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News Archive 2016

Maidenhead Station Improvements

Crossrail has given us details of some of the improvements they plan to make at Maidenhead station. These include:

  • Platform 1: install new lift and widen entrance to provide step-free access.
  • Platform 2/3: remove existing lift to provide an extra staircase; install new lift to provide step-free access.
  • Platform 4/5: provide an additional staircase; the existing lift will remain in situ.

Painting the machinery lofts on top of the lift shafts is not currently within Crossrail’s scope of work. These sheds are eyesores which stick out like sore thumbs above the new canopies.
[20161217]

Action Plan for Information on Rail Fares and Ticketing

The Department for Transport, Rail Delivery Group, Which? and Transport Focus have worked together to identify actions that will improve fares and ticketing for passengers. They have worked closely with the Office of Rail and Road, and have commissioned input from train companies, consumer and passenger groups, technology firms, and ticket retailers.

They have developed a set of actions (PDF 20MB) to make improvements for passengers in the next twelve months, organised in the following themes:

  • how you choose your ticket
  • what you buy
  • where you buy your ticket
  • how you buy your ticket
[20161213]

Going Live!

Network Rail has advised us that from 4th February 2017 the overhead lines and associated infrastructure between Stockley Road Bridge (A408 near West Drayton) and Norden Road in West Maidenhead should be treated as live.
[20161111]

Electrification Schemes On Hold

Network Rail has deferred a number of schemes which were part of the Great Western route electrification. Schemes affected include the Thames Valley Branch lines (Henley and Windsor), Appleford to Oxford, Thingley Junction (where the Westbury and Bath lines diverge) to Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway to Bristol Temple Meads via Filton Bank.

Mark Hopwood wrote: “The changes are of course disappointing. However, we have done a considerable amount of work with the Department for Transport over the past year to find different ways to provide the benefits we promised customers despite the challenges faced by Network Rail. Although there is some more work to do, we expect to be able to deliver the benefits broadly in line with the timescales we originally expected. Of course, we will need to understand today's news a little more to be completely sure, but we will do all we can to deliver our commitments to customers as close as possible to the dates we promised when the franchise started.”
[20161108]

Electrics to Maidenhead in 2017

GWR is planning to introduce an electric service between Maidenhead and Paddington from the timetable change in May next year, subject to the overhead line equipment being commissioned by then. This will no doubt put paid to the surviving through trains but electric trains terminating at Maidenhead will use platform 4 when possible.
[20160831]

Update: the current completion date for the project is June 2017 but Network Rail is trying to get the testing done in time for the timetable change on 21st May.
[20161205]

Taplow Stopping Position

We are pressing GWR and Network Rail to move the stopping positions for short trains (2/3 car) at Taplow. At present down trains stop at the country end of platform 3 but the temporary bridge they must use is at the London end. We note that catenary at Taplow has been strung below the old footbridge which suggests that the clearances are adequate.
[20160525]

Update: Success! After carrying out a risk assessment Network Rail agreed to move the stopping position for 2- and 3-car trains on platform 3 (down relief) such that the rear of a 3-car train will be next to the temporary footbridge. We are awaiting completion.
[20161210]

Taplow Footbridge Update

Crossrail has informed us that the current proposal is to lift the heritage GWR footbridge for repair offsite and then return it to its present location. We don't know what arrangements will then be made for step free access to platform 3.
[20161207]

Through Trains Curtailed in January

The number of through trains between Bourne End and London Paddington has been reduced to one each way in January: 0828 from Bourne End and 1642 from Paddington. The 1742 and 1842 from Paddington still run as far as Maidenhead and should provide a cross-platform interchange with the branch train. The 0727 from Bourne End will connect with the 0741 from Maidenhad to Paddington.

This is because of the track changes made over Christmas which mean no access to the branch from platform 4 at Maidenhead. Although platform 5 will be accessible from the up relief line, and therefore swapping trains over would be possible, the scope for causing delays on the relief lines should a branch train be late rules this out.

Through trains will be discontinued altogether from the timetable change on 21st May 2017. We understand that a 3-car turbo will be provided for the peak Maidenhead - Bourne End shuttle.
[20161207]

GWR Christmas Travel Arrangements

Full details are on GWR’s website but the key thing to note is that London Paddington will be closed to all rail services from Saturday 24 December to Thursday 29 December.

This will mean GWR rail services starting and finishing at Ealing Broadway, where customers can make a connection to the underground, or scheduled bus services for travel into London.

In addition, no trains will call at Acton Main Line and Hanwell from 24 December to 1 January or the Greenford branch from 24 December to 2 January. Tickets will be valid on scheduled London Bus or Underground services.

There will be a District Line shuttle service between Ealing Broadway and Acton Town, where you can change onto the Piccadilly Line. There will be no District Line service between Acton Town and Gloucester Road. The Central Line will be operating normally.

