Rail Replacement Services should replace trains as a last resort

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by matacaster, 16 May 2019.

  1. matacaster

    matacaster Member

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    Unhappily many TOC's, such as Virgin, have embraced bustitution when, with a little forethought, they could have put in place effective rail alternatives via diversionary routes. This is doubtless because they don't have to worry about route knowledge, complex timetabling etc and above all its very cheap. However one look sat it though unless there is no practical rail alternative, the passenger is being well short changed.

    In view of this I propose that for each proposed bustitution, the cost of providing that bus service should be established and the cost of any realistic rail alternative. The rail operator should then be given the option of using a bus, in which case they will be fined the difference less the cost of a suitable refund to each passenger. Should they instead use a reasonable rail alternative, then they would neither pay the fine nor the passenger reimbursement (as passenger is still travelling by chosen method).

    What, apart from howls of protest from the ever-greedy bearded one, is not to like with this proposal?
     
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  3. robert7111a

    robert7111a Established Member

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    Diversionary routes are often set up, where practical

    What happens if the diversions from a say, TOC "A" impinge on the services of TOC "B" and thus disrupt TOC "B's" own services? What if Network Rail disallows it?

    Arranging diversions and buses is a very complex and costly operation for the relevant TOC
     
  4. Bertie the bus

    Bertie the bus Established Member

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    They should indeed be forced to use diversionary routes where possible but it will never happen. There are regular noises that the DfT makes it clear they want TOCs to keep bustitution to a minimum but when Network Rail pay for the buses during engineering work, TOCs don’t have to pay staff for RDW when there is a reduced rail service as fewer staff are required and it saves them work there is absolutely no incentive. Some of the better TOCs do divert but several use RRBs at every opportunity.
     
  5. hwl

    hwl Established Member

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    1. Very little space capacity in some places even compared to a decade ago (e.g Chiltern into Marylebone no longer has space for diverted Voyagers)

    2. At a local level only buses make sense. When both sets of tracks through my local station are closed the TOC diverts as many longer distance services as it can but there is only space capacity (inc. power supply) for a few to divert and runs RRBs every 2minutes to bridge the gap (which then clog the roads due to lack of parking restrictions in bus lanes on Sundays).
     
  6. Robertj21a

    Robertj21a Established Member

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    How is it that you know that they hadn't considered those diversionary routes ?
     
  7. Bertie the bus

    Bertie the bus Established Member

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    If we’re talking Virgin then the fact they took the Settle & Carlisle, and various others, off their drivers’ cards a few years back gives a good clue. They can’t divert if their drivers don’t sign the route.
     
  8. Dr Hoo

    Dr Hoo Member

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    There has already recently been a thread about (non) diversions over the Settle and Carlisle. There is very little evidence that, with minimal slack in the Class 221 fleet, shortage of suitable locomotives for ‘drags’, local services and freight, worthwhile numbers of services could be diverted.
    Virgin does a good job in diverting via available electrified routes in my experience. It is using the newly electrified capability via Bolton this summer.
     
  9. Bertie the bus

    Bertie the bus Established Member

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    Can’t provide a “worthwhile” service so might as well provide none at all. That is probably a minority view. I also said S&C and others. The S&C isn’t the only diversionary route they have abandoned.
     
  10. Arctic Troll

    Arctic Troll Established Member

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    LNER/VTEC are able to divert via the Tyne Valley when the ECML is closed north of Newcastle, so one must question why VTWC cannot do the same in reverse. At Easter the WCML was closed from Lancaster; more recently it has been closed from Carlisle to Scotland. Anyone who says diversions couldn't be done- not that it is expensive and/or inconvenient- should prove it.
     
  11. A0wen

    A0wen Established Member

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    Presumably there's capacity between Carlisle and Carstairs which LNER can use to then get onto Edinburgh, whereas there may not be capacity between Newcastle, Berwick and Edinburgh for VWC to use to get to Glasgow?

