Southern to MK Central

Discussion in 'Allocations, Diagrams & Timetables' started by Ladder23, 31 Jan 2020.

  1. Ladder23

    Ladder23 Member

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    hi guys something I’ve been meaning to look into for a little while which I hope will be an easy answer,

    The southern service to MK central to me really stands out, when was this introduced, and does it really serve much of a purpose, will it continue or be taken over maybe by LNWR? I didn’t even realise till I started working on this line that southerns worked it, it took me by great surprise when the 377 went by the first time!
     
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  3. swt_passenger

    swt_passenger Veteran Member

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    It was originally a Rugby to Gatwick service, which operated before WCML route modernisation.

    I expect other people will know the exact dates, but I think it was shortened to Watford Junction for a good few years during and after the main upgrade period, but has never been proposed for return to a Rugby terminator. In more recent times, (eg in the early 2010s), there were suggestions in route strategy reports to increase frequency to 2 tph, at least as far as Watford Junction, but these haven’t happened, train lengthening maybe being done instead...

    As a side point, I don’t think there are any real advantages in transferring the route to LNWR, they’d just gain the problem of running to West Croydon...
     
  4. StephenHunter

    StephenHunter Member

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    Would the service have been around in BR days?
     
  5. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    1994 IIRC?
     
  6. Ladder23

    Ladder23 Member

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    Keen to know everything myself, I find it a interesting service
     
  7. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    1996/1997 I believe as the Rugby-Gatwick seevice.

    Then became the Watford-Brighton service at some point.

    Then Watford-East Croydon (Dec 2008), MK-East Croydon in early 2009.

    From about 2014 or so to May 2018 it extended to South Croydon.

    The bulk of its current demand is flows between roughly Berkhamsted and Streatham Common to Shepherds Bush, with a bit of MK/Croydon commuter traffic at the extremities.
     
  8. Ladder23

    Ladder23 Member

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    Under what tocs? I’m relatively new to the rail in terms of dates of things so excuse me if it’s an obvious ask
     
  9. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    Originally Connex South Central, then Southern, then GTR
     
  10. Ladder23

    Ladder23 Member

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    Testing you now by asking this.. what class trains we’re used?!

    Would love to find old footage, will give me something to look for tonight
     
  11. swt_passenger

    swt_passenger Veteran Member

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    319s would be the default, had to be dual voltage stock:
    https://flic.kr/p/mQJPr4
    info with that photo helps answer your original question too...
     
  12. Ladder23

    Ladder23 Member

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    Good old 319’s, thanks for all the above.. really pleased to of found answers
     
  13. MatthewRead

    MatthewRead On Moderation

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    First launched after summer timetable in 1997 between Rugby and Gatwick Airport then extended to Brighton in May 2000 but then cut back to Watford Junction in 2001 when Connex lost the South Central franchise. Extended to Milton Kenyes in 2009.
     
  14. SeanG

    SeanG Member

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    Sounds like the sort of service that would be prime for London Overground to operate, albeit MK is a touch too far north for them
     
  15. cle

    cle Established Member

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    It doesn't really fit neatly within any TOC. Within GTR, it's Southern, but you could even argue it as a western branch of Thameslink, as they connect at East Croydon. Even if it doesn't reach Gatwick or Brighton any more.

    It's a useful addition for some local frequency, where packed terminals don't allow any more services - and a similar frequency augmentation to the WLL, but it really came into its own when Shepherds Bush opened. And of course, connectivity into Clapham, and from South London up to Watford.

    It would definitely be better as a regular 2tph service, even if one turned at Watford Junction.
     
  16. StephenHunter

    StephenHunter Member

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    Were there no diesel hauled services in BR days?
     
  17. route101

    route101 Established Member

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    I found it useful for going from Wembley to Croydon early one morning.
     
  18. markymark2000

    markymark2000 Member

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    I would argue an advantage is that with Southern, the second something happens on their network, this service gets cancelled and they don't have any staff in the right places to run a north section shuttle. If LNER ran the service, they have staff and stabling points in the right areas to cover this route properly if something were to happen, you have Kensington Olympia and Clapham Junction where you can terminate the service at last minute and have the staff there to run the service back.

    Southern don't have staff based at Clapham Junction nor do they have the rolling stock in place quickly if something goes wrong meaning that this service has more potential to be cancelled because it doesn't pass any crew bases or depots.
     
