Policy on connections

geoffk

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Today (Sunday) I spent half an hour observing operations at Exeter St. Davids from the car park.

I’ve been under the impression that, since privatisation, connections are no longer held except for the last train of the day. This is what I saw happen today -

I could see from RTT that both the 13.03 Paddington - Plymouth 1C83 and the 14.15 Plymouth - Paddington 1A87 (cancelled from Penzance) were running around 10 minutes late. These were scheduled to arrive St. Davids at 15.11 and 15.13 respectively. A Barnstaple train (2B79) was due away at 15.19 and it was in platform 3 on time. I assumed it would leave on time and any passengers on the two InterCity trains wanting Crediton or Barnstaple would have an hour’s wait.

In fact 2B79 did not depart until 15.25, by which time both the IETs had arrived. There was a cross-platform connection (4 to 3) from 1C83 of 4 minutes and some passengers made use of it. From 1A87 however the “connection” was only 2 minutes from platform 5, which would have required a sprint over the bridge. The delay to the Barnstaple train meant a delayed crossing at Crediton but both these trains made up most of all of the lost time.

Assuming 2B79 was ready to leave on time, what procedure would have been followed by GWR staff to ensure at least one connection was made? Would they not need permission from Control to hold a connection?
 
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HamworthyGoods

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Today (Sunday) I spent half an hour observing operations at Exeter St. Davids from the car park.

I’ve been under the impression that, since privatisation, connections are no longer held except for the last train of the day. This is what I saw happen today -

I could see from RTT that both the 13.03 Paddington - Plymouth 1C83 and the 14.15 Plymouth - Paddington 1A87 (cancelled from Penzance) were running around 10 minutes late. These were scheduled to arrive St. Davids at 15.11 and 15.13 respectively. A Barnstaple train (2B79) was due away at 15.19 and it was in platform 3 on time. I assumed it would leave on time and any passengers on the two InterCity trains wanting Crediton or Barnstaple would have an hour’s wait.

In fact 2B79 did not depart until 15.25, by which time both the IETs had arrived. There was a cross-platform connection (4 to 3) from 1C83 of 4 minutes and some passengers made use of it. From 1A87 however the “connection” was only 2 minutes from platform 5, which would have required a sprint over the bridge. The delay to the Barnstaple train meant a delayed crossing at Crediton but both these trains made up most of all of the lost time.

Assuming 2B79 was ready to leave on time, what procedure would have been followed by GWR staff to ensure at least one connection was made? Would they not need permission from Control to hold a connection?

GWR has a number of connectional policies, in the case of Barnstaple services at Exeter St David’s these can be held for late running services from London.

These polices are well documented for all relevant staff to be aware of their application.
 

yorkie

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GWR in the West of England is one of the best at this; I've seen connections held at places like Truro for Falmouth etc.

It's a different world to other parts of the country where multiple operators are involved and where customers can be treated as an inconvenience to the running of the railway ;)
 

Lemmy99uk

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The staff at Oxenholme have the authority to hold some Windermere services to make mainline connections. It is not all services and it depends on the turn round time at the far end of the branch to avoid chances of a missed connection on the return journey.
 

Hadders

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I arranged for a train to be held at Norwich a couple of weeks ago.

I was travelling from Stevenage to Berney Arms, unfortunately the train from Cambridge to Norwich was cancelled. The next train missed the Berney Arms train by three minutes so I approached the staff at Cambridge to see what could be done. Berney Arms only has a very infrequent service and so they offered me a taxi from Norwich (not really practical as Berney Arms is only accessible by foot or by boat). I asked if the train at Norwich could be held for three minutes and the member of staff at Cambridge telephoned control to see if this could be done. Bingo - the train was held for five minutes for anyone needing to make the connection.

Although the train left Norwich five minutes late it was only two minutes late at Berney Arms and arrived at its final destination of Great Yarmouth on time.

Clearly it's not always possible or practical to hold connections but occasionally it does make sense and it's worth asking.
 