    Add in the road journey Carlisle to Glasgow as it's motorway all the way is probably far quicker than a train divert via Newcastle, Berwick etc.
     
  12. A0wen

    A0wen Established Member

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    Because this is Railforums and therefore ill informed, unsubstantiated opinion beats hard facts any day of the week ;)
     
  13. Arctic Troll

    Arctic Troll Established Member

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    To Glasgow, yes, probably about 2.5 hours on the coach. But to Edinburgh I'm not so sure, the A704 is a bad road too. It'll be much less clear cut. TPE extended their trains from Newcastle to Edinburgh a few years ago when the electrification work was in full swing around Manchester, as this was seen as preferable to RRBs in the north west.
     
  14. Bevan Price

    Bevan Price Established Member

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    If it really cared about passengers, at franchise renewals, DfT could insist that TOCs retain / regain crew route knowledge over possible diversionary routes -- and specify that any available diversionary route should normally be used (albeit at reduced frequencies) in preference to use of replacement buses - for all but short length bus journeys. It would also need to specify to NR that, where two alternative routes are available, planned engineering work would be permitted only on one of those two routes (other than in the case of real emergencies).

    As an example, if there was engineering work between Preston & Lancaster, there would be buses only over that section. There would be no buses between Preston & Carlisle; instead a train, hourly or every 2 hours, would divert via Settle & Carlisle, and there would be rail services between Lancaster & Carlisle.
     
  15. The Planner

    The Planner Established Member

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    DfT doesn't have to tell NR to do that, it happens anyway. Section 4 of the EAS has a myriad of notes which state what sections of routes cannot be blocked with others.
     
  16. Qwerty133

    Qwerty133 Established Member

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    If you can't provide close to the capacity to transport the numbers wanting to travel by that route it is better not to offer it at all as all it does is cause overcrowding and arguments. At least with buses, it is possible to order enough to deal with the whole of demand.
     
  17. randyrippley

    randyrippley Established Member

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    Have Pendolinos been cleared for the Tyne valley and ECML?
     
  18. Bertie the bus

    Bertie the bus Established Member

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    Definitely on the entire ECML as they ran one from Scotland (not sure from where but probably Polmadie) to Kings Cross about 5 years ago.
    That is complete nonsense. If you applied that logic to all public transport they would close almost the entire London Underground system.
     
  19. paddington

    paddington Member

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    RRBs should be free but if there is a suitable diversionary route that doesn't take twice as long then TOCs could charge for that. I think the cost of arranging the RRBs should be sufficiently penalising. If bustitution is not the TOC's fault that is different.
     
  20. The Planner

    The Planner Established Member

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    How can that be penalised when its the TOCs that arrange the RRBs under a contract they normally have with a bus operator? As Bertie the bus said earlier, any NR engineering works and we pay for the revenue loss and for the RRBs under the Schedule 4 compensation regime.
     
  21. A0wen

    A0wen Established Member

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    But VTWC don't serve Edinburgh - they serve Glasgow and if the route north of Carlisle is closed, the quickest replacement in terms of journey time is probably a coach.

    Carlisle to Edinburgh (TPE) is about 90 mins. Carlisle to Newcastle (albeit a stopper) is 1h 20m - so allowing for linespeed and other traffic you're unlikely to get Carlisle to Newcastle in much less. Then you've got to get onto Edinburgh which is circa 90 mins on current services, so 3 hours. Google Maps reckon you can drive a car from Carlisle to Edinburgh in 2h 15. Allow for a coach and you're still looking at a sub 3 hour journey with the added benefit that existing stops such as Lockerbie and Carstairs can be served.
     
  22. Arctic Troll

    Arctic Troll Established Member

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    They do, every 2 hours or so!

    It's about comfort too. A coach will do Newcastle-Edinburgh in 3 hours, about as long as the Tyne Valley diversion. But it's a coach, not a train. So no buffet car, no first class, no (realistically usable) toilet. No walking around. No babychange facility. Car sickness.