  19. JonathanH

    JonathanH Established Member

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    That is a fanciful view of how train services operate. If the train fails on route there is very little chance of it restarting - LNR have sidings and traincrew at Bletchley, Southern at Selhurst, both at the end of the route. Neither operator can do anything about a service being disrupted.

    Why does a north section shuttle need to run if the train doesn't run through - there are adequate LNR services already to cover. The key point about the service is the link from Watford to Shepherds Bush.
     
  20. Horizon22

    Horizon22 Member

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    Alongside Thameslink, it's the only real North-South through rail crossing in London (don't really count ALR ELL sorry, it doesn't actually go that far). As a result there's a fairly steady through from Croydon / S. London(particularly Cllapham Junction), to Kensington / Wembley and even Watford. Arguably you could do this quicker via the Victoria line, but never discount the appeal of a direct service.

    During the Southern strikes, this service was notoriously thin (still requires conductors out of Selhurst depot for the WCML section), and even recently has been subject to the occasional cancellation due to "shortage of train crew".

    As a student, I had an interview in Northampton whilst living in Hampshire, and naively took a SWT service, changing at Clapham Junction and then crawled along the WLL and changed at MKC. It was also wet and miserable; probably only did it was because it was the cheap "not via London" option!
     
  21. NorthKent1989

    NorthKent1989 Member

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    I always felt that this service should be branded as a “Thameslink West” service as it has more in common with Thameslink than either, Southern, LO and LNWR
     
  22. tsr

    tsr Established Member

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    Not quite. Except in the "high peak", these trains tend to be almost completely empty north of Watford. There's actually a compelling argument for only peak time services to go north of Watford Junction.

    During the busiest parts of the peaks, there's a healthy flow all the way from Bletchley to about Balham (with different commutes overlapping with each other - few people do anything like the whole journey, but there are still plenty of people heading from the WCML as far south as Clapham Junction, and a reasonable number changing there for the second or third leg of a long-distance commute).

    The busiest section of the route, by a long long way, is Clapham Junction to Shepherds Bush. It's quite noticeable how many people use Southern's "Shepherds Bush shuttles" in their own right. As these are 8 coach extra trains against the ARL / London Overground base timetable on the West London Line, they're pretty attractive to a lot of people. The 5 coach Overground trains are something of a miserable experience at most time of day, as they are woefully overcrowded.

    It's not really LO, as the service north of Wembley Central takes on a skip-stop pattern which is more reminiscent of fast regional services. None of the services are really frequent enough to pass for a metro service in and of themselves, either.

    Agreed with all the above.

    This is indeed the unacknowledged counterpart to the Thameslink Core routes, with the added advantages that it is politically quite boring and reasonably reliable as of now. What it emphatically does not need to become is overhyped and the latest magical breakthrough, as it is simply a really good workhorse for the amount of investment it's had.
     
  23. markymark2000

    markymark2000 Member

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    In general, the BML between Clapham and Croydon has more issues than the WCML between MKC and Wembley (in my experience) and thus LNR would be able to cover more of the service than Southern due to them having the traincrew in Bletchley and the most southern station that a train can terminate before hitting the main BML is Clapham Junction. This means that regardless of any issues on the BML, this service could run and terminate at Clapham Jct thus keeping the direct BML to WCML connection which is current lost with Southern (see below). If the WCML went down, yes LNR would struggle but as I say, in my experience the BML is more likely to go down than the WCML.

    For Southern, if there is an issue on the BML, they would need to start at Clapham. There is no staff or trains there though. The most north station which Southern normally terminate at if the WCML is down, is Kensington Olympia or Shepherds Bush. None of these stations have connections to the WCML therefore passengers wanting to connect between BML and WCML can't do so at all without travelling via London termini or using London Overground and changing at Willesden and then Watford Jct.

    While neither can do anything about disruption, it's about looking who can run more of the route and keep the connections in times of disruption and which end of the route is more likely to have an incident first and whichever end that is, how likely is it for that one service to interrupt other trips.
    In my opinion, LNR just tick those boxes because of always having that failsafe of staff at one end of the route and they can terminate at CLJ at a moments notice and not really impact other services.

