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News 2017

Chiltern Axes Timetables and Trollies

Chiltern Railways have announced that the May 2017 printed timetable will be their last. After that information will only be available online or from notices at stations. MMPA has argued that this unfairly penalises passengers who do not have internet access, and would like to see the timetables continued.

We also understand that Chiltern is withdrawing catering facilities from all sevices. Passengers using the business class coaches will get a cold drink and biscuit left on the table. These retrograde measures are being introduced by Arriva to cut costs, and sadly the spirit of Chiltern is steadily being eroded.

From mid-May APCOA is taking over the management of all Chiltern Railways car parks which will be equipped with automatic number plate recognition. If no payment is made within a certain time a penalty notice will be sent to the registered keeper.

Marlow Service Improvement

Following the demise of the last through services from Bourne End to London, GWR will be running an additional morning service to/from Marlow in the May timetable. The branch service will provisionally operate roughly as at present up to the 0815 departure from Marlow and 0826 from Bourne End. The next departure will be 0844 from Marlow, 0856 from Bourne End. The Marlow shuttle will return to Maidenhead at 0905 after which the hourly service will operate. From Maidenhead there will be a service at 0841 to Bourne End with a connection to Marlow instead of the 0902 service to Bourne End only. Thereafter departures will be hourly at around xx38. The evening and weekend services will be more or less as now.

Chiltern Class 121 Last Day Of Service May 19th

In connection with the final day of public service, Chiltern Railways has announced that the following additional trains are planned to operate between Princes Risborough and Aylesbury, using the green Class 121 single car DMU, 121034 (we understand that 121020 is not operational at the moment). These trains are subject to availability and to short-notice cancellation or alteration in the event of disruption or late running of other services on the day.

2Z92 12.50 Princes Risborough - Aylesbury (arr 13.04)
2Z93 13.19 Aylesbury - Princes Risborough (arr 13.33)
2Z94 13.50 Princes Risborough - Aylesbury (arr 14.04)
2Z95 14.19 Aylesbury - Princes Risborough (arr 14.33)
2Z96 14.50 Princes Risborough - Aylesbury (arr 15.04)

Normal tickets will be valid on these services; these trains will not call at either Monks Risborough or Little Kimble.

Introduced in 1960, these units are the oldest vehicles in regular passenger carrying service (quite a few locomotives date from the same era) on the British mainland, excluding heritage lines. Only the ex-London Underground 1938 tube stock on the Isle of Wight is older.

New Timetable Starts on 21st May

See above for links to the new timetables. Apart from the change described opposite, there are adjustments of up to five minutes on most peak services. The daytime off-peak service, the first two and last two services, and the weekend services are unchanged (but check for bus replacements).

Initially the following electric services will operate: From Paddington 1609, 1642, 1714, 1742, 1842, 1912 and 1936; from Maidenhead 0733, 0742, 0842, 0907 and 1818. The 0742 and 0842 from Maidenhead will call at Taplow until 29th September.

New Portable Ticket Machines

We understand that new protable ticket machines will be introduced on the branch by the end of May, replacing the troublesome Avantix Mobile machines. Guards are currently undergoing training. The long-promised new Fujitsu machines will be able to accept NFC (“contactless”) smartcard and mobile phone (Apple Pay etc) transactions. The launch was delayed by negotiations with the banks over the problem of validating transactions in places where the mobile data signal is lost but these machines have been rolled out in other areas.

Electrification - We’re Live

The overhead line between Stockley and Maidenhead was successfully energised at the third attempt on Sunday 26th March. This will allow testing and driver training with the new Class 387 trains to go ahead. All being well Great Western plans to commence electric services between Paddington and Maidenhead at the May timetable change. The remaining stretch from Maidenhead to Tilehurst should be completed in time for electric services to run through to Didcot Parkway in January. GWR hass not yet finalised service details from January 2018 as plans have had to be changed following the Hendy cutbacks.

GWR has confirmed that from 3rd July it will operate four trains per hour off-peak serving Reading, Twyford and Maidenhead when off-peak electric services to Maidenhead begin.

Update: We understand that the turnback siding and stabling sidings at Maidenhead have now been commissioned, which should allow electric trains from Paddington to commence on 22nd May (peak hours only).

Taplow Footbridge Update

John Goldsmith, Crossrail’s PR man informs us: “The latest information I have is that removal is not imminent but is likely to happen later in the summer and that it is intended to return the bridge to the station when it has been repaired. I am expecting notice from Network Rail of its removal so that we can let local residents know what is happening and people don’t get alarmed when they see that the bridge has been taken away.”

The Saga Continues

We were expecting the bridge to be lifted over the bank holiday weekend, but then it was discovered that a number of cables ran over the bridge and these will need to be rerouted before the bridge can be lifted.


