SWR Cancels Saturday Salisbury-Waterloo & Bristol service

Wilts Wanderer

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I noticed last week that this poster has appeared on Bradford-on-Avon platforms, in the style of 1960s BR Beeching closure notices.

TBH most of the aforementioned services have low load factors, due to the long journey time. They did however compete well on ticket price, so it is a loss for Bradford, Trowbridge and Warminster when they are withdrawn. The 0640 Salisbury-Bristol TM was also a key peak service in the morning into Bath and Bristol, although there are a number of adjacent GWR workings so it’s not terrible, unless you live in Keynsham in which case losing any morning peak service would be a disaster, if not for Covid.

A 59 minute connection is indeed appalling. Why is it that we simply can't take connectivity seriously in this country? It makes me despair.

The Cardiff-Portsmouth and Exeter-Waterloo routes are two of the most tightly constrained paths in the West Country for timetabling. How they interact at Salisbury is purely incidental. In one direction the connection is good, in the other it is very poor, and there’s nothing to be done about it.
 

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Bletchleyite

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The Cardiff-Portsmouth and Exeter-Waterloo routes are two of the most tightly constrained paths in the West Country for timetabling. How they interact at Salisbury is purely incidental. In one direction the connection is good, in the other it is very poor, and there’s nothing to be done about it.

That may then be a good reason not to withdraw. Connections are a good option, but poor connections aren't. This was the root of the whole "Southport argument" - given the general nature of UK railway planning that strongly prioritises direct services and high frequencies over quality connections, any proposed connection must be considered poor until proven otherwise.
 

Wilts Wanderer

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That may then be a good reason not to withdraw. Connections are a good option, but poor connections aren't. This was the root of the whole "Southport argument" - given the general nature of UK railway planning that strongly prioritises direct services and high frequencies over quality connections, any proposed connection must be considered poor until proven otherwise.

Not sure tbh, the usage as a genuine alternative service to London is low in my experience, even with the cheap fares. It’s a well-known long-standing ORCATS raid on the Bristol-London revenue market so it doesn’t remotely stack up from a financial aspect either. Interestingly Warminster will retain a couple of direct London services, as the Yeovil-via-Fromes aren’t disappearing as presumably SWR have wider route knowledge of this route.
 

The exile

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I noticed last week that this poster has appeared on Bradford-on-Avon platforms, in the style of 1960s BR Beeching closure notices.

TBH most of the aforementioned services have low load factors, due to the long journey time. They did however compete well on ticket price, so it is a loss for Bradford, Trowbridge and Warminster when they are withdrawn. The 0640 Salisbury-Bristol TM was also a key peak service in the morning into Bath and Bristol, although there are a number of adjacent GWR workings so it’s not terrible, unless you live in Keynsham in which case losing any morning peak service would be a disaster, if not for Covid.



The Cardiff-Portsmouth and Exeter-Waterloo routes are two of the most tightly constrained paths in the West Country for timetabling. How they interact at Salisbury is purely incidental. In one direction the connection is good, in the other it is very poor, and there’s nothing to be done about it.
The removal of the 06:40 Salisbury - Bristol leaves a large gap in the morning “ peak” service into Bristol - might not be over-significant at present but still a discouragement to using the train. Doesn’t have to be SWR operating it, of course; just needs to be there!
 

Wilts Wanderer

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The removal of the 06:40 Salisbury - Bristol leaves a large gap in the morning “ peak” service into Bristol - might not be over-significant at present but still a discouragement to using the train. Doesn’t have to be SWR operating it, of course; just needs to be there!

Not a ‘large’ gap, but a gap nonetheless. The SWR departure from Trowbridge to Bath/Bristol was 0715 and there are GWR services approximately 10-15 mins before and after.
 

The exile

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Not a ‘large’ gap, but a gap nonetheless. The SWR departure from Trowbridge to Bath/Bristol was 0715 and there are GWR services approximately 10-15 mins before and after.
Intervals in the departures from Bath to Bristol between 06.45 and 08.30 are (in minutes): 9 - 16 - 14 - 25 - 7 - 13 - 13 - 6. Guess what used to plug that 25 minute gap?
 

JonathanH

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A 59 minute connection is indeed appalling. Why is it that we simply can't take connectivity seriously in this country? It makes me despair.
The connections are set up for Southampton to Exeter - you can't have that and Westbury to Waterloo without a long dwell.