Bicycles other than folding ones will not be conveyed to or from Ealing Broadway.

The Marlow line will close from 24 December to 2 January, and no trains will call at Burnham or Taplow. GWR will provide replacement bus services for Burnham, Taplow (from Slough) and the branch line.

Ticket restrictions will be lifted over the period of disruption (i.e. off-peak fares valid all day).

Download Network Rail Flyer.
[20161103]

National Rail Enquiries have published details of Christmas and New Year services. They can be found here for GWR and Chiltern Railways.
[20161006]

Engineering Works

If you want to know what's actually happening along the line look here. See our jargon buster page for abbreviations.

Chiltern to Oxford Opening

Chiltern services to Oxford via Oxford Parkway will officially commence on Monday 12th December. However trains will be running through to Oxford on Sunday 11th to shake out any problems. The first scheduled departure from Oxford is at 07:43 and the first train from High Wycombe to Oxford was at 08:08 on the 11th. Our first impression is that the single line section approaching Oxford station could be a severe handicap. If an arriving service is late the departing service will have to wait for it.

first train into Oxford
168324+218 have just arrived at Oxford with the first train from Marylebone on 11th December. (R. Porter)

Caution: The direct fares are now on the database. Note that the journey planner will offer you routes to Oxford via Banbury which are a lot more expensive than Chiltern direct tickets at peak times.
[20161211]

Parking Charges Going Up

We have been advised that car park charges will be increased when the new timetable comes in on 12th December.

The possibility of car park charges at Cookham is under discussion. This is because of concerns that commuters driving from South Bucks to Cookham instead of Bourne End because of the free parking are taking up a lot of the spaces. This makes it difficult for residents in the Cookhams and it adds to traffic congestion in the area. It had not been clear whether the land to the west of Cookham station is railway property but this has now been verified, so it is probable that car parking charges will be introduced in December. MMPA is not taking sides on this issue.
[20161114]

New Timetable Started Sunday 11 December

The good news is that there will be an extra weekday peak journey from Maidenhead (2018) to Bourne End and return, with connection to Marlow. The bad news is that some former through journeys to/from Paddington will involve a change of train at Maidenhead (see below).
[20161205]

Chiltern to Oxford Opening

Chiltern services to Oxford via Oxford Parkway will officially commence on Monday 12th December. However trains will be running through to Oxford on Sunday 11th to shake out any problems. The first scheduled departure from Oxford is at 07:43 and the first train from High Wycombe to Oxford was at 08:08 on the 11th. Our first impression is that the single line section approaching Oxford station could be a severe handicap. If an arriving service is late the departing service will have to wait for it.

first train into Oxford

Beware: we've been alerted to the fact that peak fares from High Wycombe to Oxford are significantly higher than those to Oxford Parkway so it may be advantageous to split your ticket. The full anytime day return fare from High Wycombe to Oxford is £30.10 but the fare to Oxford Parkway is £17.20 and from Oxford Parkway to Oxford is £2.80, saving you £10.10.
[20161105]

Update: Chiltern have responded saying the high anytime fare is calculated via Banbury even if you select a train via Oxford Parkway. This is being corrected. We trust that booking offices will be aware of the problem but be on your guard if you are buying a ticket online or at a ticket vending machine.
[20161118]

Update 2: The direct fares are now on the database. Note that the journey planner will offer you routes to Oxford via Banbury which are a lot more expensive than Chiltern direct tickets at peak times.
[20161211]

Signalling Problems

GWR have been running a degraded service between Maidenhead and Bourne End on Monday and Tuesday. A replacement bus service was operating today (Tuesday) between Marlow and Bourne End, which a three car turbo was providing a service between Bourne End and Maidenhead. This is due to a token equipment fault at Bourne End. Network Rail is attempting to effect a repair overnight (Tue/Wed) but passengers are advised to check the situation in the morning.
[20161129]

Engineering Work 19-24 November

Network Rail will be carrying out some preparatory work overnight between 19th and 24th November. We understand this involves the installation of a crossover between the up and down relief lines.
[20161114]

Forlease Road Closure

Crossrail have informed us that Forlease Road, Maidenhead, will be closed on Sunday 16th October between 08:00 and 18:00 hrs where it passes under the railway. This is to allow contractors to remove vegitation to make room for the installation of overhead line equipment. A diversion via Bridge road and Oldfield Road will be signposted.
[20161005]

High Wycombe P1 Stopping Position

Short trains terminating at Platform 1 usually stop at the far end of the platform which necessitates a very long walk for passengers crossing over to or from platform 3. The reason is that if the train continues towards the buffer stops, when the driver changes ends he/she cannot see the starting signal from the cab because the new staircase and lift shaft are in the way. Some drivers have found out that if they get out and walk to the back of the platform they can see the signal and can return to the cab when they get the road. However this should not be necessary and they won't want to do it in bad weather. We are pressing Network Rail through Chiltern Railways to install a banner repeater so that the drivers know when the signal is off.
[20160929]

