Stations and lines not used to their full potential

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backontrack

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It strikes me that a symptom of the huge under-investment we have of our rail network is that:

a) There are many towns on lines that are open that don't have stations (like Elland and Haxby).

and

b) There are many sizeable places that don't have services running through them at all. Many of these have no lines due to the worst part of the Beeching Axe - the actual destruction of the lines and alignments - like Hawick, St Andrews and Tavistock - but there are still many that do have lines - like Levenmouth, Washington and Ashington.

But forget about those. I want to focus on

c) Where there are stations and lines in some areas, we struggle to get the best out of them due to the low levels of investment we have. We could get much more usage out of them relatively easily by improving services to them, upgrading station facilities, bringing in newer rolling stock, re-siting some stops or introducing some doubling projects.

So hang the closed lines and stations, just for this thread; they are very important, but I want to focus on areas of our current network that aren't being used to their full potential.

It seems that The Esk Valley Line is a good place to start. There are many people who are better qualified than myself to talk about this line and more capable of doing so, so I will pretty much leave it to them. But I will say this: the line needs more double track, better rolling stock...and better marketing. I mean, it's the only line in the UK to enter the North York Moors National Park. And it goes it Whitby, of all places - with an abbey and a picturesque harbour. And it serves a heritage railway line. It baffles me that so few people seem to know about it.

Then there are stations. Featherstone doesn't seem like it's the best-placed for the town it serves, and perhaps Feniton would be better on the other side of the A30 - still relatively close to Feniton, but nearer to Ottery. Lakenheath seems to be a big talking point, and various people have discussed how services could be improved there. But where else?
 
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Altfish

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More stations on the main lines...they would almost certainly need passing loops so as to not stop the expresses but the likes of Garstang and Beattock come to mind.

My local line needs (and should be getting under the new franchise) a twice an hour service but it passes through Timperley Village, Cheadle and Wythenshawe without stopping...crazy
 

A0wen

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It strikes me that a symptom of the huge under-investment we have of our rail network compared to our continental neighbours is that:

a) There are many towns on lines that are open that don't have stations (like Wellington, Corsham, Caerleon, Elland, Haxby, East Linton and Newburgh).

and

b) There are many sizeable places that don't have services running through them at all. Many of these have no lines due to the worst part of the Beeching Axe - the actual destruction of the lines and alignments - like Hawick, Haverhill, St Andrews, Caernarfon, Tavistock - but there are still many that do have lines - like Levenmouth, Washington, Ashington, Stocksbridge, Hirwaun, Henbury and the amazingly-named Ludgershall.

But there's also

c) Where there are stations and lines in some areas, we struggle to get the best out of them due to the low levels of investment we have. We could get much more usage out of them relatively easily by improving services to them, upgrading station facilities, bringing in newer rolling stock, re-siting some stops or introducing some doubling projects.

So hang the closed lines and stations, just for this thread; they are very important, but I want to focus on areas of our current network that aren't being used to their full potential.

It seems that The Esk Valley Line is a good place to start. There are many people who are better qualified than myself to talk about this line and more capable of doing so, so I will pretty much leave it to them. But I will say this: the line needs more double track, better rolling stock...and better marketing. I mean, it's the only line in the UK to enter the North York Moors National Park. And it goes it Whitby, of all places - with an abbey and a picturesque harbour. And it serves a heritage railway line. It baffles me that so few people seem to know about it.

Then there are stations. Featherstone doesn't seem like it's the best-placed for the town it serves, and perhaps Feniton would be better on the other side of the A30 - still relatively close to Feniton, but nearer to Ottery. Lakenheath seems to be a big talking point, and various people have discussed how services could be improved there. But where else?

You have a very strange view of what constitutes a sizeable place: I've put the population figures for the various places you've listed from Wikipedia:

Wellington - 14,000
Corsham - 13,000
Caerleon - 8,000
Elland - 11,000
Haxby - 8,400
East Linton - 1,800
Newburgh - 2,000

Hawick - 14,000
Haverhill - 27,000
St Andrews - 17,000
Caernarfon - 9,600
Tavistock - 11,000

Levenmouth - not listed
Washington - 67,000
Ashington - 28,000
Stocksbridge - 9,800
Hirwaun - 5,000
Henbury - 11,000
Ludgershall - 4,400.

So of those - Washington and Ashington probably can make a case for a rail link. A couple might as a result of other factors e.g. Hawick will if the Borders railway were extended on to Carlisle. The vast majority of these will never justify the cost of reconnecting.