In the hours where there is a local service on the Westbury to Southampton axis the connections are there.
 

HamworthyGoods

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The removal of the 06:40 Salisbury - Bristol leaves a large gap in the morning “ peak” service into Bristol - might not be over-significant at present but still a discouragement to using the train. Doesn’t have to be SWR operating it, of course; just needs to be there!

The railway is going through a series of cost reductions due to lower peak travel, the gap won’t be filled!
 

swt_passenger

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The connections are set up for Southampton to Exeter - you can't have that and Westbury to Waterloo without a long dwell.

In the hours where there is a local service on the Westbury to Southampton axis the connections are there.
That’s what I was getting at in post #54

People don’t seem to realise that you cannot have good connections in all directions at once without a seriously long dwell. If the normal interchange time is 5 min you need either both trains sitting there for 5 mins, or one of them for 10 mins.
 

JonathanH

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People don’t seem to realise that you cannot have good connections in all directions at once without a seriously long dwell. If the normal interchange time is 5 min you need either both trains sitting there for 5 mins, or one of them for 10 mins.
Well certainly not if they have to use the same approach and departure lines from both routes. If you had separate approach and departure lines for both routes and do cross platform transfer, it would be possible but that isn't going to happen at Salisbury. We simply didn't build our railways that way.
 

30907

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A 59 minute connection is indeed appalling. Why is it that we simply can't take connectivity seriously in this country? It makes me despair.
Maybe because in the base timetable Waterloo-Salisbury is half hourly and the connection is around 20 minutes? Restoring that off-peak would be a greater priority - shame it isn't happening in December 2021.
 

D6975

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Salisbury-Waterloo is a half-hourly service. How can the connection from Westbury to Waterloo be a 59 min connection?
Is Salisbury-Waterloo dropping to hourly?
 

JonathanH

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Salisbury-Waterloo is a half-hourly service. How can the connection from Westbury to Waterloo be a 59 min connection?
Is Salisbury-Waterloo dropping to hourly?
Yes, currently the slower train from Salisbury terminates at Basingstoke.
 

tbtc

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Salisbury-Waterloo is a half-hourly service. How can the connection from Westbury to Waterloo be a 59 min connection?
Is Salisbury-Waterloo dropping to hourly?

Good question; it's because theres' currently only one per hour due to services being reduced (Covid etc)

Logically the bigger market for Salisbury connections is "Exeter" to "Southampton", and the timings seem to work pretty well for that

Whilst there are going to be some people who want to do a journey like Bristol to Clapham Junction, the connections should be prioritised around the "Exeter to Southampton" flow (since there's no alternative way of doing that route via rail)

However the temporary reduction to Salisbury - Waterloo services means that some things will look worse in the short term (because we still assume that the second Salisbury service to Waterloo is coming back)

Logically, there's not much need for a Bristol - Waterloo service, in the way that Birmingham doesn't have trains to Liverpool Street and Reading doesn't have trains to London Bridge - given a city the size of London there are bound to be *some* people who'd like a service to a specific part of the conurbation rather than being restricted to one approach into one city centre station, but we don't have the resources to cater for all of these minority needs

(the alternative would be to do what Midland Mainline used to do at Leicester, where a Turbostar entered the platform five minutes before the HST then sat there until five minutes after the HST had departed, meaning that there was time to connect from Turbostar to HST and from HST to Turbostar, but a tediously long wait for anyone doing a direct journey on the Turbostar like Loughborough to Market Harborough - are people honestly wanting the Cardiff - Portsmouth trains to sit in Salisbury for best part of fifteen minutes in each direction? Or just complaining out of habit?
 

Adsy125

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Whilst there are going to be some people who want to do a journey like Bristol to Clapham Junction, the connections should be prioritised around the "Exeter to Southampton" flow (since there's no alternative way of doing that route via rail)
Southampton-Exeter is actually quicker via Westbury as long as the connections work, they could focus that flow on travelling via Westbury, and make connections from Westbury and beyond to Basingstoke and beyond the focus at Salisbury.
 

HamworthyGoods

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Southampton-Exeter is actually quicker via Westbury as long as the connections work, they could focus that flow on travelling via Westbury, and make connections from Westbury and beyond to Basingstoke and beyond the focus at Salisbury.

