Trivia: Services, stops and extensions that only exist for operational convenience

Status
Not open for further replies.

PTR 444

Member
Joined
22 Aug 2019
Messages
916
Location
Southampton
The purpose of operating a train service is to fulfill passenger demand along that route, but there are a few that buck the trend and operate simply for operational convenience. For example, the Tarka Line service from Barnstaple runs to St James’ Park instead of terminating at Exeter Central because there are no stabling facilities at the latter station. Despite this, I highly doubt that there is any additional passenger demand between EXC and SJP that is not already catered for by the Exeter - Exmouth services.

Examples for this thread can include extensions of services, full services themselves or calls in a service that aren’t really needed in terms of passenger demand along the route.
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

Ianno87

Veteran Member
Joined
3 May 2015
Messages
14,485
Liverpool-Norwich, because Regional Railways found that happened to be particularly efficient for crew diagramming, rather than fulfilling any particular passenger demand.

EMR Leeds-St Pancras services, to get HSTs to Neville Hill.

End to end pairings on things like Thameslink. There is no rip-roaring demand between Peterborough and Horsham, but it is operationally convenient to connect them for intermediate flows.
 

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
68,867
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
The origination of a few morning peak Tring stopper services at Bletchley (and termination of same there in the evening) because they might as well, because they've got crews and need to go back to Bletchley CS and traincrew depot for the night?

They're useful to passengers, that said, as these things often are - it's nice to have choice of the seats.
 

FenMan

Member
Joined
13 Oct 2011
Messages
1,047
The Reading - Shalford peak time extras on the North Downs Line.

No doubt the good citizens of Shalford are grateful for their enhanced service, but the purpose of these extras is to add peak capacity to Reading - Guildford - turning at Shalford frees up platform capacity at Guildford.
 

SteveM70

Established Member
Joined
11 Jul 2018
Messages
1,790
A lot of the services that Northern run through Manchester Victoria are two separate routes bolted together to avoid extended turnaround dwell times there rather than to serve any real customer demand.

For example a lot of the Calder valleys now run to Wigan; the Rochdale turnback ones run up to Clitheroe
 

SargeNpton

Member
Joined
19 Nov 2018
Messages
433
Several late night/early morning trains that run via routes that would only otherwise be used for engineering work diversions - which allows drivers to keep up their route knowledge without having to run specials.

Such as the 0325 MSX Sheffield-Manchester Airport that runs non-stop between Sheffield and Piccadilly via Wakefield and Huddersfield.
 

JRT

Member
Joined
11 Nov 2020
Messages
156
Location
Bradford
Don't know if you could include Steeton and Silsden – Skipton in this. The line from Bradford Forster Square/Leeds to Steeton and Silsden is in West Yorkshire, and electrification and frequency improvement were asked for by the PTA. However Skipton is the natural terminus of the lines.
 

scotrail158713

Established Member
Joined
30 Jan 2019
Messages
1,666
Location
East Lothian
The direct peak services between Tweedbank and South Gyle/Fife? I don't know for definite that it's for operational convenience, but at a guess there can't be many other reasons that only a few services a day run such a service.
 
Joined
24 Sep 2017
Messages
183
I appreciate this is a little out of the scope of the thread, as it asks about services that exist for no reason other than operational convenience, but I thought it would be interesting nonetheless.

I think operational convenience has a lot more influence than people seem to realise. From purely a demand perspective, there is no more reason to run between Didcot and Swindon than Oxford and Swindon, or between Basingstoke and Woking than Reading and Woking, or between Bedford and St Albans than Bedford and Stevenage. Why does Winchester have a service to Macclesfield when Leeds doesn't? Why connect Wool with Basingstoke and not Reading? Why do services from Wolverhampton go to Euston and not Charing Cross? These are all operational rather than demand lead decisions.
 

Whistler40145

Established Member
Joined
30 Apr 2010
Messages
5,188
Location
Lancashire
I appreciate this is a little out of the scope of the thread, as it asks about services that exist for no reason other than operational convenience, but I thought it would be interesting nonetheless.

I think operational convenience has a lot more influence than people seem to realise. From purely a demand perspective, there is no more reason to run between Didcot and Swindon than Oxford and Swindon, or between Basingstoke and Woking than Reading and Woking, or between Bedford and St Albans than Bedford and Stevenage. Why does Winchester have a service to Macclesfield when Leeds doesn't? Why connect Wool with Basingstoke and not Reading? Why do services from Wolverhampton go to Euston and not Charing Cross? These are all operational rather than demand lead decisions.
Why would services go from Wolverhampton to Charing Cross?