Using Borders Railway as an example, you're looking at reinstatement costs of circa £ 10m / mile. There has to be a sound benefits case to justify such expenditure.
 

backontrack

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You have a very strange view of what constitutes a sizeable place: I've put the population figures for the various places you've listed from Wikipedia:

blah
blah
blah

So of those - Washington and Ashington probably can make a case for a rail link. A couple might as a result of other factors e.g. Hawick will if the Borders railway were extended on to Carlisle. The vast majority of these will never justify the cost of reconnecting.

Using Borders Railway as an example, you're looking at reinstatement costs of circa £ 10m / mile. There has to be a sound benefits case to justify such expenditure.

Did you read the first post? We're not talking about closed stations. :roll:
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
More stations on the main lines...they would almost certainly need passing loops so as to not stop the expresses but the likes of Garstang and Beattock come to mind.

My local line needs (and should be getting under the new franchise) a twice an hour service but it passes through Timperley Village, Cheadle and Wythenshawe without stopping...crazy

re-open the old Beeston Station, and so server Tarporley and the surrounds

I respect and agree with these (particularly Beattock), but at the same time WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT CLOSED STATIONS!

My fault really - should have been clearer. :lol:
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Wellington - 14,000
Corsham - 13,000
blah
blah
Henbury - 11,000
Ludgershall - 4,400.

Also...these were just the first ones that popped into my head. They're completely unrelated to the topic and completely arbitrary.
 
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Simon11

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It strikes me that a symptom of the huge under-investment we have of our rail network compared to our continental neighbours is that:

What continental neighbours are we talking about? I think that our rail network is far better than the majority of our European cousins, in terms of quality of rolling stock and service/frequency.
 

backontrack

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What continental neighbours are we talking about? I think that our rail network is far better than the majority of our European cousins, in terms of quality of rolling stock and service/frequency.

On reflection it may well be - but I'm not sure that we have as much investment as they do - otherwise we'd have HS2 and HS3 already. We don't have an equivalent to TGV or Trenitalia services.

Anyhoo, I'd like it if people would stop nitpicking over the wording of my post and actually think about the thread title. Thanks :lol:
 

The Ham

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I think that there could well be a case for using some of the quieter sections of the network to increase frequencies.

As an example a fairly easy win, could be to extend the Basingstoke stoppers to Salisbury (after electrification). Although there would be nearly zero people that used them to get to Waterloo it would mean that those going elsewhere (such as Basingstoke) would have a wider choice of trains, even going to Woking or changing at Basingstoke or Woking could be more attractive from the extra services as they would arrive at slightly different time.

Also it would make it a lot easier to get between stations on the two sections of east west line either side of Basingstoke. Although the numbers of people from each station aren't that big the 4 stations (Hook, Winchfield, Fleet and Farnborough) to the east of Basingstoke have more passengers than Basingstoke has (circa 5.8 million vs circa 5.6 million at Basingstoke, even though there are a lot more destinations from Basingstoke). As such if a direct service existed it is likely that it would be fairly well used.

Likewise better connections with radial services could mean that the radial services (which tend to be less well used) could see more use. In practice it could be better to run local services over new cords on to the radial lines to connect with existing train stations rather than adding extra stops.

An example of this could be to run (by building chords to create a grade separated junction at Frimley) services between Ascot and Basingstoke. This would then mean that on the Ascot to Frimley section there would be 3tph (assuming one new train per hour on the new service) and 3tph on the Basingstoke to Farnborough section. This would increase capacity on those sections without impacting on the major capacity constraints which otherwise limit the ability to provide extra services over those sections (i.e. the single track section south of Frimley and Woking/Waterloo). This would speed up journey times from Frimley and Camberley to Waterloo (although would involve a change), potentially free up parking spaces at Farnborough (as less people would need to drive there) and allow some level of service at times of disruption (either as the local services could run when something goes wrong near Waterloo or to allow trains to bypass engineering works).
 

adrock1976

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What's it called? It's called Cumbernauld
A couple of obvious ones here come to my mind.

1)
Manchester, Sheffield, & Lincolnshire Railway. The section between Retford and Cleethorpes sees just 3 services each way on Saturdays only. I have suggested in a couple of previous threads that the proposal to double the frequency between Sheffield and Worksop from every 60 minutes to every 30 minutes is reasonable, but should be extended to Retford, with a train every 2 hours continuing via Brigg to Cleethorpes as an experiment.

