home join! issues information maps history jargon gallery contact links

News Archive 2018

Maurice Oram 1935-2018

Maurice Oram

We are very sad to report the death of our Honorary President, Maurice Oram, on 20th December after a short illness. He was 83. Known as “Mr Marlow”, he was a town councillor of Marlow and five times mayor. Maurice was instrumental in founding the Marlow - Maidenhead Railway Passengers’ Association in 1972, following the closure of the line from Bourne End to High Wycombe two years earlier. He was also vice-president of Marlow Football Club and served on the Riley Park Trust.

Timetable Changes from 1st January

There will be a small shift to the evening peak on the branch from 2nd January. The weekday service is unchanged up to the 1645 departure from Maidenhead and 1717 from Marlow to Bourne End. Thereafter departures will be three minutes later at 16 and 46 minutes past the hour from Maidenhead, 31 and 01 from Bourne End to Maidenhead, 30 and 00 from Bourne End to Marlow and 47 and 17 from Marlow until 2046/2101/2100 then as before. The Saturday service is unchanged. On Sundays the down service will depart Maidenhead one minute earlier at 35 minutes past the hour until 2035, then 2150 as before. The up service is unchanged.

Last HST Leaves Old Oak Common Depot

Old Oak Common

Great Western Railway knows how to celebrate in style, but the remarkable thing about this video is that the whole event was organised by the staff at the depot without the knowledge of top management. That included making sure that the power car 43093 Old Oak Common HST Depot 1976 - 2018 was the last to leave. Many of those involved would be losing their jobs when the depot closed on 8th December to make way for the new HS2 station. The singer is Claire Rossi. Congratulations and best wishes for the future to all concerned.

Crossrail - More Delay, More Money

The Crossrail project has been given a £1.4bn bail-out of which £1.3bn is a loan from the DfT and the rest is from the GLA. The launch date has been pushed further back. The Mayor has announced that the new chair of Crossrail will be Tony Meggs, replacing Sir Terry Morgan.

Fares Up by up to 3.2% in January

The Rail Delivery Group has announced that regulated fares will rise by an average of 3.1% on January 2nd. We note that for the tenth year running the Government has frozen road fuel duty.

Rail Ombudsman Appointed

The Rail Ombudsman is an independent, not-for-profit organisation which offers a free, expert service to help sort out unresolved customer complaints about service providers within the rail industry. It will have the power to instruct train companies to pay compensation. All major train operators in the UK that have franchise agreements with the Department for Transport must abide by any ombudsman decision. Unresolved complaints against Transport for London will still need to taken to watchdog London TravelWatch.

Wires Down Again

We've heard that the wires are down again between Acton and Ealing. No trains running east of Slough for the rest of the day.

h2>GWR Increases Postal Charge

Great Western Railway is introducing new ticket postal chargeswith effect from 29 October 2018.

First class post will increase to £1. Next day delivery will rise from £6 to £7.50.

These charges are being introduced to cover postal costs only, GWR claims, not to profit from itscustomers. There will be no separate booking fee, and no extra charge for tickets collected at stations or downloaded.

If you're travelling from a station where it isn’t possible to collect your ticket free of charge, via a ticket office, ticket machine or an e-Ticket, then the postal charge will not apply.

Ealing Dewirement - Wed 17 October

GWR was unable to run trains between London Paddington and Reading on the morning of 17th October following damage to the overhead electric wires near Hanwell by brand new Clas 802 train, 802016 on a commissioning run operated by Hitachi Rail Europe on Tuesday evening. It brought down the wires over all four running lines for a distance of 500m.

Network Rail have worked through the night, but needed more time to safely repair and recommission the overhead wires. They were expecting to be able to re-open two of the four lines into Paddington around midday, but disruption will continue throughout the day.

GWR is operating a reduced long distance service and there will be no local services between Reading and Paddington until lines re-open. They are advising customers not to travel unless absolutely necessary and to check carefully before setting out. For those who do need to travel GWR has arranged for itd tickets to be accepted on London Waterloo services (change at Reading) or services to London Marylebone and its tickets are valid on South Western Railway, Chiltern Railways, Virgin Trains, West Midlands Railway and Transport for Wales services. Customers between Reading and London can also use TfL underground and bus services.

GWR is working with Network Rail and Hitachi to understand what happened and will do all it can to get the lines opened as quickly as possible. Thanks to Mark Hopwood and Mike Walker for the update. Please follow @GWRHelp on twitter for the latest news.

