Read South East Wales Transport Alliance (Sewta) text version

Great Western RUS Consultation Response

Please reply to/Anfonwch eich ateb yn ôl at:

Mark Youngman Sewta Rail Working Group c/o Monmouthshire County Council County Hall CWMBRAN NP44 2XH (by e-mail to [email protected])

Our Ref/Ein Cyf: Your Ref/Eich Cyf Date/Dyddiad:

RUS Programme Manager Network Rail Kings Place 90 York Way London N1 9AG


25 November 2009


Dear Sir Great Western Route Utilisation Strategy ­ Draft for Consultation The South East Wales Transport Alliance (Sewta) is a consortium of 10 local authorities; the Councils of Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Monmouthshire, Newport, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Torfaen and the Vale of Glamorgan. Sewta works with stakeholders, partners and the Welsh Assembly Government to improve regional transport in south-east Wales. Sewta represents the regional transport interest of 1.4 million people and is the largest of the four transport consortia in Wales. We are pleased to submit our comments on the draft Great Western Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) to Network Rail. Our response will draw on the following documents: · · · · · Sewta Rail Strategy ­ 2006 Sewta Rail Strategy Prioritised Investment Programme ­ 2007 Sewta Regional Transport Plan ­ September 2009 Sewta response to Network Rail Wales RUS ­ August 2008 Sewta response to Network Rail Network RUS: Scenarios and Long Distance Forecasts ­ April 2009 · Sewta response to Network Rail Network RUS: Electrification Strategy ­ Draft for Consultation All these documents outline the key role Sewta sees rail planning in meeting the needs of the region. Sewta wishes to record its thanks for invitation and opportunity to contribute to the various stakeholder workshops and briefing sessions held during the development of this RUS. Sewta broadly welcomes the RUS, and subject to the comments attached to this letter, would support its proposals. We trust you will find our comments of use and Sewta looks forward to continuing dialogue with Network Rail in advance of the final Great Western RUS published in 2010. If you need clarification on any aspect of our response please do contact me.

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Mark Youngman Vice Chair, Sewta Rail Working Group

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SEWTA RESPONSE TO GREAT WESTERN ROUTE UTILISATION STRATEGY ­ DRAFT FOR CONSULTATION Chapter 2 Dimensions and Planning Context It is not clear if documents such as the Wales Spatial Plan (WSP); One Wales: Connecting the Nation and Sewta's Regional Transport Plan which informed the Wales Route Utilisation Strategy (Wales RUS) informed the development of the Great Western Utilisation Strategy. Although the focus in those documents has largely been around moving people within Wales, there are issues which have a decisions and the transport network outside of Wales, such as South West England - an area covered by the Great Western RUS. For example, the Wales Spatial Plan identified for the South East Wales Capital Network area, one of its Strategic Opportunity Area (SOA) for employment needs to be located at St Athans. Sewta has in the past remarked on the need to consider links to the Vale of Glamorgan line from the east: one possible service could be to extend the Bristol to Cardiff service east, which would provide for the increasing traffic flows between South West England and Wales, and Mid West Wales identified in the draft Great Western and final Wales Rus. However, the specific transport priority for the South East Wales Capital Network, in order for the area to realise its full potential is for: "A fully integrated high quality transport system is necessary for this to happen. Over the 20 year horizon of the Wales Spatial Plan, all the Area's key settlements should be linked to Cardiff or Newport by suitable high capacity public transport." The WSP goes on to suggest that for the Capital Network, three (of a series of) principles relevant to the rail network are: · Stretching targets should be set for improving journey times by bus and rail between the key settlements · Public transport should operate sufficiently frequently that passengers have the confidence to "turn up and go" · Seating capacity should be sufficient to meet normal demand, reducing the need for passengers to stand External links are also important, and the WSPs aspiration for the Capital Network is to have good transport links to the likes of the Swansea Bay and Bristol ­ which the South East Wales rail network currently provides with the main South Wales Main Line from Bristol Temple Meads / Bristol Parkway through to Bridgend. Sewta is represented at Officer level in the development of the Wales Spatial Plan and we will continue to press for the rail network to play a full role in meeting the aims of the WSP. The Sewta Regional Transport Plan (RTP) sets out clearly the role that the current rail system has in connecting key settlements and many other places throughout the region to Cardiff and Newport. The RTP proposes a number of specific rail policies detailed below: · Sewta will work to improve the capacity of the existing rail system, including train lengthening and frequency improvements.

