Titled trains

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Condor7

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It is not uncommon to hear enthusiasts to say that there is a lack of variety watching trains these days as opposed to in the past.
This is not however what I want discussing.
As much as I still love railways, for me a lot of the 'romance' has gone from the modern rail scene.

One way to reverse this in my opinion is for railway companies to rethink the use of titled trains.
Railway Magazine recently published their bookazine on the titled trains of Britain, which has gone some way to increasing interest in these trains.

Although there are a surprising number of titled trains still operating, they are largely anonymous, with a brief footnote in the national timetable, and at best a paper window sticker on carriages.

I remember taking my son a few years ago to Thirsk to see the Flying Scotsman come through, and we were unable to distinguish it from a stream of other passenger trains passing by, which was a big disappointment.

Recently East Coast has put the Flying Scotsman signage on some of their 225 units, which at first seemed a good idea, but by allowing them on other trains to other destinations this to me denigrates this famous train, and leads others to believe that the Flying Scotsman comes to such places as Leeds where they are seen regularly.

I am not in the industry, but would be interested to know just how difficult it would be to to have a dedicated unit(s) for this illustrious train, and would the extra prestige and publicity be worth what would undoubtedly be a more expensive venture?
Or how easy would it be to put temporary signage on these trains that would be clearly visible to passengers and passers by.

If we could get rid of the anonymous titled trains and replace them with a smaller amount of titled trains that 'looked the part' and offered that something a little bit special whether that be faster timings or extra 'comforts'
this would surely bring back that extra bit of variety and romance to our railways.
 
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HSTEd

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The idea of naming "crack expresses" that would be faster than the regular train time was abandoned by BR with the deployment of the new electric "InterCity" brand on the West Coast Main Line in the 60s.

What we have now are named expresses that don't interfere with other trains on the railway which is probably the optimum, as to special paint jobs on the "named trains", this runs into the problem of having to maintain an extra trainset that only gets used on a single round trip every day.
 

jopsuk

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"excitement for spotters and photographers" is a rather long way down the priority list for the railways. Yes, they'll have an occasional nod in that direction with the odd special, but for the majority of travellers (who are the priority) regular, reliable, services are far more attractive.
 

ChrisTheRef

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It's impossible to keep a particular unit on a particular service every day, down to maintenance more than anything else.
TOCs try to keep mileage on the fleet roughly equal. One unit doing the same diagram every day would inevitably end up in it being much less/more used than other units.
A name place which could be taken off would be more practical, but there's probably nowhere to attach it to, and TOCs certainly won't invest in finding a place.
 

Holly

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The idea of naming "crack expresses" that would be faster than the regular train time was abandoned by BR with the deployment of the new electric "InterCity" brand on the West Coast Main Line in the 60s. ...
But named trains lived on, at least for a while.

I recall around 1967 that the slow train from Manchester to London was called "The Master Cutler". Fancy signage and tarted up platform at Central station. But the fast trains were at that time largely unnamed. Except the first class only Manchester Pullman that none of my University student friends could afford.
 

tbtc

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Recently East Coast has put the Flying Scotsman signage on some of their 225 units, which at first seemed a good idea, but by allowing them on other trains to other destinations this to me denigrates this famous train, and leads others to believe that the Flying Scotsman comes to such places as Leeds where they are seen regularly

Taking the Flying Scotsman as an example, after its four hour journey down from Edinburgh to London, what do you do with the unit?

The current answer is that you do a return Leeds trip during the daytime before it goes back to Edinburgh in the evening.

So if you want a designated unit painted/branded for the "flagship" service then does it sit around unused during the day (like the "WAG Express" stock from Holyhead does in Cardiff for several hours)?

Titled trains made sense when services were "once a day", but are harder to justify when you have clockface/ regular services rather than one fast/direct service.

I recall around 1967 that the slow train from Manchester to London was called "The Master Cutler"

That was always the name for the Sheffield - London service, I'd never heard of it being used for Manchester trains (unless it came via Woodhead?)
 

HSTEd

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But named trains lived on, at least for a while.

I recall around 1967 that the slow train from Manchester to London was called "The Master Cutler". Fancy signage and tarted up platform at Central station. But the fast trains were at that time largely unnamed. Except the first class only Manchester Pullman that none of my University student friends could afford.

I thought the Master Cutler was a crack express to Sheffield? Was it extended to Manchester or somesuch then?
 