Update: Network Rail have repaired much of the damage and GWR was operating almost a full service this morning. There are still some restrictions on the all electric fleet (one track is diesel only), and this could mean some changes for London and Thames Valley local services this afternoon as Network Rail work to complete the repair.

Long distance services into London Paddington from Wales, Bristol, the Cotswolds and the South West should not be affected. GWR will keep its website up to date with any new developments.

Mark Hopwood adds “I would like to thank those of you who helped to spread the message yesterday. It was a very difficult day for our customers who were incredibly understanding and supportive of our staff as they worked to get everyone to their destinations. Hitachi and Network Rail continue to investigate the root cause of the incident and we wait to hear their findings.

Christmas Engineering Work

Details are scarce at the moment but no trains will run between Slough and Paddington on Sunday 23rd, Monday 24th and Sunday 30th December. Replacement buses and alternative routes will be available. Watch Planned Engineering.

Bourne End Latest

The latest news is that GWR put forward three options to Network Rail, all of which NR rejected. After further discussions GWR and NR alighted on a fourth scheme, known as “3b” which involves opening out the curve from the Marlow branch so that it connects into the up platform line (platform 2). Where the diverted line crosses the line from Cookham into the down platform (1) there would be a single slip from the Marlow branch towards the down platform (1).

We acknowledge that GWR is working very hard to get this project through. Had the original tracks not been lifted they would probably be quite satisfactory as they were.

Crossrail Delayed

The Government has just let slip out, on the last Friday of the month and during the Parliamentary recess, that the opening of the Crossrail (Elizabeth Line) core and through running to Abbey Wood have been put back by up to a year.

GWR MD, Mark Hopwood told us “This is disappointing, but we understand the need for TfL and Network Rail to have everything working well before opening. The delay to this section will not affect GWR services to and from Paddington.

“There has been no announcement on the Reading to Paddington section of Crossrail which is due to open in December 2019 but clearly that is now at risk. We will keep you informed if there are any changes to this.”

The press release can be found here.

For more background information read this article in London Reconnections.

Timetable Update Starts 10 September

GWR has issued a new set of pocket timetables starting on 10th September. We shall be sending T10 and T12 to members who have opted to receive printed timetables.

Government Responds to Franchise Consultation

The Department for Transport has published its response to the consultation on the Great Western Franchise held earlier this year. The document can be downloaded from this page. As previously announced the franchise is not going to be split up.

Cookham Ticket Office Reopens

The booking office and waiting room at Cookham reopened on Monday 13th August after about a year out of use. Rain water from the platform had been accumulating in the void under the floor, which led to the timber becoming infected with dry rot. Tonnes of concrete were poured into the void, so the floor is now solid.

December Timetable Change Binned

GWR along with seven other operators (including SWR and Cross Country) has decided to cancel the planned timetable update in December. This is in response to the chaos caused by the May update which particularly affected Northern and Govia-Thameslink services. GWR will continue to operate the current timetable from 1st January 2019. Chiltern is not included at this point in time.

Update: Please see this letter from Mark Hopwood. There will be some timetable changes in January because of infrastructure changes over the Christmas period. In particular the HST depots at Old Oak Common and Laira will close. The introduction of Intercity Express Trains will continue as planned.

Planning Application

We are aware of a planning application to build on the trackbed of Bourne End to High Wycombe line at Princes’s Gate north of the A40 in High Wycombe. This runs in the face of the £100k study, unless it is back and they have accepted a total turndown. Access to the main line and High Wycombe station was protected after the line was closed in 1970 and we are fighting the application. The reference number is 18/06430/OUT.

Battery Trains for the Branch?

Members of the Committee were recently invited to see and ride in a battery powered Class 230 train built by Vivarail at Long Marston. The train uses the body shells and bogies from withdrawn District Line D78 trains, but the traction package and other components are new. The bogies have only been in service for ten years and are noted for their good riding characteristics. Seating and door configuration are up to the customer, and the original seating could be refurbished. Emission controlled toilets could be fitted.

The Class 230 can be powered by two battery rafts or diesel generator sets which are fitted under the coaches, or the train can operate in hybrid mode. For battery operation automatic charging units (ACUs) would be installed at each terminus and would connect to the train using a short section of conductor rail in the middle of the track, which is only energised when a train is proved to be above it. The ACU contains batteries which charge up while the train is away, and then dump their charge into the train’s batteries when the train arrives.

