Reading to Salisbury/Gillingham (Dorset)

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by Mark J, 13 Aug 2019.

  1. Mark J

    Mark J Member

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    Whilst at Reading station at the weekend was surprised to see SWR services advertised as operating out of Platform 1 to Salisbury/Gillingham (Dorset).

    My questions are:

    1) Why are SWR services operating over the Reading to Basingstoke line - when historically they haven't.
    2) The same journey could be done by simply changing at Basingstoke, when traveling from Reading. Therefore where is the justification and demand for a service to Salisbury and particular Gillingham, which is hardly a "must go to" destination for many.
    3) Surely a Reading to Portsmouth, or re-instating the Reading to Brighton service (Via Fareham, Chichester and Worthing) would be better route options?
     
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  3. swt_passenger

    swt_passenger Veteran Member

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    This is on Sunday mornings and afternoons only, the services run to/from Waterloo in the evening. They wanted to add additional trains on the Salisbury to London route on Sundays to match Mon-Sat, but the mainline into Waterloo operates at reduced capacity on Sundays for maintenance access. So the diversion into Reading gives the services somewhere to reverse, and the option is also useful for engineering work diversions.

    There’s also a late weekday evening service into Reading for route learning, returns via Southampton as ECS.

    There wouldn’t be any rolling stock available to run this on other days of the week.
     
  4. coppercapped

    coppercapped Established Member

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    To your point 1. It depends on how far back one goes 'historically'...

    The Hampshire area was dieselised in the late 1950s using what were then called the 2H units. Following the success of the trains in building traffic they were lengthened to 3 coaches and further batches were built. The last of these (TOPS code 205, IIRC) entered service around 1962 or 1963 and were specifically built for the Reading-Basingstoke-Salisbury service as well as other linked routes. For a period of some years the Salisbury trains essentially supplied the stopping service to the intermediate stations between Basingstoke and Salisbury on the Southern's West of England route.

    To get to Portsmouth from Reading then required a change at Eastleigh. Not many people went there as Portsmouth in those days was essentially a naval base with not much other industry so a through service was probably overkill.
     
  5. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    If I recall correctly the Southern demus built about 1960 and used on the Reading to Basingstoke line originally ran to Southampton Terminus, and provided the local service beyond Basingstoke. The local service from there to Salisbury was separate. it was only after the electrification of the Bournemouth line in 1967 that the two remaining diesel services into Basingstoke were linked to form Reading to Salisbury locals.

    Back in steam days even, locos on this line were mixed WR and SR, but even with WR locos the carriages were generally SR green ones, and again the local services ran on to either Southampton or Portsmouth. This had apparently been the case ever since the separate GWR station at Basingstoke was closed in 1932, and trains on the branch all sent into the Southern station. Under BR the line was assigned to the Southern Region, even though it was originally GWR, and when built it was broad gauge.
     
  6. pompeyfan

    pompeyfan Established Member

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    These days you wouldn’t get a path to Brighton from reading, West Coastway is full, although a 2nd hourly Basingstoke to Portsmouth (semi fast) would be well received.
     
  7. swt_passenger

    swt_passenger Veteran Member

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    Of course the extra Basingstoke to Portsmouth does run in the peak flow direction, although now it’s usually a through service to/from Waterloo in the latest timetable. Back when the SWT “Brighton” service still ran, it was also diverted to/from Portsmouth in the peaks.

    The other point about SWR running to Reading only on Sundays is that the Basingstoke to Reading section has spare paths on Sundays, with less freight generally and no XC extensions to Southampton.
     
  8. pompeyfan

    pompeyfan Established Member

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    Indeed those extra services are welcome, but during the day 1 train an hour is frustrating. Back in SWT days there was at least 1 Waterloo - Brighton via Basingstoke service.

    You are 100% as to why the services run in their current set up.
     
  9. swt_passenger

    swt_passenger Veteran Member

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    I expect (by reading the runes in the route study) that the Waterloo - Portsmouth via Eastleigh will almost definitely become 2 tph in the future, basically running the peak service all day, it’s one of the more obvious changes you’d expect on the mainline if/when overall capacity increases with Crossrail2 etc...
     
  10. Kite159

    Kite159 Veteran Member

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    And only one GWR stopper an hour compared to 2 stoppers Monday - Saturdays.

    Useful to break up a 40 minute gap for Basingstoke - Reading services which probably removes some crowds from the Manchester voyager
     

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