Welsh Minister explains why Cambrian is not hourly

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Gareth Marston

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Any one in NR care to confirm or refute the Ministers view about ERTMS?


Passenger Rail Services from Assembly Plenary debate 4th July 2012.

Russell George said:
I hope that the Minister will take the time to read the most recent newsletter of the Shrewsbury-Aberystwyth Rail Passenger Association as it contained an excellent article on how an hourly service is in the process of being introduced in rural east Suffolk. The rail press has been particularly gushing about the project on the east Suffolk line, which was first presented in 2010. It shows that, even in hard times, projects can go ahead. My question, Minister, is this: why can a project proposed just two years ago be on track to deliver an hourly service by this winter when the Cambrian line project, the infrastructure for which was first introduced in 2008, cannot be delivered on time?
Carl Sargeant said:
I think that there are several reasons relating to priorities and financial planning affecting the ability to deliver schemes. There is no point entering into a new negotiated position of delivering a scheme if it is not feasible in the longer term. I want to ensure, with my team, that when we create this scheme, it is sustainable for the passengers who use it. I am sure that the Member would support that. We have been working with Network Rail and Arriva Trains Wales on the introduction of the additional services, and we will continue to do so. There have been issues with the new European rail traffic management system, which Network Rail is resolving. However, of course, these have added to the complications, the affordability and the effectiveness of this service. However, we are pursuing this and I look forward to the new services commencing in 2014-15.
 
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LNW-GW Joint

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Russell George: The rail press has been particularly gushing about the project on the east Suffolk line, which was first presented in 2010. It shows that, even in hard times, projects can go ahead. My question, Minister, is this: why can a project proposed just two years ago be on track to deliver an hourly service by this winter when the Cambrian line project, the infrastructure for which was first introduced in 2008, cannot be delivered on time?
As I understand it, the East Suffolk hourly service extends trains that terminate at Saxmundham to Lowestoft, and will need one extra unit (a 3-car 171 is the usual fare for the route) and appropriate extra manning.
It is a franchise commitment for Greater Anglia (Abellio), having been written into the 2011 ITT.
Whether there is a real increased cost I don't know (maybe Abellio can utilise existing resources).

Without knowing what a Cambrian "hourly" service means it's difficult to judge what extra resources are needed, but I guess it would be a bigger commitment than in Suffolk.
 

tbtc

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Without knowing what a Cambrian "hourly" service means it's difficult to judge what extra resources are needed, but I guess it would be a bigger commitment than in Suffolk.
It is a much bigger commitment, involving a whole new signalling system and a lot of track upgrades (new loops etc).

To compare the two as Russell George has is a little disingenuous.
 

Bald Rick

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It is a much bigger commitment, involving a whole new signalling system and a lot of track upgrades (new loops etc).

To compare the two as Russell George has is a little disingenuous.
Re East Suffolk: the Beccles Loop project has been in development, to my certain knowledge, since 2007. And talked about for a lot lot longer.

 

4SRKT

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Re East Suffolk: the Beccles Loop project has been in development, to my certain knowledge, since 2007. And talked about for a lot lot longer.

So removing the double track section between Sutton Bridge and Hookagate, and the loops at Westbury and Cemmes Road wasn't such a bright idea then.

 

4SRKT

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You don't need the extra loops, what it there is enough. There are other issues affecting the hourly.
Enough for a theoretical hourly service maybe, but one that fell apart every time the slightest thing went wrong. A better comparison than East Suffolk is the Derry line, which is all single track except a couple of miles at the Belfast end. NIR have reinstated loops on this, and in the 60 sine track miles to Coleraine there are 6 loops (7 including Coleraine itself). Even so when things go wrong they do so spectacularly and for hours.


 
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merlodlliw

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For those of you who want to see the full version of the July 4th Plenary see below

http://www.assemblywales.org/bus-ho...-assembly-rop.htm?act=dis&id=236167&ds=7/2012 I am unable to cut & paste,sorry its long,but worth a read

Scroll down half way to Minister for Local Government and Communities., Carl Sergeant,rail is in his portfolio, he also had other questions on ATW, including my own concern about BHX on the Wrexham/Salop line.


Bob
 

MarkyT

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Found the following relating to hourly services on the line.

http://carnostation.org.uk/node/23

Quoting from the above . . .

At the hourly service feasibility study stakeholder meeting at Machynlleth on August 4th, the Network Rail representative, Mr Mike Gallop, presented six passing pattern options as follows:

1. Pass at Dovey Junction, Talerddig and Welshpool

1a. Pass at Dovey Junction, Carno and Welshpool

2. Pass at Machynlleth, Newtown and Redhill (3 miles West of Shrewsbury)

3. Pass at Borth/Ynyslas, Talerddig and Welshpool

4. Pass at Machynlleth, Moat Lane (0.75 m East of Caersws) and Westbury (8 miles West of Shrewsbury)

5. Pass at Glandyfi, Talerddig and Welshpool Dynamic Loop

. . . end quote

Are these are still the options? Infrastructure seems to be missing to support any of them currently.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Found the following relating to hourly services on the line.
http://carnostation.org.uk/node/23
Quoting from the above . . .
At the hourly service feasibility study stakeholder meeting at Machynlleth on August 4th, the Network Rail representative, Mr Mike Gallop, presented six passing pattern options as follows:

1. Pass at Dovey Junction, Talerddig and Welshpool
1a. Pass at Dovey Junction, Carno and Welshpool
2. Pass at Machynlleth, Newtown and Redhill (3 miles West of Shrewsbury)
3. Pass at Borth/Ynyslas, Talerddig and Welshpool
4. Pass at Machynlleth, Moat Lane (0.75 m East of Caersws) and Westbury (8 miles West of Shrewsbury)
5. Pass at Glandyfi, Talerddig and Welshpool Dynamic Loop
. . . end quote

Are these are still the options? Infrastructure seems to be missing to support any of them currently.
Well surely the only game in town now that the infrastructure work has been done is option 1 (assuming option 5 is essentially the same).
There are only two questions:
a) can the present infrastructure actually support an hourly service - nobody seems very clear about this, given the negative view of the ETCS implementation.
b) if/when it can support an hourly service, can ATW/WG resource it - the answer appears to be "not yet".
 
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An hourly service was seen as the holy grail. A cheaper improvement that enhanced capacity would be to have 3 or 4 extra trains. This would be more cost effective and, if popular, could be progressively enhanced.
 

MarkyT

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Well surely the only game in town now that the infrastructure work has been done is option 1 . . .
OK I understand how the new Dovey Junction setup works now; it's a long platform with the loop starting halfway along, rather like Penryn on the Truro - Falmouth branch, so it looks like the infrastructure IS there for option 1. Whether there's sufficient rolling stock and crew is another matter.
 

4SRKT

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OK I understand how the new Dovey Junction setup works now; it's a long platform with the loop starting halfway along, rather like Penryn on the Truro - Falmouth branch, so it looks like the infrastructure IS there for option 1. Whether there's sufficient rolling stock and crew is another matter.
The infrastructure is there but it is not robust. There are simply not enough loops to operate an hourly service reliably, and it would be madness to pretend otherwise.


 

The Planner

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The infrastructure is in the right place and a hourly service is possible, it is the single line occupation times that make it risky, you do not need new loops unless you come along with millions and want to build a station at Carno. Speed up the times between the loops and everything would be fine.
 

4SRKT

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The infrastructure is in the right place and a hourly service is possible, it is the single line occupation times that make it risky, you do not need new loops unless you come along with millions and want to build a station at Carno. Speed up the times between the loops and everything would be fine.
Everything will not 'be fine' if something runs even a bit late, no matter how much you speed up the running times. I'm surprised you don't think extra loops would make the service less risky.

 

317666

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Are there any proposals to run an hourly service on the Cambrian Coast line up to Pwllheli? Considering that, from what I've seen, trains don't usually pass at Barmouth, in the summer months would there at least be the capacity to have an hourly service as far as Barmouth, as southbound trains often become very busy there during the holidays.
 

The Planner

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Everything will not 'be fine' if something runs even a bit late, no matter how much you speed up the running times. I'm surprised you don't think extra loops would make the service less risky.
If you speed it up then it means less single line occupation, trains will sit in the loops longer because of it waiting for the opposing train, but it leaves more recovery. You can say it is risky with any intensive service though, not just the proposed Cambrian. It doesn't need much for the WCML or Chilterns for example to fall over and you don't see money being spent on infrastructure there "just in case". Why build extra loops if they will only be used in times of perturbation ?, it isn't cost effective.
 

Rhydgaled

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At the hourly service feasibility study stakeholder meeting at Machynlleth on August 4th, the Network Rail representative, Mr Mike Gallop, presented six passing pattern options as follows:

1. Pass at Dovey Junction, Talerddig and Welshpool

1a. Pass at Dovey Junction, Carno and Welshpool

2. Pass at Machynlleth, Newtown and Redhill (3 miles West of Shrewsbury)

3. Pass at Borth/Ynyslas, Talerddig and Welshpool

4. Pass at Machynlleth, Moat Lane (0.75 m East of Caersws) and Westbury (8 miles West of Shrewsbury)

5. Pass at Glandyfi, Talerddig and Welshpool Dynamic Loop
What were the reasons for selecting option one? Are there any more details on Option two, would Redhill have been another Talerddig?

b) if/when it can support an hourly service, can ATW/WG resource it - the answer appears to be "not yet".
Depends how it is done I think.

Messing around with Excell, I tried to estimate the required number of diagrams based on the following scenario:
  • Retain the current pattern - ie.
    • 2-hourly Pwllheli and Aberystwyth services (splitting/joining at Mach) to/from Birmingham International
    • reversing at Birmingham for Holyhead and leaving 2-coaches at Shrewsbury (I was assuming Shrewsbury - Holyhead is 2-car)
  • And add a second train each hour between Shrewsbury and Aberystwyth using the unit split off the Birmingham -> Holyhead and attaching the return working to a Holyhead -> Birmingham - ie. The extra Cambrian services are to/from Birmingham, as well as the existing ones
My rather un-informed estimate is that this requires two extra diagrams. If there were a few LHCS sets working as part of the 175 fleet (so there's plenty of stock to cover so 150s aren't needed as standbys) ATW could probably use 150s to get a pair of 158s off Cardiff - Measteg/Ebbw Vale/Cheltenham. However, if ATW don't want to use LHCS there's probably not a lot they can do to provide stock for Cambrian hourly without even more 150s (maybe even Pacers) running services they shouldn't, and I've also read other suggestions (on this fourm probably), which may have different stock requirments, eg.:
  • Send the extra Cambrians to Crewe instead of Birmingham
  • Terminate Cambrian Coast services at Mach or Dyfi Junction, assuming the hourly service between Shrewsbury and Aberystwyth will compensate for the loss of 4-car trains between Shrewsbury and Mach.

Everything will not 'be fine' if something runs even a bit late, no matter how much you speed up the running times. I'm surprised you don't think extra loops would make the service less risky.
I'm guessing that Planner means linespeed improvments, rather than speeding up the running times by removing padding to make them closer to the current capability of the infrastructure. Make linespeeds faster but keep the journey times in the public timetable the same and there's more scope for delayed trains to make up time surely?

Also, I think the full list of loops currently available on the Cambrian main line is:
  • Dovey Junction
  • Machynlleth
  • Talerddig
  • Newtown
  • Welshpool (dynamic)
Looking at the option list again, even an hourly service would have only three scheduled passing places, so there are still two other loops available for use if lengthy delays occour.

Are there any proposals to run an hourly service on the Cambrian Coast line up to Pwllheli? Considering that, from what I've seen, trains don't usually pass at Barmouth, in the summer months would there at least be the capacity to have an hourly service as far as Barmouth, as southbound trains often become very busy there during the holidays.
I think TraCC did a study on, or have a long-term asperation for, a Cambrian coast hourly service. I too would be interested to hear if there is capacity for more-frequent services along there at present.

Personally, I think if an hourly service is introduced on the Cambrian coast line it should alternate between a service to Pwllheli in one hour and a service to Bangor (via a part-brand-new, part-reopenned Porthmadog - Bangor line) in the other. Porthmadog - Pwllheli would remain 2-hourly in that case though.
 

merlodlliw

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Are there any proposals to run an hourly service on the Cambrian Coast line up to Pwllheli? Considering that, from what I've seen, trains don't usually pass at Barmouth, in the summer months would there at least be the capacity to have an hourly service as far as Barmouth, as southbound trains often become very busy there during the holidays.
No. nothing to up the service, there is an early morning service from Barmouth to Mach & the parliamentary train to Barmouth FO evening which returns to Mach that's all, otherwise nothing from Mach to Pwllheli between 1658 & 2120 . On Sunday in summer Gwynedd CC pay for two extra services (2 up 2 down)

From Past experience those around Pwllheli using long distance trains, go to Bangor,
 

The Planner

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What were the reasons for selecting option one? Are there any more details on Option two, would Redhill have been another Talerddig?
££££

I'm guessing that Planner means linespeed improvments, rather than speeding up the running times by removing padding to make them closer to the current capability of the infrastructure. Make linespeeds faster but keep the journey times in the public timetable the same and there's more scope for delayed trains to make up time surely?
Thank you, the running times prior to ERTMS were "comfortable", but once the system was switched on then drivers were a lot more defensive and slowed down marignally. If the linespeeds were increased in places then as I said before, you are likely to sit in a loop or a station for a little longer but it builds in recovery for the single lines.
 

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ERTMS . . . once the system was switched on then drivers were a lot more defensive and slowed down marignally.
Not least because speed is supervised and enforced constantly - no more late braking for speed restriction

If the Talerddig loop was extended approx 2.5km east towards Carno, it would become 'dynamic' combined with a reopened Carno station with a simple single platform configuration, and no overall increase in journey time - i.e. the former passing time at Talerddig is reallocated to the station stop. The double track would involve widening the formation, as it appears this section has always been single, unlike at Welshpool.
 
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sbt

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Thank you, the running times prior to ERTMS were "comfortable", but once the system was switched on then drivers were a lot more defensive and slowed down marignally.
Not least because speed is supervised and enforced constantly - no more late braking for speed restriction
Plus I imagine that there is a tendency to drive slower than authorised linespeed due to how small the 'overspeed' allowance is (5 kph) before the brakes come on and the fact that the units used were not really designed to be driven to that level of exactness with regard to speed.

This overspeed issue is mentioned in para 120 of the Llanbadarn RAIB report as causing a tendency to drive 'head down' but I presume there is also a tendency to drive with an amount of speed 'padding'.

http://www.raib.gov.uk/cms_resources/120627_R112012_Llanbadarn.pdf
 

Gareth Marston

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been away so quick answer to some points raised.

Is there enough rolling stock/ crew? If you keep present 4 car workings to Mach then 2 further units are needed. however as some posters have said numbers of 4 car formations would probably not be so necessary. Current tt sees equivalent of enough unit miles to run 13 2 car trains full length of line from Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury so this is an are that can be looked at. Also running an extra unit from Machynlleth in the morning to arrive Salop 0824 and then shuttle back and forward from Newtown would give east of line hourly service.

WG opted for the cheapest option given to them by NR fro reinstated loops etc.
 

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If there isn't the capacity rolling stock-wise to lengthen or run extra services, would it be an idea for ATW to order extra 175s from Alstom, to cascade more 158s from the Welsh Marches and Birmingham - Holyhead to the Cambrian?
 

the-gog

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As of October, the timetable will be tightened slightly, and line speeds increased between Mach and Aber, and Salop to Newtown, and a few points in between.
 

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If there isn't the capacity rolling stock-wise to lengthen or run extra services, would it be an idea for ATW to order extra 175s from Alstom, to cascade more 158s from the Welsh Marches and Birmingham - Holyhead to the Cambrian?
Alstom don't build units any more for the UK. In any case, afterallthis time, the production line would have been shut down lomg ago. 175s can not work Holyhead to Birmingham as they intermix with Cambrian where only 158s are allowed to work (ERTMS)
 

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The TraCC study and proposed timetables can be seen here:

http://www.tracc.gov.uk/index.php?id=67&L=0

Click on Appendix I proposed timetables, which also gives proposed tts for the coast line and the Central Wales Line
Only way they made the single line occupation lower is by omitting Caersws on every other service.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
As of October, the timetable will be tightened slightly, and line speeds increased between Mach and Aber, and Salop to Newtown, and a few points in between.
Not seen a Network Change for that one, got any details on the linespeed increases ?
 

the-gog

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Only way they made the single line occupation lower is by omitting Caersws on every other service.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---


Not seen a Network Change for that one, got any details on the linespeed increases ?
I don't have any more details than that but it's come from two separate sources, one of which is ATW.
 
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