Condor7

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"excitement for spotters and photographers" is a rather long way down the priority list for the railways. Yes, they'll have an occasional nod in that direction with the odd special, but for the majority of travellers (who are the priority) regular, reliable, services are far more attractive.

I realise my post seemed like it was from an enthusiasts point of view, and of course it was, however I did not mean to imply that railway companies would do it for that reason, I realise that they have to see a commercial value.
If for instance Virgin were to reinstate the Royal Scot, make it a limited stop, and give it a bit of razzmatazz, this could become a flagship train for them, used in promotions etc.
How doing that would effect the "regular, reliable, services" of the other trains I cannot see.

It is not just a case of that service making a profit, it is the image it gives companies like Virgin to the public, it adds that 'romance' I was referring to, and overall can have a very positive effect on the rest of the companies services.
 
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tbtc

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I realise my post seemed like it was from an enthusiasts point of view, and of course it was, however I did not mean to imply that railway companies would do it for that reason, I realise that they have to see a commercial value.
If for instance Virgin were to reinstate the Royal Scot, make it a limited stop, and give it a bit of razzmatazz, this could become a flagship train for them, used in promotions etc.
How doing that would effect the "regular, reliable, services" of the other trains I cannot see.

It is not just a case of that service making a profit, it is the image it gives companies like Virgin to the public, it adds that 'romance' I was referring to, and overall can have a very positive effect on the rest of the companies services.

I'm not sure what's "romantic" about a marginally faster service?

The problem these days is that the railway is too busy and stock is used too intensively to have room for any "one off" services on most lines. For example, if you want to speed up a Glasgow - London service and brand it as the "Royal Scot" then what happens to the passengers at Wigan/ Warrington etc who lose their service (just so that others save a few minutes)?
 
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It is not uncommon to hear enthusiasts to say that there is a lack of variety watching trains these days as opposed to in the past.
This is not however what I want discussing.
As much as I still love railways, for me a lot of the 'romance' has gone from the modern rail scene.

One way to reverse this in my opinion is for railway companies to rethink the use of titled trains.
Railway Magazine recently published their bookazine on the titled trains of Britain, which has gone some way to increasing interest in these trains.

Although there are a surprising number of titled trains still operating, they are largely anonymous, with a brief footnote in the national timetable, and at best a paper window sticker on carriages.


.

I remember taking my son a few years ago to Thirsk to see the Flying Scotsman come through, and we were unable to distinguish it from a stream of other passenger trains passing by, which was a big disappointment.

Recently East Coast has put the Flying Scotsman signage on some of their 225 units, which at first seemed a good idea, but by allowing them on other trains to other destinations this to me denigrates this famous train, and leads others to believe that the Flying Scotsman comes to such places as Leeds where they are seen regularly.

I am not in the industry, but would be interested to know just how difficult it would be to to have a dedicated unit(s) for this illustrious train, and would the extra prestige and publicity be worth what would undoubtedly be a more expensive venture?
Or how easy would it be to put temporary signage on these trains that would be clearly visible to passengers and passers by.

If we could get rid of the anonymous titled trains and replace them with a smaller amount of titled trains that 'looked the part' and offered that something a little bit special whether that be faster timings or extra 'comforts'
this would surely bring back that extra bit of variety and romance to our railways.

I'm willing to be corrected on this; but I think it was distinguishable, in the Deltic days? A Thistle headboard was on the front of the locomotive.
 

DaveNewcastle

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There may be no external indications, but some on-board crew still make announcements on leaving stations : "Welcome to this East Coast Highland Chieftan Service to Inverness".
 

Condor7

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I'm not sure what's "romantic" about a marginally faster service?

The problem these days is that the railway is too busy and stock is used too intensively to have room for any "one off" services on most lines. For example, if you want to speed up a Glasgow - London service and brand it as the "Royal Scot" then what happens to the passengers at Wigan/ Warrington etc who lose their service (just so that others save a few minutes)?

I think you completely miss the whole point, I am not talking about just a faster journey time, that is only one aspect, I am saying trains like the Royal Scot (for instance) given a faster time, decorated in some way to make it stand out from the crowd, with extra comforts (what these could be is for another discussion) provides a flagship service that gives an OVERALL kudos to a company such as Virgin, and a marketing image, which is visible for all to see.

I think that is a 'romantic' and a profitable idea as the titled trains of the past have proved that to be the case.

As far as Wigan or Warrington are concerned and other such like stations, they have a very regular service to and from Scotland, between 20 and 30 trains a day in one direction, taking just one away could be argued is worth it.
 

