Meeting with Chiltern Railways on 30th October 2014

A special meeting of the CR Passenger Board was held at Bicester North Station on 30th October to discuss issues concerning the proposed timetable at Islip and Bicester Town (and at Banbury also).  In attendance were the CR Business Development Manager (Thomas Painter) and the Head of Train Planning (Bevis Thomas), along with the chairman of the PB, John Elvin.

Most of the discussion was devoted to Islip, although one issue affecting anyone using the line to commute to work in Oxford arose, namely the lack of a timely return train for those finishing at 17.30.  (The nearest proposed were 17.22 and 18.22.)  CR have taken this on board.

They have many issues to resolve regarding the timetable, so no immediate solution to any individual problem is possible.  Nor is there any truly clear deadline at which a new complete timetable can be proposed, since their internal planning needs require this to be available as early as possible.  The best that we can say is that a fresh proposal should be available by the spring, though likely earlier.

Regarding Islip, there follows a summary of results :

  • the commitment to provide eight trains per day (tpd;  each way) will be honoured, and a revision proposed to the PSR
  • CR will actively strive to answer the responses to their consultation, including the need for commuting into Oxford, and will liaise with me (as OBRAG chairman) to that effect
  • CR has a binding commitment from Network Rail (NR) to afford at least two trains per hour (tph) between Water Eaton and Oxford Station from March 2016, regardless of the (enormous) Oxford Area Remodelling project, due to commence around that time
  • the need to “plug” the gap between the proposed departures from Oxford via Islip at 07.44 and 13.42 was recognised, along with the need to allow for the use of discount cards (from 10.00);  it was proposed to do this by exchanging one service from the ‘down’ direction (the 22.38 arrival at Oxford) for an additional ‘up’ departure (between 10 and 11.30)
  • CR recognised the demand for at least one train each way in support of London commuting, with an early morning departure;  however, it was agreed that, given the small number of trains available, that it was reasonable to rely upon services at Water Eaton otherwise, when traffic is lighter
  • CR agree that 6mins is indeed a good estimate of the transit time between WE and Oxford.

I have not previously remarked on the weekend service proposed, which looks very good to me.  Please add a reply here if you disagree.  Note that CR are not obliged to offer any Sunday service, yet propose 7tpd.

Other matters :

  • trains will initially comprise six carriages, and may later comprise eight;  all platforms will accommodate eight carriages
  • trains will have tables and free wi-fi
  • parking charges at Islip (if any!) have not yet been decided, and remain open to negotiation
  • I complained about the inadequacy of information availability to and liaison with Islip residents regarding construction and operation
  • fares from Islip to London have not yet been decided, but are likely to match those from Bicester North.

Fares, cycle carriage etc. must await future meetings.

Lastly, I proposed a pump trolley race between Water Eaton and Islip as part of the inauguration.  Good excuse for a party, methinks!  Any there ideas?

Islip railway meeting – notes

Here is my own summary of what was said at the meeting at Islip Village Hall on Tuesday 21st of October.  I cannot be sure I’ve included everything, and in any case seek only a summary.  If you feel something is missing then please add a reply below.

I shall raise the issues which arose with Chiltern at a meeting with their Business Development Manager next week (30th), and will post a summary of that afterwards.

Village Railway Meeting – notes

Islip Village Hall, Tuesday, 21st October, 7.30 to 9pm
Hosted by Ian East, chairman of the Oxford-Bicester Rail Action Group (OBRAG).
Approx. 40 in attendance.

Introduction
Ian introduced himself and OBRAG, and summarised the history and current situation, including planned opening dates, the timetable at Islip proposed by Chiltern, the rôle of the CRPB and the current consultation, which ends on 7th November, together with the current OBRAG response.

The latter is intended to prioritise service at Islip according to function :
1 commuting to/from Oxford (and points south)
2 shopping and entertainment in Oxford and Bicester
3 commuting to/from High Wycombe and London
4 all other purposes in Wycombe and London.

Request for support
Ian requested, and was given, the support of the assembly for the demand that Chiltern :
– honour their public offer of eight tpd
– offer a timetable at Islip which is actually useful, unlike their current proposal.

Contributions from the floor

Timetable and service level

1 Agreed that the current timetable is useless and that Oxford access the primary concern.
RF delegate promised to raise this with OCC at forthcoming meeting.

2 Agreed that Chiltern should be held to their promise of eight trains per day (tpd; each way).

3 Strong support was given, by a number of residents, for an effective London service.
Agreed (~7 attendees) that an early morning departure essential.
06.48 dep from OXP the preferred option.
RF delegate suggested that the best chance lies in requesting one London train each way, in this regard.

4 One attendee argued that the gap in the service proposed by OBRAG between 07.19 and 13.42 far too great.
Noted that this concern lies in conflict with that of 3.
Noted that resolution possible by replacing late return from Oxford with mid-morning service. (No concern was expressed at the loss of a late Oxford return.)
Noted that an associated concern is for discounted (later) travel to London (using discount cards).

5 Someone suggested ignoring CR proposal and campaigning for approximate reinstatement of previous timetable (11tpd).
Ian pointed out that CR have many pressing concerns to meet and were unlikely to respond to that. 4tpd were funded via planning gain, which may be exhausted. (Ian is endeavouring to ascertain the truth.) CR are unlikely to completely rework their proposed timetable to suit Islip, even though we’ve been robbed.

6 Concern was expressed that a departure for Oxford be included that is early enough to support commuting beyond Oxford (Swindon, Reading etc.)

Concerns other than timetable

7 Two attendees expressed concern that Islip may face significant additional nuisance parking as a result of good service at Islip Station, especially a London service.
Ian responded that 1) the greater population nearby is actually nearer Water Eaton, where 2) a far better service can be found, and 3) parking is expected to be no dearer. He added that it cannot make sense, after such investment, to deliberately plan poor service to this end. Both traffic and parking in Islip are already problems for other reasons, and constitute a concern which can be addressed by local authorities.
It was clear that a significantly greater number of attendees desired a good service (including London).

8 Some attendees, who lived near the station, were appalled at the total lack of consultation and information regarding the construction there.
There is no relevant information on the www.bicestertooxfordcollaboration.com site, not even a picture of the new station building.
Many trees have been felled, exposing a number of properties, without due warning.

Islip village railway meeting

Islip Village Railway Meeting

 Islip Village Hall, Tuesday, 21st October, 7.30 to 9pm

Local residents are called to a meeting in Islip to discuss the timetable proposed by Chiltern for Islip station.

The meeting will begin with a brief review of relevant history, and the current situation.  There should remain time at the end to discuss other issues which remain open to debate, such as parking.

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