Would 2tph Southampton to Bristol be better than 1tph Portsmouth to Cardiff?

JonathanH

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Your right that the route can be covered but let's not hide the fact that it's rail pulling out from the South Coast Conurbation to West Country Market. However easy the same platform connections are at Fareham a 30 min wait in the cold in the middle of lengthy journey is not ideal. The loss of Exeter connections at Westbury from Brighton have added the best part of an hour to journeys to the Southwest. From anywhere east of Barnham the quickest way is now via London. From the South Coast to Cornwall now the obvious public transport connection is the morning flight from Gatwick to Newquay.
This posting indicates that although it is possible to travel from the South Coast conurbation to stations further west, the timing of the connections make a journey longer than might be ideal because there is only one train an hour from Portsmouth to Cardiff which can't be timed to make every possible connection along its route.

It is also recognised that GWR have finite resources and that running diesel trains further than necessary over electrified routes isn't ideal.

Would there be an advantage in having a regular interval 2tph service using the same resources as the current 1tph Cardiff to Portsmouth service but just running between Bristol and Southampton?

Such a change would increase capacity over this part of the route, perhaps replacing the current Salisbury to Romsey service. It would offer more connections along the route at Westbury and into services from further east and west.

Southampton has a west facing bay platform which could be dedicated to this service. Bristol would have interchange as well.

Trains at the start and end of the day might continue to go to Portsmouth to access the stabling point at Fratton.

SWR might then run Portsmouth to Bournemouth (and in time Fawley to Romsey via Eastleigh) and a different service could run into South Wales from Bristol.
 
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Flinn Reed

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This posting indicates that although it is possible to travel from the South Coast conurbation to stations further west, the timing of the connections make a journey longer than might be ideal because there is only one train an hour from Portsmouth to Cardiff which can't be timed to make every possible connection along its route.

It is also recognised that GWR have finite resources and that running diesel trains further than necessary over electrified routes isn't ideal.

Would there be an advantage in having a regular interval 2tph service using the same resources as the current 1tph Cardiff to Portsmouth service but just running between Bristol and Southampton?

Such a change would increase capacity over this part of the route, perhaps replacing the current Salisbury to Romsey service. It would offer more connections along the route at Westbury and into services from further east and west.

Southampton has a west facing bay platform which could be dedicated to this service. Bristol would have interchange as well.

Trains at the start and end of the day might continue to go to Portsmouth to access the stabling point at Fratton.

SWR might then run Portsmouth to Bournemouth (and in time Fawley to Romsey via Eastleigh) and a different service could run into South Wales from Bristol.
Completely agree with this. At one point there were plans for Transport for Wales to introduce a regular service between Bristol Temple Meads and Swansea, which could have been useful.

Could also reduce the SWR Salisbury-Romsey loop service to operate between Romsey and Southampton only (via Eastleigh), with the extra GWR Wessex service having a few extra stops.

Maybe could even look at merging the 1tp2h Weymouth service with the Swindon-Westbury route, rather than going to Bath and Bristol. Then have a more standardised Bristol-Bath-Westbury-Salisbury-Southampton route every 30 mins.
 

Snow1964

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I am not sure of the passenger split between the Cardiff-Devon services (those operated by the Castle HST) and Cardiff-Portsmouth on the common Cardiff-Bristol leg. But perhaps shortening one service should be the other service.

But I think the current situation where the whole Portsmouth-Southampton-Salisbury-Bath-Bristol-Newport-Cardiff (A service serving 7 cities) is operated as a series of inferior stopping and semi-fast trains, and no proper inter-city service needs looking at. Parts of the route have stopping services, but the route seems to have semi-fast services which are poorly spaced each hour, so either the stoppers need retiming, or the 7-cities hourly train needs to stop pretending to be a jack of all trades service, and neither link the cities quickly, or serve the local markets at mid-point times between other trains. At the moment it is a bad bodge of a service that gets busy but seems poorly treated

I actually think it might be better to run the trains avoiding Bristol (and let passengers change at Bath or Filton Abbey Wood) rather than do the very slow reversal at Temple Meads now there are more local trains in Bristol area. It’s a shame the fourth platform at Eastleigh was closed because running via Southampton to Eastleigh (with its hourly service of 5car trains via Fareham) would have been better (it would be relatively easy to reopen it as a south facing terminating bay). But there is an even better case for a fast service terminating at Southampton (which could use platform 5)
 

Starmill

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Yes. I have long advocated for swapping the GWR service for an EMU service between Portsmouth and Southampton, at significantly greater capacity and lower carbon intensity.

