Southminster Branch Electrification - A Waste of Money ?

Status
Not open for further replies.

Mutant Lemming

Established Member
Joined
8 Aug 2011
Messages
3,194
Location
London
I was travelling to a few points along the Southminster Branch yesterday and wondered what the driving force to electrify this line was? Back in the day there were far better candidates for electrification, I assume it went ahead because of the creation of South Woodham Ferrers but no one even got on or off there last night. The stations have no ticket machines, the trains have no guard/RPI - they do have two 'Enforcement Officers' who's main purpose appears to be to stop the ferral drug enhanced children who use the line as their playground from smashing up the train.
So you have a 40 minute frequency train service for a handful of people and gangs of kids who don't pay to use it.
Although I'm sure it's not the only example - the difference here is that even people who want to pay their fare aren't able to.
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

Polarbear

Established Member
Joined
24 May 2008
Messages
1,610
Location
Birkenhead
It was electrified to eliminate what would have been an isolated diesel worked branch line in an otherwise fully electrified area.

When operated by DMU's these were based at Stratford & also worked the following lines (all of which have also been electrified);

  • Stratford-North Woolwich
  • Whitham-Braintree
  • Romford-Upminster

Added to eliminating the DMU's, wiring this line did make better use of the existing EMU resource too.
 

Mutant Lemming

Established Member
Joined
8 Aug 2011
Messages
3,194
Location
London
It was electrified to eliminate what would have been an isolated diesel worked branch line in an otherwise fully electrified area.

When operated by DMU's these were based at Stratford & also worked the following lines (all of which have also been electrified);

  • Stratford-North Woolwich
  • Whitham-Braintree
  • Romford-Upminster

Added to eliminating the DMU's, wiring this line did make better use of the existing EMU resource too.
...but not Marks Tey-Sudbury - so DMU's were not eliminated. Am sure it would be cheaper to operate as a DMU service. A 2 car DMU is more than sufficient for this line and would probably negate the anti-soical behaviour and lost revenue this line suffers.
 

tbtc

Veteran Member
Joined
16 Dec 2008
Messages
16,085
Location
Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire
...but not Marks Tey-Sudbury - so DMU's were not eliminated. Am sure it would be cheaper to operate as a DMU service. A 2 car DMU is more than sufficient for this line and would probably negate the anti-soical behaviour and lost revenue this line suffers.
I agree about Marks Tey - Sudbury (once a certain percentage of lines in an area are electrified it makes sense to complete any "gaps"), but I'm not sure how a DMU would solve anti-social behaviour/ lost revenue?

If you are saying that a guard would stop that then an EMU is perfectly able to have a guard, its nothing to do with electrification.
 

W-on-Sea

Member
Joined
18 Dec 2009
Messages
1,135
...but not Marks Tey-Sudbury - so DMU's were not eliminated. Am sure it would be cheaper to operate as a DMU service. A 2 car DMU is more than sufficient for this line and would probably negate the anti-soical behaviour and lost revenue this line suffers.
Well, it may be quiet a lot of the time, but it still has eight- and *twelve*-carriage services in the peak hours. Burnham-on-Crouch, at least, attracts a fair amount of commuter traffic, even if some of the other stations are little more than marshland halts.

Yes, the line got lucky - indeed in remaining open at all - in that case largely due to the freight traffic from Bradwell power station - and lucky again when it came to electricification. But of course it makes sense to fill in gaps in an overwhelmingly electrified network. And the anti-social behaviour there is really not so bad most of the time (17 year olds using Burnham station car park as a race track? that's another matter)


Sent from my Oric Atmos on Tapatalk
 

Mutant Lemming

Established Member
Joined
8 Aug 2011
Messages
3,194
Location
London
I agree about Marks Tey - Sudbury (once a certain percentage of lines in an area are electrified it makes sense to complete any "gaps"), but I'm not sure how a DMU would solve anti-social behaviour/ lost revenue?