I'd understand if there were services via Leamington Spa, Oxford and Reading to London Paddington as an alternative to London Euston
 

Mcr Warrior

Established Member
Joined
8 Jan 2009
Messages
4,322
Don't know if you could include Steeton and Silsden – Skipton in this. The line from Bradford Forster Square/Leeds to Steeton and Silsden is in West Yorkshire, and electrification and frequency improvement were asked for by the PTA. However Skipton is the natural terminus of the lines.
Not sure if I quite follow your point. What's operationally convenient (or inconvenient for that matter) about stopping at Steeton and Silsden now that the Aire Valley electrics continue to Skipton; surely it's just another intermediate calling point?
 

Bishopstone

Established Member
Joined
24 Jun 2010
Messages
1,219
Location
Seaford
As we started with the Tarka line, I’ll mention the last Barnstaple - Exeter services on Friday and Saturday nights in the pre-Covid timetable, around midnight and calling only at the token exchange points of Eggesford and Crediton.

Unless there’s a thriving night scene in Barnstaple that attracts big crowds from Exeter, I presume these services run only to get the unit and crew back to base: there being no depots at Barnstaple.
 
Joined
24 Sep 2017
Messages
183
Why would services go from Wolverhampton to Charing Cross?

I'd understand if there were services via Leamington Spa, Oxford and Reading to London Paddington as an alternative to London Euston
The point is that the reason they don't is operational (for obvious reasons). From a demand perspective, nothing about a Wolverhampton traveller makes them more likely to want Euston compared to Charing Cross than a Margate traveller. It is only due to operational convenience that the trains from the west go to Paddington, from the southwest go to Waterloo, from the south go to Victoria etc. A Brighton traveller is just as likely to want Paddington as a Reading traveller, and a Reading traveller is just as likely to want Victoria as a Brighton traveller. It is through operational convenience, rather than demand, that the services run to those termini
 

YorksLad12

Member
Joined
5 Feb 2020
Messages
997
Location
Leeds
Not sure if I quite follow your point. What's operationally convenient (or inconvenient for that matter) about stopping at Steeton and Silsden now that the Aire Valley electrics continue to Skipton; surely it's just another intermediate calling point?
Agreed. The service is to Skipton, S&S just happens to be the last station in West Yorkshire.

Further up the line; isn't there (in the Normal Times) a service that runs from Leeds to Ribblehead beause that's the only place it can be turned around, rather than stopping short at Settle?
 

leytongabriel

Member
Joined
27 Jan 2013
Messages
287
The point is that the reason they don't is operational (for obvious reasons). From a demand perspective, nothing about a Wolverhampton traveller makes them more likely to want Euston compared to Charing Cross than a Margate traveller. It is only due to operational convenience that the trains from the west go to Paddington, from the southwest go to Waterloo, from the south go to Victoria etc. A Brighton traveller is just as likely to want Paddington as a Reading traveller, and a Reading traveller is just as likely to want Victoria as a Brighton traveller. It is through operational convenience, rather than demand, that the services run to those termini
Isn't there a risk of confusing historical reasons with operational convenience if you extend the point like this?
 

Mcr Warrior

Established Member
Joined
8 Jan 2009
Messages
4,322
Further up the line; isn't there (in the Normal Times) a service that runs from Leeds to Ribblehead beause that's the only place it can be turned around, rather than stopping short at Settle?
Used to be the weekday service ex Leeds that arrived at Ribblehead at around 9 p.m.

Presumably the operational issue is that there is no possibility at Settle to switch over from the (northbound) Down Main to the (southbound) Up Main without either running "wrong line" back towards Settle Junction or continuing northbound to Ribblehead / Blea Moor.
 

Whistler40145

Established Member
Joined
30 Apr 2010
Messages
5,188
Location
Lancashire
Used to be the weekday service ex Leeds that arrived at Ribblehead at around 9 p.m.

Presumably the operational issue is that there is no possibility at Settle to switch over from the (northbound) Down Main to the (southbound) Up Main without either running "wrong line" back towards Settle Junction or continuing northbound to Ribblehead / Blea Moor.
Services go ECS to Blea Moor Signal Box to reverse
 

JRT

Member
Joined
11 Nov 2020
Messages
156
Location
Bradford
Agreed. The service is to Skipton, S&S just happens to be the last station in West Yorkshire.

