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Cross-Country Train Lengths





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#1 ted675

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 10:34

As an occasional user of XC's line between the South Coast and the Midlands and hence a sufferer from overcrowding on short trains, I was curious as to which of the two reversals [at Reading and Birmingham New Street] was responsible for XC only being able to use four car trains of class 220 Voyagers?

I am assuming that it is a function of short platforms at one or other of these stations of course.





#2 D854_Tiger

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 11:01

As an occasional user of XC's line between the South Coast and the Midlands and hence a sufferer from overcrowding on short trains, I was curious as to which of the two reversals [at Reading and Birmingham New Street] was responsible for XC only being able to use four car trains of class 220 Voyagers?

I am assuming that it is a function of short platforms at one or other of these stations of course.

 

I believe the simple answer to that is they use four car trains because they only have four car trains.

 

Some of the busier services are formed of two units and platforms at both places are allocated accordingly.

 

The main problem with XC trains to the south is that only one of two trains per hour can run via Coventry and this places disproportionate demand on the Bournemouth - Manchester services.

 

I have often wondered why XC couldn't source some additional class 170s for the south coast services, six car trains allowing the other Voyagers to be doubled up. I doubt they would have much difficulty keeping the Voyager timings between say Manchester, Reading and Southampton.



#3 Talltim

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 11:23

I believe the simple answer to that is they use four car trains because they only have four car trains.

 

Some of the busier services are formed of two units and platforms at both places are allocated accordingly.

 

The main problem with XC trains to the south is that only one of two trains per hour can run via Coventry and this places disproportionate demand on the Bournemouth - Manchester services.

 

I have often wondered why XC couldn't source some additional class 170s for the south coast services, six car trains allowing the other Voyagers to be doubled up. I doubt they would have much difficulty keeping the Voyager timings between say Manchester, Reading and Southampton.

Probably because there are no spare 170s.



#4 woodenhead

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 11:41

Historically weren't XC also restricted at Reading due to the turnback platform not being able to hold an 8 car length and now with probably all trains allocated trains south of Reading are stuck at 4 cars.



#5 HillsideDepot

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 11:43

I believe the simple answer to that is they use four car trains because they only have four car trains.

 

Some of the busier services are formed of two units and platforms at both places are allocated accordingly.

 

The main problem with XC trains to the south is that only one of two trains per hour can run via Coventry and this places disproportionate demand on the Bournemouth - Manchester services.

 

I have often wondered why XC couldn't source some additional class 170s for the south coast services, six car trains allowing the other Voyagers to be doubled up. I doubt they would have much difficulty keeping the Voyager timings between say Manchester, Reading and Southampton.

A 6-car train won't fit in the bay at Reading, and there isn't capacity to use a through platform, especially not once London Blunderground start running their over grown tube stock through from Shenfield.

 

Edit: as Woodenhead said as I hit "post"


Edited by HillsideDepot, 07 December 2017 - 11:44 .


#6 Zomboid

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 12:40

Many of the Bournemouth trains are 5 car, but that's all which can fit into platform 3 at Reading. They frequently use platforms 7&8 for the reversal, usually when two XC services are reversing at the same time.
They do sometimes (very rarely, but it has happened twice to me) run double sets, which have to reverse in the through platforms.

#7 royaloak

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 12:44

Since the Reading rebuild there are enough platforms for XC to reverse in the through platforms if necessary but the simple answer is the train lengths and number of units were dictated by the SRA when they were ordered and so XC dont have enough stock to run double sets.


Edited by royaloak, 07 December 2017 - 12:49 .

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#8 D854_Tiger

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 13:00

Historically weren't XC also restricted at Reading due to the turnback platform not being able to hold an 8 car length and now with probably all trains allocated trains south of Reading are stuck at 4 cars.

 

Checking RTT for yesterday typically only one of the four XC reversals per hour was performed in platform 3, all the other trains using the full length platforms.

 

That doesn't imply that platform capacity is the governing factor.

 

When XC first introduced the Voyager the idea was that six coach loco hauled or eight coach HST, once per hour, would be replaced by four or five coach Voyagers, twice per hour, increasing the service frequency and overall number of seats on offer.