If you are saying that a guard would stop that then an EMU is perfectly able to have a guard, its nothing to do with electrification.
A two (or one, even) car unit would be easier for a guard to keep an eye on than the current 4 car set up which has to have two uniformed 'Enforcement Officers' on board patrolling the train. The whole set up - 4 car train for a handful of (mostly) non-paying passengers with three members of staff seems to me to be extravagant when a single unit (such as operates on the Sudbury branch) would be more than sufficient and less prone to the problems encountered and revenue lost that the line currently suffers from.
 

156402

Member
Joined
15 Nov 2011
Messages
72
...but not Marks Tey-Sudbury - so DMU's were not eliminated. Am sure it would be cheaper to operate as a DMU service. A 2 car DMU is more than sufficient for this line and would probably negate the anti-soical behaviour and lost revenue this line suffers.
1. Marks Tey - Sudbury is far nearer DMU operating area (Ipswich) so less dead mileage is involved.

2. Electrification on the Southminster lines allows for through trains to London

3. DMU's would incurr more train crew costs as it would require a driver and conductor, where as the Southminster line is DOO. Most GEML services are DOO.

A question for the OP, have you travelled on the line in the morning rush hour to see if a 2 car DMU is 'sufficent'?
 

district

Member
Joined
4 Aug 2011
Messages
1,065
Location
SE16
Why does DMU = not DOO? 170s, when they ran south of Ipswich as well as Chiltern south of Banbury and most of the FGW local services all run as DOO.
 

Mutant Lemming

Established Member
Joined
8 Aug 2011
Messages
3,194
Location
London
Well, it may be quiet a lot of the time, but it still has eight- and *twelve*-carriage services in the peak hours. Burnham-on-Crouch, at least, attracts a fair amount of commuter traffic, even if some of the other stations are little more than marshland halts.

Yes, the line got lucky - indeed in remaining open at all - in that case largely due to the freight traffic from Bradwell power station - and lucky again when it came to electricification. But of course it makes sense to fill in gaps in an overwhelmingly electrified network. And the anti-social behaviour there is really not so bad most of the time (17 year olds using Burnham station car park as a race track? that's another matter)


Sent from my Oric Atmos on Tapatalk
It does appear that the service after about 7pm is more of a 'creche/drug dependency' unit with groups of kids obviously 'on something' just riding up and down aimlessly with the 'Enforcement Officers' presence solely there to prevent them harming themselves, the train or the rare actual passenger.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
1. Marks Tey - Sudbury is far nearer DMU operating area (Ipswich) so less dead mileage is involved.

2. Electrification on the Southminster lines allows for through trains to London

3. DMU's would incurr more train crew costs as it would require a driver and conductor, where as the Southminster line is DOO. Most GEML services are DOO.

A question for the OP, have you travelled on the line in the morning rush hour to see if a 2 car DMU is 'sufficent'?
There are plenty of instances where services operate a good peak service to cater for rush hours but does it really call for the level of service and the need for THREE members of staff (two just to patrol the train and not even collect revenue) for such lightly used services at other times ?
 
Last edited:

Eagle

Established Member
Joined
20 Feb 2011
Messages
7,106
Location
Leamingrad / Blanfrancisco
There are plenty of instances where services operate a good peak service to cater for rush hours but does it really call for the level of service and the need for THREE members of staff (two just to patrol the train and not even collect revenue) for such lightly used services at other times ?
I'm sorry, I'm completely failing to see what the hell this has to do, even tangentially, with an electrification scheme of 25 years ago.
 

Mutant Lemming

Established Member
Joined
8 Aug 2011
Messages
3,194
Location
London
Well it seems like it was more of a politically expedient decision to appease party supporters and 'friends' at the time rather than a necessary project. I wouldn't usually advocate cutbacks on rail services but the service on the line is overkill and the resources could be better utilised elsewhere. It was a strange line to be spending so much money at the time and continues to be so.
 