2)
Midland Railway. The Sheffield - York via Pontefract Baghill sees 2 services each way on Mondays to Saturdays. These operate around mid morning to early afternoon. I have previously suggested that this service could operate every 2 hours as an experimental service, and would improve connectivity on a north-south axis from Pontefract. Furthermore, I have also suggested in a recent thread that I started regarding Midland Railway IC services that the London SP - Sheffield Midland service could be extended every 2 hours to York, calling at Rotherham (either Central or a reopened Masborough) and Pontefract Baghill.
 

RichmondCommu

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On reflection it may well be - but I'm not sure that we have as much investment as they do - otherwise we'd have HS2 and HS3 already. We don't have an equivalent to TGV or Trenitalia services.

The FrencH LGV network is very good but some of the newer lines do not make a profit, although the very high track access charges do not help. However, move away from the LGV routes towards the TER services and the picture is very different. The service is often very sparse and many services are being replaced by coaches.
 

Holly

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Did you read the first post? We're not talking about closed stations. :roll:
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I respect and agree with these (particularly Beattock), but at the same time WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT CLOSED STATIONS!
You mean closed stations like Elland railway station?
 

MarkRedon

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The FrencH LGV network is very good but some of the newer lines do not make a profit, although the very high track access charges do not help. However, move away from the LGV routes towards the TER services and the picture is very different. The service is often very sparse and many services are being replaced by coaches.
I live in France. I agree with your comments. Perhaps one of the reasons why the track charges are so high is that there is not really a proper separation between infrastructure provider SNCF Réseau (ex RFF) and the only significant operator of services in the country, which is SNCF. There is very little incentive for SNCF Réseau to reduce its access charges, which would lead to the terrifying possibility that other operators might take an interest in providing passenger services. We like our monopoly service providers in France – which is to say, we never get the chance to try the alternative!

The TER service provision varies greatly depending upon the extent to which the local regional government is serious about its TER network. The general presumption is that TER services will be provided by train only where specific trains cover the direct costs or whether the number of passengers exceeds any realistic alternative coach service. On many so-called TER rail lines, the majority of the service is in fact provided by road coaches, with perhaps a single train service in one or both of the peaks. There are genuine geographical problems with providing high frequency of service in France, associated with the fact that the country is simply very large by comparison with the crowded parts of the British Isles. Nevertheless, my frequent observation to myself is that France has almost nowhere learned the lessons of "Sprinterisation": run little trains very frequently, and watch the traffic build as people get used to the idea that they can more or less turn up and go. In France, a lot of significant city-pairs have a level of service provision which is attractive only to the baseline TER traffic of students and people too young to own their first car. Young French people still grow wheels much earlier than their British counterparts. The train service is then rarely sufficiently attractive, and the levels of road traffic congestion too low, for people to be seduced out of their cars and back onto the trains.

As I said, the picture is very variable from region to region. In my own region of Brittany, service provision on principal lines towards Rennes has substantially improved even in the few years that I have lived in the country. From my local station in Redon towards Rennes, there are now very few hours without trains and in the peaks the service provision is generous. The consequence is that the usage of the service is improving all the time. This is helped by the fact that the regions have much more autonomy over infrastructure investment that has been the case in Britain until very very recently and then only in those areas where combined authorities have significant influence. The line between Rennes and Redon has just benefited from a level of investment which would make many parts of Great Britain very jealous. Despite this, the service provided between Rennes and Nantes which runs through or round Redon remains very unattractive by comparison with road competition. A lot of planning is going into the possibility of a new TGV line between Brittany and the Pays de Loire region to the south. I suspect that the financial case would not meet muster in the United Kingdom; I equally suspect that some such line will eventually be built in France because inter-regional competition and pride will demand it. At least, that will occur if the country does not go bust beforehand!

Please forgive this long and off topic post; however, I think there are lessons or suggestions of lessons that the British might like to take note of, and even be somewhat proud! I would summarise this British approach as run them often, and the trains will be fuller. SNCF, especially on the so-called InterCités network network, still has an obsession with running long trains very infrequently: operational convenience, and stuff the passengers.
 

northrailfan

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A few ideas that spring to mind but are maybe a bit optimistic...

1) The Bentham Line - A peak service from Bentham to Leeds in the morning and return in the afternoon, could maybe help to pick up passenger numbers in the town (Giggleswick, Clapham and Wennington aren't really the most important stations on the line though so a train just for Bentham probably wouldn't make all that much difference).

