Monday, 19 April 2010

Full services to all airports - by rail

Whilst the industry boasts about strengthening services to cater for increased demand it appears that dedicated airport links are running nearly empty.

This from AirRail News...

At 13:30 Monday Heathrow Express and Gatwick Express PR spokesman Stephen Forster reported that they are running normal services to the airports, but people are asking – is it necessary?

Heathrow Express just went by. I counted 3 passengers on board. Why not run a restricted service?” asks one twitter user.

Now in the bad old days of BR someone would have taken the decision to shift some of those wasted resources to help provide additional capacity elsewhere (either directly or by freeing up trains and crew on other routes).

Alas, with today's myriad of operators and their micro-managed contracts all that matters is meeting PPM - even if the passengers have gone elsewhere.

UPDATE: This from The Master in cynical mode...

To be fair to HEx, trying to use their EMUs on reliefs West of Airport Junction wouldn't be too smart an idea.

UPDATE: This from Billy Connections...

Hangonnamo Mr Compiler...

Thought you understood PPM?

1) Heathrow Express doesn't publish PPM scores and AFAIK doesn't have a legal obligation to run anything - so as long as whatever does run keeps to time (to avoid disrupting other TOCs) they don't have to run at the usual frequency.

2) Gatwick Express & Stansted Express are measured for PPM on the timetable that is loaded into the "system" - which can be changed up to the end of the previous day. Their PPM would be measured against that.

Of course the two operators have a franchise commitment to run a certain level of service but if the DfT (prop. The Thin Controller) wants to gain a few brownie points then it can grant them permission to temporarily reduce the service and then make a boast about how green it is being by not forcing two TOCs to run empty trains around all day.

As long as they run to the temporary timetable they'll get a good PPM score (and Gordon Brown gets a better PM score...)

UPDATE: This from @BBCTravelAlert, via Twitter, at 15:25 on Tuesday...

with no flights in/out of Gatwick, the G Express tween Gatwick & London Victoria will run hourly both ways from 19.30 this evening.#ashtag

This frequency will remain in place until further notice. Morning & evening peak not affected & Brighton -Gatwick Express running as normal.

Once flights resume at Gatwick,the Express will return to its 4 trains per hour. to help incoming airline passengers to onward destinations,

trains will run though the night on a half-hourly basis each night until the backlog of passengers has ceased. yay for the Gatwick Express!

Good effort!