Results tagged “integrated timetables” from Passenger Transport Networks

PTN Document

An integrated timetable for the East Coast

13 June 2014


What matters most for the East Coast Main Line is a good timetable - one that is attractive for passengers and that makes the best use of valuable capacity.  That should be the starting point for judging the franchise bids and the case for open access - and it is also very relevant if the franchise stays in public hands with the present East Coast company.  The proposals in this report start from a clean sheet and develop an integrated, regular-interval timetable on the model of the Swiss Taktfahrplan.  They are intended to provoke discussion, and comments are welcome.  They will provide the basis for similar plans for related services and maybe in due course for the national network.

Read the report:  SPIRIT--ECML.pdf


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PTN Document

Challenging the ideology of privatisation

14 November 2013

Contemporary railway policy is dominated by market ideology.  Contrary to the relentlessly upbeat stories put out by Ministers and the industry cheerleaders all is not well.  Current institutions and processes cannot deliver the national network of high-quality services that travellers need and which are essential if we are to maximise the social and environmental benefits of our railway.

This paper analyses the issues in depth and with copious references and proposes radically different policies.  It was given at an Institute of Railway Studies Workshop at the National Railway Museum.  Comments are very welcome.

Read the paper:  IRS paper_FINAL.pdf


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PTN Document

PTN commends concessions model to Brown Review of rail franchising

5 December 2012

In the aftermath of the collapse of the franchising of West Coast the Department for Transport commissioned Richard Brown to review the process.  PTN is not alone in believing that the problem is more fundamental and has therefore written a submission that commends the model of operating concessions.  The paper discusses a range of potential benefits.  In particular it proposes the establishment of an independent Agency that would bring about an integrated national timetable to provide the framework for the concessions.  The Agency would operate by consensus among all the players - government, Network Rail, train operators, the concessionaires themselves, passenger representatives and trades unions.  Separating planning and delivery in this way and creating a single national brand would yield most of the advantages of reunification without entailing massive reorganisation, and it would encourage commercial acumen through profit-sharing incentives.

Read the submission:  BrownReview-Tyler.doc 


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PTN Document

A National Timetabling Authority

7 April 2012

Britain's railway is notoriously disconnected.  But does it matter if each franchisee optimises its own services and resources and pays scant regard to what its neighbours are doing ?  Would the country be better off with a network organised to afford Swiss standards of connectivity ?

PTN has long argued that these questions merit rigorous analysis - but as yet to no avail.  A complex organisation and fragmented and legalistic timetabling processes have apparently sub-optimal outcomes for capacity, for operational efficiency and for passengers, but the industry claims countervailing benefits and rejects any idea of a new structure.

Ultimately the argument goes to the question: is the railway just another 'supermarket' business or is it an important part of the social fabric, there to secure accessibility for everyone in the community and to do so in a truly sustainable manner ?

Since the Government's Command Paper ignored these issues PTN wrote to the Secretary of State to put the case both for an independent study and for a National Timetabling Authority [NTA].  The aim would be to resolve present anomalies and conflicts and work toward the re-creation of a real sense of a national network.  The NTA would work by consensus and devolve its tasks wherever appropriate.

The letter to Justine Greening MP, Secretary of State for Transport is here :

Transport Secretary letter.doc.

The Department's response was mildly encouraging and so PTN followed it up.  The documents can be found here :

DfT response.pdf       DfT_Foot.doc.

An accompanying discussion paper explains how it is envisaged an NTA might work, but it also outlines how policy changes by the Department and by ORR might achieve better-integrated timetabling in the immediate future without the need for major changes in organisation.  This is backed up by some examples of why the outcome of the present processes is unacceptable.

Reforming Timetabling.doc      Connections_12.xls.


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PTN Document

ECML - the saga reviewed, and a comparison with France

6 April 2012

In August 2010 the Office of Rail Regulation published a 'lessons learned' report on the ECML timetabling process.  Jonathan Tyler reviewed this document in the November 2010 issue of Modern Railways.  He noted that the preoccupation with process meant that larger issues were overlooked.  Perhaps the way to end drawn out arguments and mediocre outcomes in timetable planning lies in a fundamental reappraisal of railway organisation.

The ORR report is at :

Accompanying the critique was a timely account of the decision by RFF, the French infrastructure manager, to initiate a comprehensive overhaul of its national timetable in order to create extra capacity, introduce greater regularity and enhance network-wide connectivity.  RFF employed the Swiss integrated-timetabling consultancy SMA to undertake this task.  If France can justify the approach (and do the work remarkably quickly) why cannot Britain at least mount a study of the potential benefits ?

The articles were "How not to write a timetable" and "France adopts integrated timetabling".

They can be found here : Lessons_learned_Commentary.doc.


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PTN Document

The Rail Value for Money Study : profound insights or another denial of the obvious ?

6 April 2012

In February 2010 the Department for Transport and the Office of Rail Regulation jointly commissioned a study of the Value for Money of the railway and appointed Sir Roy McNulty to lead it.  His group reported in May 2011, and the findings have influenced Government policy as expressed in the Command Paper published in March 2012


The industry has accepted the main findings, including the setting up of a Rail Delivery Group composed of senior people from the principal companies and the move toward close working between the newly-devolved route administrations of Network Rail and the associated Train Operating Company/ies.  However, many commentators have queried both the reliability and the interpretation of some of McNulty's conclusions and noted the absence of a recommendation to reunify the railway, despite the recognition that when a system is so fragmented it becomes inherently inefficient and costly.

A curious feature of the Study was that no public invitation to submit evidence and ideas was issued, while its method of working was opaque.  Nonetheless PTN did make a submission (although it was never acknowledged !).

The reports can be accessed at

PTN's submission is here : VFM.doc.


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PTN Document

Timetabling for engineers

6 April 2012

Following a presentation at the National Railway Museum the editor of the Journal of the august Permanent Way Institution invited Jonathan to contribute an article on timetabling to its April 2010 issue.  This considered the central role of the timetable in the planning, operating and marketing of railways, and hence its (not-always-recognised) status in railway policy.  Deficiencies in the current process and the arguments in favour of an integrated approach were outlined.

The article's appeal to engineers who need to understand the context of their work designing and maintaining the track was confirmed by subsequent invitations to speak at two PWI technical meetings (Wessex in January and Croydon in October 2011).

 The article is available here : PWI.pdf.


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