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· Sewta will plan to further extend the rail system through selected line and station reopening. · Sewta will promote enhancing quality of trains including track enhancements to improve running speeds and reliability, improving existing stations and improving information for travellers. · Sewta will encourage rail freight traffic where it does not conflict with Sewta's plans to improve passenger services. We will use the development and consultation around the RTP to feed into Sewta's continuing role to play in promoting further improvements to the rail system, and to ensure that rail developments fit with wider sustainability objectives. Chapter 3 ­ Current Capacity, demand and delivery 3.5.9 Track Capacity We note the commentary regarding a lack of spare capacity on selected areas in the Great Western area. The delays that can and often do occur around Bristol Parkway and Filton Bank are a source of frustration to passengers from South Wales wanting to make onward connections, north towards the Midlands, or further south into South West England. However, we would seek further clarification on the extent of the lack of spare capacity within the Severn Tunnel. In the Wales RUS mention was made of a scheme at Pilning up and down goods loops which would provide an upgrade in the linespeed of the loop and conversion to passenger status, to give additional capacity and improved operational capability and reliability for the Severn Tunnel. Could you confirm that this scheme has been implemented? 3.6 Current Passenger Demand We note the high percentage, in relation to other areas, of journeys made from Wales to the Great Western RUS area. Furthermore, we note the high number of journeys made on long distance high speed journeys made from Cardiff to London Paddington, especially in comparison with stations that are closer in distance to London. Is it possible to ask what were the number of journeys made from the likes of Newport and other locations in South Wales to London? Notwithstanding the figures support Sewta's view that South East Wales is one of the key areas of demand for rail travel for London passengers. Equally, the figures identified in Figure 3.14 (top five non-London flows to outside the RUS area) showing Bristol Temple Meads to Cardiff as the top flow, Bristol to Newport as the third highest flow, and Bristol Parkway as the fourth highest flow would support the view that South East Wales is also a key area for analysis for passengers travelling to and from the Great Western area. Figures 3.17 and 3.18 clearly show the existence of overcrowding on the Cardiff to Bristol corridor, although for completeness a similar analysis of the situation on afternoon peak services from Bristol would be useful. One comment we would make on

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the loadings shown is that as they are based on a 2007 baseline, these pre-date the ,welcome, reinstatement by First Great Western of an extra carriage to a number of peak hour trains. With a 50% increase in the number of carriages (two to three), overcrowding on the Cardiff to Bristol service still occurs. It is therefore our view that the figures as shown do not provide the full picture regarding crowding on the route, and that the overcrowding that does exist is masking a latent suppressed demand between Cardiff and Bristol. Although overcrowding is an unintended consequence of a busy and successful rail network, it is arguable that the perception and actual impact of not getting a seat is felt more on longer regional journeys than on shorter urban journeys. In general, the shorter the journey and the more frequent the service, the more a passenger is liable to put up with overcrowding, or at worse having to wait for the following train. However, the experience of not getting a seat on a journey in excess of 20 minutes or not being able to board a train at all, where the next train is not for another hour can see people chose an alternative mode of transport, normally the car, over the train. Such a result would run contrary to a key transport aspiration in the Wales Spatial Plan of: "providing sufficient capacity [on trains] to reduce the amount of passengers standing." In research to support their response to the Wales RUS, Passenger Focus surveyed passengers on the Marches Line and 94% of people said it was important that they were able to get a seat, with 8% saying that their use of the line would be limited because "trains were too crowded." Within South East Wales, the effects of overcrowding are being, partly, addressed by a series of platform extensions carried out by Sewta, and train lengthening being progressed by WAG. However, on routes from Bristol entering the Sewta area the opportunities for train lengthening are not so easy to achieve. The Class 150 and 158 rolling stock used on the Cardiff to Bristol route cannot be easily strengthened because of the perennial problem of a national lack of supply of spare 15x stock. Ultimately we acknowledge that the provision of additional rolling stock is not a matter solely within the remit of Network Rail. Nonetheless, we do feel that Network Rail has a key role in ensuring that there is a greater supply of rolling stock for the rail industry, and that more work is undertaken on issues such as selective door opening, greater use of `grandfather' rights, gauge/route clearance and driver route knowledge. 3.13 Engineering Access Sewta notes the engineering plans for the Severn Tunnel; which given our previous comments regarding the passenger flows using the Tunnel, highlights the importance and essentiality of such an engineering plan. 3.13.13 ­ We welcome the incorporation into the Great Western RUS of the issues around the Severn Day Railway Initiative.