Mag_seven

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I’ve been under the impression that, since privatisation, connections are no longer held except for the last train of the day.

Actually its not the case that the last train of the day will be held. All the requirement is is that you are not left stranded if the last connection is missed i.e. a taxi will be provided for example.
 

Ianno87

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GWR has a number of connectional policies, in the case of Barnstaple services at Exeter St David’s these can be held for late running services from London.

These polices are well documented for all relevant staff to be aware of their application.

In Barnstaple's case, the single line isn't *that* tightly timed, so a delay of a few minutes can be absorbed.
 

Dr Hoo

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I’ve been under the impression that, since privatisation, connections are no longer held except for the last train of the day. This is what I saw happen today -
This impression is incorrect. The concept of ‘notified connections’ was established in the first franchise agreements and there are provisions for connections policies in the Railway Operational Code.

Obviously with the increase in services and congestion both the scope and need for holding connections has changed over the years.
 

louis97

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In Barnstaple's case, the single line isn't *that* tightly timed, so a delay of a few minutes can be absorbed.
Much less of an issue with trains no longer running onto Exmouth too. Previously the train from Barnstaple would pass the next one to Barnstaple at Topsham, therefore a long enough delay waiting the single line at Crediton could cause the same issue an hour later.
 

sammyg901

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Chiltern Railways (used to at least) publically state in their timetable that they'd hold the shuttle from Princes Risborough to Aylesbury for up to 10 mins if possible if the inbound "mainline" connecting services were late. I experienced this a couple of times on the 121 bubble car but that had a guard and it would have been obvious to them that they were missing most of their intended passengers and they could check the delay & if they could wait or not. More difficult now it's DOO as I assume it would need someone in control to notice and inform the driver. Indeed I once was on the footbridge to see the 165 pull out of P1 which was a bit annoying as it would have only needed to wait 1min! Luckily the station was still staffed and a station based taxi was requisitioned to take the 4 intending passengers on their way to Aylesbury so no harm done
 

IanXC

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Based on the impact of delaying trains on other passengers, and on the wider train service in a good number of cases, the question is, do you hold a train for theoretical connecting passengers? Or do you just hold a connection when there definitely are known passengers intending to make the connection? Do you hold the connection when the next train is in an hour? In half an hour?

It seems that the key change these days is that holding a specific connection requires a specific decision to be made, rather than connections being held as a matter of course in case of there being any passengers.
 

D6975

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On GWR, connections for St Ives are never held because of the extremely tight turnarounds on the branch. Holding one connection would screw up other connections for the rest of the day.
 

Horizon22

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As already mentioned, GWR have a lot of branch connection policies which will hold a train for up to X minutes, depending on the branch. This is both for the Devon & Cornwall branches, and also the Thames Valley ones. Some of the latter have been a little affected by the transfer of GWR services to TfL Rail though, but generally are maintained. Also, on occasion, some crew are reliant on these connections so its mutually beneficial to prevent cancellations.

Permission is required from Control and, if it meets the threshold, will normally be given. If it's borderline or over the threshold, it could still be given, but its less likely to be approved.

Based on the impact of delaying trains on other passengers, and on the wider train service in a good number of cases, the question is, do you hold a train for theoretical connecting passengers? Or do you just hold a connection when there definitely are known passengers intending to make the connection? Do you hold the connection when the next train is in an hour? In half an hour?

It seems that the key change these days is that holding a specific connection requires a specific decision to be made, rather than connections being held as a matter of course in case of there being any passengers.

A good, consicentious guard would be aware of the connections on their patch and might do a sweep through to check numbers.
 

AlbertBeale

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It used to be the case that last trains on various Underground lines in central London would be held for one another to enable connections to be made - and very useful that was too. (Especially if you knew which those connections were and could pretty much rely on them.)

