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Updated 27th January 2013

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THROUGHOUT OUR CAMPAIGN A VARIETY OF EXCUSES HAVE BEEN MADE FOR CROSSCOUNTRY TRAINS NOT SERVING CHEPSTOW. IT HAS BEEN OUR TASK TO CHALLENGE THEM ALL!.

Investigating “objections” has been a constant challenge for our team and although we have countered most of them no one has yet admitted that we were right. We no longer expect anyone to agree with us but we have noticed that these old excuses have gone out of fashion. We repeat a few of them in case they turn up again and we leave you to make your own judgement.

CHEPSTOW IS UNIMPORTANT – AN INAPPROPRIATE PLACE TO STOP

In October 2004 the excuse we were given for not stopping XC trains at Chepstow was that it was not in the contract as it was a City Link express service. It suggested that Chepstow was not important enough and that serving it would entail stopping the trains too frequently. Both these notions have been debunked since it is obvious that the trains already serve communities smaller than Chepstow (in England) and at stations much closer than Chepstow to Newport or Gloucester.

THE CARDIFF TURN ROUND TIME IS INSUFFICIENT

CrossCountry said that they are obliged to include a 30 minute turnaround at each end of the journey and that this is to be in addition to the 10 minutes that the operation actually takes at Cardiff. They point out that they have 30 minutes at Nottingham where no shunting operation is involved.

BT4C identified spare time in the schedules (it is listed in the Railway Working Timetables) and we know that 2 minutes could easily be found to serve Chepstow if desired. It is not unusual for trains to wait 5 or 6 minutes because they are running early!

We argued that serving Chepstow will take less than 2 minutes and wouldn’t contribute much to the 30 minutes they hope for. We also expressed the view that planning to have a train stand in the platform at Cardiff for 30 minutes was a waste of station capacity and an inefficient use of scarce train units.

We are pleased to say that Lord Andrew Adonis, Secretary of State for Transport, in a letter to David Davies MP, has accepted that turn round time did not prevent AXC from serving Chepstow but he was unwilling to change the mandate for the service in the short term!

Arriva CrossCountry stopped 14 more trains at Chepstow from May 2011 without altering times at Gloucester or Newport. This proves we were right all along!

STOPPING AT CHEPSTOW IS NOT COMMERCIALLY ATTRACTIVE

CrossCountry Ltd have said they believe that stopping Cross Country trains at Chepstow will make end to end journeys less commercially attractive. We don’t believe that anyone contemplating a journey from Cardiff to Birmingham, for instance, would be deterred from going by train because of an extra 2 minutes in journey time. More likely that people from Birmingham and Cardiff would be attracted to come to Chepstow if the service was better!


It is our belief that reliability and regularity of the service is more important than saving a minute or two.

As a result of XC stopping 14 more trains at Chepstow passenger journeys to Birmingham were soon reported to be up by 36% and by 10% to Cardiff.


We have not been able to identify any additional cost in serving Chepstow nor has anyone identified them for us. We believe that the attraction of regular through services in the direction of Birmingham can only bring more custom and increased revenue.

Our random surveys of CrossCountry trains passing through Chepstow before the trial showed that they regularly carry less than 30 passengers. A most inefficient use of these 200 seater trains.

TO SERVE CHEPSTOW WILL WORSEN PERFORMANCE (Risk infringing PPM Targets)

We feel that priority should be directed towards using the PPM statistics to identify causes of delays and to rectify them rather than to increase turn round times and deprive communities of services.

We question why Chepstow is singled out to be deprived of a service when University station, for instance, has been added to the list of scheduled stops throughout the day, apparently without considering the impact upon PPM targets or turn round time. University station is just 8 minutes from Birmingham New Street and is already served every 10 minutes.

Meeting PPM targets does appear to be the over-riding consideration in deciding whether or not to stop and serve our town. It seems clear that the terms of the contract make it a higher financial incentive for the TOC than increasing passenger revenue.

Click here to see our artiicle “The PPM Farce”.

ARRIVA TW NOW GO TO CHELTENHAM SPA. NO NEED FOR XC TO STOP.

            This is a welcome improvement and one of the three minimal cost improvements that our team were seeking. It is a common sense no cost improvement just like the proposal to stop CrossCountry trains at Chepstow. We were pleasantly surprised when Arriva Trains Wales announced this change. We are sure it will confirm the demand for better services in this direction.

            The advantages are the additional opportunities for connecting services at Cheltenham, but it doesn’t provide any extra trains at Chepstow or provide the through services to Birmingham that we seek.

            The overriding problem with Arriva TW service is that it runs at irregular and unpredictable intervals of 1or 2 hours. Until this is rectified passengers returning from Birmingham will continue to be frustrated and angry when they get back to Cheltenham or Gloucester and have to get off a train going to Chepstow and wait nearly 2 hours to continue the homeward journey.

            Our supporters have already reported several occasions when ArrivaTW trains have not completed the journey to Cheltenham Spa but turned back at Gloucester! These occasional occurrences show how, from a passenger perspective, a through train service is infinitely superior to a dodgy connection.

 

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Do you think Passenger Rail Franchising is a Muddle?

            Then you are in good company. If you have time read:- The Fourteenth Report of the House of Commons Transport Committee, Session 2005-06, on Passenger Rail Franchising (HC1354). Pub. 5 November 2006.]

 

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