Perth-Edinburgh via Stirling or via Fife?

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stuart

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Let's start with a simple question: which route is faster? The railmiles engine says the distance via Fife is 56 miles and via Stirling 69 miles (and some odd chains). But given a clear road and no stops which would be quicker? I suspect the answer is "via Fife", otherwise why would the main Inverness-Edinburgh service be routed this way.

(Stop reading here if you don't want the rant/vent.)

Yesterday afternoon I was onboard the 1B31 1246 Inverness to Edinburgh which was 15 minutes late approaching Perth. We were told that because of the late running, the train would run express to Edinburgh, and passengers for Fife were tipped out (and, so far as I can see from the timetable, left with about a 45 minute wait at Perth). Instead of simply missing intermediate stops, we were then diverted via Stirling, eventually arriving into Edinburgh 25 minutes late.

Only when we were arriving at Edinburgh did the conductor mention that there had been an earlier points failure - not sure where.

I think the thing I object to most is being lied to. We were told at Perth that the change of plan was to try and make up lost time. Although I never really believed this would happen, and reality bore out my own view, passengers' expectations of an on-time arrival were strongly set.

If they had said: "look, there's been a points failure so we're going to have to divert via Stirling, I know we're already 15 minutes late and realistically this diversion is going to add another 10 minutes, but it's still going to be the quickest we can get you there" then we'd all have settled down and made the best of it. Why make up a lie?

Indeed why do Scotrail (and presumably all TOCs are the same) think it is a good idea to lie to passengers and treat us like idiots? This is the thrid example I have experienced of such treatment (coincidentally all at Perth, but perhaps that's just because I use the station a lot!). Tell us the truth, and you might just get a bit of sympathy from us when there are operational difficulties.
 
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yorkie

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I doubt you got a clear run then!

Clearly the route via Stirling is a lot faster in terms of line speeds, though it is also further, and it also has more capacity (being double track throughout).

You could have made up some time, given a clear run, but it sounds like you didn't.
 

tbtc

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To answer your original question, if you look at the teatime timetable there are two Perth services leaving Edinburgh at exactly the same time (16:33) - the one via Fife is five minutes faster than the Cheiftan via Stirling (even allowing for "padding")

If they had said: "look, there's been a points failure so we're going to have to divert via Stirling, I know we're already 15 minutes late and realistically this diversion is going to add another 10 minutes, but it's still going to be the quickest we can get you there" then we'd all have settled down and made the best of it. Why make up a lie?
I don't think most passengers would be that bothered - what mattered is that there would be a delay (and that Fife passengers would have to get off at Perth and wait) - I wonder whether most passengers even noticed the different route.

Plus, to be fair to the staff, maybe they didn't know the full reason at the time (and only learnt about the true justification for the diversion when they arrived in Edinburgh).
 

rail-britain

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To answer your original question, if you look at the teatime timetable there are two Perth services leaving Edinburgh at exactly the same time (16:33) - the one via Fife is five minutes faster than the Cheiftan via Stirling (even allowing for "padding")
Other way round, travelling Perth to Edinburgh

I can understand advising the passengers that there will be no further stops for the train
Routing it via Stirling is the normal option, yes it is longer but the average speed is higher (taking advantage of some sections of 100mph)
The overall journey time is about the same
 

DaveNewcastle

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. . .
Instead of simply missing intermediate stops, we were then diverted via Stirling, eventually arriving into Edinburgh 25 minutes late.

Only when we were arriving at Edinburgh did the conductor mention that there had been an earlier points failure - not sure where.

I think the thing I object to most is being lied to. We were told at Perth that the change of plan was to try and make up lost time. . .
Don't you think that some of the words used might have been used in a general and as-helpful-as possible sense, and not intended to be scrutinised for technical precision?
Its not just that the potential for timetable recovery is higher via Stirling (until you'd reach the Falkirk triangle and/or Newbridge) is higher than by remaining through Fife, but that control might have been aware of more possbilities of reaching Edinburgh in a timely manner than continuing via Fife.
Linespeeds and distances have to be considered along with the availability of possibilities for pathing another train over the Forth Bridge. The knock on delays to other services can become amplified quite easily, especially on the approaches to Edinburgh from Newbridge and the Forth Bridge. The decision would not have been made after consideration of the service you were travelling on in isolation, but of all the services that would be potentially affected, all the rolling stock that might be unavailable for its next timed departure and all operational staff whose availability for work and any necessary rest, is not compromised.
Sometimes, the best decision is get the majority of passengers, stock and staff in the right place at the right time, and all permutations in between.

I wonder whether most passengers even noticed the different route.
Now that does seem unlikely!
 
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DaveNewcastle

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It can be amazing how oblivious the general travelling passengers can be, there is often a minority that know the route; it really depends on the service
Generally, yes.
But do we really think that many folk will not notice the difference between Stirling & Falkirk, or, Fife & (er, its my avatar) the Forth Bridge?

Maybe you're right, but I despair a little for any sense of Scottish-ness if you are right!
 

rail-britain

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When I worked on Aberdeen - Edinburgh HSTs it was quite common, and even in the timetables to be diverted
In general we kept diversion announcments brief, otherwise you would get stopped and asked ridiculous and stupid questions
However, some Senior Conductors did give the full details, but would then be asked "What exactly does that mean?"

