Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Slow train from Tunbridge Wells.

In 1931 a Schools class steam locomotive pulling 12 carriages ran non-stop between Tunbridge Wells and Cannon Street in 46 minutes.

In 2011 a modern electric train takes 52 minutes with two stops - High Brooms and London Bridge for the 33 mile journey.  Such is progress.

The High Speed service between Ashford and St Pancras takes 35 minutes with one stop, at Stratford. Passengers from Tunbridge Wells  and stations to Orpington are paying higher fares to meet the cost of this service, even though journey times on their own route do not match the service provided 80 years ago.

The electric trains are hardly run to their full potential.  On the Ashford - Tonbridge route the trains amble between stations and have long dwell times, although I suspect this is deliberate to encourage passengers from Ashford to London to pay extra to use the High Speed line instead of the 'historic' line to Cannon Street/Charing Cross.

I accept that the slow speed is a consequence of a number of factors:

  • The line between Tonbridge and Orpington is close to maximum capacity at peak times.
  • Line speeds in the London area are constrained by the signalling and flat junctions.
  • The London Bridge bottleneck.
Works to improve capacity at London Bridge and provide grade separated junctions near the country side of the station have commenced, but nothing has been done to address the Tonbridge-Orpington bottleneck.   Nothing is planned.  The government and KCC have nothing in their transport strategies to suggest anything will happen for the next 20 years.

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