Back in November, a consultation was published by Network Rail which “sets out the strategic vision for the future of this vital part of the rail network over the next 30 years”. Formally, this is called “Wessex Route Study Draft for Consultation”.
The train line through Camberley is part of Windsor Lines, within the Wessex Route
The document is not really suitable for – or intended for – public consultation. But views from ‘anyone’ are invited. As we’ve not seen any commentary on the document, and the deadline for responses is mid February, here’s an attempt at producing one.
Firstly, the two issues of most relevance to Camberley (and Bagshot, and Frimley). Both relate to peak hour passenger services (the study also considers off-peak services, freight and other issues.)
Issue 1. Work is in hand to increase train lengths in our area to 10 carriages during the period 2014 to 2019. One extra peak time train service via Richmond, and two via Hounslow, are planned to be introduced by 2019. The increase in Hounslow capacity is reckoned to be sufficient until at least 2043, although further work would be needed on the Richmond line to meet anticipated demand at that date.
Issue 2. There are serious capacity constraints on the main line – ie the Farnborough line – and this could remain the case for the best part of a decade. This, we presume, will affect the chance of any future connection from Camberley. Quote: “most services are loaded in excess of planning capacity, and standing is commonplace from Woking and Basingstoke. Passengers are also standing from as far away as Southampton”
Why do we say this?
Issue 1. an extract from the study: “The Route Study’s assessment is that the extra capacity already planned for CP5 will be sufficient to accommodate the anticipated demand for Windsor Line services in 2024 (via both Hounslow and Richmond). As a result, conditional output CO4 will be met …. Over the longer term, the Route Study’s assessment is that the extra capacity already planned for CP5 via Hounslow will be sufficient to accommodate the anticipated demand for services using this route by 2043. As a result, conditional output CO1 will be met for the route via Hounslow ….. On the route via Richmond, a capacity shortfall equivalent to 24 passenger vehicle arrivals into London Waterloo in the high peak hour is anticipated by 2043. Whilst it is not possible to directly provide extra capacity via Richmond within the end-CP5 capability of the network due to level crossings and other route capacity constraints, an opportunity exists to ease crowding on this route by introducing new services using spare train paths which are available via Hounslow (see Option 1). This option takes the total number of Windsor Line services operating into London Waterloo during the high peak hour to 20 trains per hour, the maximum possible within the end-CP5 capability of the network. Whilst Option 1 reduces the 2043 capacity shortfall via Richmond, a gap remains and as a result conditional output CO1 cannot be fully met for this route without further investment in the network.”
– CP5 is the period 2014 – 2019
– CO1 is “To provide sufficient capacity for passengers travelling into central London during peak hours, taking into account anticipated growth over the period to 2043.”
– CO4 is “to provide sufficient capacity for passengers travelling into central London during peak hours, taking into account anticipated growth to the end of Control Period 6 (2024) – Windsor Line services”
– Option 1 is “Utilising spare network capacity on the route via Hounslow to ease the level of crowding on the route via Richmond”
Issue 2. a second extract from the study: “Over the longer term, the Route Study’s assessment is that a capacity shortfall equivalent to over 150 passenger vehicle arrivals into London Waterloo in the high peak hour is anticipated by 2043 on Main Line long distance services. 72 of these passenger vehicle arrivals are required by 2024, some of which are needed to meet an existing shortfall in capacity. Both of these figures assume that any extra capacity will be provided by 20 metre passenger vehicles, configured with 3 + 2 seating in standard accommodation. If the extra capacity was to be provided in a 2 + 2 seating configuration, this would further increase the number of passenger vehicles required by approximately 20 per cent. Three ‘making best use’ options have been identified to increase capacity within the end-CP5 capability of the network (Options 2, 3 and 4, assessed below). Two of these (Options 3 and 4) involve making informed trade-offs against other rail outputs. In combination, these three options do not provide sufficient capacity to meet the level of demand anticipated by 2024, and so chapter 6 of the Wessex Route Study identifies further investment-led options to meet the end-CP6 capacity requirement.”
– Option 2 is “Lengthen existing Main Line long distance services in the high peak”
– Option 3 is “Further deployment of three plus two seating in standard accommodation on Main Line long distance services”
– Option 4 is “Operate up to two additional Main Line long distance trains in the high peak hour”
– end-CP6 is 2024
Some more information about the study.
The study is a major and authoritative piece of work, extending to 150 pages. Quote:
“A three tier structure for rail industry and wider stakeholder dialogue has been established to oversee and help produce this Wessex Route Study Draft for Consultation. First, a Programme Board, chaired by the Alliance Managing Director for Wessex with senior level representation from passenger and freight train operating companies, Rail Delivery Group, TfL, DfT and the ORR provides high level review and a forum to resolve any significant issues which the Working Group wish to remit to the board for decision. Second, a Working Group, chaired by Network Rail has a mandate to discuss the study on behalf of the rail industry with other stakeholders and a review of the ongoing work to develop them. The Working Group is where stakeholders meet to determine how the conditional outputs from the Market Studies can be accommodated, including identification of service specifications and options with the aim of developing choices to funders for Control Period 6 and for 2043 through publication of a Route Study Draft for Consultation and Final Study. The working group comprises representatives from the current Train Operating Companies (both passenger and freight) who operate on the route, Rail Delivery Group, Department for Transport, Transport for London, Network Rail, and the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) as an observer. Thirdly, a Regional Working group, convened and chaired by Network Rail, provides location specific oversight as well as an opportunity to collaborate in the production of the Route Study with the rail industry. The Regional group membership comprises Local Authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, Department for Transport, Airports and Freight stakeholders on the route. Network Rail has managed the development of the work through an internal ‘Technical Working Group’ to deliver the information necessary to support the deliberations of the Working Group. Where industry input has been required, this has been augmented by attendance or discussions with rail industry stakeholders.
…the Cross Boundary Working Group has provided significant input to the work to set out the Cross Boundary passenger and freight assumptions for the study to use. Additionally, a number of one to one meetings with stakeholders have been held to shape the proposals contained within this Wessex Route Study Draft for Consultation.”
The end result is a document that is full of detail, albeit sometimes turgidly written. It appears to be based on a substantial amount of analysis and data, and this means that it is impossible to check its conclusions and findings without a great deal of further investigation. However, apart from natural caution, there is no obvious reason to suspect that its conclusions are wrong.
What is very apparent is that any urging by the public to improve the Camberley train service beyond that set out in the document would be unlikely to make much impact unless it were based on a similar degree of analysis and data. It would have to take account not only of local circumstances, but of the operation of, and constraints on, the rail network as a whole. This would be a challenge. Not an insurmountable challenge, but not something to be taken lightly.
Should you respond to the consultation?
As the report is almost certainly based on a summary of extensive data and analysis, it is difficult for a ‘lay’ reader to make any informed response. But our recommendation is, nevertheless, that readers should respond to the consultation, highlighting the inadequacy of Camberley’s train service and emphasising that all possible measures should be taken to provide a faster link to London.
It’s a moot point whether to comment on the dilapidated state of the trains and the station. The implication is that such matters are outside the scope of the study. On the other hand….
Responses should be submitted to WessexRouteStudy@networkrail.co.uk by 17th February at the latest. (The study website says 18th Feb, but the document itself says 17th.)
As an Aside