Vivarail managing director, Adrian Shooter, said he hoped to be able to demonstrate his train on the Thames Valley branches this Autumn. Great Western Railway would like to transfer as many Class 165/166 Turbo units as possible to strengthen services in the Bristol area and are looking at alternatives for the branches including using Class 679 Flex trains which will be converted from the ex-Thameslink Class 319s by fitting diesel generator sets under two coaches. Being four car units the Class 379s would not be suitable for the Marlow branch.

Ticket Machines for Marlow and Cookham

GWR will be installing ticket vending machines (TVMs) at Cookham and Marlow in December. They will be card-only (and probably NFC) .

Update: Cabling and shlters for the ticket machines have now been installed. GWR has a franchise committment to install TVMs by end December 2018.

Latest: TVMs are now in operation.

Bourne End Latest

The feasibility study conducted by Atkins identified that it would not be possible to meet current Network Rail (NR) standards within the constraints of the railway land available, and it would be necessary to secure Network Rail approval to deviate from their set standards. Since then GWR has been working with NR on the necessary deviations. GWR initially planned to secure approval in principle for the deviations before proceeding with GRIP 3, which is the next stage in the design and options process. The complexity of the site, and the range of options available is making it difficult to conclude discussions.

GWR has made the decision to proceed with the GRIP 3 work now to keep things moving. This is a major piece of work, and is expected to complete in October. It will identify which signalling and track options are most appropriate and provide the level of design work needed to enable full consideration of the deviations required. The ongoing discussions about the project have also identified some additional challenges, including the need for the Marlow platform to be extended to accommodate a 3-car train, and the possible need for mitigation works at level crossings on the line to offset the increase in risk generated by the additional services. Development work on these elements will be undertaken concurrently with the GRIP 3 design work for Bourne End.

NB: GRIP is Network Rail’s process for the Governance of Rail Investment Projects.

Taplow Footbridge Saga

A new temporary footbridge has been erected on the site of the old footbridge. This will enable a new permanent footbridge with lifts to be built at the London end of the platforms (various excuses for it not being in the original position have been put forward). Provision is being made for a lift to platform 1 and the south car park although this may not be installed initially. One span, presumably the undamaged one) of the old footbridge will go to the Gloucester & Warwickshire Railway for use at Cheltenham Racecourse station.

GW Franchise Not to be Split

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has let it be known that the Great Western franchise will not be split into smaller units for the next tender. The possibility had been suggested in the recent public consultation but most respondents, MMPA included, were against the idea. MMPA’s response was that although one large franchise we could mention is in trouble it didn't mean that big is bad. Splitting the franchise would only have created more interfaces and more attribution clerks trying to apportion the blame for every delay minute. The fragmentation of the industry is a contributary cause of the timetable débacle in May this year.

Cookham Station House to Reopen

The station building is due to reopen on 9th August. The old Station Master’s house will be returning to Network Rail. The control box for the “millenium clock” has been found and Cookham Parish Council hopes to be able to send a contractor in to service the clock. GWR’s Facilities Manager, Paul Willis said an official reopening of the station may be held. He promised an in depth cleaning of the area around the station especially in regard to the vegetation and undergrowth.

Update: The latest word from GWR is that Network Rail is due to finish work on Thursday 9th as planned. GWR will move the equipment from the temporary hut back into the ticket office on Friday and the office should be open for business on Monday morning, 13th August.

Bourne End Latest

Network Rail has advised us that the surveys for the new chord are complete and the findings are being “drawn together”. Network Rail were due to meet GWR and its contractor (Atkins) in April to “understand the output of the surveys”. We understand that the project has not yet reached Network Rail’s GRIP stage 3 which is option selection.

Newbury Electrification

GWR has reminded us that the next stage of Newbury electrification work starts on Monday, 9th July and runs until Thursday 12th July, the line will be open on Friday 13th July and for the weekend of 14th and 15th July. It then closes on Monday 16th July and will not re-open until Sunday 5 August. This line closure includes weekends and weekday.

More details including diversionary routes, bus times and alternative car park arrangements are on GWR’s dedicated Newbury upgrade web page.

The company has used social and traditional media, on board and at station messages, staff at stations and on trains to alert customers to the longer closure through July and into August, and it will have extra staff on hand to help throughout.

Cookham Station

The temporary ticket office is now in operation. We understand that the Gents toilet has been kept in service and the Ladies has now been offered back to GWR for use. Network Rail has put out a tender for the repair of the station areas affected by dry rot, and they are hoping that work will be completed in the summer.

