Thanks for sharing your questions for Henley Trains’ informal meeting with GWR last week. Henley Trains have provided this update with the answers.
Note that these were on-the-spot answers for on-the-spot questions so take them as instant interpretations rather than investigations:
Wargrave service during the Henley Regatta.
- GWR put their hands up and fully apologise for a combination of events resulting in replacement bus and train service information shortcomings.
- On the branch train sizes during the Regatta, train engineering problems meant that only one ‘set’ was available on Regatta Wednesday, and GWR did provide the biggest – 3 cars. On the Thursday and Friday 2×2 car sets were provided – 4 cars being the most that can run from the branch platform (5) at Twyford. Additional capacity was provided on Saturday, so the only shortcoming was the loss of 1 carriage on day 1, when the best available solution was provided.
Friday evening problems including short notice of a departure from the far-off platform 14 at Paddington.
- Later Friday evening departures are prone to such difficulties because weekend engineering work starts during the evening and the lines go to a single track each way. Main line work means platforms 1-8 at Paddington are not available. However, they took the point and will talk to Network Rail to see if the concourse platforms might be used, and that announcements are given with sufficient time for people to walk (at normal pace) from the concourse.
Last connection to Henley being missed.
- The last connection should be held wherever possible (but I don’t think we’d expect that to be indefinite). Although there are no station staff present at Twyford, there’s a Help point on platform 4 which should arrange taxis in this event. Don’t forget the twitter team @GWRHelp and the customer services number 03457 000125 if it looks like your train into Twyford is looking like it will be significantly delayed.
Implementation of the improved off-peak timetable proposed for May 2017.
- The majority of passengers are in favour of this change, but there IS a small impact on Wargrave passengers, for whom two off-peak services (note, not the busier immediate post- and pre- peak services) would be lost in favour of two additional services at the arguably busier times in the peak / evening.
- The changes reflect the fact that morning through trains to London will become connections onto other fast trains at Twyford (which we knew would happen as electrification comes) but the branch shuttle train would then remain and deliver further peak services to the main line. This is not possible currently as the branch carriages have gone to Paddington once the 0742 goes off the branch.
- Evening services would also improve with a half-hourly fast service making better connection with a dedicated branch train which won’t be susceptible to delays out of London like the current three through services which form 60% of the peak branch service.
- Overall this is an improvement for everyone and Henley Trains supports it.
- GWR were meeting with Wargrave users on Thursday to discuss this further.
Maintaining weekend connections on and off the branch
- When there’s engineering work at the weekend, the branch timetable is not adjusted to match, leading to some long delays as Twyford. We requested that GWR consider the branch timetables when adjustments are made. They took this point away.
Is there benefit in the 0742 HOT PAD stopping at Maidenhead when there are other closely adjacent services, this train is mostly full by then and this train blocks the main line?
- GWR say the figures suggest that Maidenhead needs all the services it has. Of course there may also be branch users getting off at Maidenhead, and we have few enough trains as it is, so yes, there is.
Air conditioning and heatwave service
- The heatwave last week was difficult for everyone. Some trains do have air conditioning but it’s not designed for that level of heat and there’s a fundamental problem in that every time the doors are opened the cold air disappears and the process has to start again. At that level of heat the windows needed to be opened, and were.
- GWR gave advance notice of heat related service restrictions on Tuesday and Wednesday. With a risk of track distortion, some of these changes are designed to run the railway with as few track changes as possible (ie points movement), hence changing evening through service to changes at Twyford with additional branch shuttles. As we understand it, morning services ran normally. A driver advised me that movements into and out of Paddington itself were affected by 20mph speed restrictions. Given the movement into different platforms, one might understand that!
Thank you for sharing your concerns. We hope these answers are clear, honest and helpful.
Send your rail questions to Henleytrains@gmail.com at any time. And follow on Twitter @Henleytrains