Top expresses from 1978 compared to today

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eastwestdivide

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Digging out my 1978 all-line timetable for another thread led me to think about comparing the top expresses from 1978 to today's nearest equivalents.

ECML to Edinburgh
1978
1000 KX-Edinburgh arrive 1452 (one stop, Newcastle) Flying Scotsman
2016
1000 KX-Edinburgh arrive 1420 (York, Darlington, Newcastle, Berwick)
32 mins faster with 3 more stops

WCML to Glasgow
1978
1045 Euston-Glasgow arrive 1545 (one stop, Preston) Royal Scot
2016
1030 Euston-Glasgow arrive 1501 (Warrington, Wigan, Preston, Penrith, Carlisle, Motherwell)
29 mins faster with 5 more stops

Midland to Sheffield
1978
1720 St Pancras-Sheffield arrive 1950 (Leicester, Alfreton, Chesterfield) Master Cutler
2016
1657 St Pancras-Sheffield arrive 1900 (Leicester, Derby, Chesterfield)
27 mins faster with the same no of stops, but a different route

GW to Cardiff
1978
1715 Padd-Cardiff arrive 1901 (Bristol Parkway, Newport)
2016
1715 Padd-Cardiff arrice 1925 (Reading, Didcot, Swindon, Bristol P, Newport)
24 mins slower with 3 more stops.
To be fair, the current 1745 Padd-Cardiff is faster than the 1715, but still 18 mins slower than 1978.

SW to Bournemouth
1978
1630 Waterloo-Bournemouth arrive 1810 (Southampton C)
2016
1635 Waterloo-Bournemouth arrive 1824 (Woking, Winchester, So'ton Airport, So'ton C, Brockenhurst)
9 mins slower with 4 more stops

So what can we add, and does this tell us anything?
1. The GW had already had a major upgrade (HSTs), and hasn't yet seen those trains replaced, whereas the first three of those routes still had substantial upgrades to come (ECML incremental improvements and electrification, WCML Pendolinos and associated upgrades, MML more powerful trains and latterly 125mph running).
2. More stops on most routes - maybe the days of the one or two per day very limited stop services are over, in favour of a more frequent, regular pattern.
3. ...over to you
 
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The Planner

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Digging out my 1978 all-line timetable for another thread led me to think about comparing the top expresses from 1978 to today's nearest equivalents.


WCML to Glasgow
1978
1045 Euston-Glasgow arrive 1545 (one stop, Preston) Royal Scot
2016
1030 Euston-Glasgow arrive 1501 (Warrington, Wigan, Preston, Penrith, Carlisle, Motherwell)
29 mins faster with 5 more stops

Compare that with todays 1630 only stop Preston which does it in 4 hrs 08 mins so 52 minutes quicker.
 

eastwestdivide

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Compare that with todays 1630 only stop Preston which does it in 4 hrs 08 mins so 52 minutes quicker.

Thanks - in my defence I was trying to get the nearest current equivalent to the same departure times.
That Glasgow service and the current 0540 Edinburgh-KX arrive 0940 give the lie to my point 2 above - the disappearance of the one or two per day exceptions to the normal pattern.
 

Steveman

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Trains might have been slower but the railway scene in general was really interesting then, train journeys were exciting.

Unfortunately now with the current scene being predictable and frankly quite boring train journeys aren't particularly interesting anymore.
Saying that if you're not someone who remembers when railways were interesting I suppose nowadays railways still hold some interest.
 

Phil.

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Problem is that like railways of yesterday the expresses get faster but the secondary lines stay static. The Cinderella line that is the north downs Reading - Gatwick line being a case in point.
I've always maintained that FGW has - like the GWR before them - an unjustified reputation for speed and timekeeping and this with a now provable amount of timetable padding.
 
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TheBigD

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The growth of Reading, Didcot, Swindon etc means that the service on the GWR route to Cardiff/Bristol is more outer suburban than intercity these days... The market has changed dramatically since then1970's...

I would suggest that something like a 110mph class 379 (or similar) to allow for rapid loading and unloading and decent acceleration would be better for that route than the IEP...
 

Phil.

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The growth of Reading, Didcot, Swindon etc means that the service on the GWR route to Cardiff/Bristol is more outer suburban than intercity these days... The market has changed dramatically since then1970's...

I would suggest that something like a 110mph class 379 (or similar) to allow for rapid loading and unloading and decent acceleration would be better for that route than the IEP...

