Public Transport in your particular part of the region

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WillPS
Posts: 1984
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Location: Carlton
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Mon 09 Sep, 2013 01.41

London really is public transport the way it should be done. I just think it's silly that they have to let the private sector do what they're told rather than actually run it.
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cwathen
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Joined: Fri 15 Aug, 2003 17.28

Mon 09 Sep, 2013 01.41

So, Torquay. The biggest town in the area but the main connections to the rest of the country by road and rail are a few miles away at Newton Abbot, so getting to/from there or on to neighbouring Paignton are the main two priorities for public transport.

Buses are almost exclusively operated by Stagecoach and are very expensive compared to other places I've lived. A £5.10 'dayrider' ticket is usually the cheapest way to travel anywhere if you need a return, with single journey tickets costing even more. Stagecoach will argue this is amazing value when you get unlimited travel that day on the ticket, but I am sure they are blissfully aware that the majority of holders are only going to make a single return journey. The bus is also a very, very slow way to travel outside of the town as there are no decent roads in or out at all (fortunately something which is changing with the A380 'south devon link road', opening in a couple of years and which will provide a dual carriageway to Newton and a direct link by dual carriageway to/from Exeter and the m5) so you are looking at crawling along for almost the entire journey. It can easily take 45 minutes to travel the 4 miles to Newton by bus or 30 minutes to travel the 2 miles to Paignton. On the plus side the fleet is generally quite new and the buses are constant.

And then there's the railway. There is a short branch line from Newton Abbot to Paignton which runs through the 2 stations in Torquay. Journey time is 10 minutes to Torquay (slightly less if you get off at Torre) or just under 15 to Paignton. It's also cheaper, with a railcard a train journey can be less than half the cost of the same journey by bus) imo it's also the biggest wasted opportunity in the local transport infrastructure. It's the quickest way to travel (provided of course you live close to a station), yet there is typically only 1 TPH in each direction (2 TPH at a few random times of the day) and it has very poor connections to mainline services at Newton Abbot; it almost seems by design that a mainline service will depart a couple of minutes before an up Paignton train will get there, or alternatively that a down Paignton train will leave Newton Abbot a couple of minutes before the mainline trains get in. Just to add insult to injury, sometimes you even see the trains still on the platform and rolling out just as you roll in. The timetable being 'off' in this way straight away adds half an hour on to most journeys where you need to change trains.

The frequency of trains is limited largely by some historical decision to run most trains to/from Exmouth. This single service is a trek and a half as it performs 3 different functions on the journey - the Paignton Branch connection to the mainline, a stopping service on the intermediate stations on the mainline between Newton and Exeter St Davids, and then a branch connection to Exmouth once it gets to Exeter. Crosscountry run a couple of services a day to manchester and FGW run a couple of services to Cardiff and London Paddington. Although enabling the TOCs to market a direct link to Paignton, these services are pointless as they are never the quickest way to these destinations; a change of trains at Newton, Exeter or Bristol is always quicker than staying on the direct train.

Several services per day do not stop at Torre (again seemingly for nothing other than the station's historical status of being secondary, even though with the town's expansion it is now closer to more of the residential areas than the 'main' Torquay station on the seafront is.

In terms of stock, we have the shit end of FGW's offering, being mainly 143s and 150/1s, with the odd 153 to lengthen some services. 150/2s work some diagrams (an important distinction down here as the /2s got a refit by previous operators Wessex and now have 2+2 seating and tables and are a much more pleasant unit to travel in because of it, whilst the /1s still have the as-built 3+2 bus style seating). Very occasionally a 158 is run on an evening train to and from Exeter. A couple of HSTs and 220s also go down the branch each day for the long-distance services.

