Paddington to Hereford via Gloucester

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A recent in-cab video of a rail journey from Paddington To Hereford via Oxford and Worcester -

London Paddington to Hereford train Cab Ride - 4K - Updated version - YouTube -

shows that much of the route is not especially well laid out for 100 mph running. Before the line between Gloucester and Hereford via Ross-on-Wye was closed, did most of the express passenger trains take that route via Swindon from London to Hereford?
 
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Gloster

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I think that the route via Ross was never more than a single-track, secondary cross-country line. There may have been a few through trains, but the route via Malvern and Worcester was (and is still) the main one to London. It may not be well laid out for 100 mile running, but many lines weren’t: when they were built, few dreamt of such incredible speeds. (It took them until 1904 to achieve such a death-defying velocity.)
 

30907

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Timetableworld.com has a 1906 Bradshaw

There is one mid-day Paddington-Hereford Express (and vv) via Worcester, and a couple of decent connections via Gloucester (one of which might have been a through train - early morning up, mid afternoon down).

Bradshaw shows a couple of connections Gloucester-Ledbury-Hereford which are faster than direct trains!

(OT: Paddington-Worcester trains generally ran to Wolverhampton, and Birmingham-South Wales was still routed via Hereford as the GW hadn't finished Honeybourne-Cheltenham or the Bicester cutoff.)
 

SouthDevonian

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In the steam era, some Paddington - Cheltenham trains included one Hereford coach which was dropped off at Gloucester to be attached to a local stopping service via Ross-on-Wye.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Much of Oxford-Worcester-Hereford was a typical 90mph GWR route until it was butchered by BR in the early 70s.
That introduced several single-track sections (in some places the line speed actually went up with realignment of the single track).
But the signalling was not upgraded and the western end (Worcester-Hereford) was downgraded with something like a 65mph limit on the single line west of Ledbury instead of 90 on double track.
It's not long since they stopped exchanging physical tokens at the signal boxes on the single-track sections between Moreton and Worcester.
 

Taunton

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I'm probably one of the few here who went on an express through Ross-on-Wye, because the Plymouth-Liverpool via Hereford day train in the 1960s, on winter Sundays when the Severn Tunnel was closed for maintenance, used to run from Bristol via Gloucester and Ross to Hereford. Although the Ross line was normally closed on Sundays it had to be specially opened on these days. Progress was slow as there were passing stations every 5 miles or so, where the train had to slow down at each one for hand token exchange. There were no token "snatchers" on the line like there were on Taunton-Barnstaple for summer Saturday nonstops, and even if there had been the Warship diesels then used didn't have the equipment fitted either.

They didn't always go via Ross, the Warships could do so but their Castle predecessors could not and from Bristol went up to Gloucester and back down to Severn Tunnel Junction. Around 1960 a lot of work was done on the shortcut from Sharpness across the Severn Bridge to Lydney to bring it up to standard for main line diversions. This expensive work was just completed and the rebuilt underbridges being tested with double-headed Castles when the Severn Bridge was destroyed in the shipping accident.

If going from Paddington to Hereford then changing at Newport has often provided the fastest way.
 

S&CLER

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Much of Oxford-Worcester-Hereford was a typical 90mph GWR route until it was butchered by BR in the early 70s.
That introduced several single-track sections (in some places the line speed actually went up with realignment of the single track).
But the signalling was not upgraded and the western end (Worcester-Hereford) was downgraded with something like a 65mph limit on the single line west of Ledbury instead of 90 on double track.
It's not long since they stopped exchanging physical tokens at the signal boxes on the single-track sections between Moreton and Worcester.
I recall the then Oxford Area Manager telling the first meeting of the university railway society I attended in October 1967, that the real saving was in simplifying signalling and not in singling track. True or not, I can't say.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Yes, signalling was simplified including the elimination of boxes like Kingham, Honeybourne and Pershore, and of course on the triangular layout through Worcester.
Some of the downgrading has been reversed by re-dualling at the Oxford end, but any improvements west of Evesham depend on NR's renewal plans.
 

Rescars

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In the late 1960s/early 1970s, most of the Paddington/Worcester/Hereford trains dropped off the rear portion of the train (including the buffet car) at Worcester, with only the loco and the front four carriages or so going through to Hereford. Similarly, additional carriages were attached at Shrub Hill on the up workings. So you got only half an express at Hereford!

I recall seeing somewhere that in the Edwardian era there were non-stop services between Paddington and Worcester - a turn for Churchward 4-4-0 Counties if I remember correctly.

I recall the then Oxford Area Manager telling the first meeting of the university railway society I attended in October 1967, that the real saving was in simplifying signalling and not in singling track. True or not, I can't say.
I remember hearing much the same from the corresponding Area Manager on a visit to Hereford in the early1970s. Perhaps they had both attended the same training course!
 