No point in better accelerating and braking trains when the station time is dismal. FGW platform staff seem to take a delight in seeing just how long they can take to dispatch a train from an intermediate stop
 

Deepgreen

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I still find it bizarre that the 1000 from King's Cross to Edinburgh is no longer called 'The Flying Scotsman', whereas the SB equivalent is! I cannot fathom why the NB train is not thought worthy of the title - it may have three more stops but it's still over half an hour faster than when it carried the title. Has there ever been another case of a named express being one way only?
 
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6Gman

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Trains might have been slower but the railway scene in general was really interesting then, train journeys were exciting.

Unfortunately now with the current scene being predictable and frankly quite boring train journeys aren't particularly interesting anymore.
Saying that if you're not someone who remembers when railways were interesting I suppose nowadays railways still hold some interest.

And in 1978 people were saying exactly the same! That the current set-up was boring compared to "years ago".

:D
 

Steveman

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And in 1978 people were saying exactly the same! That the current set-up was boring compared to "years ago".

:D

They probably were as it had only been 10 years since steam finished but at least in 1978 there was some variety in traction with the hydraulics still around for instance.

The present scene is rather mundane with little variety.
 

D1009

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but at least in 1978 there was some variety in traction with the hydraulics still around for instance.

The present scene is rather mundane with little variety.
Just a slight correction, the last hydraulic in revenue service finished in February 1977. I'm hoping for some sort of commemoration of the event next February.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
The growth of Reading, Didcot, Swindon etc means that the service on the GWR route to Cardiff/Bristol is more outer suburban than intercity these days... The market has changed dramatically since then1970's...
Which in large part was due to the vastly improved train service.
 

Steveman

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Just a slight correction, the last hydraulic in revenue service finished in February 1977. I'm hoping for some sort of commemoration of the event next February.

Fair enough my memory was telling me some were still around in 1978.
 

causton

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The present scene is rather mundane with little variety.

If you say so yourself, I would be inclined to say the opposite. Mundane to some people, but there are so many different train classes and subclasses, so many different routes, and that's without the specials like all of the "frequently requested diagram" posts!
 

HarleyDavidson

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I remember getting on the Down Riviera at Padd and enjoying the trip and the guard came and checked my pass and then moved onto the next passengers and said...

I've got some bad news for you, we don't stop at Reading.

Oh, where do you stop?

First stop on this train is Exeter St Davids, just 157 miles on, I'll have a look at what time you'll get back.

But, but we've got a lunch appointment...

Well it's going to be a bit cold or late as you'll be getting back at 15-something.

In those days it was around about 2½ hours or so from Padd to Exeter and just under the hour from Exeter to Plymouth which was non stop, instead of the Newton Abbott call which is in today, to pacify the local nobs.
 
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dk1

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Compare that with todays 1630 only stop Preston which does it in 4 hrs 08 mins so 52 minutes quicker.

Not for much longer. This one-off headline grabbing schedule introduced with VHF in 2008 will gain the normal stopping pattern of any other xx:30 Glasgow service from the summer timetable change.
 

sarahj

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They probably were as it had only been 10 years since steam finished but at least in 1978 there was some variety in traction with the hydraulics still around for instance.

The present scene is rather mundane with little variety.

I remember hanging around Newcastle in the mid 80's, with folks going, another 56 on a MGR, gawd a 40 on a transpennine to Liverpool, how dull, how boring. Nowdays these folks would crawl over their grandmother to see a 56 or a 40 even just start up.

You don't know what you've got till it's gone, is very apt on the railway scene.
 

ac6000cw

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I remember hanging around Newcastle in the mid 80's, with folks going, another 56 on a MGR, gawd a 40 on a transpennine to Liverpool, how dull, how boring. Nowdays these folks would crawl over their grandmother to see a 56 or a 40 even just start up.

You don't know what you've got till it's gone, is very apt on the railway scene.

I agree.

The usual comment in Birmingham in the 70's was 'it's only another 47...' (there were over 500 built, so they were ubiquitous like 66's are now). Same could be said for 86's. In 1978 nearly everything was painted either overall blue or blue/grey - we have much more variety now.

Point your camera at the here-and-now, in 20 years time it'll be scrapped/painted a different colour/moved somewhere else...
 
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Tetchytyke

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The Non Stop Flying Scotsman from Newcastle was always good for a laugh with people who go on with a ticket to York

It still is!

6GMan said:
And in 1978 people were saying exactly the same! That the current set-up was boring compared to "years ago".

The Black Fives were boring compared to pre-war steam, the early diesels were boring compared to post-war steam, the later diesels were boring compared to the early ones, DMUs are boring compared to the later diesel locos.

The "exciting" time is always when one was young.
 

GRALISTAIR

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I was at the height of my "train-spotter/haulage" in 1978 and I took all those trains.

Trains might have been slower but the railway scene in general was really interesting then, train journeys were exciting.