RAIB Issues Report on Paddington Derailment

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch has issued an independent report (HTML) on the SPAD and consequent derailment at Paddington on 16th June 2016.
[20160818]

Severn Tunnel Blockade

The Severn Tunnel is now closed until 21st October for the installation of overhead conductor rails. This will necessitate some cancellations and slower if more scenic journeys to South Wales via Gloucester.
[20160719]

GWR Electrostar Launch

GWR launched its new Class 387 Electrostar train at Paddington on Friday 2nd September. An eight-car formation was stationned at platform 8 and was available for customers to look over.
[20160819]

See our photos here.

Revised GWR Timetable from 12th September

GWR has issued a revised version of the E1 timetable booklet (Paddington to Reading and branches, local services) which started on 12th September. This shows the new Class 387 Electrostar service between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington. We are sending copies to members who have requested printed timetables.

A revised timetable for West of England services via Castle Cary is available to download.
[20160827

No Toilets on Crossrail Trains

Class 700 accessible toilet

This is one of the accessible toilets on the new Thameslink Class 700 trains. In stark contrast Crossrail trains will have no lavatories. We think this is unacceptable on trains running between Berkshire and Kent or Essex. If North - South trains can have toilets why not East - West trains? The accessible toilet takees up the space of six passengers which is a negligible reduction.
[20160815]

Arriva Route 37 - New Timetable starts 4th September

Also route 35 from Bourne End to High Wycombe.

Bakerloo Line Resumes Serving Paddington

The Bakerloo Line platforms at Paddington have reopened today, 1st August, ahead of schedule. They have been closed for escalatopr renewal and the construction of a pedestrian tunnel to the new Crossrail station.
201600801

Banbury and Oxford Summer Blockade

All lines through Banbury are closed for track and signalling renewals from 30th July to 7th August inclusive. A replacement bus service is operating between Bicester North and Leamington Spa.

The line between Didcot Parkway and Banbury is closed from 30th July for two weeks. Diversions and replacement bus services operate.
[20160225]

Crossed Legs on Crossrail

A member has had a reply from Crossrail to his complaint about the lack of toilets on Crossrail. They are now saying that toilets will only be available on 80% of stations - previously it was all stations. Even then we doubt that toilets will be provided on all Crossrail platforms. Crossrail have admitted that they are providing a "metro style" service all the way from Berkshire to Essex and Kent, when what we need is an R.E.R. (regional express network) style service.
[20160524]

GWR Confirms Order for New Trains

Following on from our previous report (25/5) GWR has confirmed that it has signed an order with Bombardier Transportation and leasing company Porterbrook for 37 Class 387 Electrostars for the electrified London - Thames Valley services. These are additional to the eight units previously ordered. The company will not now be receiving any Class 365 Networkers. Also the “nearly new” Class 387s will be retained by GTR (Govia Thameslink Railway) for use on fast services to Cambridge and Kings Lynn.

The new units will all comprise four cars and will form trains of 4, 8 and 12 cars, the last of which will provide 97 more seats than the longest existing turbo formations. GWR expects to start running the new trains between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington on September 5th. This section is already electrfied for Heathrow services.

You can read GWR’s Press Release here.
[20160608]

SPEED RESTRICTIONS THIS AFTERNOON

Network Rail has imposed speed restrictions as low as 20mph on Thames Valley routes this afternoon until 19:00 because of the high temperatures which can cause the track to buckle. Trains from London will not run through to Bourne End so change at Maidenhead. (more information)
[20160719]

Same applies until 18:30 this evening.
[20160720]

Chris Green at Bourne End, June 16

Chris Green, former General Manager and architect of Network SouthEast (in between ScotRail and Virgin Trains), will be speakiing at the RCTS/MDRS joint meeting at Bourne End Community Centre on Thursday 16th June starting at 19:30 hrs. Chris will be giving a talk on the Inter-City Story and will be selling his book of the same title. Admission for non-members is by donation.

RAIB Investigating Incident at Twyford

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch is investigating an incident in which an occupied wheelchair came into multiple contacts with a passing freight train at Twyford station on 7th April 2016. More information can be found here.
[20160527]

Avoiding Fines Trumps Serving Passengers

We have been following up complaints about Network Rail Paddington announcing trains with insufficient time for passengers to board before they depart. We were astonished to get a reply from Network Rail which included: “We do strive to give passengers sufficient time to board but owing to operational requirements, this is not always possible.”.

