die belebende Bedenkung

Inspired by the Swiss

with 4 comments

Network Rail is consulting on its December 2014 ‘Improving Connectivity‘ report, which outlined a Swiss-style taktfahrplan approach to improving rail connections. The 55-page document focused on how journeys could be improved within East Anglia, but similar developments could be implemented in other parts of the country.

Anglia road and rail flows (Network Rail 2014)

Anglia road and rail flows (Network Rail 2014)

According to Peter Wilkinson, Managing Director – Passenger Services at the Department for Transport’s Rail Executive, “A timetable that promotes more efficient connections between our regions is an essential ingredient in the way we begin to move from being producer-led to becoming market-led”.

[Extract from Improving Connectivity report]

[2.1] Britain’s railways have tended to focus operations and investment around traditional rail travel patterns. In London and the South East, this has focussed upon markets such as commuting and leisure trips to central London. Developing other potential markets has been less of a priority.

[2.2] In the case of Anglia, this approach to planning and operating the network has resulted in the pattern of demand shown in Figure 2.1. Rail usage is extremely London-centric: lines close to the capital struggle to cope with demand, while some of those further out are so under-utilised they struggle to justify their existence.

[2.3] Usage of Anglia’s trunk roads, Figure 2.2, suggests that existing rail demand is not an accurate reflection of overall travel demand. The road network supports a much wider set of regional flows and as a result demand is more evenly spread.

[2.4] Improving Connectivity proposes shifting the strategic focus of the network’s development towards providing better across-the-board connectivity, to the extent that a viable alternative to other modes of transport is offered across a wide range of routes. […]

[2.5] This sort of wider connectivity has been very successful in Switzerland. The Swiss do not centre operations solely around getting people to Bern or Zürich. Instead, they have designed a network that provides a seamless journey between any two stations, either on a direct train or using a series of well planned and well managed interchanges. The timetable is designed many years ahead, which in turn drives their infrastructure investment.

[2.6] In Britain, applying the Swiss model is complicated by the dominance of London. The three timetabling principles described in the [report], although inspired by the Swiss, were developed specifically for Britain.

Unfortunately, unless the HS2 project is abandoned, it looks unlikely that funding would be available to implement ideas like those in the Improving Connectivity report.

Written by beleben

January 9, 2015 at 10:53 am

Posted in HS2, Planning, Politics, Railways

4 Responses

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  1. Talking about ‘more efficient connections between our regions’, the world’s biggest ship was shown on TV yesterday docking at Felixstowe, sky-high with containers. What rail routes will these containers take to ‘our regions’?


    January 9, 2015 at 12:19 pm

  2. Jonathan Tyler seems to have been an advocate for connectivity through timetabling in the Swiss fashion for some time.
    How much better than the HS2 dream which appears to be reduce the journey times between a handful of stations that are not connected well to the rest of the network or city centres. In the process spend vast amounts of money doing that and to hell with the rest of the network.

    Perhaps if it cost more to transport containers across England some of them might be landed at a more appropriate port. What seems to be clear is that containers from Felixstowe should not go anywhere near London, unless that is their destination, or on the southern part of the WCML.

    I would imagine that for the £50+ billion that HS2 will cost we could remodel the entire network to carry freight and achieve very much better real connectivity between actual origins and actual destinations.


    January 9, 2015 at 7:47 pm

  3. p37 is interesting:-

    “Currently, the main east-west freight corridor is via Peterborough and Leicester. With reopening between
    Cambridge and Bicester, the opportunity should exist to develop alternative cross country freight routes, such as via Bletchley. Further reopening, between Bedford and Northampton, would provide a considerably shorter, and already partially electrified, cross country route to the West Midlands. Reopening between Cambridge and Huntingdon,with a north chord at Coldham Lane, could provide an electrified alternative to the route via Ely.”


    January 14, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    • Thank you for pointing that out.

      It’s good to see that some people at Network Rail can see potential in enabling rail traffic along the Northampton — Bedford — Cambridge axis.


      January 15, 2015 at 6:16 pm

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