discovered the service by a tiny insert on page two of the Saturday "Torygraph". The price was stupidly cheap and once the 50% staff discount was applied it really was cheap. The year after the following - or was it the following - someone had a brilliant idea. Load the vehicles on a separate train of flats and take them to St. Austell and have the punters travel by the following HST service. I won't weary you with tales of failed locomotives and failed HSTs.
There used to be a Motorail GUV - two in the summer - attached to the rear of the 08.30 Padd - Plym in the pre west of England HST days. The vehicles were loaded via a hydraulic ramp at the buffer end of platforms 1 and 2. As far as I recall they never left empty.

Motorail in Britain is finished. The roads are too good, the distances aren't long enough and the cars are more reliable and comfortable. To-day's top-market BMW 5 series is as comfortable and reliable as a 1965 Rolls-Royce.
 

alex17595

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Interesting idea, I'm not sure that we've ever had motorbikes brought up before.

Under present operations, it's actually platform length at Euston that's the limiting factor on the capacity of the Highlander. By the time it gets north of Edinburgh it's been divided and major stations in the Inverness section such as Stirling and Perth can accomodate it comfortably.

Anyway, there's another huge problem - and this applies to motorbikes too - discussed in the last thread on this subject. Which station could you drive a vehicle into the middle of nowadays? Certainly not Euston, so I'm not sure where this train would set off from?

Im sure there is gates to the station, at least on the P1 side. You could do it a Edinburgh, Might need special access for other area though, not much more than a locked gate on the side of the platform.
 

PeterC

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Interesting idea, I'm not sure that we've ever had motorbikes brought up before.
I remember motorbikes being conveyed on the guard's compartment in hauled stock in the 1970s.
 

30907

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Given the French haven't been able to retain a Motorail service from Calais to the south as it wasn't viable - and they're much more inclined to throw huge subsidies at such things - then in the UK it stands no chance.

Add in the distance in France was much further and has a much higher tourist demand than from the south of the UK to Scotland has.

They have, though, managed to maintain a service from Paris to various destinations, taking advantage of (presumably) spare capacity on overnight freight/parcels. It is well used in season.

Austrian Railways manage to use spare capacity on various overnight trains AND operate economically (and - to pick up on other posts - are popular with bikers).
 
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