2) Everyone's favourite - Stockport to Stalybridge. It is spoken of a lot in terms of service improvement but you could argue there is some good that could come of this. For starters, Reddish South probably has the most potential for more passengers with such an ideal location in suburban Manchester, and therefore a regular service into the city every hour reversing at Stockport could be a good idea - but then would the traffic be there and how much of a 'counter debate' to Reddish South improvements would be made by Reddish North, which has a more direct connection than a would-be Reddish South service would have.

3) Knottingley to Goole - Leeds to Knottingley has a regular service, with just a meagre service to Goole - could there be benefits to Goole if the service from Leeds to Knottingley was extended, say, every hour; or again, is the traffic just not there for Goole, nor for the stations en route, especially Rawcliffe, Hensall and Whitley Bridge (Snaith may benefit somewhat from a regular service by actually being in a relatively populated area).

Just ideas, there may not be the traffic there, but is it worth a stab to see what could be done?
 
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Bald Rick

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Shrewsbury to Wolves. Some decent sized (and growing*) towns / villages with an hourly service and a couple of peak extras. Two hourly 153 at weekends. The trains are always rammed whenever I use them, which is exclusively off peak.

A half hourly service of 4 car units would certainly cover its marginal costs.

* Shifnal for example has near doubled in population over the last 15 years, and has about the same amount of growth again planned in the next decade. There are three significant new housing developments under construction right now. The train service is much the same as it was in 1967.
 

Mutant Lemming

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The perennial favourite, the Stoke-Derby line. Poor service, poor rolling stock, potential as through route from North Wales/North West to East Midlands/East Anglia.
 

6Gman

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The perennial favourite, the Stoke-Derby line. Poor service, poor rolling stock, potential as through route from North Wales/North West to East Midlands/East Anglia.

Platforming at Crewe makes that a little challenging doesn't it?
 

RichmondCommu

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I think the Hope Valley route stopper should be an hourly service in the summer timetable. Granted it is at weekends but I think there is a case for it in the summer too.
 

GrimsbyPacer

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1, Cleethorpes to Sheffield via Brigg.
2, Stockport to Stalybridge.
3, Norwich to Liverpool.
4, Darlington to Saltburn / Nunthorpe.
5, Colne to Blackpool South.
6, Grimsby to Lincoln.
7, Derby to Crewe.
8, Goole to Leeds.
9, Heysham to Lancaster.
10, The tramline on Corrie.

These are all under used.
 

TBY-Paul

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One Section of track that could have more done with it, would be Northallerton to Ferryhill via Yarm.

If the Line was upgraded & electrified, and maybe a fly-over/under in the Ferryhill area. It would have the effect of making Northallerton to Ferryhill 4 track.

It would then give scope to have a Northern Stopper service linking Yarm-Eaglescliffe & Stockton, more so if Northallerton Low Level was re-built, so as to avoid the flat junction onto the ECML.
 

yorksrob

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Lots I agree with in this thread.

Additionally I believe that Epsom - Horsham with some investment could help to relieve the BML.

In terms of lines that are underused, Tonbridge - Ashford is definitely underused since glory days, particularly given the number of loops and it's straight alignment. Not sure what traffic would fill this now that HS1 has stolen it's mainline trains. Ditto Maidstone East - Ashford.
 

Parallel

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Par - Newquay
A service once every three hours in each direction, using a single dogbox which is barely half full. Newquay is a sizable town and the mainline route from Paddington - Plymouth - Par - Penzance is very well used indeed. I'm not surprised numbers are low on the Atlantic Coach branch as it isn't a very attractive service to those who would likely use the line on a frequent basis.

Shrewsbury - Knighton/Llandrindod
I boarded a single 153 at Shrewsbury a couple of weeks ago on the HOWL. Nearly every seat was taken and about 75% of the passengers on board were heading to Knighton. The line only receives about 4 trains a day with the last train leaving very early (6pm ish). Extra shuttles could run between the existing through trains as there is clearly a market, and I believe more would come if the service was more frequent.

Swansea - Llandeilo/Llandovery
For identical reasons mentioned above. The last train leaves Swansea at like 18:20, way too early for the Swansea - Llandeilo part! A couple were heading to Swansea from Llandeilo (I think they were heading out for a meal in Swansea) and they only realised en route that the last train would leave 15 minutes after they arrive. I imagine they'd be put off next time. Demand is there but the infrequency of services is extinguishing it!
 