The difficult questions to answer are:

- How long does the service from the Bristol direction need to reverse, and can it go out to a siding and come back, or run on to Eastleigh and come back, in that time?

- Is there enough power supply for another EMU service from Southampton Central towards Swanwick?
 

Dr Day

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Bristol and Cardiff as close local regional centres still need to be well connected to each other with at least 2 tph (preferably 4 tph), but arguably the service that does that doesn't need to be the same one that goes on to Southampton/Portsmouth. Similarly at the other end between Southampton and Portsmouth.

If they weren't in different countries, Bristol and Cardiff would probably be part of the same 'Metro' concept - certainly places like Chepstow have a lot of commuters into both.
 

TXMISTA

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I am not sure of the passenger split between the Cardiff-Devon services (those operated by the Castle HST) and Cardiff-Portsmouth on the common Cardiff-Bristol leg. But perhaps shortening one service should be the other service.

But I think the current situation where the whole Portsmouth-Southampton-Salisbury-Bath-Bristol-Newport-Cardiff (A service serving 7 cities) is operated as a series of inferior stopping and semi-fast trains, and no proper inter-city service needs looking at. Parts of the route have stopping services, but the route seems to have semi-fast services which are poorly spaced each hour, so either the stoppers need retiming, or the 7-cities hourly train needs to stop pretending to be a jack of all trades service, and neither link the cities quickly, or serve the local markets at mid-point times between other trains. At the moment it is a bad bodge of a service that gets busy but seems poorly treated

I actually think it might be better to run the trains avoiding Bristol (and let passengers change at Bath or Filton Abbey Wood) rather than do the very slow reversal at Temple Meads now there are more local trains in Bristol area. It’s a shame the fourth platform at Eastleigh was closed because running via Southampton to Eastleigh (with its hourly service of 5car trains via Fareham) would have been better (it would be relatively easy to reopen it as a south facing terminating bay). But there is an even better case for a fast service terminating at Southampton (which could use platform 5)
I don’t think there’s any scope for trains to avoid Bristol. It’s the most important intermediate stop along the route and is the main start/end point for the majority of passenger flows.
 

Gareth

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If they weren't in different countries, Bristol and Cardiff would probably be part of the same 'Metro' concept - certainly places like Chepstow have a lot of commuters into both.

They're not in different countries and it is one metropolitan area regardless. Infrastructure should cater to this mundane fact. And certainly having train services that go near Bristol but avoid serving it is not particularly sensible.
 

Manutd1999

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Bristol and Cardiff as close local regional centres still need to be well connected to each other with at least 2 tph (preferably 4 tph), but arguably the service that does that doesn't need to be the same one that goes on to Southampton/Portsmouth. Similarly at the other end between Southampton and Portsmouth.
+1

Something like:
2ph Bristol - Cardiff - Swansea (semi-fast, in addition to the slow service from Taunton)
2ph Bristol - Southampton
2ph Southampton - Portsmouth (EMU all-stop)
 

Dai Corner

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They're not in different countries and it is one metropolitan area regardless. Infrastructure should cater to this mundane fact. And certainly having train services that go near Bristol but avoid serving it is not particularly sensible.
They are in different countries for transport purposes as it is devolved to the Welsh Government.

Having lived and worked in south Wales and the West of England I wouldn't say their populations generally felt any affinity.

I'd agree that avoiding Temple Meads is not a good idea. Even in the loco-hauled days when reversing was much more of a faff than it is now with DMUs all Cardiff-Portsmouths called there.
 

Gareth

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Then US states are in different countries for transport purposes.

Regardless, there still has to be an interstate, or "international" if you insist, context.

Liverpool people don't feel any particular affinity with Manchester either. "North Westernism" isn't really a thing but it doesn't stop them, none the less, being two fairly close cities (second largest area in the country even) that require quite a bit of common and linked infrastructure. Infrastructure should be about demand & need and Bristol-Cardiff-Swansea is an important corridor.
 

Dai Corner

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Then US states are in different countries for transport purposes.

Regardless, there still has to be an interstate, or "international" if you insist, context.

Liverpool people don't feel any particular affinity with Manchester either. "North Westernism" isn't really a thing but it doesn't stop them, none the less, being two fairly close cities (second largest area in the country even) that require quite a bit of common and linked infrastructure. Infrastructure should be about demand & need and Bristol-Cardiff-Swansea is an important corridor.
The Welsh and UK Governments aren't noted for agreeing or co-operating on anything. I don't know about Merseytravel and TfGM?
 