Personally I think the best way forward would be to run many more trains doing shorter journeys in order to get people to and from Newton frequently so they aren't waiting for connections. I'd do this by ditching the long-distance trains, maintain a stopping service up to Exeter but terminate everything there and run the Exmouth branch as a separate service, and fill in the gaps with some pure shuttles which just do Newton-Paignton.
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WillPS
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Mon 09 Sep, 2013 03.01

cwathen wrote: Personally I think the best way forward would be to run many more trains doing shorter journeys in order to get people to and from Newton frequently so they aren't waiting for connections. I'd do this by ditching the long-distance trains, maintain a stopping service up to Exeter but terminate everything there and run the Exmouth branch as a separate service, and fill in the gaps with some pure shuttles which just do Newton-Paignton.
What stock would you use to operate these services?
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marksi
Posts: 1892
Joined: Wed 07 Jan, 2004 05.38
Location: Donaghadee

Mon 09 Sep, 2013 09.01

All public transport in Northern Ireland is run by Translink, a brand name for the Northern Ireland Transport Holdings Company which is government-owned.

I can best explain how good their services are by telling you that, despite having lines which run very close to, or indeed directly past both of the main airports here, there are no railway stations or halts at either of them. https://maps.google.co.uk/?ll=54.614952 ... 9&t=m&z=16

Belfast's "Central Station" is a magnificently ugly erection from the 70s/early 80s and is not remotely central.

You'd think that being government-owned, this would lead to joined up decisions with departments such as Roads Service, which owns the car parks in town centres... but no, they've recently introduced parking charges in the large car parks near Bangor train station which were being used as unofficial Park and Rides, leaving only a small number of spaces available free for people using public transport.

There are no train services from where I live as the line was closed in 1950. This provided an hourly train service to Belfast city centre (now closed Queen's Quay station) in 35 minutes. The bus service (broadly hourly) takes 1h (longer at peak times) and it is a 15 minute walk to the town centre bus stop. The old railway line passes my house and remains almost entirely clear of building for its entire length.

Presently it is not cheaper, quicker or more convenient to use public transport to and from work than it is to use my car.

There are no night bus or train services.

It is illegal for anyone other than Translink to operate a public transport service in Northern Ireland.
cwathen
Posts: 1117
Joined: Fri 15 Aug, 2003 17.28

Mon 09 Sep, 2013 19.25

WillPS wrote:
cwathen wrote: Personally I think the best way forward would be to run many more trains doing shorter journeys in order to get people to and from Newton frequently so they aren't waiting for connections. I'd do this by ditching the long-distance trains, maintain a stopping service up to Exeter but terminate everything there and run the Exmouth branch as a separate service, and fill in the gaps with some pure shuttles which just do Newton-Paignton.
What stock would you use to operate these services?
The same stock we have now, just used in a more efficient manner. I can't see that the way the service is run now makes best use of stock at all for 2 main reasons.

1) The low frequency of trains means many services are very busy and so use DMU's running in multiple. Around two thirds of the diagrams are double pacers or 150+153 combinations. More frequent services mean less pressure on each service and so this could be greatly reduced, with the pacers running on their own and the 153's running together to create additional 2-car units rather than lengthening a 150. Straight away you then create more trains from the existing stock.

2) One of the key issues with running a Paignton-Exmouth service is the portion between Newton Abbot and Exeter St Davids. This is a busy main line route with a line speed of up to 100MPH and where frequent main line services make the journey in 20 minutes. The local service on the other hand is operated with 75MPH stock and needs to stop 5 times on the way - it takes almost 40 minutes to make the same journey on a local train even though you're travelling over the same tracks. This makes it a nightmare to find routes through and so these services often see a lot of dwell time at Newton Abbot, Dawlish Warren (where there is a passing point for fast trains) or Exeter St Davids as they wait for faster services to overtake them. To make matters worse, it seems to be a matter of policy that a local train will always be held to wait for a late-running mainline train in order to prevent it from getting stuck behind the local unit and becoming later still, as a result many of these services run late through no fault of their own. Anticipating this, there is often excessive dwell time at the end of a service before it starts back again to allow for lateneess, as a tight schedule could see the timetable ruined for the rest of the day if some random Crosscountry from Edinburgh gets into Exeter St Davids 10 minutes late. This means that each unit generally only visits the same station in the same direction twice per day on it's diagram. Coupled with point 1 above, this means that quite a large number of units are employed to operate the service as it is now.