May Timetables Available

The new GWR timetables valid from 20th May should be available at staffed stations. There are minor changes to the Marlow branch on weekdays. The Sunday service has been shifted by a few minutes and will change again on 16th September.

Chiltern has a limited supply of the timetable booklets but they will be under the counter and you will need to ask. We expect to be sending the smaller High Wycombe leaflets to members who have requested them.

Update: GWR has advised us that mobile tickets cannot be delivered for journeys to Paddington until QR code readers have been installed on the gatelines for platforms 10/11 and 12/14.

Mobile Ticketing rolled out across GWR

Smartphone tickets are now available for many GWR journeys, through updated apps for iOS and Android. These include most single and return fares but not season tickets or London Travelcards. The tickets display QR codes which will open the gates where scanners are provided. At the moment scanners are not available at all stations with gatelines so visual inspection may be necessary. We found a number of teething problems which we hope will soon be sorted out, including using the wallet to pay for tickets.

More Capacity from May 20

GWR made a few timetable changes in May which should provide more capacity for Maidenhead and Twyford. The 0730 Maidenhead to Paddington will become 12 coaches. The 0802 will be 12 coaches and will start from Twyford (0752) instead of Didcot Parkway. In the evening the 1749 from Paddington may be retimed to 1742 to even up loadings. The 1842 will be retimed to 1836 and could be extended to 12 coaches.

GWR is seeking approval to retime evening branch services to provide a 6-minute connection. 1713 through to 2043 would be retimed to 1716 to 2046.

GWR to Operate Heathrow Express

Great Western Railway has concluded a contract to take over the operation of the Heathrow Express from the end of 2019. The Heathrow infrastructure will continue to be owned by Heathrow Airport Limited. GWR will be using 12 of the new Class 387 Electrostars which will be converted with first class accommodation and extra luggage racks. Some of these units are surplus because of delays and cancellations of electrification projects by the Secretary of State, Chris Grayling - notably Didcot Parkway to Oxford and and the Henley and Windsor branches.

GWR will also be getting some Class 769 units to fill the gap. These are ex-Thameslink Class 319 units which are being fitted with diesel engines and fuel tanks under two of the four coaches. They are three years older than the Thames Turbos they will be replacing. It is likely that Class 769s will be used on the Windsor and Henley branches and fopr the peak Maidenhead - Bourne End shuttle. 2-car Class 165 units will be retained for the Marlow and Greenford branches.

The reasoning behind the move is that Heathrow Express is required to vacate its depot at Old Oak Common to make way for the new HS2 station. The original plan was to relocate to a new depot at Langley, but the new arrangement means that the 387s can continue to be maintained at Reading Traincare Depot. The current Heathrow Express Class 332 units are likely to be scrapped.

The Heathrow Connect Class 360 units will also go, being replaced by Elizabeth Line Class 345 trains which will run from both terminals to Abbey Wood (see next item). The HST depot at Old Oak Common has already been evaucated, as HSTs are being replaced by Class 800 bi-mode trains. The remaining HSTs are maintained at other depots on the network.

Crossrail Service Details

MTR have released details of indicative service levels from December 2019 (see diagram). The peak service could be as follows (tph = trains per hour):

2 tph RDG-TWY-MAI-SLO-WDT-EAL-PAD-all stations to ABW
2 tph RDG-ABW all stations except HAN, AML
2 tph MAI-ABW all stations except HAN, AML
2 tph HWV-ABW all stations except AML
4 tph HAF-ABW all stations
12 tph PAD-SNF all stations
4 tph LST High Level-SRA-all stations to GDP

Tickets will be fully interoperable with TfL and franchise services. Travelcards covering zone 6 will be valid to Heathrow terminals on Elizbeth Line services, but separate fares to Heathrow will apply to single journeys.

Taplow Footbridge Saga

We’re grateful to Mark Langman, Western Route MD at Network Rail for the latest news. Network Rail and its insurers have decided that the old bridge is not repairable. However, following representations from MMPA, NR and TfL have agreed to extend the fully accessible replacement bridge to span all four lines between the north and south car parks. We pointed out that without a lift on the south side, wheelchair users would need to make a dangerous journey through the railway underbridge where there’s no footpath and a history of flooding, in order to get to the new shopping centre and bus stops.