    It could be brought into LO if some sort of link was put in between the two WCML flyunders (Southern use the southern flyunder and LO use the northern flyunder). Then you could make them stop at all stations. Not sure how much of an impact this would have though on journey time.
     
  24. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    In the mid-late 80s there were one or two daily Brighton-Olympia-West Coast Main Line-Birmingham/Manchester type services (think with engine changes at Mitre Bridge Jn). These were a precursor to the Brighton XC services via Reading.
     
  25. STEVIEBOY1

    STEVIEBOY1 Established Member

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    I had an Aunt who lived in Milton Keynes and often used that service since it's inception, it was a faster service originally than it is now, I boarded it at Clapham Junction and it was always very full then, especially when only 4 carriages, it is a bit better now that it is 8. Shame it does not go to Gatwick and Brighton anymore southbound, it was a good link. I wonder if it could go to 2tph? Probably not enough slots available as it goes through several areas/regions.
     
  26. Belperpete

    Belperpete Member

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    Standing on East Croydon station last weekend, I was taken aback by the number of places that you can get to by regular direct train going north now, by Thameslink and WLL, and Overground from West Croydon. Back when I was a lad living in Croydon, going north you had the choice of Victoria or London Bridge.

    In those days, there were only a couple of public trains a day on the WLL: the trains for the postal workers, a couple from Clapham Junction to Olympia early morning, and one back in the afternoon if I recall correctly.

    When a regular service was introduced, I seem to recall a long period when they turned back on the high-numbered, central-side platforms at Clapham Jcn. When did they transfer to the Windsor side?

    The opening of the Westfield shopping centre at Shepherds Bush was the real turning point for the WLL. Although I have to admit to not being much enamoured by that particular Westfield.
     
  27. STEVIEBOY1

    STEVIEBOY1 Established Member

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    Yes I think you are right, I remember the peak only service from Clapham Junction to Olympia in the mornings and afternoons when I first starting working from 1977, but at that time I think it was using the Windsor side. They had various rolling stock for the service. Sometimes a Diesel loco hauling 4 electric looking carriages, then I think I remember a 3 or 4 Hampshire or Hastings type diesel unit also a DMU that looked like a 117 type.

    I remember and did travel sometimes, on the Intercity trains that came from the Northwest, via Olympia and Clapham Junction that went to Gatwick and Brighton, possible occasionally to Eastbourne too. There was also a similar train that went around the Kent Coast, presumable for Sealink Ferry Connections. There was quite alot of publicity when that started in the mid 1980s.

    Another recollection around that same period I have was a service to Gatwick from the Chiltern Lines, maybe Banbury etc. I remember seeing it in the ABC Rail guides we used at work.
     
  28. Mike99

    Mike99 Member

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    Westfield at Shepherds Bush must be a key destination from both the north and the south, I'm sure many people like a direct service, prefer train to a car (in London Traffic) and by road from South London crossing the river is going to be crucial in trip planning, and people like shopping!! especially for youngsters/teenagers who can't or don't drive and want the shops.
     
  29. cle

    cle Established Member

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    These were extensions of the North Downs services to Reading to Oxford mainly, some Banbury. Now there is a dive-under at Reading, these are less conflicting moves, although frequency is today far higher at all points.
     
  30. JonathanH

    JonathanH Established Member

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    Did North Downs services ever run direct from Banbury? Oxford yes, at various points since the introduction of Turbos but not sure about Banbury.

    Cross Country Voyagers certainly ran from Banbury and beyond to Gatwick, most notably in the Summer of 2002.

    Anyway, it is more likely that the recollections of locomotive hauled services from the WCML to the WLL which is what the divergence of the thread is about can be explained here.

    http://www.1s76.com/

    At various points in time, the inter-regional services between the North and Brighton / Kent Coast ran via the WCML rather than Reading.
     
  31. MML

    MML Member

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    It would be nice if GTR were to make this into a half hourly Gatwick or Three Bridges to MK service under their Thameslink brand, thereby connecting Gatwick and East Croydon south of the Thames with all 3 mainlines north of the Thames. MML, ECML, WCML.
    8 car 700/0 would be ideal, with additional 12 car 700/1 ordered to backfill on MML & ECML services.
    Southern could then use the 377 stock to strengthen 8 car services to Victoria and permit more 12 car workings.
    Although I expect there may currently be insufficient paths south of East Croydon.
     

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