 

For various reasons it didn't quite work out like that but specifically via International and Coventry there were no extra paths available for the greater frequency, resulting in a HST per hour being replaced by just one Voyager almost halving the capacity.

 

The other Voyager per hour has to run via Solihull consequently I believe it is the via International services that suffer most from the overcrowding.

 

So the real culprit would appear to be the pathing constraint between New Street and Coventry and the single line stretch from there to Leamington doesn't help either.



#9 royaloak

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 13:18

Cross Country HSTs were only ever 7 coaches long.


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#10 great central

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 14:09

Probably because there are no spare 170s.


There's no spare anything unless someone hangs up many miles of electric string in the next couple of months
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#11 ted675

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 14:12

Thank you for all those helpful nuggets of information regarding reversals. I tend, when going either North or South, to get on at Oxford so I wouldn't usually have two reversals on a single journey [I'm not sure where the XC services to Newcastle start from so I don't know whether they reverse at Reading].



#12 Western Dave

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 14:27

I believe the simple answer to that is they use four car trains because they only have four car trains.

 

Some of the busier services are formed of two units and platforms at both places are allocated accordingly.

 

The main problem with XC trains to the south is that only one of two trains per hour can run via Coventry and this places disproportionate demand on the Bournemouth - Manchester services.

 

I have often wondered why XC couldn't source some additional class 170s for the south coast services, six car trains allowing the other Voyagers to be doubled up. I doubt they would have much difficulty keeping the Voyager timings between say Manchester, Reading and Southampton.

I Like class 170's but that's a big ask (for a humble stopping DMU) to run them from Manchester to Bournemouth....


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#13 ted675

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 15:07

I Like class 170's but that's a big ask (for a humble stopping DMU) to run them from Manchester to Bournemouth....

Coming back from DEMU shows at Burton, I'm pretty sure that the 170 I usually board to get home is going to end up in Cardiff.

Nottingham to Cardiff seems a pretty long run to me.


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#14 Zomboid

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 16:00

The Newcastle trains start from either Reading or Southampton. I think they pretty much alternate, though if you're going past Reading from the north then the one you get will finish there. Guaranteed.

They also seem to be 4 car more often than not, whilst XC seem to at least try to send 5s on the Bournemouth trains.
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#15 Western Dave

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 16:11

The Newcastle trains start from either Reading or Southampton. I think they pretty much alternate, though if you're going past Reading from the north then the one you get will finish there. Guaranteed.

They also seem to be 4 car more often than not, whilst XC seem to at least try to send 5s on the Bournemouth trains.

I see XC trains heading to/from Bournemouth most days and the majority of the time they are 4 car, I'm not knocking XC it is what it is because they inherited the stock they have



#16 D854_Tiger

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 16:21

I see XC trains heading to/from Bournemouth most days and the majority of the time they are 4 car, I'm not knocking XC it is what it is because they inherited the stock they have

 

They do seem to reserve the four car units for the South Coast trains but to be be fair to XC on a Bournemouth - Manchester run there is a lot of duplication with other TOCs services, for the shorter journeys (XC's staple fair), over almost the entire route.

 

Whereas over the core Derby - Taunton section they are pretty much the only TOC on offer for most of the day.



#17 Reorte

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 16:31

They do seem to reserve the four car units for the South Coast trains but to be be fair to XC on a Bournemouth - Manchester run there is a lot of duplication with other TOCs services, for the shorter journeys (XC's staple fair), over almost the entire route.

 

Whereas over the core Derby - Taunton section they are pretty much the only TOC on offer for most of the day.

Might be my faulty memory but I was regularly using the Manchester - Bournemouth trains a few years ago and thought that they were mostly 5 cars, with noticable extra crowding when a 4 car one was used. IIRC they were busiest between Oxford and Reading.


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#18 The Stationmaster

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 16:52

Historically weren't XC also restricted at Reading due to the turnback platform not being able to hold an 8 car length and now with probably all trains allocated trains south of Reading are stuck at 4 cars.

 

Not quite.  5 car Voyager units can be accommodated in all the platforms used by Cross Country at Reading including No.3 bay which was lengthened in order to accommodate 5 car sets.

 

I'm not sure if 170 units could keep time on part of the routes used by Voyagers as in places they are timed right up to linespeed including some at 125mph and does 170 acceleration match what a Voyager is capable of I wonder?

 

But over all the constraint is basically the inability of No.3 bay at Reading to accommodate more that 5 cars and the same could also be said of Platforms 13B and 14B where the Newcastles turn round (quite what will happen to them when Crossrail pokes its ugly nose into Reading is another interesting question which might involve some interesting 'debates' in order to find a workable solution).  Platforms 7 and 8 could undobtedly accommodate longer Cross Country trains although whether either would have sufficient availability once the full GW Class 800/802 worked service comes on stream is another question entirely (as is the matter of overlaps at the east end of those platforms as running longer Cross Country trains into them would presumably require full overlaps at the east end?).


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#19 great central

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 17:20

I Like class 170's but that's a big ask (for a humble stopping DMU) to run them from Manchester to Bournemouth....


They already do Birmingham-Stansted on a daily basis.
Our 158s and occasionally 156s do Nottingham-Liverpool-Norwich-Liverpool-Nottingham or a variety of combinations of the round trips every day.

#20 ted675

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 18:03

They do seem to reserve the four car units for the South Coast trains but to be be fair to XC on a Bournemouth - Manchester run there is a lot of duplication with other TOCs services, for the shorter journeys (XC's staple fair), over almost the entire route.

 

Whereas over the core Derby - Taunton section they are pretty much the only TOC on offer for most of the day.

That's an interesting point regarding duplication - However, if you get your ticket [say, Bournemouth to Manchester]  in advance [and why wouldn't you want to?], then the ticket is probably going to be restricted to XC trains only so the fact that you could in theory get out at Birmingham International and perhaps get a Pendolino to Manchester doesn't actually help the traveller if his ticket doesn't allow him to do that.



#21 melmerby

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 18:06

Some interesting comments here considering that at Warley weekend I boarded a 9 car Voyager (4+5) heading south to Bournemouth (I think) via Reading.

Unfortunately due to staff shortages during industrial action on the day it was going to terminate at Reading.

 

Keith


Edited by melmerby, 07 December 2017 - 18:06 .


#22 jonny777

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 18:13

Coming back from DEMU shows at Burton, I'm pretty sure that the 170 I usually board to get home is going to end up in Cardiff.

Nottingham to Cardiff seems a pretty long run to me.

 

 

170s have been doing Cardiff to Nottingham runs since I was commuting from Bristol to Cardiff 15 years ago. 

 

I certainly viewed them with envy, when waiting for my 150 (or 143 if I was unlucky). 



#23 caradoc

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 18:15

I would certainly agree regarding how busy the Manchester/Bournemouth services are, in fact when travelling between Oxford and Birmingham I try to avoid them and use the Newcastle trains instead. Oxford is a major traffic point, I wonder whether there would be a market for Chiltern to run services between Oxford and Birmingham, to relieve the XC trains ?



#24 melmerby

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 18:16

170s have been doing Cardiff to Nottingham runs since I was commuting from Bristol to Cardiff 15 years ago. 

 

I certainly viewed them with envy, when waiting for my 150 (or 143 if I was unlucky). 

My only experience of XC 170s was on the Birmingham - Stansted run when a 2 car unit was rostered and it was full to standing not long after Leicester!

 

Keith



#25 D854_Tiger

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 19:03

 

I'm not sure if 170 units could keep time on part of the routes used by Voyagers as in places they are timed right up to linespeed including some at 125mph and does 170 acceleration match what a Voyager is capable of I wonder?

 

They certainly lack the acceleration of a Voyager but XC services are hardly timed to exploit it.

 

As for 125 mph running, between Manchester and Bournemouth there are only two short sections where that is possible - Reading to Didcot (assuming the train is offered the fast lines) and Wolverhampton to Stafford.

 

North of Stafford, 125 mph isn't possible, as tilt has been disabled on all of XC's Voyagers, though the four car units were never equipped for tilt anyway.


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