    If I wanted to travel by coach I'd go by Megabus, pay less and have a higher quality and more modern coach than the clapped out bangers which normally appear on RRBs.

    NXEC stopped the diversions and there's a reason EC brought them back.
     
  23. A0wen

    A0wen Established Member

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    OK - it's not their "main" flow - VTWC's main flow is to Glasgow and you've also got the intermediate stations such as Lockerbie, Carstairs and Motherwell to consider, which diverting over to Newcastle and up doesn't address at all.

    Your issue is you don't like or want to travel on a coach - well since engineering works are booked many weeks in advance plan your travel accordingly. This is the standard Railforums whinge that "I paid £2.50 advance to travel first class from Penrith to Edinburgh on a Bank Holiday Monday in a Pendo and they've put me on a coach" - well tough. The rail network needs to do engineering work. They are contracted to get you from place 'A' to place 'B' - that they are doing and looking to minimise inconvenience. And for the vast majority allowing as many journeys to take place with minimal disruption - which means being able to serve the intermediate places etc takes priority over the fact you don't want a coach for part of your journey. And rightly so.

    On the East Coast I suspect the journey time difference is much greater as the A1 north of Newcastle is a very poor road by comparison to the Carlisle to Glasgow or Edinburgh options.
     
  24. Tom B

    Tom B Established Member

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    And there are times when LUL will close a station (or advertise it closed) because they know the capacity can't be managed Special arrangements at Arsenal, Drayton Park etc during matches at Highbury are an example. It's considered safer to send folk to the larger Finsbury Park and Highbury & Islington stations than totally swamp a small local station.
     
  25. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    One thing I've long found surprising about IC RRBs is that they don't provide a separate coach for First Class, only loaded to 50%. A guaranteed double seat on a decent quality coach is as close as you're going to get to an actually reasonable substitute.
     
  26. Bertie the bus

    Bertie the bus Established Member

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    Any comparison with major sporting events is ridiculous. A Pendolino can carry about 500 people and a coach about 50. If you think when Virgin run RRBs between Preston and Carlisle they have fleets of coaches meeting each train you obviously haven’t travelled on them. They have maybe 2 or 3 at best. There is simply no possible argument to suggest that it is being done in the name of public safety.

    Everybody who has any idea of how it works, and why it is done, knows why TOCs do it but it doesn’t stop people coming up with simply ludicrous arguments for why the TOCs are right.
     
  27. 306024

    306024 Established Member

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    Very good. Not sure that everyone realises what is involved in keeping crews route knowledge competency over diversionary routes that are used infrequently, both in crew and management time. If it were practical and cost effective it would be done. If it isn't it won't.
     
  28. Bertie the bus

    Bertie the bus Established Member

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    Everybody except me is ill informed and makes up facts but I'll just make up facts to suit my argument.

    You couldn't make it up. :rolleyes:
     
  29. Bertie the bus

    Bertie the bus Established Member

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    Oh dear, people thinking companies and their employees should do the job they are paid for in order for them to get the service they pay for. It must be truly awful.
     
  30. Bevan Price

    Bevan Price Established Member

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    But with the disadvantages that:
    1. You have to mess about changing between train & bus.
    2. Due to the inevitable uncertainties about roadworks & congestion, you can never be certain of making connections with onward rail services at the end of the "bus" leg of the journey.
     
    Last edited: 17 May 2019 at 20:33
  31. A0wen

    A0wen Established Member

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    No - the service you pay for is to get from place "A" to place "B" - check the National T&Cs - it doesn't state it *must* be a train, nor does it state there *must* be diversions. Nor did it state that in BR days.

    @306024 is correct - having drivers or conductors available for diversions which may be relevant 2 days every couple of years is not a sensible or practical use of resource.

    Clearly if there's a long block it's a different story - a bit like the WCML south or the GWR blockades where diversions were put in place. But then relevant training and cover was put in place for those specifically.
     

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