Chiltern’s proposed timetable

Chiltern have now published their proposed timetable (here).

A number of issues arise, following this and the Passenger Board meeting on the afternoon of the 12th September, which I attended.

At least one more CRPB meeting will take place to address fares, cycle carriage, parking and parking charges.  (We may have to accept an end to free parking to avoid exploitation by people seeking to avoid charges elsewhere.  Parking charges at Oxford Parkway must also harmonise with those for Park & Ride.)  OBRAG has also asked for a meeting to discuss all aspects of service at Islip and Bicester.

First, here are some significant dates :

  • June 2015 :  publication of final timetable
  • September 2015 :  service opens to Oxford Parkway
  • March 2016 :  service scheduled to open into Oxford
  • 7th Nov 2014 :  end of consultation regarding the proposed timetable.

The bus service will operate only from Water Eaton (Oxford Parkway), once service commences there. I have been reassured that there will be dedicated buses, timed to arrivals and departures, though the option remains to use the wide variety of other bus services to be found there.

Timing between Bicester Town and Oxford :

  • BT to ISL :  6mins
  • ISL to OPW :  4mins
  • OPW to OXF :  5 or 6mins.

The proposed timetable only runs as far as Oxford Parkway (OPW), and allows a little extra time, which is only required while OPW acts a s a terminus.

The service between Bicester Town and Oxford seems enough to answer all dreams (roughly every half-hour), never mind necessities EXCEPT for two things :

  • the earliest arrival in OXF is 07.24, which may not be enough for some
  • there is no effective return train for people who finish work in Oxford at 17.30, as I suspect most do.

The latter is a concern for anyone commuting to Oxford from ANY origin (Islip, Bicester, High Wycombe or London).  The nearest possibilities are 17.39 (too early) and 18.22 (too late).  I have asked CR to address this somehow. (Timetables are extremely complex, meaning anything which relieves one problem causes several more.)

However, the main concern has to be Islip, which has now :

  • suffered a loss of three trains per day (from 11 down to 8tpd) weekdays
  • a proposed timetable which serves no useful purpose, not even commuting into Oxford.

Chiltern have scheduled only 7tpd in their timetable, which is the minimum now required in their franchise.  (The reduction from 11tpd was subject to no consultation or even notice.) I have asked CR to reinstate the eighth train and honour their promise made at the TWA Inquiry, and privately to the OBRAG Cttee.

Please refer to my previous post, where I gave one possible analysis of what purposes the people of Islip (and the surrounding villages) had previously enjoyed, and might reasonably expect to enjoy :

  • A :  commuting to Oxford
  • B :  evening commuting and evening entertainment (evening class, meal out etc.)
  • C :  commuting beyond Oxford (Swindon, Abingdon, Reading etc.)
  • D :  commuting to High Wycombe and London.

There is no point in attempting to achieve a regular service (with equal intervals) with such a small number of trains.  Each train must serve some identifiable purpose (and thus market).

There follows a summary of their proposed timetable for Islip (by arrival/departure time at Oxford) with a brief appraisal of each train :

arr OXF from ISL :

  • 08.23 :  A 9am start in OXF
  • 09.44 :  A 10am start in OXF (shopping. business trips etc.; reduces break)
  • 12.14 :  no purpose served
  • 16.14 :  no purpose served
  • 17.26 :  no purpose served
  • 19.01 :  D 5.30/6pm finish in HW
  • 21.14 :  no purpose served

dep. OXF for ISL :

  • 05.34 :  no purpose served
  • 07.44 :  D 9am start in HW
  • 08.41 :  no purpose served
  • 13.09 :  no purpose served (too early for commuting)
  • 15.09 :  no purpose served
  • 17.39 :  no purpose served (too early for 17.30 finish)
  • 21.46 :  no purpose served (too late for evening class/work; too early for theatre)

I have asked that the following changes be made :

  • remove all trains which serve no purpose
  • in exchange (and to restore 8tpd) add a stop at ISL for the following trains :

Arriving at OXF :

  • 07.24 :  8/8.30am start in Oxf; commuting beyond Oxf
  • 13.38 :  2pm start in Oxf (plus afternoon shopping etc.)
  • 16.38 :  HW 3.30/4pm finish (schools)
  • 19.58 :  6/6.30pm finish in London
  • 22.38 :  late return from HW/London

Departing from OXF :

  • 07.19 :  9am start in London
  • 13.42 :  1pm finish in Oxf
  • 16.42 :  4pm finish (schools, shopping)
  • 17.45-18.00 needed for 5.30 finish in Oxf; nothing on timetable
  • 18.42 :  6.30pm finish in Oxf; commutng beyond Oxf
  • 21.12 :  9pm finish in Oxf
  • 22.16 : 10pm finish in Oxf

I have yet to take a look at the proposal for weekend service.

I may sound critical, but I am aware of what it might mean to us to have the new stations and destinations.

We would be very grateful for your observations and comments, and will include them in our negotiation with Chiltern. (It is quite likely they keep an eye on our site, but remember they have many stations and many, many customers to satisfy.)

Sorry for the long post, but I think we all agree this is important, to all of us.