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Kendalian

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Oxenholme-Windermere has potential for much more traffic if the they reinstated a 2nd platform at WDM and a dynamic loop between Burneside and Staveley.

With 10 miles of single track, the line is at capacity all day with only 1 train per hour. No prospect of extra service trains and cant run an excursion without cancelling service trains (apart from silly o'clock Sunday morning!)

At least the line is being wired (eventually). As the only line left into the Lake District, the potential for passenger growth is vast if they could operate a 30 min frequency at peak times and longer distance/excursions.
 

backontrack

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Par - Newquay
A service once every three hours in each direction, using a single dogbox which is barely half full. Newquay is a sizable town and the mainline route from Paddington - Plymouth - Par - Penzance is very well used indeed. I'm not surprised numbers are low on the Atlantic Coach branch as it isn't a very attractive service to those who would likely use the line on a frequent basis

If it's a coach, then that explains things :lol:
 

Grinner

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Not sure if it counts as “underused” (as a line itself) but a proper local service on the ECML between Newcastle and Edinburgh ought to get decent usage. I know there are plans for a Edinburgh-Berwick service, if that were extended to Newcastle I would expect it to improve usage at the intermediate stops by providing a more regular, predictable service (i.e. this would be at the expense of stopping EC/CC services at Alnmouth and Morpeth). You could look at providing a better service to some of the very under serviced stations that currently only get 1tpd, e.g Widdrington and/or Aclkinglton might support more trains than they currently get.
 

scarby

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It seems that The Esk Valley Line is a good place to start. There are many people who are better qualified than myself to talk about this line and more capable of doing so, so I will pretty much leave it to them. But I will say this: the line needs more double track, better rolling stock...and better marketing. I mean, it's the only line in the UK to enter the North York Moors National Park. And it goes it Whitby, of all places - with an abbey and a picturesque harbour. And it serves a heritage railway line. It baffles me that so few people seem to know about it.

As you probably know, the Esk Valley line was saved by the skin of its teeth during the Beeching cuts, it being deemed that closing the line would cause severe hardship, with several villages difficult to access in the winter.

If it had gone, of course Whitby would have completely lost its rail link.

It was run on a shoestring for years and BR did some ridiculous things such as ripping up the double track into Whitby and at Whitby - since restored in the station at great expense.

One issue is that the line is slow - the Middlesbrough-Whitby bus is quicker, though I guess that could be improved if there were some trains that stopped at Battersby (necessary to reverse) and Grosmont only.

Because it is the remains of a once wider and useful network, it is unappealing to use to get to Whitby from beyond Middlesbrough - it takes over two and a half hours from York, though there is a very cheap walk-up day return available for just £14.

Getting from Whitby to London by train takes a minimum of 4hrs 56m, compared with 3 hours regularly from Scarborough, just 20 miles down the coast. In fact, it is quicker to take the 93 bus to Scarborough and change.

One massive improvement would be if the line from Battersby to Picton would be restored, which would vastly improve journey times into Whitby from York, etc.

As you mention, Whitby is now a very popular destination, and suffers from bad traffic congestion because public transport options are so slow.

The line does have a huge amount of community support. There is a later "music train" on Fridays in the summer, meaning one can then leave Whitby at 22.25.

There is also going to be one extra service some time in the not too distant future, and I believe, a year-round Sunday service.
 

backontrack

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One issue is that the line is slow - the Middlesbrough-Whitby bus is quicker, though I guess that could be improved if there were some trains that stopped at Battersby (necessary to reverse) and Grosmont only.One massive improvement would be if the line from Battersby to Picton would be restored, which would vastly improve journey times into Whitby from York, etc.

The line does have a huge amount of community support. There is a later "music train" on Fridays in the summer, meaning one can then leave Whitby at 22.25.

I'd expect limited stop trains to do this:

Middlesbrough
Nunthorpe
Battersby
Lealholm
Glaisdale
Grosmont
Whitby

Perhaps Nunthorpe would be replace by Danby, Egton or Sleights.

Looking at the usage statistics, usage seems to have halved since 2004-5. It's a big shame really as public transport in the area is so shoddy for such a busy place.

Another big improvement would be reopening the line from Malton to Pickering - creating a direct link between Whitby and York. But Battersby to Picton is a start.

Music trains/real ale trains generally are a good idea. What about through trains from Newcastle via Stillington?
 
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