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My suggestion for how a Minehead to Taunton service could work

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61653 HTAFC

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Mods' note: split from: Creation of class 230 DEMUs from ex-LU D78s by Vivarail
The class 230s now seem like a solution looking for a problem

The longer time goes on, the more that statement seems true. Perhaps a better application for them would be for new services rather than replacing existing units. A Minehead to Taunton service could make use of one, as long as there was a path from Norton Fitzwarren into Taunton- ideally you'd want a reopened west-facing bay on the up side though, rather than having to cross over to use the one on the down side.
 
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SpacePhoenix

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The longer time goes on, the more that statement seems true. Perhaps a better application for them would be for new services rather than replacing existing units. A Minehead to Taunton service could make use of one, as long as there was a path from Norton Fitzwarren into Taunton- ideally you'd want a reopened west-facing bay on the up side though, rather than having to cross over to use the one on the down side.

I would have thought that they'd rather use a heritage DMU like what Swanage will be using. What's the approximate distance from where the line to the West Somerset Railway joins the main line and Taunton station?
 

61653 HTAFC

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I would have thought that they'd rather use a heritage DMU like what Swanage will be using. What's the approximate distance from where the line to the West Somerset Railway joins the main line and Taunton station?

It's not far, don't have the figures to hand but I'd be surprised if it was over 2 miles. WSR do have a handful of heritage units, but they'd need Central Door Locking fitted- 230s wouldn't.
 

tiptoptaff

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Minehead to Taunton is unrealistic in any form. There aren't the paths and it would remain a 25mph service unless any potential operator is willing to upgrade 23miles of track and sort out the numerous open and farm crossings we have to allow a say 40mph running, which would in most places require re-signalling as well (sighting distances are for 25mph approaches.)

More realistic is the extension of the current CDF-TAU service to Bishops Lydeard to connect with our service trains. If you wanted to use D-Trains on that they would be unsuitable due to the 60mph restriction. They could shuttle TAU to BL, but that's about it.

For reference, it is 2 miles 2chains from Norton Fitzwarren Junction to Taunton Station
 

SpacePhoenix

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Minehead to Taunton is unrealistic in any form. There aren't the paths and it would remain a 25mph service unless any potential operator is willing to upgrade 23miles of track and sort out the numerous open and farm crossings we have to allow a say 40mph running, which would in most places require re-signalling as well (sighting distances are for 25mph approaches.)

More realistic is the extension of the current CDF-TAU service to Bishops Lydeard to connect with our service trains. If you wanted to use D-Trains on that they would be unsuitable due to the 60mph restriction. They could shuttle TAU to BL, but that's about it.

For reference, it is 2 miles 2chains from Norton Fitzwarren Junction to Taunton Station

Could an interchange station be built at the junction or would the pathing not allow any trains to call at an interchange station?
 

tiptoptaff

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Could an interchange station be built at the junction or would the pathing not allow any trains to call at an interchange station?

Norton Parkway gets mentioned a lot, but I don't know whether this would be on the mains or somewhere on the triangle site.

Presuming it's in a similar place to the old Norton Fitzwarren station, one issue with it is stopping pattern - what would you stop there? The TAU terminators? Well they may as well extend all the way up to BL and have your parkway on the triangle site. You're not going to get a HST/Voyager long-distance IC service to stop at Taunton, then stop two miles later at Norton, unless you were to say this parkway would be to replace the Taunton stop and encourage everyone who uses Taunton to use this new station instead, which, I cannot see happening.
 

61653 HTAFC

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Minehead to Taunton is unrealistic in any form. There aren't the paths and it would remain a 25mph service unless any potential operator is willing to upgrade 23miles of track and sort out the numerous open and farm crossings we have to allow a say 40mph running, which would in most places require re-signalling as well (sighting distances are for 25mph approaches.)

More realistic is the extension of the current CDF-TAU service to Bishops Lydeard to connect with our service trains. If you wanted to use D-Trains on that they would be unsuitable due to the 60mph restriction. They could shuttle TAU to BL, but that's about it.

