WCML May day Bustitution

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AndrewE

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It seems that from Saturday to Monday inclusive there are no rail services whatsoever on the WCML north of Stafford all the way to Glasgow and Edinburgh (other than [Chorley?] Preston - Lancaster.) This looks like the worst/most comprehensive shut-down that I can ever remember.

The Virgin explanatory leaflet even for the Monday (p8/9) has a diagram showing buses all the way N of Stafford that day, IC trains from London via the west midlands terminating at Stafford, "direct" Scottish trains terminating at Crewe but "local services available [via Manchester] forward to Lancaster!"

Fortunately it's not quite so dire: Realtime trains and NR enquiries both show trains from London via Colwich and Stoke to Crewe, then straight down the main line to Carlisle for a bus forward, not nearly such a bad offering... Poor publicity though.
 
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30907

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The information online https://www.virgintrains.co.uk/spanner
also has text on the RH page to the effect that the alterations south of Carlisle apply early morning only on the Monday (and there's similar detail for the Saturday).

Is that incorrect?

The pages for the following 4 days are less than helpful though as there is no summary. (From a skim-read the gist of it is - no through NWales services, minor retiming on other routes)
 
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AndrewE

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https://www.virgintrains.co.uk/~/media/a3cc332fe6cf487fac1551d3869c12a1.ashx

Took quite a bit of finding though. I picked up the leaflet, and "read" the map. It's what it's there for, after all.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
The information online https://www.virgintrains.co.uk/spanner
also has text on the RH page to the effect that the alterations south of Carlisle apply early morning only on the Monday (and there's similar detail for the Saturday).

Is that incorrect?
It is incorrect, as I said, Stafford gets no service (actually all day, so the map is right about that) and then trains go from Crewe to Carllisle, as opposed to what the map shows.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
What dates?

I thought you might be able to guess what dates the "Saturday to Monday" over May Day bank holiday might be
 
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30907

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It is incorrect, as I said, Stafford gets no service (actually all day, so the map is right about that) and then trains go from Crewe to Carllisle, as opposed to what the map shows.

Agree with you on Stafford-Crewe. There's nothing about the RRBs in the text either way and there should be.
 

D1009

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Isn't the bank holiday at the end of May the more disrupted one as regards the WCML, with no trains north of Crewe? I need to go from Bristol to Glasgow that weekend, and it's looking as though I'm going to have to go via Newcastle.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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On Sunday May 1, NRE is offering an 8h27m journey from Milton Keynes to Glasgow.
1033 train to Crewe, and then 3 buses: Crewe-Preston, Preston-Carlisle, Carlisle-Glasgow arr 1900.
And yet a significantly faster all-rail route via Manchester and York (2/3 changes) is not offered.
What an indictment of our integrated rail transport system.
 

Mag_seven

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On Sunday May 1, NRE is offering an 8h27m journey from Milton Keynes to Glasgow.
1033 train to Crewe, and then 3 buses: Crewe-Preston, Preston-Carlisle, Carlisle-Glasgow arr 1900.
And yet a significantly faster all-rail route via Manchester and York (2/3 changes) is not offered.
What an indictment of our integrated rail transport system.

This sort of rubbish would never have happend under BR. Under BR you would have one at most two of Crewe - Preston, Preston-Carlisle or Carlisle-Glasgow closed complete with diversions with RBB's only provided for intermediate stations not served by the diversions.
 

route:oxford

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This sort of rubbish would never have happend under BR. Under BR you would have one at most two of Crewe - Preston, Preston-Carlisle or Carlisle-Glasgow closed complete with diversions with RBB's only provided for intermediate stations not served by the diversions.

There were so few trains on a Sunday, work was easier to spread out.
 

MedwayValiant

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On Sunday May 1, NRE is offering an 8h27m journey from Milton Keynes to Glasgow.
1033 train to Crewe, and then 3 buses: Crewe-Preston, Preston-Carlisle, Carlisle-Glasgow arr 1900.
And yet a significantly faster all-rail route via Manchester and York (2/3 changes) is not offered.
What an indictment of our integrated rail transport system.

Reading that caused a slightly silly thought into my head. We're all familiar with replacement bus services, and many of us will have travelled in replacement taxi services when things have gone awry.

