Open Access on the GWML

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GNERman

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Afternoon,

Recently there have been some people calling for an open access operator to compete with FGW on the GWML.

However, whilst this may sound a good idea, what kind of open access service could operate on the GWML to Paddington? Of all of the destinations I have come up with, bearing in mind the ORR's "abstraction" test, pretty much every destination is already catered for, with services to London being present with FGW.

So, basically, my question is - what services could work, calling at what stations, and bearing in mind the abstraction test?

No stupid service proposals please, this isn't another "fantasy open access thread"...
 
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tbtc

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Of all of the destinations I have come up with, bearing in mind the ORR's "abstraction" test, pretty much every destination is already catered for, with services to London being present with FGW

I agree.

The diesel operation on the GWML has allowed FGW to retain direct London services to a lot of "branchline" places (Paignton, Newquay, Pembroke) - whilst on the ECML/WCML electrification has meant that through London services to/from places like Blackpool, Sunderland, Middlesbrough were cut (due to the complication of running diesel services to them), with Hull, Harrogate etc getting only a token London service (I'm talking about pre-Open Access, i.e. before GC to Sunderland and Hull Trains to Humberside).

Also, there's no easy "alternative" routes to link London to/from places on the GWML (e.g. GC have found a totally different route to link Bradford to the ECML at Doncaster).

I think that the only "unserved" route (in the Great Western area) would be the Co-op plan to get from Weymouth to Oxford via Swindon etc, tbh.

You could make a claim to give a direct London link to Merthyr/ Falmouth, but it'd be pretty flimsy (and clearly an ORCATS raid on the mainline stations).
 

GNERman

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The only two/three I thought may be possible are:

Paddington to Southampton Central via Basingstoke

Paddington to Weymouth via Yeovil Pen Mill

and possibly...

Paddington to Birmingham New Street via Swindon, Cheltenham and Worcester Spa?
 

Wath Yard

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Paddington - So'ton wouldn't work. They wouldn't be permitted to call at Reading and London - Basingstoke/So'ton are very well catered for so certainly wouldn't tap into an untapped market and would just replicate an SWT service.

Paddington - Weymouth via Yeovil. Apart from it not getting passengers, also wouldn't work as it also wouldn't be allowed to call at Reading and again would basically replicate an SWT service.

Paddington - Brum, probably wouldn't be permitted to call at Swindon either so again not a chance.

As the ORR showed when it rejected the Kings Cross - Harrogate service it won't allow replication of a franchised TOC's service with just a little bit tagged onto the end.
 

The Planner

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Difficult, only options really are using Foxhall curve at Didcot. Gloucester/Cheltenham to Oxford but I don't think the patronage is there. Don't think you can't call at stations where it would fail abstraction, if they are pick up only you may get away with it.
 

150222

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(NOTE: edited to include all calling points)

Paddington- West Ruislip- Gerrard Cross- Bicester Nth- Banbury- Oxford- Swindon- Kemble- Cheltenham Spa- Newport- Cardiff Central- Maesteg.


Paddington- Ealing Broadway- Reading- Basingstoke- Southampton- Eastleigh- Salisbury- Bath Spa- Bristol TM- Parson St- Tiverton Parkway- Exeter St Davids- Barnstaple.


Paddington- Hayes & Harlington- Slough- Taplow- Reading- Bramley- Basingstoke- Winchester- Southampton Central- Brockenhurst- Bournemouth- Poole- Weymouth- Dorchester- Bradford-on-Avon- Bath Spa- Bristol TM- Lawrence Hill- Severn Tunnel Jnc- Newport- Cardiff- Merthyr Tydvil.

More journey opportunities and dirt cheap fares for going the whole way.
 
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Ivo

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Paddington- West Ruislip- Banbury- Oxford- Swindon- Cheltenham Spa- Cardiff Central- Maesteg.


Paddington- Reading- Basingstoke- Southampton- Bath- Bristol- Exeter- Barnstaple.


Paddington- Reading- Basingstoke- Southampton- Weymouth- Bristol- Cardiff- Merthyr Tydvil.

The words "ridiculous" and "reversals" come to mind.
 

150222

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The words "ridiculous" and "reversals" come to mind.

I propose a 180 type train to operate them, so reversals not a big issue. I don't think it's ridiculous (note not all calling points included) as it offers more journey opertunities. It would also be very cheap for passengers going end to end. It also provides faster services between certain places like Weymouth and Southampton to Bristol.
 

cm39275

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what about a Oxford to plymouth service calling at Oxford, Swindon, Melksham, Westbury, Taunton, Exeter st davids, Dawlish, Newton Abott, Plymouth. From Oxford the train whould travel via foxhall curve to Swindon.
 

Masboroughlad

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A string of two/three car units coupled together (4 x units):

Paddington to the Cornish branches - dropping a unit off at each of Liskeard (for Looe), Par (for Newquay), Truro (for Falmouth) and the final unit heading to St.Ives.

Sure there will be lots of reasons why it couldn't work, but there are plenty of ways in which it could. Not too complicated with fast uncoupling/coupling these days.
 

