Why is Clacton-on-Sea station so big?

Discussion in 'Infrastructure & Stations' started by Eshonbel, 4 Jun 2015.

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  1. Eshonbel

    Eshonbel Member

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    So I went on a train trip to Clacton the other day, and the station was quite large, compared to some mainline stations. It had four platforms, and all for a branch line terminus that receives 1 tph? Did it used to have an intensive service? I can't imagine that.
     
  2. Iskra

    Iskra Established Member

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    Being on the coast it probably used to get a lot of summer excursion traffic in the days when people holidayed more in Britain.

    It's the same with a lot of seaside places. Blackpool being the most obvious example.
     
  3. MidnightFlyer

    MidnightFlyer Veteran Member

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    Probably also helps the operational flexibility of the adjacent depot. But as Iksra says, back in the day it would have been swamped with holiday or daytrip traffic, and it probably never proved financially worthwhile or operationally desirable to cull it: Thorpe le Soken and the Walton branch were heavily rationalised when the line was juiced I believe, so there must have been some reason Clacton prevailed.
     
  4. steamybrian

    steamybrian Established Member

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    In the 1950s I went on holiday several times to Clacton with my parents. Those were the days when most people had holidays in Britain rather than abroad. Train services to many coastal resorts had intensive services particularly on Summer Saturdays.
    Since then many holiday resorts that once had busy rail routes to the coast to the 1950s saw a decline in traffic leading to closure such as Hunstanton, Ifracombe, Padstow, Minehead, Swanage, etc.
     
  5. 306024

    306024 Established Member

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    Get down there at 05.00 and you'll see a different picture with the morning peak trains all platformed. There were plans to reduce it to 3 platforms, but in the end Clacton Signal Box survived the re signalling scheme along with all four platforms.
     
  6. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    From the '60s until the mid '80s, the GEML was only electrified to Colchester and most electric services to there ran on to Clacton for stabling. In that period, Clacton was served by the fastest EMUs in the country* so had a respectable commuter traffic for a branch line.
    In recent years, the Tendring Hundred, (euphamistically called the 'Sunshine Coast') has hit upon hard times over and above the general decline in traditional British seaside resorts, so patronage has fallen below levels that the station was built for, but its operational importance is still there.
     
  7. Western Lord

    Western Lord Member

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    The term "branch line" has never been applied to the Clacton line. Neither is it applied to the Blackpool North "branch", nor the Southend Victoria "branch" etc.
     
  8. eastwestdivide

    eastwestdivide Established Member

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    As 007 would say, never say "never" - from Network Rail at http://www.networkrailmediacentre.c...ailway-for-essex-as-100m-upgrade-is-completed :

    True, it's not a particularly minor line, but it does branch off the more-important GE main line.
     
  9. Western Lord

    Western Lord Member

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    "Branching off" another line does not make the diverging line a "branch line" in the generally accepted sense. Is Doncaster to Leeds a branch line? The Clacton line is a subsidiary main line and has always been operated as such, with through trains to London (operated by Britannia pacifics in steam days). A branch line is usually considered to be a minor line with a self contained service involving changing trains at the main line junction e.g. the Cornish branches. Generally speaking, no line with a main line service and which has a branch or branches diverging from it would be considered a branch line.
     
    Last edited: 6 Jun 2015
  10. colchesterken

    colchesterken Member

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    B R did not think it was a secondary line when they built the 309s for the fully electric service in 1962. A good train built for the job
     
  11. SouthDevonian

    SouthDevonian Member

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    Looking at the 1960 summer timetable, it showed only 2 Saturday return holiday services to Clacton that originated from the Midlands - one from Birmingham (via the long closed Rugby - Peterboro' line) and the other from Leicester (via reversal at Mkt Harboro' - again part of another route that is long gone). In previous years, there was a service from Manchester / Sheffield Vic. However this is nothing like the volumes that went to other East Coast resorts like Yarmouth & Skegness.
     
  12. johnnychips

    johnnychips Established Member

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    And I suppose that's because most of the holiday traffic was from London. In the old days when people went to the seaside in the UK, they tended to go to near places. I remember in the 60s we went from Manchester to Blackpool every year, and our neighbours considered us very daring when we went to Minehead in 1968!
     
  13. dave12435

    dave12435 Member

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    People keep forgetting that Clacton had a Butlins camp that used to draw thousands of people all before travelling by car was the norm
     
  14. aylesbury

    aylesbury Member

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    In the fifties Clacton was a very popular place to go to for a day out or a weeks holiday unlike nowadays.Virtualy everybody travelled from Liverpool Street not many by coach I went there several times always by train .The adjoining resort of Walton on the Naze was and is very small not that popular but it does have a fantastic chip shop ! Travel to these resorts with a B1 on the front was quite lively the electrics turned the area into a commuter land and that is the way it is now shame the fast BR inter city electrics are gone.
     
  15. dk1

    dk1 Established Member

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    That doesn't always stand up as Great Yarmouth was extremely popular with those from Newcastle & mining communities across Yorkshire.
     
  16. SouthDevonian

    SouthDevonian Member

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    The Butlins comment is very true. The company made sure their camps were near a station so their campers could get there by public transport, ie. Skegness, Filey, Ayr, Pwllheli & Bognor (Minehead came later). Some of the summer Saturday trains were dedicated for Butlins visitors.
     