But I get the impression that that practice was abandoned a few years back - though I haven't had cause to try to make use of those connections much in recent times, so I'm not totally sure whether they've all been scrapped. I guess someone here will know?
 

jfollows

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It used to be the case that last trains on various Underground lines in central London would be held for one another to enable connections to be made - and very useful that was too. (Especially if you knew which those connections were and could pretty much rely on them.)

But I get the impression that that practice was abandoned a few years back - though I haven't had cause to try to make use of those connections much in recent times, so I'm not totally sure whether they've all been scrapped. I guess someone here will know?
There is still a "last train connections" section in some Underground working timetables, for example: Northern Line Working Timetable 56 (I think this will have been superseded recently with a version which includes the new Battersea Power Station branch, but I'm guessing that there will still be a similar "last train connections" section in it if so).
1634213443516.png
LAST TRAIN CONNECTIONS


LAST TRAIN CONNECTIONS
q-quarter h-half
The following last train connections will apply:-
FINCHLEY CENTRAL
DayTimeConnectionFromInto
Mons - Sats01.05q-01.06qNorthbound Northern to
Northbound Northern
00.05 ex Morden due 01+05h01.06q ex Finchley Central to
Mill Hill East
Suns00.09q - 00.10qNorthbound Northern to
Northbound Northern
23.10h ex Morden due 00+09h00.10q ex Finchley Central to
Mill Hill East
CAMDEN TOWN
DayTimeConnectionFromInto
Mons - Thurs00.48 - 00.51qNorthbound Northern (CX)
into and from Northbound
Northern (City)
00.05 ex Morden due 00F51q
00.33 ex Kennington to
Edgware due 00D51q
00.33 ex Kennington due 00D51q
00.05 ex Morden to High Bamet
due 00F51q
Fris and Sats00.48 - 00.51qNorthbound Northern (CX) to
Northbound Northern (City)
00.09 FO/00.10 SO ex Morden due
00D51q
00.03q; FO/00.05 SO ex
Morden to High Bamet due
00F51q
Suns23.53 -23.55qNorthbound Northern (CX)
into and from Northbound
Northern (City)
23.37 ex Kennington due
23D55q

23.10q ex Morden due 23D55q
23.10h ex Morden due
23D55q

23.37 ex Kennington due
23D55q
EDIT WTT 58 Northern at https://content.tfl.gov.uk/wtt-58-northern-19-september-2021.pdf still has this section, with some minor time adjustments.
 
Last edited:

AlbertBeale

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There is still a "last train connections" section in some Underground working timetables, for example: Northern Line Working Timetable 56 (I think this will have been superseded recently with a version which includes the new Battersea Power Station branch, but I'm guessing that there will still be a similar "last train connections" section in it if so).
View attachment 104002

EDIT WTT 58 Northern at https://content.tfl.gov.uk/wtt-58-northern-19-september-2021.pdf still has this section, with some minor time adjustments.

Thanks for this. Glad to hear some last train connections do still exist. The ones I remember using were some combination of the Vic and Bakerloo waiting for one another at Oxford Circus, as well as there being a connection with the Central there (though possibly not all combinations). Also, there was a time when the Bakerloo and Piccadilly had a connection at Picc Circus. I hope some of these are still going too.
 

221129

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If I'm made aware of people trying to make last connections on a late service inbound to us then I'll attempt to get a hold arranged if I can.

But some people really don't help themselves. And some traincrew really couldn't give a toss.
 

robbeech

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But some people really don't help themselves.
Absolutely. I always try to have a good idea of my itinerary, and know my connection times. As soon as it starts to look shaky i will look into my alternative options. If it looks to be very tricky (or impossible) even if its 3 hours and 3 connections away i will try to speak to the guard about it.
The start of your journey might not be a risk of "missing the last train" but not catching the 1800 service from somewhere could leave you on a cold platform at 2300.
The longer "The Railway" has to come up with a way of getting you to your destination the more options there will be available to them and to the passengers.
Sitting in my "local" pub (it's not my local it's just my favourite in the local area) on the platform at a local station its remarkable how many people come in at night and order a drink and ask for taxi numbers because they've missed the last connection, having had opportunity to mention it to the guard but not bothered.
And some traincrew really couldn't give a toss.
I think this is pretty rare thankfully. Although i did have a guard tell me that because they were only running 8 minutes late (giving me 4 minutes connection time at a station which was not enough) they were not responsible for anything and it would be for me to arrange a lift. Needless to say that operator sent me nearly £200 in RTV a few weeks afterwards in delay repay, whereas a quick call would have saved them that.
 