Yes but the biggest interchange at Salisbury in terms of numbers of stations Exeter to Salisbury changing for stations Salisbury to Portsmouth.

Travelling from Trowbridge etc to London it’s quicker to change at Bath / Swindon / Westbury
 

WelshBluebird

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However the temporary reduction to Salisbury - Waterloo services means that some things will look worse in the short term (because we still assume that the second Salisbury service to Waterloo is coming back)
The issue there is as you say, we are assuming the currently cut services are coming back. Given what is happening elsewhere (e.g. XC) I think that is potentially too optimistic.
 

grahame

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I don’t think the service reduction actually removes any direct services to London but obviously reduces frequency:

Keynsham still has some direct IET services
Bath and Westbury have regular IET services to London
Bradford on Avon and Trowbridge retain the morning IET service to London
Warminster still has the SWR services which have run via Frome and continue to London

Keynsham has a direct IET from Paddington at 06:20 (and one the other way at 17:35)
Oldfield Park has no remaining through services at all to or from London
Bradford-on-Avon retains a single service to London at 05:35 (yes, a.m.) and nothing at all from London
Trowbridge retains a single service to London at 05:41 (yes, a.m.) and nothing at all from London
Warminster retains 3 trains a day to London and just one from London, at 07:50 from Waterloo

Whilst technically only Oldfield Park loses "all its London services" the other four stations have a well used (often full and standing much of the way) one removed, with only something which is pretty useless to most potential passenger remaining. Yes, I HAVE caught the 05:35 from B-o-A and it was not exactly busy at that time of the morning.

I have created a petition at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/598397 asking for the service to continue pending proper review and replacement (see above how the decision was hidden in the 2022 consultation - not for consultation but as something that was happening, a year ahead, come what may). And there's a lot more at http://waterloo.savethetrain.org.uk . I would appreciate constructive comment from experts here, and signatures.
 

D6975

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The morning SWT train to Waterloo had a journey time from TM of exactly 3 hours, 08:49d 11:49a

The nearest equivalent via GWR/SWT will take 2 hours 56 min 09:24d 12:20a

So despite having to change at Salisbury and Basingstoke, it’s actually slightly faster.
 

grahame

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The morning SWT train to Waterloo had a journey time from TM of exactly 3 hours, 08:49d 11:49a

The nearest equivalent via GWR/SWT will take 2 hours 56 min 09:24d 12:20a

So despite having to change at Salisbury and Basingstoke, it’s actually slightly faster.

I personally take a dog with me sometimes, and welcome intermediate drainage points, but for most users of this service direct service is more important than time taken. Changing close to the beginning and/or end of the journey can be "sold" much more easily than changing in the middle.
 

anthony263

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Some customers have said they ate going back to driving because they do t want to change trains or have to go to Paddington etc
 

WelshBluebird

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Yeah I think a lot of people here who are seasoned travelers seem to massively underestimate how much changing to change trains puts less familiar travelers off.
 

cle

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I remember when these services were improved massively part of the Eurostar feeders and some crazy Alphaline itineraries. All that randomness has gone, but what they did do well was build up new demand and markets in Warminster, Trowbridge and Bradford - all reasonably sized towns with now pretty respectable usage. It seems a real shame to not lean into that further, and nurture vs abandon those markets. And people will not be changing twice regardless of comparable journey times, they will be driving.
 

Dai Corner

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Do we know how many passengers travel on the Waterloo trains from Warminster, Trowbridge and Bradford-on-Avon and how many travel to Paddington, changing at Westbury or Bath?
 

HamworthyGoods

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Do we know how many passengers travel on the Waterloo trains from Warminster, Trowbridge and Bradford-on-Avon and how many travel to Paddington, changing at Westbury or Bath?

Warminster is not loosing all its direct SWR London services it’s only really Trowbridge and Bradford
 

grahame

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Warminster is not loosing all its direct SWR London services it’s only really Trowbridge and Bradford

Only one train from London Waterloo at 07:50
Three trains to London Waterloo at 07:48, 11:48, and 15:52

From a railway operation viewpoint, it has a direct train from Waterloo. For most passengers, pretty useless. Good for Civil Servants from Whitehall and Horseferry Road coming out for a meeting in Warminster and catching the 15:52 back.
 

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