  17. MrPIC

    MrPIC Member

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    Not what I would say, I've always used (and so have other East Anglian Railwayen) "The Hertford Branch" "Braintree Branch" Clacton Branch etc. I don't think calling a line a "branch" is derogatory in any sense, just an accurate description as it "branches" off from the mainline.
     
  18. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    Much as I agree that the 309s were splendid trains in their day and users of them felt that they were good for their role, I believe that they were intended for a main line electrification scheme, (ECML?) that didn't happen until 20 years later.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Semantics really. The GEML in national terms is a second level main line and it has a few branches, Southend, Brintree, Sudbury, Clacton/Walton, Harwich, and Felixstow. All of those lines do not connect to any other lines* so in effect they are branches and definately subordinate to the GEML.

    * The Felixstow line actually branches off the East Suffolk Line, but services on it are run as a branch from Ipswich.
     
    Last edited: 6 Jun 2015
  19. oldsiggie

    oldsiggie Member

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    These were the first 'express' EMU built for overhead systems. The design was intended to become a standard for the main lines throughout the country but without ECML electrification and the WCML remaining with conventional locomotives and hauled stock just 76 vehicles forming 23 units were built in 1962 for the London to Clacton / Walton services on the GE Main line. With a design speed of 100mph they were the fastest multiple unit around at the time, right into the 80's
     
  20. CockneySparrow

    CockneySparrow Established Member

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    Oh so they use it now to ram as many trains in there overnight,
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Probably before Beeching cuts it was well used with loads of different services going in there, not to mention the summer holiday makers
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Blackpool, Skegness and Yarmouth have more capacity than needed these days, then again some of these stations are listed buildings so actually its more hassle demolishing them than letting them keep, besides powers to be probably have bigger fish to fry,
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Just looked online and from the outside the building looks listed to me
     
  21. transmanche

    transmanche Established Member

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    Whereas back in the North East, Tynemouth and Whitley Bay were popular destinations for holidaymakers from Scotland. Hence why Tynemouth station (now part of the T&W Metro) is so big.
     
  22. MidnightFlyer

    MidnightFlyer Veteran Member

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    North station goes down to six platforms with electrification work.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Out of interest would that have much impact on any measures to reduce the number of operational platforms? Surely even if the building (and subsequently its grounds) was listed there'd be nothing to stop Network Rail actually removing physical lines into excess platforms them, and just leaving them redundant?
     
  23. Coolzac

    Coolzac Member

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    I don't think there is a hard and fast rule. I would generally say that branch lines are single track lines off main lines that don't go particularly far. For example, I wouldn't consider the Far North Line a branch line, nor the line from Newton Abbot to Paignton, even though they do 'branch off' the main lines. The Cornish branch lines to places such as Falmouth, St Ives, Newquay and Looe are classic examples of branch lines in my mind.
     
  24. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    Chingford branch, Chessington branch, Heathrow branch, Tattenham Corner branch, East Grinstead branch etc.. All of those are twin tracked and have far more trains that the Clacton/Walton branch. Branch just means that it branches off the main line and doesn't join onto anything else at the outer end.
     
  25. 61653 HTAFC

    61653 HTAFC Established Member

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    But one does hear reference to the "Leeds branch" of the ECML, and so on. It depends on the context of the discussion I guess. Also, I've heard the Penistone line described as a branch line but I'd argue it isn't, as it connects with the wider network at both ends.
     
  26. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    In that context there will be the north-west and north-east branches of HS2.
     
  27. Coolzac

    Coolzac Member

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    Fair enough- maybe my view is coloured by growing up with religiously watching Thomas the Tank Engine and his single track line beng the true definition of a branch line :D
     
  28. Western Lord

    Western Lord Member

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    I think that we have an example of modern usage versus traditional usage. I have never previously heard of the Clacton line being described as a branch line, nor for that matter the Chingford line. As others have said, the traditional usage of the term "branch line" is for a relatively short, usually single track, line with a self containbed service requiring a change of trains at the main line junction. As for lines that don't join anything at the outer end, that makes anything with a terminus a branch line (Penzance, Holyhead etc.). The Clacton line is an integral part of the GEML service and always has been, so has never been considered as a branch line. In most cases it is unnecessary to use the word "branch", just "line" will do, but I fear that this is another example, like the dratted "train station" of using too many words when one will do.
     
  29. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    We've already ruled out very long lines like to Wick. Penzance and Holyhead are terminii for most of the trains on the preceding 50-100 miles of route. The Penzance route from Exeter has 6 subsidiary lines branching off, (Paignton, Gunnislake, Looe, Newquay, Falmouth and St Ives. The Holyhead line has 2, Blaenau Ffestiniog and Llandudno. Clacton is one of the branches of the GEML and unlike the '60s it now has considerably less traffic than the main line. It was the first to be electrified so development of services on it progressedfaster than the main line until it was electrified in the '80s. If one wants to consider the Clacton line as a (albeit minor) main line, then it has its own branch to Walton (maybe just a siding). :)
    'Train station' is an americanism for 'railway station'. 'Branch line' describes a line in relation to others, e.g. 'main line, or maybe 'avoiding line'.
     
    Last edited: 9 Jun 2015
  30. D1009

    D1009 Established Member

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    At that time there were many more relief, charter, advertised excursions and other specials which were not in the timetable than is the case today.
     
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