Tonbridge and Malling rail manifesto

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55003

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I saw this on my local BBC news.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-17968336

Call for return of Tonbridge to Gatwick rail link


A Kent council has called for a direct rail link from the west of the county to Gatwick airport to be restored.
Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council wants two direct services an hour, removing the need to change at Redhill.
The direct link was lost in 2008 when the route was incorporated into the South Central Rail Franchise, now operated by Southern Railway.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said it planned to begin a new franchise consultation later this month.
Rail manifesto "People travelling from Tonbridge now have to change at Redhill, which is not the greatest experience," said Steve Humphreys, the council's director of transport.
"It's a real problem. It can add delay and uncertainty to business and holiday people getting to one of our major airports.
"There is a fantastic catchment in Kent for this to be a major commercial success and we know we are supported by the people who run the airport."
The Tonbridge to Gatwick proposal is part of a rail manifesto the council has sent to Transport Minister Theresa Villiers.
Mr Humphreys said the council wanted the route to be returned to the Kent rail franchise, currently operated by Southeastern.
The DfT said in a statement: "We plan to consult on the Southeastern franchise later this month, giving all passengers and interested stakeholders the chance to have their say on what they would like the next franchise to look like."
They would like to see direct trains to Gatwick reintroduced ,but the possibility of it happening I would guess is very remote unfortunately.
 
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telstarbox

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If they are reintroduced they should run through from Maidstone West which would then also gain a direct link to Gatwick (Maidstone is significantly larger than Tonbridge).
 

tsr

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It looks like any future service would stop at Redhill for a while and then reverse, which would probably mean any time saving would be relatively low. It would be about as handy as the Reading<->Gatwick services, which are acceptable for most passengers, but I'm not quite sure where an extra Gatwick path would come from, especially after the Thameslink Outputs have been achieved. Perhaps the long-anticipated re-extension of the North Downs Line to Tonbridge would be an idea to look into. At the end of the day, what may be needed is a new flyover at Redhill, which the April 2012 issue of Modern Railway and Reigate & Banstead Borough Council themselves think is rather unlikely. This flyover would enable a direct Tonbridge<->Reading stopper and also an extra option of a fast Tonbridge/Reading<->Gatwick service that would attach/detach at Redhill.
 

55003

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The journey to Gatwick by road from west Kent is fairly hideous. The alternatives are A21/M25/M23 or A26/A264/M23.the latter is probably the worst option as the 264 is very tortuous and afflicted by fog or ice or deer or all three depending on time of year and time of day. The M25 by Clacket lLane is usually good for a couple of accidents a week as is the M23 J9 for Gatwick. with the high price of petrol and parking at the airport the train could be a good alternative if you didn't have to change trains and platforms. I helped a chap yesterday who was a pensioner from Ashford get to the airport. His journey involved three trains. Even with the lifts at Redhill it really is a pain as the Tonbridge train arrives at the far end of Platform 1a at Redhill and you have to walk the length of the platform to get to the lift.I often look at the disused bridge that the mail used to travel across at Redhill and wish it could be put into public use.It is sited about halfway along the platforms and connects all three of those regularly used. It would certainly help the congestion in the underpass if it was used.Can this be put to Network Rail?
 

DynamicSpirit

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If they are reintroduced they should run through from Maidstone West which would then also gain a direct link to Gatwick (Maidstone is significantly larger than Tonbridge).
How hard would it be to build a chord allowing trains on the Maidstone West line to travel to Rochester/Chatham/Gillingham, and then start the service from Gillingham? Then you'd have direct Gatwick trains from most of the Medway connurbation.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
It looks like any future service would stop at Redhill for a while and then reverse, which would probably mean any time saving would be relatively low.
Airport passengers tend to have a lot of luggage, which probably means the not-having-to-change-at-Redhill factor would be relatively important compared to the time saving. Plus having trains that are specifically designed for the airport run, and so have more luggage space.
 