Eagle

Established Member
Joined
20 Feb 2011
Messages
7,106
Location
Leamingrad / Blanfrancisco
Well it seems like it was more of a politically expedient decision to appease party supporters and 'friends' at the time rather than a necessary project...
As has been stated above, it was a necessary project, as it eliminated a diesel fleet, and allowed through services to London to continue without DUTW. Therefore it was a far more efficient operation electric than it was diesel (and daresay the running costs of the line may have been reduced).
 

tbtc

Veteran Member
Joined
16 Dec 2008
Messages
16,085
Location
Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire
Well it seems like it was more of a politically expedient decision to appease party supporters and 'friends' at the time rather than a necessary project. I wouldn't usually advocate cutbacks on rail services but the service on the line is overkill and the resources could be better utilised elsewhere. It was a strange line to be spending so much money at the time and continues to be so.
Aye, but there would be a cost of *not* electrifying to Southminster. If it remained a diesel "island" a fair way from the nearest other DMU route, meaning less scope for any direct London services/ increased staff training etc required/ more complicated rostas...

Whereas wiring it (at the time that Southend Victoria was done) would be at a fairly low marginal cost.

A similar example exists on branches like Windermere/ Morcambe/ Henley/ Windsor & Eton Central - you could electrify them for "peanuts" when you do the Lancashire/ Thames Valley electrification or you could leave them untouched for a generation.
 

MidnightFlyer

Veteran Member
Joined
16 May 2010
Messages
12,846
It has been noted in the past to be a bad line for revenue protection - last year someone wrote a letter in a rail magazine about the woeful lack of them. It triggered NXEA to respond to them in the next issue saying that they always had revenue protection teams on that line and that they did a good job and protected revenue in their eyes to a satisfactory level. The only time I have ever used the line was a Saturday afternoon a couple of years ago - I don't think I had my ticket checked either way, and there were a good few passengers from each of Southminster, Burnham-on-Crouch and South Woodham Ferrers. It maybe should be noted that far and away the busiest station on that line is South Woodham Ferrers (607,000 passengers at the last count) - I wonder just how accurate a reflection for the rest of the line's use this is?
 

elementalpat

Member
Joined
7 Nov 2011
Messages
81
Slightly off topic...

Wonder why the Gospel Oak to Barking line was never electrified then cos that starts and ends at other electrified points.
 

MidnightFlyer

Veteran Member
Joined
16 May 2010
Messages
12,846
Slightly off topic...

Wonder why the Gospel Oak to Barking line was never electrified then cos that starts and ends at other electrified points.
The last study into the possibility of electrification (quite recently) rejected the idea because it would be too expensive on account of all of the viaducts.
 

Ivo

Established Member
Joined
8 Jan 2010
Messages
7,307
Location
Bath (or Southend)
Part of the problem with the Southminster route is that the local bus provision is dreadful. There are services between South Woodham, Burnham and Southminster to Chelmsford, and a few local contracts that run 16-seaters a few times a day. Very occasional services (such as the 237 South Woodham to Basildon) aside, there is nothing else and as such the route is *busier* than it ought to be. Whether the service deserves its "new" 40 frequency is questionable, but the service most certainly can be justified - as can its previous electrification. And that is before the argument of diesel islands crops up.

A DMU service would probably terminate at Wickford, hindering the area's local transport provision even more.

Sounds to me from what's been posted, is that the solution is to simply cancel the service after the commuters have gone home.
And leave Burnham and Southminster with no public transport at all, and South Woodham one solitary bus on a completely different route? I don't think so.
 

MidnightFlyer

Veteran Member
Joined
16 May 2010
Messages
12,846
Sounds to me from what's been posted, is that the solution is to simply cancel the service after the commuters have gone home.
Then you lose the custom of those who work non-9-5 hours (such as returning from an afternoon shift, or starting a night shift), and those who wish to come back from London etc later in the day, as well as daytrippers, those travelling from further afield and many more.
 

tbtc

Veteran Member
Joined
16 Dec 2008
Messages
16,085
Location
Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire
Southend Victoria was electrified a long time before Southminster.
Sorry, I assumed that the wires would have gone up at the same time, much cheaper that way.

