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WCML: removal of daytime freight and tighter turnaround times

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Philip

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In view of the capacity problems on the West Coast line and the desire for more services to more destinations, I was wondering about a couple of ways to address this and reduce wastage.

Taking the Manchester to London services for example, there do seem to be unnecessarily long turnaround times at both ends for these services. I don't know about the others, but for Manchester to London it is about 20-25 minutes at each end.
I realise this would need a completely new timetable written for it, but if this and other WCML routes were reduced to roughly 10 minute turnarounds at each end, then I bet this would free up at least a couple or even a handful of units over the course of the day to create new services; such as the second Liverpool service; second direct Scotland; more frequent service to North Wales etc.
Cleaning isn't really that important between turns as the units are thoroughly cleaned before the start of service each day, and there should be some personal responsibility from passengers and staff to keep the train clean en route for themselves and other passengers and staff.

This proposal would only work if new paths were created too, so how about banning freight diagrams from all sections of the WCML, say from 06:00-20:00? Existing freight could be diverted to other routes during the day if necessary, but there should be a greater emphasis on running as much freight as possible during the quieter evening hours and overnight. Freight drivers would be compensated for the tougher working hours with improved pay and conditions.
 
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Ianno87

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The ~25 minute turnround times are basically essential for the resilience of the timetable (to recover a late arrival, and also the "train always ready to board" concept for the 3tph service.

I'm not going to bother responding to the freight proposal except to say:
-Other routes don't have the capacity
-How do you serve locations on the WCML without using the WCML?
-It would play havoc with logistics and port schedules
-And the network needs maintaining overnight.
 

Bletchleyite

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Avanti West Coast is a generally very punctual operation. At least part of this will be because they have appropriate layovers.

So I would strongly oppose such a suggestion.
 

Philip

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There is capacity on the Settle and Carlisle, the Midland and the Marches lines to divert freight away from the WCML.

Long turnaround times in place to recover delayed inbound services just show the British rail network as unreliable and inefficient. Other countries (like Japan for example) don't need this approach as there is little risk of long delays in the first place.
 

Ianno87

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There is capacity on the Settle and Carlisle, the Midland and the Marches lines to divert freight away from the WCML.

3-4 paths per hour?

And how do you get from, say, Felixstowe to Trafford Park using those routes? What traction?

Long turnaround times in place to recover delayed inbound services just show the British rail network as unreliable and inefficient. Other countries (like Japan for example) don't need this approach as there is little risk of long delays in the first place.

OK, so how would you make UK railways as reliable as Japan so that such turnround times can be achieved? Hint: Japan achieves what it does (on Shinkansen network, everything else is much ropier) due to everything being segregated and having stations etc optimised for the operation of the railway.
 

Bletchleyite

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Long turnaround times in place to recover delayed inbound services just show the British rail network as unreliable and inefficient. Other countries (like Japan for example) don't need this approach as there is little risk of long delays in the first place.

I'm sorry but that's nonsense. The WCML is an intensively worked mixed traffic railway which naturally has delays (the UK system is very punctual compared with Deutsche Bahn at the moment!)

You simply can't compare it with Shinkansen-type dedicated lines.

OK, so how would you make UK railways as reliable as Japan so that such turnround times can be achieved? Hint: Japan achieves what it does (on Shinkansen network, everything else is much ropier) due to everything being segregated and having stations etc optimised for the operation of the railway.

The answer to that is probably HS2, though the through running onto the classic network will make it not quite as punctual as Shinkansen.
 

Philip

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3-4 paths per hour?

And how do you get from, say, Felixstowe to Trafford Park using those routes? What traction?



OK, so how would you make UK railways as reliable as Japan so that such turnround times can be achieved? Hint: Japan achieves what it does (on Shinkansen network, everything else is much ropier) due to everything being segregated and having stations etc optimised for the operation of the railway.

As I say, there should be more emphasis on night freight, with a balance between 'freight hours' and 'maintenance hours'. However, the North Staffs line is an example which could be used, to remove freight from the busy Stafford to Crewe section.

There is too much emphasis on getting to London as quickly as possible. A way to improve reliability would be to remove some WMT services (particularly along the southern part of the WCML), and have Avanti pick up the calls instead (and so for Avanti to make more use of the slow line paths). Chester single Voyager services could call at the stations with shorter platforms.
 

Ianno87

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However, the North Staffs line is an example which could be used, to remove freight from the busy Stafford to Crewe section.

No it isn't. It's single line.

There is too much emphasis on getting to London as quickly as possible.

Have you done an economic appraisal of that statement?

A way to improve reliability would be to remove some WMT services (particularly along the southern part of the WCML), and have Avanti pick up the calls instead (and so for Avanti to make more use of the slow line paths). Chester single Voyager services could call at the stations with shorter platforms.

Have you produced a timetable plan for this to demonstrate feasibility?
 

furnessvale

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Why do people think freight can be pushed to one side at will? Most freight has a timetabled urgency just like passengers and unnecessary delay will simply put that traffic on the roads.

As for the suggestions to use minor lines like the Settle Carlisle, most freight is containerised and will not fit away from the designated main lines. £100s of millions would have to be spent on these minor routes improving the loading gauge before this could happen.
 

The Planner

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What is this balance between maintenance and freight hours? Does that mean that all the freights have to get through in a condensed timescale? How does that work in reality (the answer is "it won't")
 

Bevan Price

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10 minute turnrounds with Pendolinos ?? No chance. It probably takes at least that to remove the litter deposited by the "neat & tidy" British public. And then you probably need at least 2-3 minutes each for passenger alighting and boarding, etc., in addition to allowances for late running.
 

Mike99

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10 minute turnrounds with Pendolinos ?? No chance. It probably takes at least that to remove the litter deposited by the "neat & tidy" British public. And then you probably need at least 2-3 minutes each for passenger alighting and boarding, etc., in addition to allowances for late running.
Your quite right, nearly all of us are aware in normal times what happens at Euston when a platform is announced a lot of people moving from the concourse down the ramp to board, are going to be on the ramp down to platform level probably as people alighting and having walked down the platform of an 11 car Pendolino are still attempting to depart.
 

edwin_m

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What I think could be done with a bit of lateral thinking would be to introduce some incentives and even penalties to encourage or even compel WCML freight to be electric-hauled rather than diesel. Looking at the time difference climbing Shap and Beattock it's likely to be far more cost-effective than spending a lot on infrastructure. This is of course completely contrary to the principles of how our railway works, but that shouldn't automatically take it out of consideration.
 

waverley47

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In view of the capacity problems on the West Coast line and the desire for more services to more destinations, I was wondering about a couple of ways to address this and reduce wastage.

Taking the Manchester to London services for example, there do seem to be unnecessarily long turnaround times at both ends for these services. I don't know about the others, but for Manchester to London it is about 20-25 minutes at each end.
I realise this would need a completely new timetable written for it, but if this and other WCML routes were reduced to roughly 10 minute turnarounds at each end, then I bet this would free up at least a couple or even a handful of units over the course of the day to create new services; such as the second Liverpool service; second direct Scotland; more frequent service to North Wales etc.
Cleaning isn't really that important between turns as the units are thoroughly cleaned before the start of service each day, and there should be some personal responsibility from passengers and staff to keep the train clean en route for themselves and other passengers and staff.

This proposal would only work if new paths were created too, so how about banning freight diagrams from all sections of the WCML, say from 06:00-20:00? Existing freight could be diverted to other routes during the day if necessary, but there should be a greater emphasis on running as much freight as possible during the quieter evening hours and overnight. Freight drivers would be compensated for the tougher working hours with improved pay and conditions.

Right. Let's have a closer look at your proposals.

Timekeeping on the British network is notoriously difficult. The WCML is the pinnacle of this. I'm assuming you're not proposing building any extra infrastructure to support your new timetable, apart from HS2 when it arrives, but I'll point out a few places where you'd need to think about building more stuff to make your timetable work.

Firstly, the timetable itself. Rewriting the E&G timetable when the wires came online took about a year, and timetables are incredibly complex algorithms. Rewriting the WCML timetable to this degree would require about three years to make sure it would work, and even then you'd have to start building the HS2 timetable about that time anyway.

Secondly, turnaround times. These aren't arbitrary. These are incredibly important. The general rule for a turnaround time of a long distance, high speed train is a minimum of about 25 minutes, and if you have a spare platform, it's even better to have at least one service gap waiting at each end (ie a 15 minute frequency service should have a turnaround time of about 20 minutes, so if one is late, you can send the one in front out instead in an emergency)

The WCML is so long, and so complex, that any service can import delays from anywhere else. You risk importing delays from as far afield as Huddersfield, Dalmuir and Holyhead on this route, so you need a lot of resilience. It's no use having a ten minute turnaround at Edinburgh if it's going to be delayed five minutes approaching Haymarket on the way in, and only have five minutes at the platform to get everyone off and on again. You'll inevitably be delayed departing again, and have to run late all the way south.

LDHS services have lots of people with big bags, and lots of people taking time to find their seats ect. There's a reason that these services usually stop for 3 minutes at intermediate stations, just for how long it takes to get everyone off and on again.

It would be ideal to do as you suggest, and if you could guarantee that everything would run perfectly, every time, it might work. In real life the line is just too complicated to do that, with up to 30 services each hour departing from Euston, so you'd never have that confidence. Too many things can go wrong on the real railway, and then we're back to square one, with delayed trains importing delays from everywhere else.

Thirdly, your proposal needs a lot more paths, and many more units than would be freed, for your increased services. More units might help, but then you're running more trains, and there is even more chance if things going wrong. You'd need more platforms at Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and Euston to serve those extra services, even with reduced turnaround times, and more four tracking and grade separation to guarantee everything still ran to time.

Finally, freight. A lot of the freight services in this country are one of two types. The first, bulk flows, run with one engine and one rake of wagons. They go to load in the morning, and come back loaded in the evening. Think places like the Shap quarries, or the stone flows to London. These are big trains, and need a lot of time to get up to speed. But, they often run when other trains aren't running. The northern WCML up to Shap for example is empty for 30 minutes an hour, and that's a perfect time to run a freight train.

If you forced them to run only at night, you'd have to half the number of these trains, unless you used two engines or two takes of wagons. That costs more, and more freight would move to road.

The second type of freight is intermodal traffic. This is a lot faster, often travelling at 75mph, and on the northern WCML especially, it's often not much faster than passenger trains when they get up to speed. They're easy to path between passengers, and only need a loop every 100 miles or so to swap drivers or wait to be overtaken. You could easily run these at night, but what's the point. They don't use much capacity.

Furthermore, most of this second type of freight goes a long way. Felixtowe to Trafford Park or Daventry to Mossend is pretty far, and some of these services take longer than 8 hours. If you forve them to run at night, then they might have to be diverted due to engineering, taking even longer. Sooner or later, you'd end up trying to run them during rush hour at either end, and we're back to square one. They're too valuable to leave in a loop all day, and the freight companies wouldn't like their assets being wasted for 16 hours a day if it happened to get stuck somewhere.


In conclusion, this is a terrible idea, but for the right reasons. The British railway system is oversaturated and the current level of infrastructure spending is inadequate to deal with (pre covid) growth, and we desperately need more segregation of fast passenger trains and freight trains. This is what HS2 does.

Reducing turnaround times and extra paths are all in the pipeline, and those extra paths mean services can be better separated by speed. A medium speed freight train isn't too different in overall speed from an EMU stopping service, so all this capacity helps both freight and passengers, without needing to resort to drastic steps outlined above. The UK's system is just too old, and with too many moving pieces for this to work.
 
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Mike99

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I'm remembering I was at Glasgow Central a couple of years ago and the arrival from Euston was delayed. Announcements were made to pass through the barriers and wait on platform 1, and if possible to spread along the platform and be prepared to board once passengers alighted. The relieving staff were also in position. I recorded that from arrival to departure took just 8 minutes. That was very much a one off and it wasn't a particular busy service I just can't see that being the norm in post Covid times, (increased travel) or even possible at London Euston.
 

Bald Rick

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As I say, there should be more emphasis on night freight, with a balance between 'freight hours' and 'maintenance hours'.

I’m sure the freight industry would be delighted to have their assets laid up for half of the day rather than earning money (good money for the railway).

Some of these freight trains are travelling overnight for most of the or journeys, but only use the WCML for a short part of their journey during the day. What do we do with them?

Given that freight mostly uses the slow lines anyway, how many extra trains do you think it would enable on the fast lines south of Crewe?
 
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FrodshamJnct

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Right. Let's have a closer look at your proposals.

Timekeeping on the British network is notoriously difficult. The WCML is the pinnacle of this. I'm assuming you're not proposing building any extra infrastructure to support your new timetable, apart from HS2 when it arrives, but I'll point out a few places where you'd need to think about building more stuff to make your timetable work.

Firstly, the timetable itself. Rewriting the E&G timetable when the wires came online took about a year, and timetables are incredibly complex algorithms. Rewriting the WCML timetable to this degree would require about three years to make sure it would work, and even then you'd have to start building the HS2 timetable about that time anyway.

Secondly, turnaround times. These aren't arbitrary. These are incredibly important. The general rule for a turnaround time of a long distance, high speed train is a minimum of about 25 minutes, and if you have a spare platform, it's even better to have at least one service gap waiting at each end (ie a 15 minute frequency service should have a turnaround time of about 20 minutes, so if one is late, you can send the one in front out instead in an emergency)

The WCML is so long, and so complex, that any service can import delays from anywhere else. You risk importing delays from as far afield as Huddersfield, Dalmuir and Holyhead on this route, so you need a lot of resilience. It's no use having a ten minute turnaround at Edinburgh if it's going to be delayed five minutes approaching Haymarket on the way in, and only have five minutes at the platform to get everyone off and on again. You'll inevitably be delayed departing again, and have to run late all the way south.

LDHS services have lots of people with big bags, and lots of people taking time to find their seats ect. There's a reason that these services usually stop for 3 minutes at intermediate stations, just for how long it takes to get everyone off and on again.

It would be ideal to do as you suggest, and if you could guarantee that everything would run perfectly, every time, it might work. In real life the line is just too complicated to do that, with up to 30 services each hour departing from Euston, so you'd never have that confidence. Too many things can go wrong on the real railway, and then we're back to square one, with delayed trains importing delays from everywhere else.

Thirdly, your proposal needs a lot more paths, and many more units than would be freed, for your increased services. More units might help, but then you're running more trains, and there is even more chance if things going wrong. You'd need more platforms at Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and Euston to serve those extra services, even with reduced turnaround times, and more four tracking and grade separation to guarantee everything still ran to time.

Finally, freight. A lot of the freight services in this country are one of two types. The first, bulk flows, run with one engine and one rake of wagons. They go to load in the morning, and come back loaded in the evening. Think places like the Shap quarries, or the stone flows to London. These are big trains, and need a lot of time to get up to speed. But, they often run when other trains aren't running. The northern WCML up to Shap for example is empty for 30 minutes an hour, and that's a perfect time to run a freight train.

If you forced them to run only at night, you'd have to increase the number of these trains, unless you used two engines or two takes of wagons. That costs more, and more freight would move to road.

The second type of freight is intermodal traffic. This is a lot faster, often travelling at 75mph, and on the northern WCML especially, it's often not much faster than passenger trains when they get up to speed. They're easy to path between passengers, and only need a loop every 100 miles or so to swap drivers or wait to be overtaken. You could easily run these at night, but what's the point. They don't use much capacity.