For reference, it is 2 miles 2chains from Norton Fitzwarren Junction to Taunton Station

Thanks for the mileage. Sure it'd be 25mph max on the branch, that's no different to the Swanage to Wareham service though a far longer run at that speed so a shuttle from Bishops Lydeard would be easier- though adding an extra change wouldn't encourage commuters much.
 

tiptoptaff

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I don't personally think you can compare the two. Swanage has a much more intensive service, already carries a lot of through traffic thanks to the Norden Parkway scheme. Our timetable doesn't suit commuters anyway and probably never will, and we don't have the same volume of through traffic. The best option is providing a connection at BL, or a Norton Parkway.
 

Goldfish62

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D78 Stock in it's LU form has fully functioning end door cut out, although I suspect the No.3 equipment case will be been removed...

Given the function of the door system using a door valve per leaf, and the number of through train wires available through the jumpers compared with the number available on the likes of sprinters. Sprinters have 42 on build, D Stock has between 137 and 141 at the inter-car positions post refurb and 120 on build...

I suspect SDO is not a challenge...

Indeed, last two doors, ie half a carriage's worth, are cut out by the flick of a switch if I recall correctly.
 

a_c_skinner

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"Minehead to Taunton is unrealistic in any form"

Surely not? If it is not then that is a pretty poor state of affairs, the area is crying out (like Purbeck) for decent public transport and there is a (in principle) serviceable railway all the way. I'm not blaming the poster whom I quote above but it does strike me that the railways don't always have a "can do" approach.
 

61653 HTAFC

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I don't personally think you can compare the two. Swanage has a much more intensive service, already carries a lot of through traffic thanks to the Norden Parkway scheme. Our timetable doesn't suit commuters anyway and probably never will, and we don't have the same volume of through traffic. The best option is providing a connection at BL, or a Norton Parkway.

I appreciate that the current WSR timetable is geared towards the tourist market- the railway is after all a tourist attraction. However timetables can be changed, funding permitting. There may well be insurmountable obstacles to a commuter service on the line, and you'll know better than I. But there IS a fair commuter flow from Minehead, Williton and Watchet into Taunton and beyond. Whether that would justify a service is another matter, but to simply dismiss it out of hand is (admittedly from my position of partial ignorance of what would actually be needed) unfair.
 

The Ham

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I appreciate that the current WSR timetable is geared towards the tourist market- the railway is after all a tourist attraction. However timetables can be changed, funding permitting. There may well be insurmountable obstacles to a commuter service on the line, and you'll know better than I. But there IS a fair commuter flow from Minehead, Williton and Watchet into Taunton and beyond. Whether that would justify a service is another matter, but to simply dismiss it out of hand is (admittedly from my position of partial ignorance of what would actually be needed) unfair.

It depends on what the train is competing against and from where. If you are doing against a car on a damp November in the middle of the morning from Taunton then the car will win.

However, doing it on the Friday afternoon of the August bank holiday weekend from London then chances are even with a 25mph limit on the branch the train will beat a car. It will certainly beat the bus.

Just because something is slower doesn't mean that it will not be used. There is a growing number of people who either don't have a car or have limited access to one. As such, it could be that such a service could be reasonable to run the whole way.

The big question is how busy are the buses, if they are busy then such a through service could be sensible.

Yes Swanage are using a heritage unit, but only as it was all that they could use when they started the project. If there was a possibility of a 230 then they may have opted for that as it would have saved then having to modify their unit (coating circa £1.5 million, which they have to pay upfront rather than while the unit is earning money) and do quite so much paperwork. As Virarail would have got all the mainline paperwork sorted.
 

61653 HTAFC

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I remember from living down in Taunton that the Minehead road was an absolute nightmare. Massive tailbacks in the morning peak all year round heading into Taunton. It improved slightly after Silk Mills crossing was closed but agricultural vehicles were a common cause of delays as were accidents. Not sure how well used the Minehead buses were, they looked pretty full in the evening peak but many of those passengers may have only been going to/from Norton. In any case the buses got caught in the same traffic as the cars, and could only be single-deckers due to several low bridges. It didn't help that car parking in Taunton was so cheap compared to similar towns- though raising them wouldn't have been popular when public transport in the area was not great.

A service would need some degree of subsidy, but plenty of other services do.
 

