The Anonymous Widower

A Trip Around The West Midlands

Today, I did a trip around the West Midlands, using five different trains.

Tain 1 – 19:10 – Chiltern – London Marylebone To Leamington Spa

This was one of Chiltern’s rakes of Mark 3 coaches hauled by a Class 68 locomotive.

I like these trains.

  • They are comfortable.
  • Everybody gets a table and half sit by a big window.
  • There is more space than Virgin Train’s Class 390 trains.
  • They may be slower, but they are fast enough for most journeys I make.

The train arrived seven minutes late at Leamington Spa at 11:32.

Train 2 – 12:02 – West Midlands Trains – Leamington Spa To Nuneaton

This is a new West Midlands Trains service, via the new station at Kenilworth and Coventry.

The trains are Class 172 trains, that used to run on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

Note.

  1. The have been repainted and refreshed.
  2. The seat cover on the driver’s seat is a relic of the London Overground.
  3. The train now has a toilet.

The train was about half-full and I got the impression, that the new service had been well-received.

The train arrived on time at Nuneaton at 12:38.

Train 3 – 12:54 – West Midlands Trains – Nuneaton to Rugeley Trent Valley

The train was a Class 350 train and it arrived eight minutes late at 13:29.

These pictures show Rugeley Trent Valley station.

It is very minimal with just a shelter, a basic footbridge and no information on how or where to buy a ticket.

Passengers deserve better than this!

Train 4 – 13:43 – West Midlands Trains – Rugeley Trent Valley to Birmingham New Street

This is a new West Midlands Trains electric service.

Compared to the Leamington Spa to Nuneaton service, passengers were spread rather thinly in the train.

The train was a Class 350 train and it arrived five minutes late at 14:44.

Train 5 – 15:55 – Chiltern – Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone

Another comfortable Chiltern Railways train back to London, which arrived four minutes late at 17:47.

Customer Service

Customer service and especially that from West Midlands Trains was rather patchy.

  • Leamington Spa station was rebuilding the entrance, but staff were around.
  • Nuneaton station was very quiet.
  • Rugeley Trent Valley station needs a lot of improvement.
  • The two Birmingham City Centre stations were much better.

I actually had to travel ticketless from Rugeley Trent Valley to Birmingham New Street, as the Conductor on the train didn’t check the tickets.

But Virgin Trains were very professional at Birmingham New Street.

Service Pattern

I have some observations on the service patterns.

  • For comfort reasons, I would prefer that Chiltern ran Mark 3 coaches and Class 68 locomotives on all Birmingham services.
  • In the future, it looks like Leamington Spa and Nuneaton needs at least a half-hourly service.
  • There definitely needs to be more services on the Chase Line.

There also is a serious need for staff and better facilities at Rugeley Trent Valley station.

No-one even a hardened member of the SAS would want to spend thirty minutes changing trains there on a blustery and cold winter’s day.

Conclusion

I tried two new services today, that started on the May 2019 timetable change.

  • A diesel service between Leamington Spa and Nuneaton via Kenilworth and Coventry.
  • An electrified service between Rugeley Trent Valley and Birmingham New Street.

The first would appear to be what passengers want, but the second needs a bit of promoting.

 

May 24, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kenilworth Station – 1st May 2018

Kenilworth station opened yesterday on the last day of April 2018.

The design is slightly different.

  • There are two footbridges.
  • There are two lifts
  • There is one track and platform, but with obvious space to add a second track and platform.
  • There is adequate car and cycle parking.

But most surprisingly, it has a combined cafe and booking office, where I had a quick cup of quality chocolate and could have used one of the many sockets to charge my phone.

Currently the service at the station is a one train per hour (tph) shuttle using a one-coach Class 153 train between Coventry and Leamington Spa stations.

The capacity of the route will be doubled, when the train is replaced with a two-car Class 172 train, that will be cascaded from the London Overground, when new Class 710 trains can work the Gospel Oak to Barking Line.

It could be at least doubled again, by adding the second track and platform through Kenilworth station, which would allow trains to pass and a frequency of at least two tph.

There must also be possibilities to extend the service at both Coventry and Leamington Spa.

Leamington Spa To Nuneaton

It might seem logical to extend the service at Coventry along the Coventry to Nuneaton Line to Nuneaton station, where there is the bay platform, that Coventry lacks.

  • This would mean that the service would have to cross the tracks of the West Coast Main Line.
  • Coventry to Nuneaton takes twenty-two minutes
  • Coventry to Leamington Spa takes nineteen minutes.
  • The Class 172 trains, thatwill be working the route are 100 mph trains, whereas the current Class 153 trains, are twenty-fivw mph slower.

If the problem of crossing the West Coast Main Line could be solved, I suspect that a two tph service between Nuneaton and Leamington Spa stations could be run with only two trains.

CrossCountry

CrossCountry services between Bournemouth and Manchester Piccadilly stations, pass through Kenilworth station.

If the second platform is built at Kenilworth, could these trains stop?

Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Castle is a ten minute walk from the station.

Will the station bring more visitors?

Conclusion

Kenilworth station will become increasingly important.

 

May 1, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment