West Highland Line: Altered Timetable Feb 2020

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Scotrail314209

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Hi all,

I noticed a post on Scotrail's social media saying they are adding an additional Rannoch - Fort William service to get people who have appointments in Fort William there in time. However, the last southbound train to serve the rural communities is at 11:40, giving people only 90 minutes to do what they need to.

I understand Fort William isn't that big a place, but people do still commute up there from those communities. It's a shame that if you've got an appointment after 11am you need to make your own way back as there isn't anymore southbound trains until 07:44 the next day as Scotrail have pulled the 17:36 Glasgow service (16:05 ex Mallaig)

Surely the best way to make everybody happy would be to reinstate the 17:36 and terminate it at Rannoch to get people home? I'm curious to know people's thoughts on this.
 
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Watershed

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Surely the best way to make everybody happy would be to reinstate the 17:36 and terminate it at Rannoch to get people home? I'm curious to know people's thoughts on this.
It's quite possible that doing this would require an extra crew diagram. It might also cause logistical issues with the unit diagrams. So whilst it's perhaps the logical option from a passenger perspective, there are operational considerations as well.

If you're going to 'spend' an extra crew diagram you might as well run the train as far as Crianlarich for example, so it's always a question of where you draw the line.
 

Scotrail314209

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It's quite possible that doing this would require an extra crew diagram. It might also cause logistical issues with the unit diagrams. So whilst it's perhaps the logical option from a passenger perspective, there are operational considerations as well.

If you're going to 'spend' an extra crew diagram you might as well run the train as far as Crianlarich for example, so it's always a question of where you draw the line.

Yes true, normally the guard comes from Mallaig at 16:05 and crosses at Crianlarich onto the ex 18:23 Glasgow, but the Mallaig portion of the 18:23 isn’t running
 

FQTV

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It's operating twice a week only, on Mondays and Thursdays, until the Sleeper resumes. 08:52 from Rannoch, arrives Fort William at 09:55, so it's utilising the down Highlander's path.
 

30907

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Hi all,
I noticed a post on Scotrail's social media saying they are adding an additional Rannoch - Fort William service to get people who have appointments in Fort William there in time. However, the last southbound train to serve the rural communities is at 11:40, giving people only 90 minutes to do what they need to.

I understand Fort William isn't that big a place, but people do still commute up there from those communities. It's a shame that if you've got an appointment after 11am you need to make your own way back as there isn't anymore southbound trains until 07:44 the next day as Scotrail have pulled the 17:36 Glasgow service (16:05 ex Mallaig)

Surely the best way to make everybody happy would be to reinstate the 17:36 and terminate it at Rannoch to get people home? I'm curious to know people's thoughts on this.
90 minutes in Fort William is time enough for an outpatient appointment or a supermarket shop - the hospital and Morrisions both being very near the station.
I doubt if anyone commutes from Rannoch or Corrour (or Tulloch), and with a 10am earliest arrival in normal times Roy Bridge and Spean Bridge residents will use the bus.
 

route101

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Surprised the last service is at 1140am, you would think they would keep a later service.
 

paul1609

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I think its all about Belfort Hospital being the regional vaccination centre. Even down here in Kent priority is given to people who have limited public transport options in Rural Areas, don't imagine Lochaber would be any less organised.
 

30907

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Surprised the last service is at 1140am, you would think they would keep a later service.
Maybe the one later train (1737) loads less well in a winter lockdown?
I think its all about Belford Hospital being the regional vaccination centre. Even down here in Kent priority is given to people who have limited public transport options in Rural Areas, don't imagine Lochaber would be any less organised.
Makes sense!
 

FQTV

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I think its all about Belfort Hospital being the regional vaccination centre. Even down here in Kent priority is given to people who have limited public transport options in Rural Areas, don't imagine Lochaber would be any less organised.

I’d speculate that maintaining access to healthcare and the vaccination facility, in the absence of the Sleeper operating as a day service, is probably the primary catalyst, but shopping and also providing a winter weather alternative in case of road closures will be significant considerations.

Up the line, from Bridge of Orchy, there’s more reliable road access on the A82 - although admittedly opportunities for Oban and Glasgow rail day returns are next to useless.

Still, the Rannoch to Fort William temporary service seems to be the result of a community request, so it’s quite an impressive result.
 

Bald Rick

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It will be interesting to see how many people use it. Can’t imagine it will be more than single figures.
 

30907

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This is what surprised me too, that is rather early.

The only other trains after it are heading up to Mallaig.
Looks very much like one diagram for Mallaig crew and one for Fort William; it may even be that there are 0800-1600 commuters on the Mallaig line.
It will be interesting to see how many people use it. Can’t imagine it will be more than single figures.
Rather a lot of trains like that ATM....
 

Scotrail314209

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Looks very much like one diagram for Mallaig crew and one for Fort William; it may even be that there are 0800-1600 commuters on the Mallaig line.

Rather a lot of trains like that ATM....

I'm surprised they aren't running the 16:05 at least as far as Crianlarich, that is Mallaig crewed all the way to Crianlarich.

In normal times, the Mallaig crew alight at Crianlarich and await the arrival of the 18:23 ex Glasgow service. Since the Mallaig portion of the 18:23 has been binned for now, surely if they terminate the 16:05 at Crianlarich they could always have the unit await the arrival of the train from Glasgow. Then again, I think it depends on how many people are using the 18:23 as even in normal times it was relatively quiet.
 

paul1609

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It will be interesting to see how many people use it. Can’t imagine it will be more than single figures.
To be honest my experience of the West highland line in February especially north of Crianlarich is that there were an awful lot of trains with only single figures of passengers pre-covid. Ditto the far north line past Tain.
 

47271

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The natives seem to be happy enough, so they must be able to work with the arrangement.


My positive takeaway from the story is that it publically leaves Caledonian Sleeper with no scope to remove their WHL northbound morning service when they restart operations to Fort William, as much as I'm sure they would've loved the confusion caused by Covid to 'forget' about providing it.

By the way it's the Belford Hospital in Fort William, not the Belfort.
 

30907

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I'm surprised they aren't running the 16:05 at least as far as Crianlarich, that is Mallaig crewed all the way to Crianlarich.

In normal times, the Mallaig crew alight at Crianlarich and await the arrival of the 18:23 ex Glasgow service. Since the Mallaig portion of the 18:23 has been binned for now, surely if they terminate the 16:05 at Crianlarich they could always have the unit await the arrival of the train from Glasgow. Then again, I think it depends on how many people are using the 18:23 as even in normal times it was relatively quiet.
Running 3 of 3 West Highland trains would IMO be overprovision in the current situation, even if you reduce the unit mileage you still have to find the crew.
(Edited to remove a source of misunderstanding.)
 
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Baxenden Bank

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Running 3 of 3 West Highland trains strikes me as overprovision in the current situation, even if you reduce the unit mileage you still have to find the crew.
Only two out of three operating. 1605 ex Mallaig, (1737 ex Fort William) isn't running southbound. Northbound the 1823 ex Glasgow is running to Oban only - no Fort William and Mallaig portion. Only two out of four if you count the sleeper.

Of course it would be simpler to understand if Scotrail provided an actual timetable to look at.
 

Baxenden Bank

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Are we not in Feb 2021?
Technically yes, but it is widely thought that 2020 was a bit of a bad year so it would be a good idea if we had it again. Men in Black style memory wipe. That is why international travel restrictions have been brought in and vaccinations are happening at the right time to prevent a pandemic. :D
 
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