tsr

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The journey to Gatwick by road from west Kent is fairly hideous. The alternatives are A21/M25/M23 or A26/A264/M23.the latter is probably the worst option as the 264 is very tortuous and afflicted by fog or ice or deer or all three depending on time of year and time of day. The M25 by Clacket lLane is usually good for a couple of accidents a week as is the M23 J9 for Gatwick. with the high price of petrol and parking at the airport the train could be a good alternative if you didn't have to change trains and platforms. I helped a chap yesterday who was a pensioner from Ashford get to the airport. His journey involved three trains. Even with the lifts at Redhill it really is a pain as the Tonbridge train arrives at the far end of Platform 1a at Redhill and you have to walk the length of the platform to get to the lift.I often look at the disused bridge that the mail used to travel across at Redhill and wish it could be put into public use.It is sited about halfway along the platforms and connects all three of those regularly used. It would certainly help the congestion in the underpass if it was used.Can this be put to Network Rail?
I totally agree that the road travel situation is way less than ideal. Therefore, as you say, it may well be useful to seriously reconsider airport train services to/from Kent. I mentioned recently on another thread that Kent also has extremely poor links to long-distance and cross-country services (and, to a slightly lesser extent, much of Surrey has this problem), meaning that some people will either drive or not bother travelling.

The bridge at Redhill is unsafe or in a heavily derelict state - I can't remember which. I know NR have effectively put off doing anything to it, even though it would be useful. The other problem Redhill station now has is with the lifts. Only the other week, the motor of one caught fire, resulting in a power outage and both lifts being out of service. This is a failure of significant proportions in the eyes of anyone with luggage or a pushchair, or who is disabled. One lift is still out of action (or was until very recently).

A very short-term solution would be to stop four-coach Tonbridge line trains opposite the lift on Platform 3. This might help a little. Similarly, some trains are obliged to start/terminate or call at the far ends of Platforms 1 and 2, which is not useful for anyone. There are capacity constraints at Redhill due to attach/detach/reversal actions, but not always, so I am sure better planning might be called for.
 

paul1609

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The journey to Gatwick by road from west Kent is fairly hideous. The alternatives are A21/M25/M23 or A26/A264/M23.the latter is probably the worst option as the 264 is very tortuous and afflicted by fog or ice or deer or all three depending on time of year and time of day. The M25 by Clacket lLane is usually good for a couple of accidents a week as is the M23 J9 for Gatwick. with the high price of petrol and parking at the airport the train could be a good alternative if you didn't have to change trains and platforms. I helped a chap yesterday who was a pensioner from Ashford get to the airport. His journey involved three trains. Even with the lifts at Redhill it really is a pain as the Tonbridge train arrives at the far end of Platform 1a at Redhill and you have to walk the length of the platform to get to the lift.I often look at the disused bridge that the mail used to travel across at Redhill and wish it could be put into public use.It is sited about halfway along the platforms and connects all three of those regularly used. It would certainly help the congestion in the underpass if it was used.Can this be put to Network Rail?
I think congestion on this part of the M25 is somewhat of an urban myth. admittedly its best to avoid J5 in the morning rush but i do this journey often from my home on the Kent / Sussex border and the journey consistently takes around 70 to 75 mins for the 60 miles not bad given that the first 20 miles are on country roads. In the gatwick to home direction the worst congestion is actually at the end of the A21 Tonbridge bypass not on the M25/M23.

By comparison the Tonbridge to Gatwick rail service which I did use on occasions mostly carted around fresh air.



 

55003

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I have commuted to Gatwick for twenty years and have seen the service well patronised, but as it was never promoted by any of the operating companies,it is not surprising that it was never full.
 

jnjkerbin

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Perhaps if the current Tonbridge to Strood Services were absorbed into a service between Tonbridge and Gatwick Airport? Not sure what the capacity of the Medway Valley line is like but if that were a problem this could be a solution.

Joe
 

mister-sparky

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Perhaps if the current Tonbridge to Strood Services were absorbed into a service between Tonbridge and Gatwick Airport? Not sure what the capacity of the Medway Valley line is like but if that were a problem this could be a solution.

Joe
the problem is capacity between redhill and gatwick. thats why they were cut back to redhill in the first place, as they mostly ran empty.
 

telstarbox

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Perhaps the Strood - Maidstone West - Tonbridge stopper could be extended as a semi-fast to call at Edenbridge, Redhill and Gatwick only (maybe Three Bridges too to make turnbacks easier)? Paths on the North Downs shouldn't be a problem as it's an hourly service plus freight.