Still, nice to see a thread where a TOC is being criticised for running too many trains and trains that are too long (especially the former NXEA area)!
 

HSTEd

Veteran Member
Joined
14 Jul 2011
Messages
11,587
This may have been one of those projects that is implemented as a way to use up surplus equipment that was lying around gathering dust, especially if there were already plans around for them to use.
 

156402

Member
Joined
15 Nov 2011
Messages
72
Why does DMU = not DOO? 170s, when they ran south of Ipswich as well as Chiltern south of Banbury and most of the FGW local services all run as DOO.
Bear in mind that the Southminster branch was electrified in 1986 and everything above you quote is post privatisiation, a vast difference in time has past so can not be used as any valid comparision.

What DMU services were DOO operated in 1986 or earlier please?
 

SprinterMan

Established Member
Joined
20 Sep 2010
Messages
2,340
Location
Hertford
Part of the problem with the Southminster route is that the local bus provision is dreadful. There are services between South Woodham, Burnham and Southminster to Chelmsford, and a few local contracts that run 16-seaters a few times a day. Very occasional services (such as the 237 South Woodham to Basildon) aside, there is nothing else and as such the route is *busier* than it ought to be. Whether the service deserves its "new" 40 frequency is questionable, but the service most certainly can be justified - as can its previous electrification. And that is before the argument of diesel islands crops up.

A DMU service would probably terminate at Wickford, hindering the area's local transport provision even more.



And leave Burnham and Southminster with no public transport at all, and South Woodham one solitary bus on a completely different route? I don't think so.
The electric service does normally terminate at Wickford off-peak doesn't it?
 

lauraGeeGee

Member
Joined
1 Apr 2010
Messages
55
Location
Essex
I had a chat with a couple of the enforcement officers the other evening.

They are soon to be kitted out with ticketing machines and penalty fare books so you may find tickets will be checked much more frequently.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
The electric service does normally terminate at Wickford off-peak doesn't it?
Indeed it does.

But those trains may well have previously come from Southend or Braintree, or anywhere! The four cars you see may well have been part of a 12 car set during the peak. They may have split somewhere to form two separate services. One run from London to Southminster then it will spend the rest of its day on the branch.

There are also diagrams (we refer to them as "Essex Ramblers" :lol:) where, for example, the same unit could come from ilford car sheds to London. Then to Braintree. Back to London. Then to Southend. Empty to Wickford then onto Southminster. It will then go up and down on that branch until the end of service.

You can see how it would make things very complicated if that line wasn't electrified.
 

12CSVT

Established Member
Joined
18 Aug 2010
Messages
2,612
The only time I have ever used the line was a Saturday afternoon a couple of years ago - I don't think I had my ticket checked either way, and there were a good few passengers from each of Southminster, Burnham-on-Crouch and South Woodham Ferrers. It maybe should be noted that far and away the busiest station on that line is South Woodham Ferrers (607,000 passengers at the last count) - I wonder just how accurate a reflection for the rest of the line's use this is?
Last time I travelled on this line (August last year, for the Mangapps Farm diesel shunter gala) I had my ticket gripped in both directions. At the time I wasn't aware of the undesirables that this line seems to attract (I travelled outwards Saturday mid-morning, returning late afternoon the same day).
 

Ivo

Established Member
Joined
8 Jan 2010
Messages
7,307
Location
Bath (or Southend)
The electric service does normally terminate at Wickford off-peak doesn't it?
It does now, yes - but that is a recent "innovation". Before the changes NXEA made towards the end of their franchise they ran through to Shenfield, providing Wickford and Billericay with a fourth train per hour - and before that, still with WIC and BIC receiving 4tph, the usual stock on the line was 315s running as all-stops services to Liverpool Street as an extension of the Shenfield Metro.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top