TONY CAVE: Peak-time morning trains to return at Carlton this December

Station adopter and local train expert Tony Cave brings us the latest news from the borough's railways

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New timetable

This commences on Sunday, December 12 and will see most of the trains which have been cancelled since June, re-instated. However we will still have a few two-hour gaps at Carlton as for example the 10.04am to Newark and 11.03am to Crewe do not seem to have returned. This is still far from ideal, but we do have the 08.02am to Crewe again from December 13, which was before lockdown, our busiest train of the day.

Thursday 13th Feb. 2020 saw 58 joining and 2 alighting from this service with 94 on and off 5 consecutive trains.

The day before we actually had 120 on the 5 trains with 28 on and 2 off the 09.05 Matlock, and they weren’t all just going to Nottingham!

Routes of Remembrance

The annual event organised by the Veterans Charity and formerly known as the Poppy Express, will this year be commemorated along both our local lines, culminating in a 2 minutes silence and service at the war memorial at Nottingham station at 11.00am on November 11. A group of school children will be travelling on the 09.35 from Lincoln to Nottingham for this event, and a service will also be held at Derby.

Carlton

Engineering work from Monday 8 to Friday, November 12 will result in the 20.37 Carlton to Cleethorpes terminating at Market Rasen, with a bus replacement onward to Cleethorpes.

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The 22.00 Cleethorpes to Nottingham will be replaced by a bus through­out, calling at Carlton at 02.08! It means there will be no 23.55 train to Nottm.

Netherfield

Ongoing strike action on Sundays has resulted in a few train cancellations, one of which is the 09.36am from Netherfield to Nottingham.

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Transport improvements

Major improvements to Nottinghamshire’s transport infrastructure is being demanded

by politicians and business leaders in view of the Government’s upcoming spending review,

It is well known that the East Midlands area remains at the bottom of the league table for transport investment. Data published this July shows that funding in the East Midlands has declined over the last 20 years to just 58% of the UK average. Poor transport is consistently highlighted by our businesses as a major inhibitor of growth, said a spokesperson from the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce.

Local railway enhancements given a mention in this report are speed improvements on the Nottingham to Lincoln line, being described as a “shovel-ready” scheme. This is long overdue, and ought to open up the possibility of more Lincoln/Grimsby trains calling at Carlton. There is a “pent up” demand locally for better train services, and Carlton would justify having trains calling every half hour.

Netherfield should have at least an hourly train service, allowing the ever increasing number of local residents to travel to work, or expand the scope of where they can work, reducing the number of cars on the roads, and of course reducing pollution.

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A person working at Bingham had to use the 08.53am from Netherfield one day as his car was in for repair. He said he wouldn’t mind waiting an hour for a train if it saved him having to use his car, with all the traffic congestion on that route.

Also mentioned in the report are proposed rail enhancements between Nottingham, Leicester and Coventry (which I mentioned last time) and HS2 features prominently in the report.

Future potential passengers

So much development is happening locally which will impact on the number of people using our stations, providing train services are available for their use.

Teal Park at Netherfield has completed the first of its three phases, and when complete it is expected there will be over 340 jobs, including Aldi with 125 working there. Many of course will be local, but others will travel from further afield. The site will have 33,300 sq. ft. of trade units and a 28,860 sq. ft. industrial unit. Housing is also being developed here.

Then there is the Sainsbury’s supermarket on the Colwick side of the railway line due to open on November 10 with up to 200 jobs.

Chase Farm at Gedling already has 200 new homes, and when the new access road is open’ (currently late Spring 2022), there could eventually be 1,000 homes on the estate.

There are a number of smaller ‘infill’ sites such as 10 dwellings proposed against the Crossings Social Club, which are very handy for the station.

Another large housing development is underway in Bingham, with 1,000 homes being built, and our area with the Colwick Industrial Estate and Netherfield Retail Park, would provide work for some of these people, but only the railway provides a direct service and at present there aren’t many trains. There is no direct bus service, and even by car it can take an hour at peak times.

Rail usage

Rail usage figures for 1-20 September showed that around 60% of passengers were back on trains compared to pre- pandemic levels. Latest figures show around 50% of commuters have returned, but up to 90% of these are off-peak travellers. However, many train services have been cancelled temporarily, and this is especially acute at Carlton where there are no trains to Nottingham on weekdays between 06.53 and 09.03, and off-peak services are mostly only every 2 hours.

An article in the Railway Magazine for October mentioned that rail travel needs predictability. EMR and other railway companies have mostly tried to run the reduced timetable to allow for staff having to isolate for covid, reducing the numbers available to work trains and other associated factors, such as the government issuing an edict to cut operating costs.

In Brief

Lincoln Christmas Market is still planned to take place from 2nd to 5th December, but nothing is certain in the present circumstances, and when I checked a week ago no extra trains were shown, but this could change.

Talking of Christmas, local trains usually ‘wind down’ on Christmas and New Year’s Eve around 20.00 and resume on 27th, although this will be a holiday in lieu of Christmas falling at the weekend. On New Year’s Day trains do run from around mid-morning to a Saturday timetable this year.

EMR have created a new area at Nottingham station designed to provide a welcoming space for passengers who require assistance or need a calm place to wait for their train. The Assisted Travel Lounge, which has been installed on the dispersal bridge at the station, provides customers who have booked passenger assistance a designated waiting area and a clear meeting point

The annual Station Adopters Conference was held at Derby on October 8. Again, I was unable to attend, but Francis was able to. I saw him catch the 09.03 to Derby as I spent a good couple of hours putting in the winter bedding plants in the station garden that morning. One person was waiting for the withdrawn 10.04 to Newark, so I managed to get him on the lb.02 via Nottingham. Another person checking trains to Lincoln knew that she had to go via Nottingham, but did not realise there were later trains direct from Lincoln on a Saturday evening. I also saw some passengers I hadn’t seen since lockdown.

EMR have introduced an improved First Class menu on London services and a food and drink service for Standard customers is being trialled.

Off-peak day returns are not valid in Winter on the 08.53 from Netherfield to Skegness, and the cheapest is 2 single tickets each way at £15.50 each. You can go on the 09.03 via Nottingham, to get off peak fares, but for the sake of 7 minutes you would have thought they would have made some concession, like they do in summer, for our only direct service in the morning. On Saturdays off-peak tickets are valid.

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