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News Archive 2019

High Speed Trains Bow Out

Great Western’s full length High Speed Trains (HSTs) otherwise known as Inter-City 125s will make their final runs in public service on Saturday 18th May. Four trains will be in service on the day and will converge on Paddington between 18:00 and 18:30. HSTs will remain in service with other operators for a while, and GWR will be retaining some shortened HSTs for use in the South-West. The High Speed Train was introduced in 1977 and it transformed long distance services on non-electrified routes.

Timetable Change on 19 May

The new timetable came into force on Sunday 19th May. The branch timetable has only one change that we've spotted: the 1846 Monday to Friday Maidenhead to Bourne End is retimed to depart at 1843 and run three minutes earlier throughout. The Marlow connection is unchanged, as are the Saturday and Sunday services.

Bourne End Modifications

Update: There's yet another twist to the story, and this time things are looking up. Network Rail and GWR have found another layout which seems to meet their requirements with only minor derogations from regulations. This is basically a modification of the original plan with the lines from platforms 1 and 2 towards Marlow joining closer to the station. This would allow trains for Maidenhead to depart from platform 1.

Network Rail will be installing miniature warning lights at the Mill Lane footpath and Upper Thames Sailing Club crossings, followed later by Spade Oak and Calcot Lane crossings. British Transport Polics (BTP) have told us that they will not be calling for further enforcement cameras. At present only Furze Platt crossing has enforcement cameras and the other three road crossings do not have a high level of abuse. BTP would require legislation to support cameras at user worked crossings. They believe that the main problem with these is users not following the instructions and not letting the signaller know when they had cleared the crossing.

New Token Instruments on Order

Network Rail has commissioned four new token instruments to replace the three instruments on the branch (one at Maidenhead and two at Bourne End), plus one spare. This follows a number of reliability problems with the existing (original) Great Western style instruments. The new instruments will look the same but will contain modern electronics which should be a lot more reliable.

Delay Repay 15 on GWR from 1 April

GWR customers with single, return or weekly tickets are now able to claim compensation for any delay over 15 minutes whatever the cause. GWR has been preparing for the change and has invested in new systems to make claiming as easy as possible. Over the next few weeks the company will be contacting customers to let them know about the change. Full details of the scheme and how to claim are on the GWR website here

GWR is continuing discussions about compensation arrangements for monthly or longer season tickets holders. The current arrangements will continue for the time being and season ticket holders will retain their existing renewal discounts. It will then move season ticket holders to Delay Repay as performance improves.

GWR MD Mark Hopwood said “We have wanted to offer our customers simple, consistent, easy to claim compensation for some time and I am delighted that the new scheme is now in place.”

You can read the DfT press release here.

Reading Buses set to Purchase Courtney

Reading Buses is about to purchase Finchampstead based Courtney Buses which provides local services in Maidenhead. The Courtney business will continue as it is for the time being, and will eventually absorb Reading’s outpost at Slough which operates Green Line route 702. Courtney's founder and MD, Bill Courtney-Smith will retire.

Bourne End Modifications

The project to provide two trains per hour all day is making slow progress. A risk assessment has needed to be carried out on all level crossings on the branch because of the extra train movements. Most of the crossings are on the Bourne End to Marlow section and many of these are occupation and user worked crossings which are known to be misused. Some crossings may need miniature warning lights and/or enhanced signage.

Because of the tight curve into Bourne End from Marlow Network Rail has required that platform 1 be used for trains departing towards Marlow because their speed will be lower than when arriving. Although it might seem logical to use the up platform (2) for Maidenhead trains this is less than ideal for several reasons. Most passengers using the station travel towards Maidenhead and the ticket office, waiting room and canopy are on platform 1. Also it means that there is potentially a conflict if trains arrive at the same time (because their paths cross over). In this situation one train would be held outside the station while the other one crossed in front of it. If the platforms were swapped over the conflict could arise on departure so one train could wait in the station while the other departed.

Speed-up in December

GWR is consulting with stakeholders, including ourselves, on the new timetable to be introduced in December 2019. Journey times will be reduced as GWR takes advantage of the performance of its new trains. The speed-up should have happened last December but GWR got caught in the backwash of the Northern/GTR timetable fiasco last May. This year’s May update will be minimal.

The new timetables haven’t been finalised so we can't give details, but MTR-Crossrail will take over the two trains per hour (tph) service between Paddington and Reading (probably still branded as TFL-RAIL) whilst GWR will run 2 tph between Paddington and Didcot Parkway. The alternate stopping pattern (Taplow and Burnham vs Langley and Iver) will continue off-peak. During the peaks, GWR will run fast services between Maidenhead and Paddington with about half calling at Slough. MTR will provide the stopping service on the relief lines.

We are pressing for good connections at Maidenhead between the GWR mainline services and the Marlow branch.

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Last updated 4th July, 2019