Furthermore, most of this second type of freight goes a long way. Felixtowe to Trafford Park or Daventry to Mossend is pretty far, and some of these services take longer than 8 hours. If you forve them to run at night, then they might have to be diverted due to engineering, taking even longer. Sooner or later, you'd end up trying to run them during rush hour at either end, and we're back to square one. They're too valuable to leave in a loop all day, and the freight companies wouldn't like their assets being wasted for 16 hours a day if it happened to get stuck somewhere.


In conclusion, this is a terrible idea, but for the right reasons. The British railway system is oversaturated and the current level of infrastructure spending is inadequate to deal with (pre covid) growth, and we desperately need more segregation of fast passenger trains and freight trains. This is what HS2 does.

Reducing turnaround times and extra paths are all in the pipeline, and those extra paths mean services can be better separated by speed. A medium speed freight train isn't too different in overall speed from an EMU stopping service, so all this capacity helps both freight and passengers, without needing to resort to drastic steps outlined above. The UK's system is just too old, and with too many moving pieces for this to work.

Absolutely hit the nail on the head here.
 

Philip

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I’m sure the freight industry would be delighted to have their assets laid up for half of the day rather than earning money (good money for the railway).

Some of these freight trains are travelling overnight for most of the or journeys, but only use the WCML for a short part of their journey during the day. What do we do with them?

Given that freight mostly uses the slow lines anyway, how many extra trains do you think it would enable on the fast lines south of Crewe?

It would enable at least one current Avanti service (ideally either the Scotland-West Mids-London, or the Chester) to move onto the slow lines (possibly replacing a Crewe-London WMT service and taking up its calls), thus allowing another path on the fast lines and enable a half hourly Liverpool-London fast service.


Right. Let's have a closer look at your proposals.

Timekeeping on the British network is notoriously difficult. The WCML is the pinnacle of this. I'm assuming you're not proposing building any extra infrastructure to support your new timetable, apart from HS2 when it arrives, but I'll point out a few places where you'd need to think about building more stuff to make your timetable work.

Firstly, the timetable itself. Rewriting the E&G timetable when the wires came online took about a year, and timetables are incredibly complex algorithms. Rewriting the WCML timetable to this degree would require about three years to make sure it would work, and even then you'd have to start building the HS2 timetable about that time anyway.

Secondly, turnaround times. These aren't arbitrary. These are incredibly important. The general rule for a turnaround time of a long distance, high speed train is a minimum of about 25 minutes, and if you have a spare platform, it's even better to have at least one service gap waiting at each end (ie a 15 minute frequency service should have a turnaround time of about 20 minutes, so if one is late, you can send the one in front out instead in an emergency)

The WCML is so long, and so complex, that any service can import delays from anywhere else. You risk importing delays from as far afield as Huddersfield, Dalmuir and Holyhead on this route, so you need a lot of resilience. It's no use having a ten minute turnaround at Edinburgh if it's going to be delayed five minutes approaching Haymarket on the way in, and only have five minutes at the platform to get everyone off and on again. You'll inevitably be delayed departing again, and have to run late all the way south.

LDHS services have lots of people with big bags, and lots of people taking time to find their seats ect. There's a reason that these services usually stop for 3 minutes at intermediate stations, just for how long it takes to get everyone off and on again.

It would be ideal to do as you suggest, and if you could guarantee that everything would run perfectly, every time, it might work. In real life the line is just too complicated to do that, with up to 30 services each hour departing from Euston, so you'd never have that confidence. Too many things can go wrong on the real railway, and then we're back to square one, with delayed trains importing delays from everywhere else.

Thirdly, your proposal needs a lot more paths, and many more units than would be freed, for your increased services. More units might help, but then you're running more trains, and there is even more chance if things going wrong. You'd need more platforms at Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and Euston to serve those extra services, even with reduced turnaround times, and more four tracking and grade separation to guarantee everything still ran to time.