221129

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Sitting in my "local" pub (it's not my local it's just my favourite in the local area) on the platform at a local station its remarkable how many people come in at night and order a drink and ask for taxi numbers because they've missed the last connection, having had opportunity to mention it to the guard but not bothered.
It's frustrating how many times I get a phonecall from the onboard crew with missed connections, so I arrange onward transport (either taxis or arranging holds) so it's all there waiting for the trains arrival and then boom, people who just ignored the crew as they went through the train asking about connections.
 

james60059

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On occasions, Arriva Trains Wales (now Transport for Wales) have usually held the Fishguard Harbour train at Swansea for the incoming GWR service from London Paddington if that was late.
 

6Gman

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Based on the impact of delaying trains on other passengers, and on the wider train service in a good number of cases, the question is, do you hold a train for theoretical connecting passengers? Or do you just hold a connection when there definitely are known passengers intending to make the connection? Do you hold the connection when the next train is in an hour? In half an hour?

It seems that the key change these days is that holding a specific connection requires a specific decision to be made, rather than connections being held as a matter of course in case of there being any passengers.
I can recall fifty years ago that there were specific policies for different connections; the idea that connections were held uniformly is not my recollection.
 

AlbertBeale

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I'll leave it to you to find out from the working timetables. I'm sure we'll be interested to know what you find.

Well - there are still quite a few last train connections on the Underground it seems. But primarily where there's a branch in a line (eg WB Picc to Heathrow connects at Acton Town with a shuttle on the other branch, and WB Centrals from different origins meeting at White City to swop passengers for the two western branches); or connections between tubes and SS services at places like Baker Street and Embankment. Also some just outside the centre, such as Vic-Picc connections at Finsbury Park. What there don't seem to be, however, are the ones I used to rely on years ago in the centre of town, eg between the 3 lines at Oxford Circus, or between the 2 at Piccadilly Circus. They were the ones which were crucial for me - I wonder why they've disappeared, since the idea of holding last trains for connections is still alive and well on the Underground.
 

IanXC

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I can recall fifty years ago that there were specific policies for different connections; the idea that connections were held uniformly is not my recollection.

I mean that, rather than there generally being a specific policy for each connection, a specific decision on the day needs to be made based on the number of and impact on the connecting passengers, other passengers, unit and crew diagrams.
 

jfollows

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Well - there are still quite a few last train connections on the Underground it seems. But primarily where there's a branch in a line (eg WB Picc to Heathrow connects at Acton Town with a shuttle on the other branch, and WB Centrals from different origins meeting at White City to swop passengers for the two western branches); or connections between tubes and SS services at places like Baker Street and Embankment. Also some just outside the centre, such as Vic-Picc connections at Finsbury Park. What there don't seem to be, however, are the ones I used to rely on years ago in the centre of town, eg between the 3 lines at Oxford Circus, or between the 2 at Piccadilly Circus. They were the ones which were crucial for me - I wonder why they've disappeared, since the idea of holding last trains for connections is still alive and well on the Underground.
Interesting, thanks for the update.
 

Old Yard Dog

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In the olden days, when there was an hourly service from Helsby to Ellesmere Port, I remember remonstrating with the signalman at Helsby after he had failed to hold such a train for 2 mins to allow connections from a late running Manchester - Chester working. "There are no connections here!" he barked at me very officiously.
 

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