Gareth

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That's unfortunate then for the people of South Wales and the West of England.

Merseytravel & TfGM don't really need to cooperate when it comes to "international" traffic, as the DfT does this, so it's largely mute. Relations between Merseytravel & TfW don't seem too bad though.
 

supervc-10

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If timetabled well, that could work @Manutd1999
Particularly if there were cross-platform or same platform transfers timetabled in, to minimise the disruption to those going longer distances.
 

PTR 444

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Wonder if one of the proposed 2tph from Bristol to Southampton could be routed via Eastleigh, replacing the SWR Romsey rounder in the process:

Bristol TM - Bath - Bradford OA - Trowbridge - Westbury - Dilton Marsh - Warminster - Salisbury - Dean - Dunbridge - Romsey - Chandlers Ford - Eastleigh - Soton Airport - Soton Central

With the other service running direct to Southampton via Redbridge and approaching in the opposite direction to the above, you could have an arrangement where the diagrams join to effectively create a loop service. Basically a Bristol - Southampton via Redbridge service becomes a Southampton - Bristol via Eastleigh on return and vice versa.
 

JohnRegular

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What's stopping a Bristol - Southampton 'stopper'/'semifast' being timetabled alongside the existing Portsmouth-Cardiff? I understand another Westbury stopper is planned, do the paths not exist to extend that east?
Might conflict with ambitions to extend the Swindon services to Salisbury/Southampton, but maybe they'd be better off going to Frome or Weymouth.
 

zwk500

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Southampton has a west facing bay platform which could be dedicated to this service. Bristol would have interchange as well.
Not quite - it has a siding that could be converted into a platform. But it'd need a fair bit of work first, and it's already earmarked for any potential Marchwood/Fawley Service.
Could also reduce the SWR Salisbury-Romsey loop service to operate between Romsey and Southampton only (via Eastleigh), with the extra GWR Wessex service having a few extra stops.
Introducing a rather large amount of performance risk to a very well used local link of Salisbury-Romsey-Southampton Central seems like a backwards step.
Something like:
2ph Bristol - Cardiff - Swansea (semi-fast, in addition to the slow service from Taunton)
2ph Bristol - Southampton
2ph Southampton - Portsmouth (EMU all-stop)
What happens to freight that needs to pass through Southampton Central? bearing in mind you've got 2tph Waterloo-Bournemouth and the Cross Country services to fit in around your 4tph turnround moves.

Splitting the Romsey rocket in any way would almost certainly require an outright recast of the Southampton Area timetable, operationally it's that painful.
 

HamworthyGoods

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Now all the freight traffic is routed through platform 4 getting in and out of the bay is far from easy!
 

The exile

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I don’t think there’s any scope for trains to avoid Bristol. It’s the most important intermediate stop along the route and is the main start/end point for the majority of passenger flows.
I was surprised at how many passengers were still on the trains between Filton Abbey Wood and Keynsham in Summer 2021 when Temple Meads was closed and anyone for central Bristol would not have been aboard at this time. Although the Temple Meads area has more life than it used to, most people’s destination is “Bristol”, so it might well be viable if all tickets to “Bristol” included free bus transfer from an improved interchange at Lawrence Hill. As a regular commuter between Bath and Bristol Parkway I get very frustrated by the 15 minute wait at Temple Meads on the slows - effectively the longest “ leg” of the journey - but that’s a different matter.
 

zwk500

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Now all the freight traffic is routed through platform 4 getting in and out of the bay is far from easy!
The freight is not as big a problem as the overlaps for down trains arriving in platforms 3 or 4. And, as I've mentioned, the bay siding needs a lot of work to get it back in service so somebody would need to pay for that.
 

4-SUB 4732

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The simple answer to all of this is yes.

Portsmouth to Cardiff is vastly too long, and has too much chance to be unreliable.

Let TfW have the Bristol to Cardiff paths, and make sure one goes to Swansea.

Get GWR to focus on a reliable half-hourly Southampton to Bristol, and let that hook in to a variety of services from the South Coast and Solent.
 

Kite159

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I would extend one of the Southampton - Bristol services to Bristol Parkway, calling at Filton Abbey Wood & Bristol Parkway.

Just to cater for the MOD users at Abbey Wood
 

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