Finally, freight. A lot of the freight services in this country are one of two types. The first, bulk flows, run with one engine and one rake of wagons. They go to load in the morning, and come back loaded in the evening. Think places like the Shap quarries, or the stone flows to London. These are big trains, and need a lot of time to get up to speed. But, they often run when other trains aren't running. The northern WCML up to Shap for example is empty for 30 minutes an hour, and that's a perfect time to run a freight train.

If you forced them to run only at night, you'd have to increase the number of these trains, unless you used two engines or two takes of wagons. That costs more, and more freight would move to road.

The second type of freight is intermodal traffic. This is a lot faster, often travelling at 75mph, and on the northern WCML especially, it's often not much faster than passenger trains when they get up to speed. They're easy to path between passengers, and only need a loop every 100 miles or so to swap drivers or wait to be overtaken. You could easily run these at night, but what's the point. They don't use much capacity.

Furthermore, most of this second type of freight goes a long way. Felixtowe to Trafford Park or Daventry to Mossend is pretty far, and some of these services take longer than 8 hours. If you forve them to run at night, then they might have to be diverted due to engineering, taking even longer. Sooner or later, you'd end up trying to run them during rush hour at either end, and we're back to square one. They're too valuable to leave in a loop all day, and the freight companies wouldn't like their assets being wasted for 16 hours a day if it happened to get stuck somewhere.


In conclusion, this is a terrible idea, but for the right reasons. The British railway system is oversaturated and the current level of infrastructure spending is inadequate to deal with (pre covid) growth, and we desperately need more segregation of fast passenger trains and freight trains. This is what HS2 does.

Reducing turnaround times and extra paths are all in the pipeline, and those extra paths mean services can be better separated by speed. A medium speed freight train isn't too different in overall speed from an EMU stopping service, so all this capacity helps both freight and passengers, without needing to resort to drastic steps outlined above. The UK's system is just too old, and with too many moving pieces for this to work.

Fair points and well reasoned.
 

JonathanH

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It would enable at least one current Avanti service (ideally either the Scotland-West Mids-London, or the Chester) to move onto the slow lines
How? Have you measured how many trains a Pendolino service on the fast line overtakes on the slow line in the 32 minutes between Euston and Hanslope Junction? What journey time do you think is possible on the slow line recognising that 75mph freight trains and stopping services fit reasonably together.

enable a half hourly Liverpool-London fast service
Wasn't this already in planning prior to March 2020 without removal of freight services?
 

furnessvale

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It would enable at least one current Avanti service (ideally either the Scotland-West Mids-London, or the Chester) to move onto the slow lines (possibly replacing a Crewe-London WMT service and taking up its calls), thus allowing another path on the fast lines and enable a half hourly Liverpool-London fast service.

If we remove all non rush hour passenger trains from the slow lines just look how many extra freights we could run and how much better for the UK economy that would be.

Not a good idea? Neither is the OP.
 

Bald Rick

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It would enable at least one current Avanti service (ideally either the Scotland-West Mids-London, or the Chester) to move onto the slow lines (possibly replacing a Crewe-London WMT service and taking up its calls), thus allowing another path on the fast lines and enable a half hourly Liverpool-London fast service.

Really?
 

RT4038

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enable a half hourly Liverpool-London fast service.
Is this really necessary? If there is insufficient capacity on the existing services, would it not be better to look at increasing the number of carriages on them? The railway is (pre-Covid) too crowded with trains to operate punctually, and needs a reduced service with longer trains, or money spent on additional infrastructure (which is HS2 in this area). In the meantime, nothing should be tightening an already overcrowded and unpunctual system.
 

Philip

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Thinking more broadly, I do think that the powers that be should start looking to make Avanti more of an inter-regional operator. If the long distance market is genuinely on the decline in the long term, then the focus shouldn't be on keeping London to Manchester and Glasgow journey times to a minimum, but rather on better connections en route. I'm not suggesting Manchester to London should start calling at Polesworth, but between them I think all of the Avanti services should start making regular calls at Watford, Berkhamsted, Tring, Northampton, Tamworth, Rugeley, Atherstone, Nuneaton, Lichfield etc, not just the skeleton pattern in place currently. The Chester for example could pick up the shorter platform stations. Rail travel is a lot different now to how it was in 2005!