Further up the line; isn't there (in the Normal Times) a service that runs from Leeds to Ribblehead beause that's the only place it can be turned around, rather than stopping short at Settle?
You've probably missed the point. Electrification and frequency improvement was initially desired up to Steeton and Silsden the last station in West Yorkshire. However it is operationally convenient to continue to Skipton, so it was approved throughout.
 

Mcr Warrior

Established Member
Joined
8 Jan 2009
Messages
4,322
Services go ECS to Blea Moor Signal Box to reverse
That'll explain the extra calls at Horton-in-Ribblesdale and at Ribblehead, which I guess, fulfils the "operational convenience" criteria set by the OP.

You've probably missed the point. Electrification and frequency improvement was initially desired up to Steeton and Silsden the last station in West Yorkshire. However it is operationally convenient to continue to Skipton, so it was approved throughout.
But surely Skipton (across the West Yorkshire / North Yorkshire "border") is where the main passenger demand is on the Aire Valley route?
 

Johnny Lewis

Member
Joined
9 Jan 2011
Messages
286
Location
York
From the May timetable change, the Barnstaple services will terminate at / start from Exeter Central, but the ECS to get the unit from one platform to the other will still go to Exmouth Junction to reverse, so going through St James' Park without stopping in both directions!
 

JRT

Member
Joined
11 Nov 2020
Messages
156
Location
Bradford
That'll explain the extra calls at Horton-in-Ribblesdale and at Ribblehead, which I guess, fulfils the "operational convenience" criteria set by the OP.


But surely Skipton (across the West Yorkshire / North Yorkshire "border") is where the main passenger demand is on the Aire Valley route?
But the point is WYPTE at the time ran the local train service and only subsidized trains within West Yorkshire.
The current setup for local routes is different now than it was a few years ago.

Another example is the Bradford – Manchester Victoria line, that was originally hourly during the day. WYPTE proposed an increased frequency to ½ hourly between Bradford and Todmorden, so that would be 1 tph through to Manchester and the other either a diverted Bradford – Blackpool North train (reversal at Tod) or a short working. However it was operationally more convenient to run through to Manchester.
 

YorksLad12

Member
Joined
5 Feb 2020
Messages
997
Location
Leeds
You've probably missed the point. Electrification and frequency improvement was initially desired up to Steeton and Silsden the last station in West Yorkshire. However it is operationally convenient to continue to Skipton, so it was approved throughout.
I probably haven't. If electrification to S&S was all that WYPTA wanted, and all that they were willing to pay for (how much did they contribute?), it would have left Skipton with a handful of trains per day to Leeds. And trains terminating at S&S (or at a crossover just beyond). As @Mcr Warrior points out:
But surely Skipton (across the West Yorkshire / North Yorkshire "border") is where the main passenger demand is on the Aire Valley route?
So trains don't extend to Skipton for operational reasons or political reasons but for passenger demand, which existed back when Leeds, Bradford and Skipton were all in the West Riding as well as today.
 

tbtc

Veteran Member
Joined
16 Dec 2008
Messages
16,921
Location
Reston City Centre
I think that this thread has got a bit diverted to discussing where precisely some nineteenth century entrepreneur build a London terminus and also places that happen to be paired up as through trains (which would run from Town A into the Big City anyway, it just happens that it's operationally convenient to extend them through to Town B on the other side, but that doesn't involve any more mileage so the service isn't artificially higher/lower over any part of track than would ordinarily be the case)

Instead, I'd focus on examples like:

  • Many diversions for route knowledge purposes - passenger inconvenienced by the fact that a service takes significantly longer to suit the need to keep staff trained. Other than banks (which are traditionally closed for the first half hour on a Wednesday morning), there aren't a lot of UK businesses that impose the costs/hassle of staff training on their customers. There are a number of services that take longer late in the evening so that the service can run via some little used line. For example, around Sheffield there are some services from the north that avoid Meadowhall by run non-stop through Rotherham Central and alongside the Supertram route past the back of the Arena onto the Darnall Line at Woodburn into Sheffield that way... and/or run south of Sheffield via the Woodburn line again, through Darnall, turning right to take the "Old Road" south past Rother Valley and to Chesterfield that way (avoiding Dronfield). Some Sheffield - Nottingham services avoid Alfreton/ Ilkeston by running via Derby for route knowledge purposes. That kind of thing. Happens all over the country - same with services that avoid some intermediate stops late in the evening in case there's diversions for engineering.
  • Huddersfield - Castleford. The whopping fourteen miles from Huddersfield to Wakefield was simply too far for one train to be able to cope with a diagram that required it to meet an hourly service, so a second DMU was required - in which case, why not extend it to Castleford a year or two ago (i.e. the service was extended to justify the fact that a round trip of under thirty miles was too much for one train to manage in a single hour
  • The late night Leeds - Ribblehead has been mentioned - operationally you'd terminate it at Settle but there aren't the facilities to permit this, so it has to run a bit further.
  • The EMR Leeds services have also been mentioned - there are practically no passengers on these services - if anything they'd be busier in the opposite direction (Sheffield to Leeds in the morning peak) but the trains are maintained at Neville Hill, so might as well earn a few quid doing so. This feels like the kind of thing that has happened more in recent years, now that TOCs have an incentive to run a train in revenue earning service - even if hardly anyone uses it, you'd get some share of the revenue between the places in question due to ORCATS.
  • Newcastle - Chathill. There's no reason to terminate at Chathill - there's practically nothing there - only a couple of passengers per train - the logical thing to do would be to run the peak "stopper" from either Berwick or Alnmouth - but terminating it at Chathill allows the service to reverse whilst not having to pay the track access charges all the way to Berwick
  • Stockport - Stalybridge (until recently). Given the need to run one train a week on the line (to keep it officially "open"), I quite liked the way that Northern ran it, given that they had a diagram that terminated at Stockport after the morning rush hour, it was running light back to the depot anyway, so on Fridays that diagram was extended slightly so that they could tick the box without needing to run a separate service (this has all now changed, and it's become a return journey on Saturdays)
 

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
68,867
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
  • The late night Leeds - Ribblehead has been mentioned - operationally you'd terminate it at Settle but there aren't the facilities to permit this, so it has to run a bit further.

That has a use (albeit probably not one that makes it worth it in the end) - those travelling on a Friday evening to campsites/hotels/hostels at Horton to do the Three Peaks the next day.
 
Joined
26 Apr 2017
Messages
999
Location
West Yorkshire
Prior to the May 2018 timetable change there was a weekdays only 2P20 08:32 Leeds to Bradford Forster Square service that only called at Shipley which was really just an ECS movement that carried passengers.

The service was operated by a Dusty Bin and began its day at Skipton Broughton Road before working an ECS movement to Ilkley before operating the 07:56 service to Leeds, then the aforementioned service before it sat at Bradford before operating the 16:11 service to Skipton.

I seem to remember this service being fairly well used, with quite a few people getting on at both Leeds & Shipley, although I would hardly describe the service as rammed.

I made an onboard video of this service back in 2016: (Skip to 2:00)
 

D6130

Established Member
Joined
12 Jan 2021
Messages
1,203
Location
West Yorkshire/Tuscany
That has a use (albeit probably not one that makes it worth it in the end) - those travelling on a Friday evening to campsites/hotels/hostels at Horton to do the Three Peaks the next day.
.....and also on several Saturday evenings during the Summer (pre-Covid) for the 'Ribblehead Beer & Music Train' when it is /was strengthened to four cars and equipped with a portable real ale bar (from the K&WVR) and carries a jazz band in one unit and a folk band in the other. Passengers have/had the option of alighting at Ribblehead for a stroll or a quick pint at the Station Inn, or staying on the train for the trip over Ribblehead Viaduct to Blea Moor for reversal. The return trip to Skipton is/was delayed by 10 minutes, to give passengers more of a break, but still allowing connection into the 21 47 and 21 56 departures from Skipton to Leeds and Bradford respectively.
 

galwhv69

Member
Joined
27 Dec 2020
Messages
123
Location
Putney, London
SWR services running from Wimbledon to Clapham Junction (and vice versa) via East Putney in the early morning and late evening (Nowadays I believe it's just 1 Basingstoke service per day)
 

30907

Veteran Member
Joined
30 Sep 2012
Messages
11,798
Location
Airedale
But surely Skipton (across the West Yorkshire / North Yorkshire "border") is where the main passenger demand is on the Aire Valley route?
Depends what you mean by passenger demand? Until parking at Steeton became next to impossible AND cross-border fares were rationalised, I susoect there were far more Leeds commuters there than at Skipton (I lived at Cononley back then....). Of course Skipton as a destination is another matter.
 

Mcr Warrior

Established Member
Joined
8 Jan 2009
Messages
4,322
Depends what you mean by passenger demand?
Total number of passenger exits and entrances. Skipton, as you say, likely to have fair level of passenger demand both as an origin and destination.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top