Timetable for new service

Chiltern will disclose their proposed timetable for the new service (scheduled to begin next May) this Friday 12th September.  It’s not yet clear whether this will be restricted to the Passenger Board (CRPB) or whether I can post it here.  Either way, I thought it a good idea to figure out what would make sense and publish that openly, hoping for helpful comments (by Friday 12th, when the CRPB meets to discuss this).

Late addition :  Chiltern will NOT allow us to publish their proposal yet.  Also, the meeting on Friday 12th is NOT only about timetabling.  I shall also be raising FARES, PARKING and PARKING CHARGES at BOTH stations.  There is also the issue of bus services from Water Eaton after the initial opening.  Let me know of anything I’ve missed!

Bicester Town will receive a half-hourly service, each way.  It’s hard to see what requirement this would fail to meet.  Therefore, our remaining concern is Islip, for which Chiltern promised 8tpd, in each direction. Annex 2 of CR Franchise Agreement, 2010, commits just 7tpd, with one arriving at Oxf ≤ 08.30 and one leaving Oxf between 17 and 18.00. This conflicts with the original franchise agreement (11tpd), and went to bed without any consultation (of which OBRAG was aware). With just 8tpd, a regular service is not going to properly fulfil any sensible aim. We have to decide what we want to achieve.

It helps that up and down trains are no longer coupled, meaning choosing an up time has no implication for a down one. It is no longer a single vehicle that shuttles.

Requirements for service at Islip :

  • A  commuting + shopping trips Oxf-Bic
  • B  evening commuting + serving evening entertainment in Oxford + late return
  • C  commuting beyond Oxf (Swindon, Reading etc.)
  • D  commuting to High Wycombe and London Marylebone (inc. schools).

Meeting requirements at Islip (Oxf dep/arr times;  presumed 60min Oxf – LMB, 15min Oxf-BT, Oxf-Islip in ~6mins;  half-hourly departures each way) :

A (arriving) :

  • 08.00 (8.30 start)
  • 08.30 (9am start)
  • 09.30 (10am start)
  • 13.30 (2pm start)

A (departing) :

  • 13.30 (1pm finish)
  • 16.30 (4pm finish (schools, shopping))
  • 17.30 (5pm finish)
  • 18.30 (6pm finish)

B (arriving) :

  • 18.30 7pm (start (movie, meal, show, shift))
  • 19.30 8pm start

B (departing) :

  • 21.30 (9pm finish)
  • 22.30 (10pm finish)

C (arriving) :

  • 08.00 (9am start in Reading/Swindon)

C (departing) :

  • 17.30 (5pm finish in Reading/Swindon)
  • 18.30 (6pm finish in Reading/Swindon)

D (arriving) :

  • 16.30 (4pm finish  in HW (schools))
  • 17.30 (5pm finish in HW)
  • 18.30 (5pm finish in London)
  • 19.30 (6pm finish in London)
  • 21.30 (late return from HW/London)

D (departing) :

  • 07.00 (8.30 start in London)
  • 08.00 (9am start in HW)

Proposed timetable, synthesised from the above :

departing Oxford :

  • 07.00
  • 08.00
  • 13.30
  • 16.30
  • 17.30
  • 18.30
  • 21.30
  • 22.30

arriving Oxford :

  • 08.00
  • 08.30
  • 09.30
  • 13.30
  • 16.30
  • 18.30
  • 19.30
  • 21.30

Railfuture AGM, Oxford remodelling and line completion

Railfuture have their branch AGM on Wednesday 7th May from 7pm at The King’s Centre, Osney Mead, Oxford OX2 0ES, where Mike Hogg of First Group will make a presentation and answer questions on the future for Oxford Station.

Reopening our line between Water Eaton and Oxford critically depends upon the Oxford Area Remodelling project, due to begin next year, which includes new signalling and (hopefully) the refurbishment of two north platforms.  My understanding is that it also now includes the upgrading of our line to Water Eaton.

No-one seems to know either the scope of this project or how it will affect service, WE to Oxford.  Perhaps Mike Hogg will have some idea.  The only ray of hope is that the MoD will insist on minimal further interruption.  (Note that they are still running trains down through Oxford.)

Unfortunately, I cannot attend, and would welcome comments posted by any who can go along.

New timetable (from May 17th)

In case you have not seen a copy, there is only one change (as far as I can see – no liability accepted!) :  the 07.30 from Bicester leaves 10mins earlier, though is scheduled to arrive at Oxford Station at the same time (08.23).  Departure from Islip is now scheduled 07.40 (8mins earlier).

I suspect this is simply in respect of experience with congestion, to raise the chances of getting in on time.

No-one could ask for a better demonstration of how bus compares with train :  a reliable and comfortable 25mins becomes an unreliable, uncomfortable 53mins. The new rail service will deliver a reliable 12mins, I believe.

Bank Holiday bustitution

Just to advise caution re bank holiday service, which is a Saturday one on both Friday and Monday.  National Rail Enquiries and Chiltern journey planner (where you type in start and destination) have been indicating a normal service on Bank Holiday Mondays (both Easter and Spring).

I was set straight by a driver who told me his roster said a Saturday service for Easter Monday.

I shall presume this will also apply to Spring BH on 5th May.