Holly

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... That was always the name for the Sheffield - London service, I'd never heard of it being used for Manchester trains (unless it came via Woodhead?)
As I recall, before and after January 1967, Master Cutler
Manchester Central, Sheffield Midland via Hope Valley, London.
Not sure how much before and after, diesel hauled of course. Sulzer Type 2 if memory serves. I can't for the life of me recall whether it was Kings Cross or St. Pancras though.
Maybe someone has a timetable from that period. Master Cutler to Manchester was probably short lived immediately after the end of the Midland Pullman.
Semi fasts roughly every two hours Manchester Central to St. Pancras service persisted for a year or two after introduction of the electrics
 

LexyBoy

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Announcements at Reading have recently started naming trains - "the train approaching platform 7 is the Saint David... The 11.41 service to Swansea". Previously the names were only in the timetable, though some stations had them in the "Note:" section on the PIS.

I think it does make it a bit more fun, though one does expect a name to mark out something special such as a faster service. Would headboards be possible to use- attached at the start and removed at the end of the journey? Signs in the door windows would be nice too, they'd be put out with the window destination signs.

Also, am I the only one who read the OP as "tilted trains" until about half way through? :)
 

starrymarkb

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20/30 per day? I think you'll find its hourly. And of course a regular hourly service is far better for passengers then a one off special to please enthusiasts. I see this complaint a lot about XC concentrating on regular 30 min services on the core route (which has grown passenger numbers) rather then once a day services between two random points via every obscure chord and junction.
 

HSTEd

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I see this complaint a lot about XC concentrating on regular 30 min services on the core route (which has grown passenger numbers) rather then once a day services between two random points via every obscure chord and junction.

Well apart from stock limitations there is no particular reason you can't do both.

How many reasonable end points can be reached from the ends of the current XC "core" routes?

Although I think a Wick to Penzance train might be pushing it a bit far.....
 

ainsworth74

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I think it would be nice to see some more attention given to the remaining named services. I don't see why it wouldn't be possible to have the names given more prominence on departure boards, station announcements and on-board announcements. Something along the lines of "The next train from platform 2 will be the 1200 East Coast Highland Chieftain to Inverness". I would also quite like to see headboards return for named services but realise that this isn't entirely practical as it only takes one bout of disruption for boards to end up being in the wrong places or in the right places but at the wrong times.
 

tbtc

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I think you completely miss the whole point, I am not talking about just a faster journey time, that is only one aspect, I am saying trains like the Royal Scot (for instance) given a faster time, decorated in some way to make it stand out from the crowd, with extra comforts (what these could be is for another discussion) provides a flagship service that gives an OVERALL kudos to a company such as Virgin, and a marketing image, which is visible for all to see

But how do you get the stock to stand out from the crowd when it'll be used on "non titled" services too (like the example of the "Flying Scotsman" running a return Leeds trip in between its Edinburgh duties)?

BR could afford to have "flagship" stock sat around for eight hours during the daytime, but the only example of that at the moment is the "WAG Express".

I don't know what "extra comforts" you'd want, but the railway is about regular reliable services - in the past the "one flagship service" model worked okay, but stock is used much more intensively now.

Basically speaking, a Pendolino is a Pendolino is a Pendolino, so one arrival into Euston from Manchester might form the next train north for Birmingham/ Liverpool/ Glasgow (the same at Kings Cross with 225s/ HSTs rotating between Yorkshire and Scottish duties).

I think that is a 'romantic' and a profitable idea as the titled trains of the past have proved that to be the case

I've no problem with giving a name to some existing "once a day" services (like the Highland Cheiftan), as this promotes a direct link. But there are few of those nowadays.

As far as Wigan or Warrington are concerned and other such like stations, they have a very regular service to and from Scotland, between 20 and 30 trains a day in one direction, taking just one away could be argued is worth it.

It'd be hard to justify passengers at Wigan and Warrington that they've lost some of their direct services to London/ Glasgow to make travel more "romantic" for other passengers.

If you can justify it on passenger numbers then fair enough, but not on romance.

Also, am I the only one who read the OP as "tilted trains" until about half way through? :)

Nope :oops:
 

Tiny Tim

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The use of titled trains is really just a marketing tool for TOCs, and one that isn't really exploited to it's full potential. There isn't an issue with 'specialised stock' as it wouldn't be used, it rarely was even by the Big Four. Headboards and other signage, along with announcements and marketing material would be enough to create a 'special' feel to particular services. It could be a cheap way of selling tickets and creating a heritage appeal to some customers.
 
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