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3.15 Performance In paragraph 3.15.6 mention is made of the detailed analysis of delay per route section, on several key routes. The two with relevance to Wales being South Wales to London, and South Wales to South Coast. However, only analysis for the latter is illustrated in a graphical format and we would ask if a similar graphical illustration could be shown for the South Wales to London route, especially as London Paddington, Reading, Didcot and Maidenhead were all shown as being performance pinch points. Returning to figure 3.35, the graph does clearly illustrate the high level (relative to the total number of delay minutes) of TOC reactionary and TOC primary causes for delay at Filton Abbey Wood and Bristol Temple Meads ­ which are obviously felt by passengers from South Wales. 3.16 Future Performance targets 3.17 Performance and timetables The RUS does not seem to make mention of timetabling and pathing of trains, and the impact of PPM (Passenger Performance Measures) and Rules of Route on the attractiveness of the rail network and demand for the rail network. This is particularly relevant on main line services and inter-regional services such as the London to South Wales high speed services, and Cardiff to Bristol route. We know for example that pathing constraints at Severn Tunnel Junction dictate the timetables on Arriva Trains Wales and Arriva Cross Country services between Gloucester and Cardiff. Similarly, Dr Days Junction, Stoke Gifford Junction, Filton Junction, Patchway Junction and Westerleigh Junction are all locations which determine the pathing of Wales bound trains, and exacerbated delays when delays occur. In our response to the Wales RUS we commented on the impact of differential train timings on sections of tracks used by different services and the inclusion of PPM allowance in a train's timetable. The inclusion of recovery time also has a negative impact on the passenger experience when a train either sits in a train station waiting for its scheduled departure time, or worse waits at a signal outside a station for a platform to become free. Both examples do give the impression of lost and unproductive time (and we know from the various passenger demand forecasting mechanisms the value to certain types of passenger of their overall journey time). Such an impression of wasting time is exacerbated when there is no explanation from the on-board staff as to why the train is not moving. The final issue to do with PPM, recovery time and a need to provide a timetable which is there for the benefit of the passenger concerns connections. Connections at Bristol Parkway and Bristol Temple Meads are key to the overall attractiveness of the rail network for existing and potential rail users. At such locations we feel a review of the Rules of the Route and other regulation measures could for relatively little cost, increase the overall capacity of the network and bring with it extra benefits for passengers. Similarly, we do not feel that there is a sufficient dialogue between the train companies over the interaction between their respective timetables. Were this addressed, we would suggest that things like missed connections could be eradicated.

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As the draft RUS itself recommends in Chapter 7 Emerging Strategy, section 7.2.5 ­ timetable changes, "a continual review of existing timetables as an ongoing measure, which when drawn together....will result in significant changes to the capacity, capability and operation of the railway. [With] the predominant focus of this strategy being capacity improvements through station change." In summary, Sewta believes that Network Rail as overseer of the timetable on the rail network has a key role in delivering a better public timetable designed foremost for the benefit of the passenger. Chapter 4 ­ Planned Changes to infrastructure and services Intercity Express Programme (IEP) We obviously await further development and the final details of IEP. In the meantime, we hope that the lessons of when 5-car Adelantes were used on off-peak services between London and Cardiff, will be incorporated into plans to deploy the IEP trains. Reading Station area redevelopment Cotswold Line redoubling Westerleigh Junction to Barnt Green linespeed improvements We welcome these proposed improvements and the benefits they will provide to passengers travelling to and from South Wales. Seven Day Railway Sewta welcomes the extension from Cardiff to Swansea, of one of the key routes in the HLOS requirement for a Seven Day Railway. We would seek clarification on what is meant by a back to basics review of the train timetable? Rolling Stock Noting that the request from First Great Western for an additional 12 vehicles for the West of England is assumed for the purposes of the Great Western RUS baseline to be a committed scheme, Sewta is of the view that this proposal is not progressing as quickly as inferred. As is alluded to later, the forthcoming announcement by the DfT of a rolling stock plan for Britain's railways will give a clearer picture and are pleased that should the additional 12 vehicles not be procured, this will see a revision of analysis of rolling stock needs in the final RUS. Whilst waiting those developments, it is not clear in the draft RUS that the overcrowding that will occur over the next seven years (until the case from electrification occurs in 2016) has been addressed Electrification As part of the Network Rail Electrification RUS under the A 13.2 Options it was noted that the Cardiff to Taunton service was proposed to be split at Bristol with the Cardiff to