This might be better merging into a new thread?
 

Bald Rick

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Thinking more broadly, I do think that the powers that be should start looking to make Avanti more of an inter-regional operator. If the long distance market is genuinely on the decline in the long term, then the focus shouldn't be on keeping London to Manchester and Glasgow journey times to a minimum, but rather on better connections en route. I'm not suggesting Manchester to London should start calling at Polesworth, but between them I think all of the Avanti services should start making regular calls at Watford, Berkhamsted, Tring, Northampton, Tamworth, Rugeley, Atherstone, Nuneaton, Lichfield etc, not just the skeleton pattern in place currently. The Chester for example could pick up the shorter platform stations.

The long distance market isn’t in long term decline, and journey times remain very, very important.

This might be better merging into a new thread?

It might be better not to start it.
 

HSTEd

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If you want to reduce conflicts between freight and passenger operations, the solution is probably to build high performance freight trainsets.

If you can clear for W12 you can almost certainly build 100mph intermodal EMUs with acceleration performance comparable to passenger stock.
Whether that will achieve much is a question I leave to the reader.
 

Philip

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The long distance market isn’t in long term decline, and journey times remain very, very important.



It might be better not to start it.

This is contrary to many of the forecasts on this forum! By 'long term' I'm talking over the next decade after the recovery from the pandemic, who knows what the situation will be like beyond this decade?
 

MarkyT

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OK, so how would you make UK railways as reliable as Japan so that such turnround times can be achieved? Hint: Japan achieves what it does (on Shinkansen network, everything else is much ropier) due to everything being segregated and having stations etc optimised for the operation of the railway.
Just my usual chime in to say that while for its first three decades the Shinkansen network was entirely segregated, as it grew in the 1990s, a small number of 'mini-shinkankansen' routes were added by JR East incorporating former narrow gauge lines, re-equipped with standard or mixed gauge track and using special small profile high speed trains for the through Tokyo expresses alongside specially built 1435mm gauge local stock where necessary for other traffic. The Japanese high speed network is therefore no longer entirely segregated from other traffic. The Seikan undersea tunnel link between the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido is also dual gauge and now hosts exclusively standard gauge passenger trains alongside narrow gauge freight.
 

zwk500

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If you want to reduce conflicts between freight and passenger operations, the solution is probably to build high performance freight trainsets.

If you can clear for W12 you can almost certainly build 100mph intermodal EMUs with acceleration performance comparable to passenger stock.
Whether that will achieve much is a question I leave to the reader.
How does being able to build a bigger bridge allow you to build a self-propelled vehicle that can accelerate and brake with 1600 tonnes onboard with the same performance as if it had 400 tonnes on board?
 

hwl

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Thinking more broadly, I do think that the powers that be should start looking to make Avanti more of an inter-regional operator. If the long distance market is genuinely on the decline in the long term, then the focus shouldn't be on keeping London to Manchester and Glasgow journey times to a minimum, but rather on better connections en route. I'm not suggesting Manchester to London should start calling at Polesworth, but between them I think all of the Avanti services should start making regular calls at Watford, Berkhamsted, Tring, Northampton, Tamworth, Rugeley, Atherstone, Nuneaton, Lichfield etc, not just the skeleton pattern in place currently. The Chester for example could pick up the shorter platform stations. Rail travel is a lot different now to how it was in 2005!
That is already some what built into the long term Avanti plan that DfT had for the franchise when it was let, e.g. when HS2 starts to open up in phases e.g. everything left on the WCML fasts calls at MK and you get an extra path or 2 per hour on the Southern WCML
 

HSTEd

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How does being able to build a bigger bridge allow you to build a self-propelled vehicle that can accelerate and brake with 1600 tonnes onboard with the same performance as if it had 400 tonnes on board?

It makes it easier to fit the traction gear underneath the containers.

At which point the enormous power delivery capability of modernised 25kV installations makes many things possible.
 
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