WelshBluebird

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You obviously have the Oxford - Bristol service that used to be run (could be extended to South Wales / Devon or Cornwall too).

I'd also suggest a south wales / south west stopping service (rather than the current Cardiff Central to Portsmouth service which skips most of the smaller stations, and the current Cardiff Central to Taunton service which obviously doesn't serve anything east of Bristol).

Also there is the Cardiff Central to Exeter (and further down the south west) service, which I think would be successful if it was more frequent.

The only issue would be that all of those suggestions do somewhat replicate FGW services. The main difference is that they would be through services, rather than needing to change trains. Not sure if they would fall foul of the rules there.

I love the idea of the south wales valleys to paddington services - although there is no chance of that becoming reality!
 

tsr

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I know it's not specifically what the OP said, but would a theoretical scenario of using Gatwick Airport as a terminus instead of Paddington help? That could lead to some interesting services. You would have to insist on pick up and set down at Reading, although I can foresee problems as Reading would probably be a major point for boarding and alighting.

We do have a handy bit of track called the North Downs Line. As we know, it does happen to have a junction with the GWML at Reading. If you don't believe me, have a look at Google Maps!
 

tsr

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Some sort of through service from South Wales / West to St Pancras?? Like the old service through to Waterloo for the benefit of people wanting to use Eurostar?

The problem is that the TL Core is increasingly busy, so I suspect you'd be unable to run anything to/from the south, and I further suspect that some rather significant engineering works would be required to run services to/from the north of STP, or else you'd be limited to a single-track spur onto the NLL (as far as I can see). Then you've got some issues around Willesden Junction.
 
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TEW

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A string of two/three car units coupled together (4 x units):

Paddington to the Cornish branches - dropping a unit off at each of Liskeard (for Looe), Par (for Newquay), Truro (for Falmouth) and the final unit heading to St.Ives.

Sure there will be lots of reasons why it couldn't work, but there are plenty of ways in which it could. Not too complicated with fast uncoupling/coupling these days.
The main problem would be that all the Cornish branches are now running as many trains as possible during the daytimes. To run trains to Looe, Newquay, Falmouth and St Ives you're only real option would be to run in the middle of the night. In fact St Ives is pretty much impossible because St Erth signal box only opens for the hours the St Ives branch runs with the FGW services, and it needs to be open to run trains to St Ives.

I'd say one of the main stumbling blocks to any open access service out of London is the lack of paths London-Reading. The lines are already intensively used with franchise services, squeezing more trains through Reading at the moment wouldn't be possible.
 

Wath Yard

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Some sort of through service from South Wales / West to St Pancras?? Like the old service through to Waterloo for the benefit of people wanting to use Eurostar?

But those services to Waterloo failed due to poor loadings. It isn't exactly difficult to get from Paddington - St Pancras and people don't want to take circuitous routes that take forever. One of the reasons GC's Bradford service is struggling is because it takes so long, and they didn't chose that route - it was forced on them.
 

Tomonthetrain

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What about Paddington - Wolverhampton via the Old Worse and Worse (Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton) line using 180s??
 

tbtc

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Not really a GWML route, but how about reviving the old Portsmouth Harbour to Manchester via the Marches service?

The only two missing links (realistically) in the GWML area are

  • The chord between Oxford and Swindon (e.g. the old Great Western/ Thames service with Turbostars to Bristol, or the Co-Op plan to run to Weymouth). Can't see it happening with the GWML service through Swindon being increased to seven an hour once electrified - though I do like ThePlanner's idea of a Gloucester - Oxford service that way
  • The chord between the Severn Tunnel and Cwmbran (Wales & West used to use it to link South Coast/ Bristol to Liverpool/ Manchester through the Marches line). Again, unlikely to happen because it'd sit better with Wales & Borders than the Great Western franchise, and there's no chance of the WAG paymasters wanting a service that avoids Cardiff...
I can't see any space for an Open Access operator (compared to the previously unserved ECML destinations like Sunderland which Open Access found a "gap in the market")
 

TinyTim89

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But those services to Waterloo failed due to poor loadings. It isn't exactly difficult to get from Paddington - St Pancras and people don't want to take circuitous routes that take forever. One of the reasons GC's Bradford service is struggling is because it takes so long, and they didn't chose that route - it was forced on them.

With regards to GC's Bradford service, it is now regularly operating at over 70% capacity, so I wouldn't say that its struggling!
 

Wath Yard

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But it is struggling, as GC admit in their application to run a service via Leeds. Loading isn't a particularly good indicator of whether a service is making money or not, except if it is poorly loaded then you can pretty much guarantee it isn't.
 

tbtc

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With regards to GC's Bradford service, it is now regularly operating at over 70% capacity, so I wouldn't say that its struggling!

They've promoted a lot of cheap tickets (e.g. there was an offer in the local paper a few weeks ago), but you'd need to sell a lot of £15 returns to be worth the same as a "normal" passenger.

If a city like Bradford (plus Halifax and Kirklees) struggles justify a daytime London service (at a time when OA is paying a lower track access charge) then most other proposals look pretty weak (esp if OA will have to pay the full track access charges in future)
 
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