Is there any precedent at all for offering passengers a replacement air service? If Virgin West Coast were so minded, they could probably have block-booked a plane to fly Birmingham - Glasgow and back a couple of times on that date. Has anything like this ever been done?
 

AndrewE

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It might work for Euston - Glasgow traffic, but unfortunately for the idea the calls at intermediate stations are the main reason for most users of the services.
What proportion of the Euston Glasgow (or Edinburgh) traffic does rail have? My feeling is that the timetable for southern half of the WCML is cursed by the obsession with these 2 traffic flows, to the detriment of almost all other users.
Glasgow to Leicester or Northampton must be examples of the worst losers, the old anglo-scottish timetable used to serve them every hour with changes at at Nuneaton or Rugby.
TPE are focussed on serving their regions, but almost any express going to London gives a very poor service for other traffic flows.
 

edwin_m

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This sort of rubbish would never have happend under BR. Under BR you would have one at most two of Crewe - Preston, Preston-Carlisle or Carlisle-Glasgow closed complete with diversions with RBB's only provided for intermediate stations not served by the diversions.

However I do remember travelling from MK to Carlisle on a Sunday circa 1983 including a diversion via Bescot under electric power, then attaching a class 40 at Crewe and contining via Styal, Oxford Road and Parkside to detach at Wigan (or could have been Preston). Fortunately I wasn't in a hurry and appreciated the diversions, no internet in those days and not having been near the route beforehand to see any posters I had no advance information that this was going to happen...
 

Railops

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This sort of rubbish would never have happend under BR. Under BR you would have one at most two of Crewe - Preston, Preston-Carlisle or Carlisle-Glasgow closed complete with diversions with RBB's only provided for intermediate stations not served by the diversions.

That's correct, disgrace if you ask me, I hate buses anyway and the idea of 3 in a row is not something I could stomach.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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The current closure of the Settle & Carlisle doesn't help of course, but VT seem to have given up using the route for diversions anyway.
No reason not to use the G&SW though, as it was used recently during the Lamington blockage.
The Voyager fleet, normally used to bridge the gaps, seems to be idle for the weekend (apart from 3-4 on Chester/North Wales shuttles from Crewe), along with half the Pendolinos.

These closures are all approved by the ORR, and they have obviously decided with NR to "blitz" it to get the work done.
But which other transport mode just gives up on a major route for a holiday weekend?
NR has not even said what the work is as far as I can see, except at Oxenholme.
VT just jokes that there is "a spanner in the works".
https://www.virgintrains.co.uk/spanner
 

Dr Hoo

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These closures are all approved by the ORR, and they have obviously decided with NR to "blitz" it to get the work done.
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Is it really the case that the ORR has to approve every possession and instance of rail replacement bus services?

I thought that that kind of detail was dealt with by normal industry timetable planning processes, such as the Engineering Access Statement ( or whatever the "Rules of the route" are called these days).
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Is it really the case that the ORR has to approve every possession and instance of rail replacement bus services?
I thought that that kind of detail was dealt with by normal industry timetable planning processes, such as the Engineering Access Statement ( or whatever the "Rules of the route" are called these days).

I think the major route closure plans are notified to the ORR (who are interested in the cost and impact on the CP5 expenditure/completion plans).
Repeated bank holiday route closures (ie 3-4 days) would also have been reviewed by the ORR.
I can well see that delays in some projects have a run-on impact on others, but LNW Route, after the WCRM programme, seems to have got it in their heads that anything goes over Bank Holidays.
It's interesting that GWR manages to keep services running somehow despite major route holiday closures (Banbury/Waterloo diversions etc).
Even VT was proactive with Chiltern diversions when WCML south was closed.
But not with WCML north.
 

D1009

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I think the major route closure plans are notified to the ORR (who are interested in the cost and impact on the CP5 expenditure/completion plans).
Repeated bank holiday route closures (ie 3-4 days) would also have been reviewed by the ORR.
I can well see that delays in some projects have a run-on impact on others, but LNW Route, after the WCRM programme, seems to have got it in their heads that anything goes over Bank Holidays.
It's interesting that GWR manages to keep services running somehow despite major route holiday closures (Banbury/Waterloo diversions etc).
Even VT was proactive with Chiltern diversions when WCML south was closed.
But not with WCML north.
And not forgetting VTEC, who regularly use extensive diversionary routes such as Newcastle to Edinburgh via Carlisle.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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I've just noticed that the Norton Bridge work is over 9 days from April 30.
The whole layout is closed over both weekends/bank hol, with the Fast lines closed throughout, including the week in between.
All trains Crewe-Stafford therefore are using the Slow lines May 3-6, and the services are thinned out: LM Liverpool services are halved to hourly and VT Chester/North Wales only run west of Crewe (except for the early/late Voyager positioning run from Birmingham).
None of these details are properly explained in either the NRE or VT web sites.