Unfortunately now with the current scene being predictable and frankly quite boring train journeys aren't particularly interesting anymore.
Saying that if you're not someone who remembers when railways were interesting I suppose nowadays railways still hold some interest.

I am not sure I totally agree. Sure in the 1970s and 1980s there were interesting loco haulages etc. Journeying through the Lune Gorge on the WCML still makes my spine tingle. What I did NOT like about the 1970s was everything was BR corporate blue apart from some Immingham and Knottingley Class 47s. At least now there are some very entertaining liveries. I think also drivers pushed the HST125 limit on Paddington -Swansea which gave good times. I remain positive -we are in the Golden Age of Railways. :D
 

HarleyDavidson

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Golden age of railways? You are kidding.

It's devolving into a shambolic mess, where journey times are being manipulated in the name of punctually and performance and timetables now have more padding than a comfy chair.

With extortionate fares, an over complex fare structure, too many managers and less and less staff on the ground and a system over burdened with legal bureaucracy & general bureaucratic clap trap, which stops any sort of sensible service development.
 

yorksrob

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Looking at the OP reminded me of occasions when I used to catch the Royal Scot in the 90's. Shame there isn't a modern equivalent.
 

Phil.

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I was at the height of my "train-spotter/haulage" in 1978 and I took all those trains.



I am not sure I totally agree. Sure in the 1970s and 1980s there were interesting loco haulages etc. Journeying through the Lune Gorge on the WCML still makes my spine tingle. What I did NOT like about the 1970s was everything was BR corporate blue apart from some Immingham and Knottingley Class 47s. At least now there are some very entertaining liveries. I think also drivers pushed the HST125 limit on Paddington -Swansea which gave good times. I remain positive -we are in the Golden Age of Railways. :D

I'm afraid that you've missed the golden age of railways. That was at about the turn of the 19th/20th century. The network was h-u-u-ge - although some lines had already been closed - and no competition from the pesky motor car or flying machine.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Just a slight correction, the last hydraulic in revenue service finished in February 1977. I'm hoping for some sort of commemoration of the event next February.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Which in large part was due to the vastly improved train service.

Don't the diesel suburban trains out of Paddington and on the north downs line have hydraulic transmission?
 

jimm

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Golden age of railways? You are kidding.

It's devolving into a shambolic mess, where journey times are being manipulated in the name of punctually and performance and timetables now have more padding than a comfy chair.

Whereas it was all much better under BR, no doubt...

That would be the BR that instituted the system by which long-distance trains travelling from Watford into Euston somehow needed 10 minutes more to cover the same distance than trains coming the other way.
 

GRALISTAIR

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Golden age of railways? You are kidding.

I am absolutely serious. In the 1970s and 1980s when I was a true spotter/gricer/basher etc, I saw starvation of investment.

What I see now is electrification, new flyovers, new stations, old routes reopening, switch to autotransformer, Crossrail 1, Crossrail 2, HS1, HS2, HS3, etc, etc, etc,. We are entering a new golden age of railways. I am absolutely convinced. :D
 

ac6000cw

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I am absolutely serious. In the 1970s and 1980s when I was a true spotter/gricer/basher etc, I saw starvation of investment.

What I see now is electrification, new flyovers, new stations, old routes reopening, switch to autotransformer, Crossrail 1, Crossrail 2, HS1, HS2, HS3, etc, etc, etc,. We are entering a new golden age of railways. I am absolutely convinced. :D

I agree with you - record levels of infrastructure investment and lots of new rolling stock in the pipeline. Compared to the situation (and future outlook) in the 1970s this is heaven...
 

dk1

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I agree with you - record levels of infrastructure investment and lots of new rolling stock in the pipeline. Compared to the situation (and future outlook) in the 1970s this is heaven...

I'm 100% with you there guys. My goodness the 70s/80s had the odd highlight such as HSTs & WCML electrification extensions but on the whole it was a sad depressing time for the railways. I'm unsure why with record investment & the announcement of even more new trains this week that there is such hostility to praising the network today.
 

Senex

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I agree with you - record levels of infrastructure investment and lots of new rolling stock in the pipeline. Compared to the situation (and future outlook) in the 1970s this is heaven...
But rolling stock where passenger comfort seems to be the last thing to be considered.
 

HarleyDavidson

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I'm afraid that you've missed the golden age of railways. That was at about the turn of the 19th/20th century. The network was h-u-u-ge - although some lines had already been closed - and no competition from the pesky motor car or flying machine.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---


Don't the diesel suburban trains out of Paddington and on the north downs line have hydraulic transmission?

Yep. Voith hydraulic (Torque/fluid) drive.
 
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