Thanks to this parliamentary question from Scottish Labour, we can see how few trains have been ‘stop-skipping’ in recent times.
While ‘stop-skipping’ is hugely annoying for some passengers affected by it, there can be reasonable explanations for actions which are taken in the interest of the greater good of all the passengers on the system at any one time. See this:
Skip-stop is a public transit service pattern which reduces travel times and increases capacity by not having all vehicles make all designated stops along a route.
When skip stops are used in rail transit, the transit operator designates stations as either major or minor, typically by ridership. Usually, all vehicles stop at the major stations, but only some vehicles stop at the minor ones.
In systems that have no extra track for a faster train to pass a slower train, skip-stop may be employed either during busier travel hours to reduce travel time of a particular train, or during off-peak hours to raise efficiency by not stopping on “unpopular” stations.
‘Skip-stopping’ has been used on London buses for a long time. London has a very good bus service, which was never deregulated. They have a real time information service at bus stops – Strathclyde Passenger Transport please note the comparison with its risible ‘Streamline Service’, which when it works is just an electronic timetable display.) and there is also a broadcasting system on buses, which tells passengers the stop being approached. It also informs the driver to skip stops, to delay at some or to even curtail the service. There is always an explanation and there is always another bus fairly soon.
This technology could easily be replicated in Scotland, but we have the intransigence of the big transport operators.
Skip stopping is a reasonable thing to do in the interests of the totality of the service and it appears to be used pretty sparingly. However, if it is based on the ‘popularity’ of stations, this might not be the best criterion for rural services where stopping at isolated stations is essential. I suspect that this will be taken into account and that it will be used most on services like those on the Glasgow city and suburban lines where the service is frequent.
A number of years ago, presumably on the advice of accountants bound on ‘cutting costs’ (which they would call ‘waste’) many of the tracks which were used for passing were lifted.
On my last three sojourns to London, on each occasion the train has been halted just short of Preston because of an eejit on the line. This results in the train chugging slowly to Preston or Morecambe behind a slow local train because all the passing tracks have been lifted.
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