Update Crossrail wants to build the new footbridge where the temporary footbridge is now, which means they will have to erect a new temporary footbridge where the old footbridge was. The new footbridge will be extend to platform 1 and the southern car park but will not have a lift at that side. Space will be left for a lift to be installed at a later date, but no committment was made.

AGM - Friday 23 March

Our AGM will be held on Friday March 23rd at Bourne End Community Centre, Wakeman Road, starting at 19:45 hrs which should fit in with trains from Maidenhead and Marlow. After the formal AGM we shall have updates from GWR, Chiltern and Network Rail followed by a question and answer session. All are welcome.

Extended Hopper Fare now in Operation

You can now make unlimited bus and tram journeys in the TfL area using Oyster of NFC (“contactless”) within one hour of first touching in. More information.

Great Western Franchise Consultation


The government is currently running a consultation on the specification of the next Great Western Franchise. The options put forward include splitting the franchise into two: London - South Wales and Bristol and London to the South West, and hiving off certain services such as Ealing West to Greenford to Chiltern. MMPA will of course be responding but individuals are also welcome to submit responses. Al responses must be received by Wednesday 21st February.

You can find more information and the consultation documents here.

IET Seats to be Replaced

Following a torrent of complaints from passengers the austere “ironing board” seats in the new Intercity Express Trains are to be replaced. The cost will fall to the DfT (and thus the tax payer) as it was they who specified the trains.

First Berkshire Quits Slough Bus Routes

First Berkshire has announced the following service withdrawals:

  • Service 2: (Slough Dedworth) from Friday 29 January.
  • Service 5: (Slough Cippenham) from Saturday 20 January 2018.
  • Service 6: (Slough Wexham Court) Sunday service from Sunday 21 January 2018.
  • Services 10 & 11: (Slough Datchet Wrasybury Heathrow) from Saturday 20 January 2018 Service.
  • Service 15: (Slough Eton Wick) from Saturday 20 January 2018.

On Service 4: (Slough Maidenhead) there will be changes to the evening timetable throughout the week.

Slough Borough Council has confirmed that it has contracted Reading Buses to provide some of the services withdrawn by First Berkshire on routes 4, 5 & 6 from 20 January 2018.

Reading Buses has announced that from Saturday 20 January, Reading Buses, who will trade under the Thames Valley name in Slough, will provide the following services:

  • Service 4 (Slough-Bath Road-Maidenhead) - Evening service.
  • Service 5 (Slough-Chalvey-Cippenham Green-Cippenham) - Complete service.
  • Service 6 (Slough-Wexham Park-Knolton Way) - Sundays.

We await further information regarding services 2, 10, 11 and 15.

First Berkshire Quits Slough Bus Routes

First Berkshire has announced the following service withdrawals:

  • Service 2: (Slough Dedworth) from Friday 29 January.
  • Service 5: (Slough Cippenham) from Saturday 20 January 2018.
  • Service 6: (Slough Wexham Court) Sunday service from Sunday 21 January 2018.
  • Services 10 & 11: (Slough Datchet Wrasybury Heathrow) from Saturday 20 January 2018 Service.
  • Service 15: (Slough Eton Wick) from Saturday 20 January 2018.

On Service 4: (Slough Maidenhead) there will be changes to the evening timetable throughout the week.

Slough Borough Council has confirmed that it has contracted Reading Buses to provide some of the services withdrawn by First Berkshire on routes 4, 5 & 6 from 20 January 2018.

Reading Buses has announced that from Saturday 20 January, Reading Buses, who will trade under the Thames Valley name in Slough, will provide the following services:

  • Service 4 (Slough-Bath Road-Maidenhead) - Evening service.
  • Service 5 (Slough-Chalvey-Cippenham Green-Cippenham) - Complete service.
  • Service 6 (Slough-Wexham Park-Knolton Way) - Sundays.

We await further information regarding services 2, 10, 11 and 15.

Big Housing Developments Need Public Transport

Housing developments are proposed for Slate Meadow. Bourne End (250 houses) and in the field behind the Garibaldi, accessed through Holland Farm (500 houses). The roads are very narrow, Cookham Bridge a major problem , Bourne End Parade not easy, Hedsor Road already tough. This clearly brings public transport into the frame in a big way and MMPA is on the case!

The group responsible is Keep Bourne End Green.

Earlier stories | Current Stories | Later stories

Valid HTML 4.0!   Best with Any Browser   Mastered on RISC OS 6

Last updated 12th March, 2019