TONY CAVE: Let’s hope May timetable change gives us back pre-Covid train service

Tony Cave is a station adopter who looks after Carlton and Netherfield stations. Each month he brings us the latest news from the local railway

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Nottingham to Lincoln line improvements planned

Midlands Connect (MC) recently launched a consultation on how to improve and accelerate services between Nottingham, Newark and Lincoln in advance of line speed enhancements which are expected to take until 2026 to complete. Track and signal­ling improvements will cut the end-to-end journey time from 55 to 45 minutes.

Longer term the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan is looking to increase capacity on the route by replacing the flat crossing with the East Coast Main Line at Newark with a flyover. However MC says a doubling of the service from the present one train per hour is more urgently needed.

As it stands, the present slow and in­ frequent rail services between Nottingham and Lincoln mean that only a small proportion of journeys along this corridor are made by train.

Timetable update

Although many services have just been re-instated, it appears that we do not have a full timetable at Carlton, with six trains on Monday to Saturday still missing.

Services to London St. Pancras have all been put back, and a long running dispute which caused some Sunday trains to be cancelled, has been resolved. That means the 09.36am Sundays from Netherfield to Nottingham is running again.

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Also on Sundays (not sure about week­days) there are direct trains from Nottingham to Matlock.

Now covid restrictions have been lifted in England, passenger numbers should start to increase, and there are other factors which should help, such as the increasing price of fuel for vehicles.

It has been noticed that throughout the country, before Omicron struck, commuting was at 50%, business travel at 30% and leisure travel at 90¾ of pre pandemic levels.

As we have never had a decent peak time service at Carlton or Netherfield, these stations should recover quicker, once we get all our trains back, than many others who rely more on commuters.

Hopefully the May timetable change will see a full service as it was pre-covid.

As from March 1, many fares have increased by up to 3.8%. However an enquiry last week showed the Carlton to Nottingham any time return was £4.80. Off peak return 3.30 and single £3.20.


The routes passengers take

On Nov 15. Mark Hill, another station adopter, and I were waiting at Carlton to meet two passengers off the 09.03 train from Newark which was reported 23 minutes late. About 11 were waiting at the platform, with passengers for Leicester and London, who had booked to change at Long Eaton. Instead they would have to now have to change at Nottingham.

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Another person was travelling to Whatstandwell, another to Boston, and as he was visiting the area did not know of the 08.53 from Netherfield. He said he would bear that in mind in future, although that train was suspended in December!

As for the other passengers on the platform, some were more local, including the person who ran up as the train arrived!

One regular passenger said to me that they had gone to Manchester via Stoke-on-Trent with just the one change at Stoke. Could be a bit more expensive, but its an alternative if there are any problems on the Liverpool service from Nottingham.

One lady had just got off a train, having travelled from Bangor, North Wales, with just one change at Crewe.

How it used to be…

After leaving the railway through redundancy in 1993, I spent my time buying and selling railway literature. I still continue this in a small way through the Dawn Book Supply shop on Station Road in Carlton.

Many items now come through a quarterly auction, and I was recently successful in obtaining 50 railway handbills from the 1950s and 60s from the South West and South Wales area.

I was pleasantly surprised to find one headed •NEW DIESEL SERVICE LINCOLN-NOTTINGHAM-DERBY’ commencing April 14th 1958.

On the back of the handbill was a full timetable, which in those days included the branch from Rolleston Junction to Southwell. All trains therefore called at Rolleston, including the Birmingham to Cleethorpes express which only called at Carlton, Rolleston, Newark and Collingham between Nottingham and Lincoln.

An hourly Mon-Sat service was provided with additional steam trains at peak times.

Departures from Carlton to Derby were basically 2 mins past the hour and 1 min. past in the Lincoln direction, so much the same as today, when the full service is restored.

19 trains called at Carlton in the Nottingham direction and 22 in the direction of Lincoln, and all except one of the diesel trains called at all stations. However last trains from Carlton on weekdays were 22.01 to Lincoln and 22.02 to Derby.

On Sundays there were only four trains in each direction, although most other stations only had three.

In 1957 Carlton had 12 trains to Nottingham and 14 to Lincoln so it was an improvement. There were also 9 direct trains from Netherfield to Derby Friargate via Nottingham Victoria.

Train announcements

The Department for Transport is seeking to eliminate repetitive and unnecessary public address system announcements on trains, such as “have your ticket ready when leaving the station”, with other necessary announcements being heard less frequent­ly. Too many announcements and you tend to ignore what is being said, even if one might be of importance to you.

This review will take place during the year, with some announcements being removed in months.

Checking information is important as I found to my cost a few years ago when I travelled to Nottingham on the 08.23 to obtain some timetables and to return on the 08.45 Skegness train to Netherfield. I boarded this train about a couple of minutes before it was due to depart, checking on the screen that it was the correct train.

We set off and the guard came round checking tickets. I showed her my free pass and she asked “Where are you going?” “Netherfield,” I said. “Oh, we’re not doing to Netherfield today, there is a broken rail there and we are diverted via Lincoln with the first stop Sleaford. I came through the train to check”.

It must have happened just before I got on. If I had looked at the details on the screen on the platform it would have shown details of which station the train was calling, and I would have known it was diverted. Familiarity breeds contempt comes to mind.

I eventually got back into Nottingham at 11.30am!

News in brief

FREEBIES: To encourage and support commuters back to rail travel, a new scheme has been launched to offer commuters freebies and offers, including a free Greggs! National Rail host the scheme. Details —–

NEW CAFE: Talking about food, the Waiting Room restaurant/cafe just across from Carlton station has re­ opened as [email protected]

FOOTBRIDGE: Kidsgrove station served by our hourly service from Carlton, now has a new footbridge and lifts so fully accessibl

EASTER SERVICE: There is usually a normal weekday train service on Good Friday and Easter Monday (15th & 18th April this year)

ADOPTERS: The Poacher Line (Nottingham to Skegness) now has around 100 station adopters and many improvements have been carried out at a number of their stations and more are planned.

STATION OPENING: Brent Cross West station on the Midland Main Line is due to open this year. It will be served by Thameslink trains.


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