Such a service would be in SE and SN territory but there are other examples of TOCs running joint services (e.g. SE and FCC) so this wouldn't have to be a problem.
 

mister-sparky

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Perhaps the Strood - Maidstone West - Tonbridge stopper could be extended as a semi-fast to call at Edenbridge, Redhill and Gatwick only (maybe Three Bridges too to make turnbacks easier)? Paths on the North Downs shouldn't be a problem as it's an hourly service plus freight.

Such a service would be in SE and SN territory but there are other examples of TOCs running joint services (e.g. SE and FCC) so this wouldn't have to be a problem.
there's no spare paths between redhill and gatwick. as has been said by a few people before. you'd have a nick a path from a victoria/thameslink service, and that isnt gonna happen.
 

yorksrob

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there's no spare paths between redhill and gatwick. as has been said by a few people before. you'd have a nick a path from a victoria/thameslink service, and that isnt gonna happen.
Perhaps if they electrified the gaps in the Redhill - Reading section, they could join the Tonbridge/Maidstone services to the Reading ones at Redhill for the final stretch to Gatwick.
 

JamesRowden

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The most significant problem with the service (Tonbridge-Gatwick) at the momment must be the fact that there is only 1 tph along the Redhill-Tonbridge line. The hastle of having to change at Redhill is far less significant considering the frequency of trains between Redhill and Gatwick (5 per hour with the biggest gap being 20 mins). Adding a second train per hour (Redhill-Tonbridge) would be the solution. However, the present 4-car 1 tph service is very empty possibly making increasing the service wasteful. But, if a semi-fast service from the north downs line (Reading - Redhill) ran to Tonbridge (or possibly beyond) it would be the joint fastest route between Kent and the West (joint with traveling via London and using the Underground). According to Traveline Southeast, a Journey between Tonbridge and Reading using the London Underground takes 1h35m (fast walk option). Tonbridge to Redhill takes 31m on the stopping service. Redhill to Reading takes 1h04m on the semi-fast service. Which when added together is an indentical time. The time taken to reverse the train at Redhill might be similar to the time gained by not sopping between Redhill and Tonbridge. Thereby indicating that a semi-fast Redhill-Tonbridge service would be a trunk route between West Kent and the Great Western Network (it could be made even faster by only stopping at Guildford between Reading and Redhill as the Crosscountry Serivice used to). This service could be extended beyond Tonbridge to Ashford/Strood to aid people traveling to Gatwick.
 
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I think the new platform currently under construction at Gatwick Airport will generate at least one additional path for a stopping service from Redhill on the slow lines. (Currently the Gatwick Express services terminating at GTW must cross from the fast lines to the slows to layover in P1 or P2. The new platform will enable these services to terminate in P5 or P6, on the 'fast' side of the station.)

Presumably more than one additional path will be created for services between Redhill and Gatwick, but clearly there will be many services which currently terminate at RDH vying to make use of it. If I were the Airport operator, keen to expand the natural 'catchment area' for the airport, I think I'd be pushing for to extend the RDG-RDH stopper to GTW, in preference to a service from Tonbridge via Godstone. A half-hourly service from RDG to GTW could attract a large potential customer base from areas served by FGW, and the potential for customer growth is clearly going to be larger, than that from a direct train from Tonbridge, for whose residents Gatwick is already their 'local' airport.

In terms of a flyover at RDH, I cannot see services from GLD-TON skipping RDH, since it's an important local interchange (and the 4th most used station in Surrey). A west-south flyover could work for a fast service to GTW from RDG (stopping only at Guildford and possibly Wokingham), but I can't really see this being justified by 1 tph in each direction.
 

Minstral25

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The Redhill-Tonbridge service is very lightly loaded running at around 27 passengers per train (120 in the peak). It also extends to London Bridge most of the day to provide part of the regular 4 trains per hour to London Bridge calling at most intermediate stations.