If you split the service up and ran Exeter-Exmouth as an entirely separate entity, the round trip on this route would only take an hour. You would only need 4 units to maintain the current 2TPH service that currently uses a great many more (as Exeter-Exmouth alternates between trains that go to Paignton and trains that go to Barnstaple - I would have the Barnstaple trains terminate at Exeter too). Meanwhile, further down a train can go from Newton-Paignton and back again in just over half an hour. Allowing for some dwell time at Paignton (where trains arriving on the down platform need to run out the end of the station and back again due to signalling) 4 units there could easily operate a 3TPH shuttle service. That still leaves you with the same gaps in the mainline route to run the local stopping services though to Exeter St Davids at the roughly 1 TPH that you have now - and which would provide an additional service to/from Paignton, increasing to an average of 4TPH and providing excellent mainline connections without acquiring any extra stock.

It would of course see a great increase in passengers needing to change trains, but I think that's a small price to pay for getting much reduced journey times and much increased frequency.

Rather than betting the future of the railway on new trains and new tracks, I really do think the railway needs to think outside the box in terms of what they can do better with what they've already got. Despite privatisation It still seems to operate largely on the view that 'we operate this service at this time on this route because we have done since 1953 and it still kindof sort of works so we won't change it'.
simonipswich
Posts: 40
Joined: Tue 21 May, 2013 14.11
Location: Ipswich

Tue 10 Sep, 2013 11.27

Critique wrote:In addition to this they're currently destroying the two bus depots (one for Ipswich Buses and one for First and the other bus companies) and rebuilding them so they can be better and have useful things like screens which tell you how delayed your bus is, so town centre is littered with diggers and temporary bus stops at the moment - why they decided that they'd rebuild both at once remains a mystery.
The first bus station to be refurbished was the Cattle Market, this should have been finished but was delayed due to some pipes being discovered that were not on the plans and therefore they had to be investigated. The Tower Ramparts works had to start on time as they could not delay that without incurring huge penalties.
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Pete
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Location: Dundee

Thu 09 Jan, 2014 06.09

On a slightly different note, just found this little gem

http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/tomorrowsw ... =1&id=8019

14 mins in is a review of the Metro before it opened. I never realised that the conversion of the older tracks was done by BR themselves who were very huffy about the whole thing. Might explain why there is so much work going on at the moment on those parts of the system.
"He has to be larger than bacon"
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WillPS
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Location: Carlton
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Thu 09 Jan, 2014 20.17

Pete wrote:On a slightly different note, just found this little gem

http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/tomorrowsw ... =1&id=8019

14 mins in is a review of the Metro before it opened. I never realised that the conversion of the older tracks was done by BR themselves who were very huffy about the whole thing. Might explain why there is so much work going on at the moment on those parts of the system.
You know track doesn't just last forever though, don't you?

The tram track that runs outside my front window was replaced this summer (and actually half of Autumn due to SYPTE's chosen contractor not being able to find their arse from their elbows), and that was laid in the early 90s - presumably by someone other than BR.
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Alexia
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Joined: Sat 01 Oct, 2005 17.50

Thu 09 Jan, 2014 20.58

Good quality track can last for several decades, and it's not unheard of for track to be "recycled" - i.e. re-used on a less-frequently used line.
wells
Posts: 731
Joined: Sun 31 Jul, 2005 14.52

Thu 09 Jan, 2014 22.27

When do I need to consider replacing the track on the Hornby train set I built in 1999?
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WillPS
Posts: 1984
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Location: Carlton
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Thu 09 Jan, 2014 22.28

Alexia wrote:Good quality track can last for several decades, and it's not unheard of for track to be "recycled" - i.e. re-used on a less-frequently used line.
Well given this is track that was converted following Lord Beeching's cuts...
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