During the next bank hol weekend (May 28-30), it look like the Fast lines between Stafford and Crewe are closed again, but at least the route is partially open (but not north of Crewe).
Liverpool services go via Wilmslow/Chat Moss, otherwise nothing north of Crewe again.
 

A0wen

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On Sunday May 1, NRE is offering an 8h27m journey from Milton Keynes to Glasgow.
1033 train to Crewe, and then 3 buses: Crewe-Preston, Preston-Carlisle, Carlisle-Glasgow arr 1900.
And yet a significantly faster all-rail route via Manchester and York (2/3 changes) is not offered.
What an indictment of our integrated rail transport system.

Because the journey planner WOULDN'T offer a via Manchester & York option under normal circumstances.

And from a practical point of view, I'm not sure it's even a valid route, which is why it wouldn't show? Someone with inside knowledge of the systems could probably confirm? It's got nothing to do with the way our rail system is now structured - it would be EXACTLY the same under BR.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
These closures are all approved by the ORR, and they have obviously decided with NR to "blitz" it to get the work done.
But which other transport mode just gives up on a major route for a holiday weekend?
https://www.virgintrains.co.uk/spanner

You're missing the point - at weekends and holidays there are fewer trains running and fewer passengers using them. And the majority of users are leisure travellers rather than commuters.

It inconveniences far fewer people to have such closures at bank holiday weekends or Christmas - New Year than it would to do it during a 'normal' working week.

Sorry - but these kind of works have to be done sometime. I think the rail industry is right to target these windows to do such work and whilst it may be inconvenient for some leisure travellers that is less of an impact than it would be at other times.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
And not forgetting VTEC, who regularly use extensive diversionary routes such as Newcastle to Edinburgh via Carlisle.

But that's a diversion over a relatively lightly used route and VTEC have a sensible number of diesel trains which are already diagrammed for London - Scotland services. The ECML uses bustitution when there are other closures e.g. around Peterborough or around Doncaster where the alternative routes ie. via Cambridge, lack capacity.

The problem for the WCML between Crewe & Carlisle is the diversion options are far more limited and the diesel units VTWC have aren't usually diagrammed for that route as they are focused on the North Wales route.

The diversion options are:

via Manchester - not easy given current capacity constraints, but I notice they are routing Liverpool services via Manchester over the BH weekend. And assumes they can use the WCML north of Preston.

via the S&C - not currently viable as the route is closed.

via the Cumbria coast line - needs diesel haulage, long and slow.
 

endecotp

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It inconveniences far fewer people to have such closures at bank holiday weekends or Christmas - New Year than it would to do it during a 'normal' working week.

This is not much consolation if you are one of the people who does want to travel at those times.

My main long-distance rail travel, each year, is at Christmas to visit relatives (when I have the choice of staying for three nights on a sofa or not going at all), and for bank holiday weekends. I've been invited to the Lake District for the May bank holiday, but that isn't going to happen.

I wouldn't mind so much if the ticket prices were reduced when the journey times were increased.

I'd also be happier if there were just one bank holiday each year designated as "full service" when non-car-owners could go away without being diverted, bustituted or cancelled.
 

notlob.divad

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I am travelling Bank Holiday weekend Saturday Morning Southbound, Monday Evening Northbound. It looks like I just miss the Bus services on the way down, and the work is scheduled to be finished before I come back. Although I am not completely convinced.

What I am not impressed by is the Virgin sold me the tickets at the beginning of March without any mention of potential disruption that weekend. Whilst it looks like I have avoided it through sheer luck, given this work must have been known about then it would have been nice to get the heads up.

The people who have to change between buses should be rightly annoyed. guessing they will all stop at all intermediate stops as well. No reason why there couldn't be express buses that just call at Crewe, Preston, Carlisle and Glasgow. Would save a big chunk of time if it didn't have to keep diverting off the M6.
 