Having caught ex-Tonbridge trains from Redhill to LBG I find they are generally empty on arrival even in the peak and seat finding is usually very easy (not the same on the Reigate and Horsham trains of which the latter arrive with very few spare seats)

Redhill needs a platform 4 (on an island with Platform 3) so Tonbridge trains can terminate there instead of 1A. The way Tonbridge and Reigate trains always go to 1A rather than stop in 1B is ridiculous and if any one can explain why please do (and its not so a Gatwick train can go in behind them as they are timed to avoid).

Sadly Redhill is getting a platform 0 which is on the wrong side of the station and will mean the long walk from platform 1A to platform 3 will continue. Unfortunately platform 4 will be much more expensive
 
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The Redhill-Tonbridge service is very lightly loaded running at around 27 passengers per train (120 in the peak). It also extends to London Bridge most of the day to provide part of the regular 4 trains per hour to London Bridge calling at most intermediate stations.

Having caught ex-Tonbridge trains from Redhill to LBG I find they are generally empty on arrival even in the peak and seat finding is usually very easy (not the same on the Reigate and Horsham trains of which the latter arrive with very few spare seats)

Redhill needs a platform 4 (on an island with Platform 3) so Tonbridge trains can terminate there instead of 1A. The way Tonbridge and Reigate trains always go to 1A rather than stop in 1B is ridiculous and if any one can explain why please do (and its not so a Gatwick train can go in behind them as they are timed to avoid).

Sadly Redhill is getting a platform 0 which is on the wrong side of the station and will mean the long walk from platform 1A to platform 3 will continue. Unfortunately platform 4 will be much more expensive
I've asked this a myriad times as I've trudged down to the exit along with several other passengers in the pouring p155ing rain. There's a lame excuse along the lines (ouch!) of, "It's so another train can come in behind". Well, in twenty years of travelling all I can say is that I've never seen one train follow another closely. Naturally it's too much time trouble and effort for an inbound Reading - Redhill terminator to stop under the canopy at 1B, allow the punters to disembark and then trundle along to 1A. To save time the Driver can change ends whilst the punters disembark ready to propelling back along the platform with the Guard in the other end - or isn't that allowed anymore?
The easy solution to the Tonbridge - Gatwick thing is to create another platform behind platform 3 by extending the redundant post office bay straight the way through. This will allow access by inbound Tonbridge trains without affecting the down Brighton line. It will then afford a cross platform interchange on to Gatwick bound trains off platform 3 although I've never been convinced by the lack of paths argument on the slow lines between Redhill and Gatwick to stop them running through. Once the new down platform at Gatwick is built it'll free space up on the reversible platform 2 at Gatwick to allow a proposed down Tonbridge to terminate before trundling off to the sidings to clear what is the up slow if required. At Redhill it'll mean the destruction of the buildings at the down end of platform 3 but the inhabitants can easily be moved into the old Area Manager's offices which are only partly occupied.
Natuarally of course that's too simple and logical so a cramped platform 0 is planned opposite the platform 2/3 island giving rise to more stairs and lifts for changing punters as well as earthworks because of the embankment.
 

MarkyMarkD

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I do think it's missing the point, reintroducing services from Tonbridge to Gatwick.

If it is to be worthwhile, the services should start at Gillingham, run through to Strood, and then via Tonbridge and Redhill to Gatwick.

Whilst Maidstone has a reasonable population, far more potential passengers could join the services at Gillingham, Chatham and Rochester, and taking this route means both the Medway Towns and Maidstone can be served.

The convenience of travelling to an airport without changes of train can't be under-estimated. I would far prefer to travel direct from Chatham to Gatwick, if I could, rather than having to travel into Victoria and out again (as at present).
 

TheJRB

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It was mentioned in the Kent Rail Summit where they said the Gatwick service would start from Ashford and serve Tonbridge and perhaps Edenbridge before reversing in the promised new platform at Redhill. They plan to get this service in the new Southern or Southeastern franchise so it might not be too far away from happening.
 

telstarbox

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The convenience of travelling to an airport without changes of train can't be under-estimated. I would far prefer to travel direct from Chatham to Gatwick, if I could, rather than having to travel into Victoria and out again (as at present).
Very true. Although if you change at Victoria you don't have to negotiate any steps or lifts, unlike at Redhill!
 