We consider this unacceptable. What's the point of running a train service if you don’t give intending passengers time to get on. The operators seem to think that running an empty train on time is better than serving customers.
[20160420]

GWR Electric Train Update

It now appears that GWR will not be taking the “nearly new” Class 387 units currently in use by Southern. Instead they will be leasing some units purchased speculatively by leasing company Porterbrook plus some more new units ordered from Bombardier in Derby. It also looks like GWR will be using bi-mode Hitachi AT300 trains on Oxford services in advance of the delayed electrification from Didcot to the city. We believe that GWR is trying to standardise its Thames Valley electric fleet on Class 387 Electrostars instread of taking on 1980s Class 365 Networkers displaced from Thameslink by the Siemens Class 700 trains. The 387s have a top speed of 110 mph which can be exploited when running on the main lines.
[20160526]

Re-railing on the Branch

You may be aware that Network Rail has done some re-railing with continuously welded rail between Cookham and Furze Platt. It has no plans to do any further upgrades to the line before Control Period 7 (from April 2024).
[201603228]

Norman Topsom MBE at Cox Green

Norman “Mr Twyford” Topsom will be the guest speaker at the Windsor & Maidenhead branch of RCTS (the Railway Travel and Correspondence Society) at Cox Green Community Centre on Monday 23rd May. This follows the branch AGM at 19:30 hrs. Admission for non-members is a £3 donation.
[20160520]

Update Norman gave a tremendous talk which had us rolling in the aisles one minute and than, when he was talking about fatalities on the line, you could have heard a pin drop. It was a fascinating insight into what life was like on the railway over 53 years from Beeching to the recreation of GWR.

Replacement Bus Service

Buses will replace trains between maidenhead and Marlow on Saturday 30th April and Sunday 1st May.

Timetable Erratum

0706 from Didcot Parkway to London Paddington calls additionally at Maidenhead at 0759.

Points Failure at Maidenhead

We believe the points have now been repaired.
[20160426]

Points Failure at Maidenhead

The points on the up relief line at the country end of Platform 4 leading to the Marlow branch and sidings have been secured out of use until further notice. We understand that Network Rail doesn't have the necessary parts to effect a repair. As a result one return trip to Bourne End in the morning peak (0741 returning from Bourne End at 0765) will not operate until further notice.
[20160414]

Update: It appears that a full service is running but with a change of train at Maidenhead for the first Paddington journey. Network Rail has informed us that the points should be repaired over next weekend with a follow-up during the week.
[20160418]

Permit to Travel Machines Still on GMT

We've been alerted to the fact that the PERTIS (PERmit to Travel Issuing System) machine at Taplow is still set to GMT. As permits are valid for two hours this effectively reduces their validity to only one hour. This means that passengers could be illegally charged a penalty fare. It appears that GWR has only one machine to reset the clocks on all the stations in the area that have them. It could be some time before all the PERTIS machines are showing the correct time.

We wonder why these machines aren't capable of swtching between BST and GMT automatically, or by receiving the radio time signal (the old BR digital platform clocks did this). Failing that, the ticket should show the time zone or offset from UTC. The current situation is unacceptable.
[20160407]

Bakerloo Line Access

Bakerloo Line trains are not stopping at Paddington until mid-August for escalator renewal. The Bakerloo line entrance on the concourse is closed. Passengers can take the Hammersmith & City or Circle Line to Baker Street and change there, or it's a short walk to Warwick Avenue if you're heading northwards.
[20160225]

Easter Changes on GWR

From 2245 Thursday until 0200 Tuesday - buses replace trains on Marlow branch. Amended timetables will operate between Reading and Paddington, with replacement buses for part of the route. Friday until 0200 Monday - trains will not call at Taplow.
[20160324]

Sunday Didcot Blockades

All lines between Reading, Oxford and Swindon are closed on Sundays in March (and 28 Feb.). Long distance trains will be diverted via Westbury, with those for South Wales reversing at Swindon. Services to Gloucester and Cheltenham run via Bath, Bristol TM and Parkway. Various replacement bus services operate.
[20160228]

MMPA AGM 18 MARCH 2016

Our Annual General Meeting will take place on Friday 18th March 2016 at Bourne End Community Centre (map) starting at 19:45 hrs. Travel on the 18:42 Paddington to Bourne End (19:14 at Maidenhead) or 19:17 Marlow to Bourne End.

This is your opportunity to question senior managers from GWR and Chiltern Railways. Hopefully we'll also have updates from Crossrail and Network Rail. Non-members welcome.
[20151228]

Network Rail Flailing Around Again

Network Rail has informed us that they will be clearing vegitation along the line between Maidenhead and Bourne End each night from Tuesday 9th February 01:00 to Friday 12th February 05:30.

Vegitation along the Twyford to Henley-on-Thames line will be cleared each night from Tuesday 2nd February 01:00 to Friday 5th February 05:30. Residents near the lines will be informed by letter.
[20160119]

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