The latest plan is to remove the footbridge in parts over two weekend nighttime possessions on 1/2 and 8/9 July.

Work is now starting to prepare the footbridge for removal for offsite repair. The next opportunity for the bridge to be removed would be the bank holiday weekend at the end of May. We are awaiting confirmation from Network Rail (via Crossrail) whether or not it will be ready to be taken away then. Watch this space.

RBWM to Tender Bus Routes after Courteney Pulls Out

Courtney Buses is abandoning loss-making routes 8 and 16/A at the end of April, citing the Council’s reduction in subsidy to cover free bus passes. The Royal Borough’s bus champion, Cllr Hari Sharma (Con., Furze Platt) has said that the Borough is in the process of putting the routes out to tender and might have to pay more.

Electrification - Further Delays Possible

We have learnt that electric services to Maidenhead might not begin in May after all because the overhead line equipment may not be ready in time. GWR is still, publicly at least, aiming for the May timetable change. For Network Rail the planned date in the Hendy Report of the end of June.

Update: the overhead line equipment was energised on Sunday 26th March. This paves the way for testing and driver training with the new trains.

Major Disruption This Sunday A.M.

Additional engineering work will take place between Reading and Paddington this Sunday, 26 March. This will allow Network Rail to complete a key piece of work for the electrification of the Great Western mainline. This means significant changes to London Paddington rail services throughout Sunday morning. Services will operate normally after 13:00 and GWR is encouraging customers to switch to later journeys. To help with that GWR will accept fixed train tickets on services running later in the day.

Full details of the changes are on the GWR website here.

In The Thames Valley rail replacement bus services will operate between:

  • Reading and Hayes & Harlington
  • Reading and Hillingdon (Piccadilly & Metropolitan Lines)
  • Reading and Heathrow
  • Twyford and High Wycombe via the Marlow Branch
  • Slough and Hates & Harlington
  • Slough and Windsor & Eton Riverside

Electric Services Update

GWR informs us that there will be a phased introduction of Class 387 Electrostar trains on services to Maidenhead.

  • May 21: electrics replace diesels on peak services starting from or terminating at Maidenhead, but running to diesel timings. Through trains from Bourne End to London cease.
  • July: enhanced electric service to Maidenhead replacing Reading locals. This means 2tph at Twyford which should connect with 2tph service to Henley-on-Thames (1tph calling at Wargrave unless a connection is missed).
  • December 2017: electrics operating through to Twyford and Reading.

Maidenhead Station Toilets

This is a subject that’s been causing a bit of a stink for some time and we've been trying to get to the bottom of it. Well now we have thanks to our contacts at GWR, and guess what, it's all down to piles. I mean the sort Network Rail (NR) has been banging into the ground to support the overhead line equipment (OLE).

“The platform 4/5 toilet drainage has recently suffered a blockage that closed the toilets for use by our customers. The blockage was eventually found to be OLE piling damage and NR is now planning to divert the drainage pipework. The drainage pipework was pumped out, blockage removed and the toilets re-opened for use. The toilets are currently open for use.

“NR’s OLE team is monitoring the situation and will pump out the drainage system whenever required, until the drainage pipe is successfully diverted.” So now you know.

Going Live!

Update: The date has now been put back to 5th March. GWR is still confident that it can start electric services to Maidenhead on 21st May.

Wheelchair Incident at Twyford

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has issued its report on an incident which occurred at Twyford on 7th April 2016 in which an occupied wheelchair came into contact with a passing freight train.

A teenage girl in her wheelchair was parked parallel to the track and well back from the yellow line on platform 4. The brakes were not fully applied and the girl’s mother was looking the other way. The train passed at 45mph but its slipstream was sufficient to move the wheelchair. Because the brakes were uneven the chair turned towards the train where it came into contact with waggons three times. The third impact knocked the wheelchair away from the train. The girl sustained a minor injury to a toe and slight damage to her chair.

The report stresses the following learning point:

Wheelchair users and other vulnerable station users should be aware that trains passing platforms, particularly freight trains, can generate slipstreams which are strong enough to move wheelchairs and pushchairs even if the brakes are on, especially if the effectiveness of the brakes has deteriorated with age or wear. It is always better to park well away from the platform edge and to hold onto the wheelchair or pushchair when a train passes by, even if the brakes or wheel locks have been applied.

The report notes the lack of an appropriate warning notice on platform 4 and criticised the use of automatic announcements of passing trains on platforms not accessible to the public. These reduce the effectiveness of announcements on platforms that are in use.

Delay Compensation Delay

It appears that, unsurprisingly, GWR has a huge backlog of compensation claims mostly due to infrastructure faults, exacerbated by a change of system. If you've submitted a claim it will be dealt with but it may take a while.

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Last updated 11th July, 2017