AndyW33

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I remember from living down in Taunton that the Minehead road was an absolute nightmare. Massive tailbacks in the morning peak all year round heading into Taunton. It improved slightly after Silk Mills crossing was closed but agricultural vehicles were a common cause of delays as were accidents. Not sure how well used the Minehead buses were, they looked pretty full in the evening peak but many of those passengers may have only been going to/from Norton. In any case the buses got caught in the same traffic as the cars, and could only be single-deckers due to several low bridges. It didn't help that car parking in Taunton was so cheap compared to similar towns- though raising them wouldn't have been popular when public transport in the area was not great.

A service would need some degree of subsidy, but plenty of other services do.
You'll be better qualified than most to comment on how close Taunton station is to the places the car drivers and bus passengers are actually starting their journey home from in the evening. My understanding (and please correct me) is that it is a long way from the town centre, colleges, the hospital, the county offices etc, up to 20 minutes walk or a bus ride away.
And in typical railway fashion aren't some of the Minehead branch stations quite a way from the centres of the villages they claim to serve, whereas the car drivers and bus passengers can actually get right to their homes? No doubt had the branch remained part of the national network, development in the past 40+ years would have provided more homes close to the stations - it certainly works that way in other parts of the country.
 

61653 HTAFC

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Taunton station is a fair way away from the main shopping area but still in what I'd class as the central district. Though unlike most towns, Taunton is stretched out along one main road rather than there being a clearly defined centre within a ring-road. The station is convenient for the cricket ground and football ground though!

On the West Somerset, many of the halts are a long way from the villages (or even hamlets) of the same name. That's less the case with the larger stops, and I wouldn't expect any commuter services to call at the likes of Dunster and Crowcombe Heathfield anyway.
 
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kieron

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For what it's worth, there have been a number of other threads on this subject over the years (although not with reference to this specific stock, of course). I haven't tried to make a list of threads, but this post from W2W gives some information on how today's situation arose even though a mainline connection would improve access a lot. The rest of the thread's not bad, either.
 
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yorksrob

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Minehead to Taunton is unrealistic in any form. There aren't the paths and it would remain a 25mph service unless any potential operator is willing to upgrade 23miles of track and sort out the numerous open and farm crossings we have to allow a say 40mph running, which would in most places require re-signalling as well (sighting distances are for 25mph approaches.)

More realistic is the extension of the current CDF-TAU service to Bishops Lydeard to connect with our service trains. If you wanted to use D-Trains on that they would be unsuitable due to the 60mph restriction. They could shuttle TAU to BL, but that's about it.

For reference, it is 2 miles 2chains from Norton Fitzwarren Junction to Taunton Station


What's the difference between a heritage unit running at higher speed from Taunton to Norton Fitzwarren before slowing down to 25mph for the journey to Taunton, and a shuttle running at higher speed to Norton Fitzwarren, then slowing down for a change at Bishop's Lydeard to a 25mph heritage unit ?
 

broadgage

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I suspect that a good case could be made to the railway inspectorate for 40 MPH running on the West Somerset railway.
Modern air braked, steel bodied stock with central door locking should be no less safe at 40MPH than vacuum braked slam door stock at 25MPH.

I doubt that much re-signalling would be needed, firstly air brakes are quicker acting than vacuum, and secondly many of the signals are not "designed for 25MPH" but remain in the same locations as when the line was a BR branch, with 45 MPH running.

And as for the many crossings, plenty of those on the national network with 40MPH or higher speed limits.

Another point to consider is that enforcement of the 25 MPH limit on light railways was somewhat patchy, many locomotives did not even have speedometers. Some very "spirited" 25MPH running has taken place in the past, without accident.
A 40 MPH limit enforced to the same strict standards as on the national network, is a bit similar to some of the spirited 25MPH.

I can foresee a modernish DMU or even an HST running at 40MPH on the WSR with steam hauled heritage carriages still limited to 25MPH.

The 28 bus and a new bus route (18 IIRC) provide a just about acceptable service at off peak times, but in the peak summer season are some of the worst bus services I have ever used.
Delays of an hour are common, and several hours not unknown.
Road traffic accidents cause major delays fairly regularly.
Due to the exposed conditions and height of part of the road, I have known the bus service to be suspended due to snow, when not a single snow flake can be seen at either end of the route.

So yes a regular train service would be a considerable asset to both locals like me and to visitors.
 

Harbornite

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An interesting proposal, it would make access easier for those who don't have a car and would rather use a train than a bus.
 
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