MedwayValiant

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I wouldn't mind so much if the ticket prices were reduced when the journey times were increased.

This idea comes up from time to time, and the railway industry's response is usually that it would be "impossible" to charge lower fares for replacement bus services than for trains.

Only thing is it, it's not impossible because it's been done. When the Marshlink (Asford - Hastings) was closed for several months a few years back and substituted with buses, Southern charged half the normal fares for the duration.

I'm not necessarily saying that all train operating companies should be required to do the same thing. There are arguments for and against that idea.

But shouldn't they at least be honest and say "We don't want to do that" rather than "It cannot be done"?
 

A0wen

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This is not much consolation if you are one of the people who does want to travel at those times.

My main long-distance rail travel, each year, is at Christmas to visit relatives (when I have the choice of staying for three nights on a sofa or not going at all), and for bank holiday weekends. I've been invited to the Lake District for the May bank holiday, but that isn't going to happen.

Unfortunately, but ultimately both fair and reasonable - the rail network has decided inconveniencing you on the 4 or 5 times a year you use the network is far more reasonable than inconveniencing the 000s who use it 200+ times a year commuting to their places of work.

I wouldn't mind so much if the ticket prices were reduced when the journey times were increased.

You're paying for a service to take you from A to B - such a service is being provided. You're travelling off-peak so you already benefit from a much cheaper journey than those who use it day in day out, week in week out for commuting. Get over it.

I'd also be happier if there were just one bank holiday each year designated as "full service" when non-car-owners could go away without being diverted, bustituted or cancelled.

Non-car owners have other alternatives - National Express run a full network at the same time. And to block out a whole weekend from any work on the network is simply unrealistic - particularly when it is a 3 day weekend.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
This idea comes up from time to time, and the railway industry's response is usually that it would be "impossible" to charge lower fares for replacement bus services than for trains.

Only thing is it, it's not impossible because it's been done. When the Marshlink (Asford - Hastings) was closed for several months a few years back and substituted with buses, Southern charged half the normal fares for the duration.

I'm not necessarily saying that all train operating companies should be required to do the same thing. There are arguments for and against that idea.

But shouldn't they at least be honest and say "We don't want to do that" rather than "It cannot be done"?

I think they key to that is it was a long term disruption - a bit like the current Dover - Folkestone and S & C disruptions for which various easements have been put in place. Whereas these disruptions are for two 3 day blocks, are well advertised and are being done when the demands on the network are lower.
 

edwin_m

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What I am not impressed by is the Virgin sold me the tickets at the beginning of March without any mention of potential disruption that weekend. Whilst it looks like I have avoided it through sheer luck, given this work must have been known about then it would have been nice to get the heads up.

The disruptions should be planned and timetabled 12 weeks in advance, which is why tickets aren't available beyond this horizon. So barring short notice changes, if you are able to buy a ticket then the trains shown on that ticket should be operating.
 

A0wen

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What I am not impressed by is the Virgin sold me the tickets at the beginning of March without any mention of potential disruption that weekend. Whilst it looks like I have avoided it through sheer luck, given this work must have been known about then it would have been nice to get the heads up.

You haven't "avoided it through sheer luck".

If you'd tried to book onto a train which wasn't running / part bustituted, then the journey planner would have alerted you to this fact.

So, on what basis should Virgin have made you aware? Your journey isn't being disrupted so what's your problem?

The mentality of 'but they should have told me even though I'm not affected' is the same as the 'where there's blame there's a claim'........ :roll:
 

chris89

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Yes it will be annoying for people trying to get somewhere etc.

But as others have mentioned normally are quieter periods of time, I normally just avoid travelling by rail for long distances over Bank Holidays to avoid things like this. Since don't have a car (Well soon most likely will)

Still, The media will kick up a big fuss and i would love NR to do the work during a normal working week/ Weekend. But that won't happen sadly, since they wouldn't want to inconvenience the Majority of people.
 

endecotp

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You're travelling off-peak so you already benefit from a much cheaper journey than those who use it day in day out, week in week out for commuting.

Not really the right comparison; how much more do you pay to travel, for example, from Cambridge to Penrith on a non-holiday weekend than on a bank holiday? Same price I'm sure.

Get over it.

That's not helpful.
 
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