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30907

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In the late 1960s/early 1970s, most of the Paddington/Worcester/Hereford trains dropped off the rear portion of the train (including the buffet car) at Worcester, with only the loco and the front four carriages or so going through to Hereford. Similarly, additional carriages were attached at Shrub Hill on the up workings. So you got only half an express at Hereford!
Barely that - I remember it as 3 coaches!
I recall seeing somewhere that in the Edwardian era there were non-stop services between Paddington and Worcester - a turn for Churchward 4-4-0 Counties if I remember correctly.
The Hereford Express I mentioned earlier was one (of two nonstops), the other was "Worcester, Malvern and Kidderminster."
 

Dr Hoo

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Having studied the 1902 GWR timetable reprint (which obviously has the benefit of more clearly exposing the commercial policies of the company rather than the more 'stripped down' Bradshaw information) there is no indication that Gloucester-Ross-Hereford was promoted as a 'through' route. Essentially there were seven daily local trains (and another couple of connections via Newent and Ledbury).

It needs to be understood that Paddington-Worcester-(Hereford) frequencies were very low, with only a couple of recognisably fast trains amidst some very slow 'all stations' services. So it was almost inevitable that at certain times of day a faster connection between Hereford and London might have fortuitously been available via Gloucester and Ross (or, indeed, via Newport).

As a general comment, despite the 'Golden Edwardian Age of Railways' image long distance journeys were far less common than they are now. Making such a long trip was a big event. Arrangements might be made (by telegraph, of course) for a luncheon basket to be brought to a train en route at (say) Oxford and then handed out again at (say) Worcester Shrub Hill to sustain intrepid travellers on their journeys.
 

Rescars

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The Cotswold Line has a history of slow express trains: "Yes, I remember Adlestrop....."!

This is of course the route of the Cathedrals Express.
 
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thedbdiboy

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The Gloucester - Hereford route was originally a canal and later converted to a rail route so was never going to qualify as a high speed alignment!
[Whoops - not this route - see below]
 
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Gloster

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The Gloucester - Hereford route was originally a canal and later converted to a rail route so was never going to qualify as a high speed alignment!
It was the Herefordshire and Gloucester Canal which was partly built on by the Ledbury-Gloucester line. The Gloucester-Hereford railway crossed over the River Wye several times, but was not built on any part of it.
 
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I think most of the Gloucester - Hereford services (via Ross) were self-contained although I would not be surprised if some services attached a through coach from Paddington. A few may have worked (unadvertised as through services) Hereford - Cheltenham; but advertised as separate Hereford - Gloucester and Gloucester - Cheltenham St James local services.

Neil Parkhouse's wonderful book "West Gloucester and Wye Valley Lines" records that there was a through train from Swindon (dep.0750, 0758 in the 1955-56 timetable reproduced on pages 152-153) to Hereford. There does not appear to have been a corresponding up working, so I expect that a set of stock might have worked back in separate Hereford - Gloucester and Gloucester - Swindon trains.

In the last days of the Ross route, the 0750 ex-Swindon seems to have sometimes produced engines different from the normal GW ones. On 1 October 1964 it had 73097 (page 107), and on another occasion 45699 Galatea, pictured at Mitcheldean Road on p.137.

Page 130 shows a down train of June 1962 leaving Lea Line Tunnel with a chocolate and cream coach at the front. Perhaps that was through from Paddington.

It must have been most wonderful to have travelled on one of the Sunday express diversions over the line.
 

daodao

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I'm probably one of the few here who went on an express through Ross-on-Wye, because the Plymouth-Liverpool via Hereford day train in the 1960s, on winter Sundays when the Severn Tunnel was closed for maintenance, used to run from Bristol via Gloucester and Ross to Hereford.
I presume this was before November 1964, as the Hereford, Ross and Gloucester Railway closed to passengers on 2 November 1964.

I recall seeing somewhere that in the Edwardian era there were non-stop services between Paddington and Worcester
The April 1910 Bradshaw [reprint] shows 2 fast trains per day [all but 1 up train non-stop] taking 135 minutes from Worcester Shrub Hill to Paddington, which compares well with today's journey times, albeit the current service has multiple stops.
 

30907

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Neil Parkhouse's wonderful book "West Gloucester and Wye Valley Lines" records that there was a through train from Swindon (dep.0750, 0758 in the 1955-56 timetable reproduced on pages 152-153) to Hereford. There does not appear to have been a corresponding up working, so I expect that a set of stock might have worked back in separate Hereford - Gloucester and Gloucester - Swindon trains.
Almost certainly. With a 25min stop in Gloucester (1958) it looks like a matter of convenience.
However, Hereford-Paddington via Gloucester was still just faster than via Worcester with the Cheltenham Spa Express at 7am up and 4.55pm down in 3 1/2 hours.
 

Taunton

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It must have been most wonderful to have travelled on one of the Sunday express diversions over the line.
Au contraire, I recall my mother being volubly unimpressed by the lack of progress at each token exchange as the day wore on and the brakes applied again.
 

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