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Bristol service converted to electric traction with a separate diesel service from Bristol down to Taunton. We understand that while the line would be electrified it was not the intention to operate the Cardiff to Bristol as an electric service. As this has potential implications in providing additional passenger capacity between Cardiff and Bristol, would you please confirm which of the two options for the Cardiff to Bristol service the present plan is? Section Access for All We fully support the proposal for a full disabled access footbridge at Gloucester which will be of benefit for passengers from this area, especially if it is covered and provides weather protection from the rain which the present open bridge does not. London Heathrow ­ Western services Sewta supports the proposal for a direct rail access to Heathrow airport from the west. 4.3 ­ Planned service changes 4.3.1 ­ December 2009 timetable changes In our formal response to the First Great Western December 2009 timetable change, we welcomed the speeding up of the 0559 Swansea to London Paddington, and 1645 London Paddington to Swansea trains. Although with any change there has to be consideration as to the potential knock-on effect to other services. We would seek assurances that services such as the 1754 Bristol to Cardiff service will not be affected by changes to the 1645 train and if not its official connections into West Wales services will still be maintained at Cardiff. 4.6.2 Depots and stabling Sewta agrees that the existing depots used on the Great Western area are in places at limited capacity. We look forward to the Network Rail consultation on a rolling stock and maintenance depot strategy. Having said that, we do note in paragraph 4.6.4 regarding IEP depot requirements that there is no mention of a depot to cover the existing HST Depot at Landore. Does this imply that the present early morning High Speed services that start from Swansea will be cut back as there will not be any depot within Wales? 5 ­ Planning context and future demand The omission of any Wales focussed planning documents makes it difficult to assess the level of assessment of housing and employment changes in South East Wales. At a strategic level the Wales Spatial Plan sets a framework, but we suggest the Great Western RUS does need to analysis the work undertaken by the South East Wales Strategic Planning Group (SEWSPG) which indicate an increase in the South East Wales region of 108,000 (+18.6%) between 2003-2021, and the emerging Local Development plans for Monmouthshire County Council, Newport and Cardiff.

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(Monmouthshire for example has to make provision for 5250 dwellings between 2006 and 2021.) Such housing projections will obviously have a greater linkage to economic developments in South Wales, although we would state that particularly as you move eastward, the projected housing increases in Monmouthshire will have likely impact on demand for rail travel from South Wales to Bristol. 5.5 Forecast passenger demand 5.5.1 Forecasting approach Sewta notes the further sensitivity tests and validation exercises carried out for this RUS. It was one of our criticisms of the Wales RUS that the demand forecasts for that document did not take in account factors like (a 30% increase in fuel costs), and double digit growth on certain routes (Chepstow line, Cardiff to Bristol) which exceeded the 10 year forecasts in the Wales RUS. We would record a similar note of caution regarding the proposed peak demand forecasts into Bristol of 41% (annual growth of 3.2 percent) between 2008 and 2019 when growth on the route in the last year has been reported to be around 50%. Furthermore, the recent growth on the Cardiff to Bristol route has been recorded at a time of recession, with overcrowding on peak services (which itself acts a suppressor of demand), and very little marketing of the competitiveness of rail vis-à-vis travelling by road. Passenger forecasts ­ suburban services In our response to the Network Rail RUS on electrification we commented on the `sparks' effect of other electrification schemes. If the Cardiff to Bristol service was decided to be electric, such a `sparks' effect may have a further positive impact on the attractiveness of the service. Forecast passenger demand ­ Bristol Forecast Passenger demand ­ Bristol Can you give Sewta some confirmation on whether the additional 12 vehicles are over and above the vehicles already in service, namely the 7 Class 150 sets lent by Arriva Trains Wales and Welsh Assembly Government? Will these 12 extra carriages allow further strengthening of the peak services, to four or five car sets, or will they just formalise the use of the three car trains? 6 ­ Gaps and Options Sewta welcomes the prioritisation, in a list of 21, of the South Wales to South Coast all day capacity gap and its associated issues that existing and predicted crowding and ability to meet forecast growth to 2019 and beyond. Option Appraisal