Minstral25

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I've asked this a myriad times as I've trudged down to the exit along with several other passengers in the pouring p155ing rain. There's a lame excuse along the lines (ouch!) of, "It's so another train can come in behind". Well, in twenty years of travelling all I can say is that I've never seen one train follow another closely. Naturally it's too much time trouble and effort for an inbound Reading - Redhill terminator to stop under the canopy at 1B, allow the punters to disembark and then trundle along to 1A. To save time the Driver can change ends whilst the punters disembark ready to propelling back along the platform with the Guard in the other end - or isn't that allowed anymore?
The easy solution to the Tonbridge - Gatwick thing is to create another platform behind platform 3 by extending the redundant post office bay straight the way through. This will allow access by inbound Tonbridge trains without affecting the down Brighton line. It will then afford a cross platform interchange on to Gatwick bound trains off platform 3 although I've never been convinced by the lack of paths argument on the slow lines between Redhill and Gatwick to stop them running through. Once the new down platform at Gatwick is built it'll free space up on the reversible platform 2 at Gatwick to allow a proposed down Tonbridge to terminate before trundling off to the sidings to clear what is the up slow if required. At Redhill it'll mean the destruction of the buildings at the down end of platform 3 but the inhabitants can easily be moved into the old Area Manager's offices which are only partly occupied.
Natuarally of course that's too simple and logical so a cramped platform 0 is planned opposite the platform 2/3 island giving rise to more stairs and lifts for changing punters as well as earthworks because of the embankment.
Exactly - extending the old Post Office bay to create a platform 4 would be the best solution and stop the queuing up of services outside Redhill in the evening peak as there is only one platform available Southbound. However it will need a lot of extra earthworks/bridges to get across the road and a lot of railway buildings may need to be removed which sadly is not a cheap option.

The Gatwick Express crossing into the slow platforms at Gatwick Airport meant 8 movements per hour across the slow lines and this is the major reason for the lack of paths South of Redhill. So when they move next year more services can run between Redhill and Gatwick on the slow lines.

Also from 2018 there will be 4x Thameslink route, 2x Victoria/Arun Valley and I'd bet 2x Reading route every hour on the lines so the capacity will have to have increased.
 

MarkyMarkD

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It was mentioned in the Kent Rail Summit where they said the Gatwick service would start from Ashford and serve Tonbridge and perhaps Edenbridge before reversing in the promised new platform at Redhill. They plan to get this service in the new Southern or Southeastern franchise so it might not be too far away from happening.
Population per 2001 census:

Ashford 58,936

Gillingham 99,773
Chatham 70,540
Rochester 27,000
Strood 33,182

Total 230,000 (approx)

Hmm, obviously makes sense to start the train from Ashford rather than Gillingham (before proceeding to Maidstone, Tonbridge, etc. on either route). :rolleyes:
 

yorksrob

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Population per 2001 census:

Ashford 58,936

Gillingham 99,773
Chatham 70,540
Rochester 27,000
Strood 33,182

Total 230,000 (approx)

Hmm, obviously makes sense to start the train from Ashford rather than Gillingham (before proceeding to Maidstone, Tonbridge, etc. on either route). :rolleyes:
Even as an old Ashfordian, I have to say I find your argument compelling.

Also, there is a short local service on the Medway valley line which could be easily incorporated.
 

DynamicSpirit

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Even as an old Ashfordian, I have to say I find your argument compelling.

Also, there is a short local service on the Medway valley line which could be easily incorporated.
Even more compelling if you add in the population of Maidstone (served if you use the Gillingham proposal but not using the Ashford one).

The Medway Valley line service stops everywhere, if train paths allow it I'd imagine it'd be better for the new service we're imagining to be an additional fast service.

Would there be any train path problems with the service reversing at Strood?
 

yorksrob

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Even more compelling if you add in the population of Maidstone (served if you use the Gillingham proposal but not using the Ashford one).

The Medway Valley line service stops everywhere, if train paths allow it I'd imagine it'd be better for the new service we're imagining to be an additional fast service.

Would there be any train path problems with the service reversing at Strood?
I agree.

For its size, Maidstone has always been a bit of a Cinderella in terms of train services, largely due to the machinations of the Victorian railway companies.
 
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