As an example, if the Forth Rail Bridge was closed (say due to high winds), then simply make two announcements between Arbroath (just after departure) and Dundee (just prior to arrival) that passengers for (station names) must leave the train at Dundee, with one final announcement whilst the train was at Dundee
No details about travelling via Perth and Stirling would be provided, neither that this would add about 40 minutes to the journey time
Some passengers would ask, and in this case you would answer them, and when you explain the alternative is to sit and wait for several hours at Inverkeithing they usually accept the alternative

The other was diverting to avoid Kirkcaldy, no announcement would be made, but again some passengers might be observant enough to notice
 

rail-britain

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That's assuming they know they're meant to go across the Forth Bridge.
Many people travel on such services, specifically to travel over the Forth Rail Bridge
They would be heavily disappointed to arrive in Edinburgh, "Where was the Forth Rail Bridge?"
 

rail-britain

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And many people will travel on such services simply because it's a service between Perth and Edinburgh, and will have no idea that it's supposed to go over the bridge, especially if they've never travelled that route before.
Very much so, when I worked on the railway none of the Edinburgh - Perth services went via Fife and even now I have to keep checking to see which ones do
 

Scotrail84

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Very much so, when I worked on the railway none of the Edinburgh - Perth services went via Fife and even now I have to keep checking to see which ones do
Almost all of them run via fife except the chieftain and the 21:33 and which run via stg. Have I missed any?
 

Failed Unit

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Almost all of them run via fife except the chieftain and the 21:33 and which run via stg. Have I missed any?
There is an early morning service to Edinburgh as well. Arrives about 820. I think that is just a stock placement.

I suspect the vai Falkirk may be to avoid conflicts on the single track.
 

stuart

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Almost all of them run via fife except the chieftain and the 21:33 and which run via stg. Have I missed any?
The Sleeper, if that counts!

I'm encouraged to see that many of you think that the diversion offered a reasonable chance of catching up time. The possibility of higher track speeds was something I was unable to quantify from publicly available data. I also know that there had been problems earlier in the day between Dundee and Aberdeen, so there could have been pathing congestion through Fife.

I wish I had known where the points failure was - it certainly took a long time to get to Stirling! Maybe the diversion was set up with the best of intentions and then a points failure occurred - but without full information being provided to passengers, it's all too easy to assume the worst, which is really the nub of the issue for me.

The 1633 departures from Edinburgh form an interesting comparison - I'm sure the mathematics of distances and line speeds is the same in the reverse direction - but the Fife train has 5 intermediate stops and the Chieftain 4, and the latter is heavily padded, presumably to reduce the risk of missing its path north of Perth and throwing everything into confusion on the single line. For example, it's given 40 minutes from Stirling to Perth, compared with the standard 29 minutes, and I know it often follows hard on the heels of the Fife train into Perth, which is itself usually early, and often has a good 5 minutes spare time at Perth.

If anyone has access to line speed data, I'd still be interested to know the theoretical minimum non-stop journey time on the two routes.
 

jopsuk

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Looking at National Rail:
the 1507 Stirling-Perth takes 29 minutes non-stop
1536 takes 36 minutes stopping at bridge of Allan and Dunblane
1639 takes 39 minutes, stopping at BEA, DBL and Gleneagles
1719 (the Chieftain) takes 40 minutes, stopping at Gleneagles
1745 takes 38 minutes, stopping BEA, DBL and GLE

I'd expect even a 170 can out-accelerate an HST. Are there any SP differentials along that stretch? The one minute shown in the timetable for the Gleneagles stop is probably a bit short too- no doubt the Perth arrival time takes into account the possibility of an extended stop there, as golfers (quite likely sat in 1st class) collect their clubs from the Guard's van (at the far end of the train) and doors get left open- might not happen every time, but often enough to require planning for.
 

rail-britain

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12:46 Inverness - Perth
15 minutes late at Perth, gives 15:17
This probably put your service right behind the 13:42 Aberdeen - Glasgow QS, which should have departed at 15:14
Did you see this when you arrived?
Therefore this suggests a pathing issue between Perth and Ladybank (single line) and to avoid this (subsequently impacting a northbound service) the routing via Stirling was used
I would assume you passed Stirling about 15:48
Worse might have come with falling over the 15:21 Glasgow QS - Cumbernauld

I still think this is better than sitting in Perth until 15:50, waiting for the 14:35 Edinburgh - Perth service to pass over the single line section
 

tbtc

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Let's start with a simple question: which route is faster? The railmiles engine says the distance via Fife is 56 miles and via Stirling 69 miles (and some odd chains). But given a clear road and no stops which would be quicker? I suspect the answer is "via Fife", otherwise why would the main Inverness-Edinburgh service be routed this way
To answer your original question, if you look at the teatime timetable there are two Perth services leaving Edinburgh at exactly the same time (16:33) - the one via Fife is five minutes faster than the Cheiftan via Stirling (even allowing for "padding")
Other way round, travelling Perth to Edinburgh
Sorry, I thought that an example of two Edinburgh - Perth services (which depart Edinburgh at exactly the same time) may have been of some relevance (even if the OP's question was about Perth to Edinburgh).
 
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