The Anonymous Widower

A Ticketing Problem For Crossrail

Ipswich are playing at Reading tonight and as it’s an easy trip out from London, I bought a ticket in case I wanted to go.

I certainly won’t have a problem getting back, as there are fast trains to London after midnight.

But the match is on television and the weather looks to be pretty good, so I might just go and not waste my fifteen pound ticket.

As going to Reading in time for the match would mean a journey out restricted by the rush hour, I could go via any number of places like Windsor, Maidenhead or Slough to have a late lunch.

It got me thinking!

The Mayor has said, that when Crossrail opens, you’ll be able to use a Freedom Pass to Heathrow, just as you can now on the Piccadilly Line.

But how far will you be able to use a Freedom Pass on the branch to Reading?

The problem is complicated by the fact that there are three branches off the line between London and Reading; Henley, Marlow and Windsor.

To further complicate matters, direct peak-hour services operate between the Henley and Marlow branches and London.

Putting together snippets in the news and from Theresa May’s web site, led me to the conclusion which I talked about in this article, that all three branches will probably be served by new IPEMU trains (Class 387 or Aventra), as this would avoid the need for electrification.

So we’ll end up with a main line Crossrail service with a frequency of at least four trains per hour to Reading and shuttles and the occasional through trains from the branches.

The whole area will certainly end up with contactless ticketing using Oyster and bank cards, with perhaps a travel card or Ranger ticket thrown in.

But the real problem is organising the charging structure, as contactless will work well at collecting the fares, but how do you charge.

Crossrail will effectively link Windsor to Central London with a fast train and one change, so for tourists going to Windsor will be as easy as going to other important suburban venues like Wembley or the Olympic Park.

Get the ticketing right and the Thames Valley will get a lot of extra visitors.

To return to my earlier question, how far will my Freedom Pass get me in the West?

Crossrail’s journey calculator says that Bond Street to Shenfield, which will be the Freedom Pass limit in the East will take me 48 minutes.

Projected times from Bond Street for the West are as follows.

  • Maidenhead – 40 minutes
  • Twyford – 46 minutes
  • Reading – 52 minutes

I do wonder if TfL and Crossrail will adopt the same rule as they have for Shenfield, as Reading is projected to only take four minutes longer than Shenfield.

This rule would mean that you can travel to Reading, provided you use Crossrail.

I can see an awful lot of protests, if passenger to Reading, got a worse deal than those going to Shenfield.

Which leaves us with the problem of the branches.

  1. Will the branches follow London rules on ticketing and be cashless and contactless, but still allow through paper tickets?
  2. Will direct trains to London still be run in the peak hours?
  3. Will the branches be part of the Great Western franchise or Crossrail?
  4. Will Booking Offices be closed on the branches?

I suspect that however the branches are managed, passengers from London will consider them part of Crossrail and will want to use contactless ticketing all the way.

The most contentious issue would be if it was decided that there would be no direct trains between Marlow and Henley and London.

All of these problems will hopefully be sorted before Crossrail opens.


September 11, 2015 - Posted by | Transport/Travel, Uncategorized | , , ,

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