Summary of the May 2019 timetable changes
• Three off-peak and return services are extended from Salisbury to Yeovil Junction/Pen Mill.
• Alternating calls on weekday evening Exeter bound trains at Feniton and Whimple are reversed to remove a current performance issue involving the evening peak Exeter – Honiton service and additional calls at Pinhoe.
• Saturdays a.m. Waterloo – Weymouth via Yeovil service, additional Yeovil Junction – Weymouth shuttles with one trip to Corfe Castle via Wareham and the Swanage Railway.
• Sundays extension of further Waterloo – Salisbury services to Yeovil Junction, New hourly Salisbury – Reading service during middle of day calling at Andover with some extended to / from Gillingham.
Train Punctuality for January to April 2019, by Nick Hurrell
Train punctuality is measured on a daily basis. For the Waterloo/Exeter line, a train is considered “On time” if its arrival is with 10 minutes of timetabled arrival at its destination. The PPM target is 89.2% of trains to arrive at their destination with 10 mins of advertised time.
January 2019 88.3%
February 2019 73.3%
March 2019 76.9%
Period of GWR diversions (18 Feb – 8 March) 72.7%
April 2019 83.3%
Since 1st January 2019, the 89.2% target has been achieved on 45 days out of a total of 120 days.
The very poor February figure is mainly due to the regular chaos caused by trying to squeeze the diverted GWR on to the Exeter/Yeovil section. One late train will create a snowball effect of delays for many hours and the timetable is fragile enough, without the added complication of hosting other company’s services. The February figure proves yet again that investment in extra passing loops is essential to achieve some level of timetable resilience.
Feb 2018: SERUG meets MPs and the Rail Minister at the House of Commons
SERUG’s Chair Bruce Duncan and Secretary Nick Hurrell have attended two recent meetings at the House of Commons.
The first, in late February, was to present the Railfuture/SERUG Proposals for long term investment to the MP’s whose constituencies adjoin the line. These can be seen below and downloaded below as Presentation and Proposal.
Sir Oliver Letwin coordinated the group of MP’s and all stations on the Salisbury to Exeter section were represented. Our proposals, which provide major passenger benefits, including better reliability, capacity and time savings were well received. In summary they covered SERUG’s aims as outlined elsewhere on this web site, with track doubling from Dinton into a new platform at Tisbury, and a loop between Whimple/Cranbrook as the main priorities. A further loop between Yeovil Junction and Crewkerne would also help resilience for GWR diversionary trains. Finally, we proposed improvements at Yeovil Junction to allow trains to split and join, which would improve journey opportunities and actually requires minimal investment but simply need the will from Network Rail. The need for new trains was also highlighted. We believe our proposals are realistic given budget constraints.
Sir Oliver, after consulting with his colleagues, wrote to the Rail Minister, Jo Johnson, supporting our proposals and requested funding to allow Network Rail to cost the work.
Subsequently, we were invited to meet the Rail Minister on 1st May. At that meeting we were informed that he has opened a “window” between 31May and 31 July 2018 to allow proposals for additional investment that do not currently sit within Network Rail’s future investment plans. The MP’s are keen that SERUG’s proposals form the basis of improvements to the Salisbury to Exeter section. We will now work with The West of England Strategy Group (Network Rail and South Western Railway supported) and the MP’s to produce a formal plan which also needs to have support from local Councils and LEP’s.
In summary, good progress, but there’s much work to be done! However, we are very hopeful that our continuing lobbying with stakeholder Network Rail, will finally start to see some real plans to improve services on this line.
Nov 2017: Latest Station usage figures to November 2017
The ORR published the station usage figures for the 12 months ending November 2017. We await the figures for November 2018, which may reflect lower number of journeys due to strikes, Network Rail issues, (e.g. track failures, etc) , poor rolling stock availability – we shall see.
The annual increase in rail usage continued during 2017, along the Salisbury to Exeter line, up approximately 4.3% over 2016 despite some passengers deserting rail in favour of cars because the station car parks are often full. Cranbrook showed a huge 340% increase, but with a few deserting Feniton, Whimple and Pinhoe. Cranbrook as a new town is not yet built out (about 30% only). Also Waterloo was virtually closed in August 2017 when the upgrade was carried out.
The really interesting figure is the 58% increase in passenger usage over the past 10 years from 2006 to 2016
Download the file below to view the individual station usage figures for November 2016 to November 2017:
Were things better in 1963? The fastest train of the day reached Feniton (then called Sidmouth Junction) from Waterloo in 158 minutes, whereas today it generally takes 181 mins, but for most journeys today's frequent services beat the days of steam by far.