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6.9.5 Option E: increase capacity and improve performance through infrastructure enhancements; Swindon to Gloucester We welcome the continued acknowledgement of performance issues on the line (particularly between Swindon and Kemble), given the line's use as a diversionary route when the Severn Tunnel is closed. Sewta and WAG have given its support to county councils and other organisations in England, for the Swindon to Kemble redoubling to be implemented at the earliest opportunity. Our support for the scheme is confirmed when noting the commentary that the redoubling will allow two London Paddington to South Wales services to run, when the Severn Tunnel is closed. 6.9.6 Option F: Review service proposition on the Cardiff to Portsmouth corridor Sewta welcomes the recommendation to lengthen the five morning and evening peak services on the Cardiff to Portsmouth route. We furthermore note the establishment of a joint Cardiff to Portsmouth route improvement project between yourselves and First Great Western. We assume that key stakeholders and potential funders of infrastructure and service enhancements, here in Wales that would be the Welsh Assembly Government, are regularly advised of the Projects findings and recommendations. To that end, Sewta looks forward to seeing further details of the Project's analysis. 6.9.8 Option H: Lengthen services into Bristol Temple Meads We welcome the positive business case recorded for the proposal to lengthen trains on the Cardiff to Taunton, and Cardiff to Portsmouth routes. We would strike a note of caution that these proposals to provide additional carriages are needed sooner rather than later. Any long delay in their implementation is likely to exacerbate the overcrowding that currently exists on both routes, and potentially suppress any future demand on certain services. Our further comments regarding this proposal relate to the similar BCRs between platform lengthening and selective door opening. We are pleased that selective door opening has been identified as a potential solution: it has been our experience that the rail industry has been reluctant to make use of selective door opening on trains. Platform lengthening does however provide a more long-term and permanent solution, particularly considering the inability of some types of rolling stock to accommodate selective door opening. 6.9.9 Option I: Increase capacity and improve performance through infrastructure enhancements at Bristol. Sewta supports the proposals for 3 or 4 tracking from Dr Days junction to Filton, although note with regret the schemes analysed for the draft RUS still show a low BCR. We would encourage the further analysis that will take place, to focus on the long-term passenger growth predicted to take place on the Cardiff to Bristol corridor. We regret the decision not to proceed with the option of extending the down goods loop at Bristol Parkway given its clear benefit to Wales bound passengers on London to South Wales services.

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6.9.9 Option JI: Review service proposition across Bristol to provide additional capacity and improve service Sewta has recorded its full support for the Bristol Metro scheme being proposed by the West of England Partnership. It is not however clear from the diagram in figure 6.11 that the proposed Bristol metro service pattern of 1tph Taunton to Cardiff via Weston-SuperMare adds an additional service on top of the current December 2008 timetable (1tph Cardiff to Taunton, 1tph Cardiff to Portsmouth). We note with interest the commentary in paragraph regarding the Bristol to Gloucester corridor, and limitations due to the unavailability of train paths. Assuming this limitation is north of Yate, one option to provide an extra service between Bristol and Gloucester would be to combine it with the known gap in service provision between the Chepstow line stations of Lydney, Chepstow and Calidcot, and Bristol. As you will know the Newport Area Signalling Renewal scheme will provide a facility at Severn Tunnel Junction to allow trains from the Chepstow line to reverse eastwards back to the Severn Tunnel. Such a reversing facility could be used to provide a new service from the Chepstow line, and provide commuter and other services from Gloucester to Filton and Bristol. 6.9.13 Option M: Improve linespeeds and changed calling patterns on interurban journeys Sewta would welcome any further analysis on improvements possible through increasing linespeeds and changing calling patterns, and note with the latter the on-going analysis on London to South Wales services with the removal of stops at Didcot Parkway. We would hope that the analysis also looks at some of the pathing Rules of the Route issue; evidence of journeys on Saturdays for example suggest it not be uncommon for London to South Wales services arrive significantly ahead of time at Bristol Parkway, and then wait a further significant amount of time before their `right-time departure'. However, our main focus is with regards the analysis of increasing linespeeds on the Gloucester to Cardiff route. It is important to record Sewta's aspiration for an increase in the level of service on that route, firstly to provide a full hourly service between Gloucester and Cardiff, and second to provide, at a minimum, an additional hourly service between Chepstow and Cardiff. The former can be achieved without any change to the infrastructure: although any increases in the linespeeds at the southern end of the route would help its delivery. The additional hourly service between Chepstow and Cardiff can similarly be delivered without any further infrastructure changes, however there is the risk that improving linespeeds on the rest of the route ­ with a view to speeding up services on Arriva Cross Country's Nottingham to Cardiff service; will reduce the line's capability of delivery of an additional Cardiff to Chepstow service. Notwithstanding this, we would suggest that the greater potential to increase linespeed between Gloucester and Chepstow exists more between Severn Tunnel Junction and Newport, and Cardiff where the basic linespeed is at 75mph: despite the operating speeds of the majority of rolling stock used on the section being in excess of 75mph, and in cases over 100mph.

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South East Wales Transport Alliance (Sewta)