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Week 6: Darcy.

Saturday 13th February 2021

I was uncertain whether this week’s ‘word of the week’ is ‘Darcy’ or ‘uncertain’. I plumped for the former as there seems to be so much uncertainty about the latter, especially when it comes to whether Cabinet Ministers reckon we should all be booking our summer holidays. Turns out we shouldn’t, unless it’s in Cornwall.

And we shouldn’t really need reminding by the media that as it is winter it’s not surprising snow and freezing temperatures have been a thing this week with ‘Storm Darcy’ bringing the “lowest temperature recorded in the UK for 26 years, as low as -22.9C in Braemar during Wednesday night”. Social media exploded with wintery images showing slipping and sliding vehicles along untreated icy roads. Most dramatic I spotted was video footage of a First Essex Streetlite gingerly negotiating an untreated hill in Essex ending up broadside.

Photo (and video) courtesy Mike Jones

One of my favourites from the hundreds of photos circulating was this bus on Lynx route 36 at Brancaster Staithe along the north Norfolk coast captured by Sam Larke. After all, who doesn’t love a beautifully presented Grade II listed preserved AA phone box? Sam teased social media watchers asking readers to identify the location before revealing the answer.

Photo courtesy Sam Larke

I also particularly liked Network Rail Scotland’s image taken from the NR helicopter showing the effectiveness of Rannoch’s snow shelter protecting the West Highland Line.

Photo courtesy Network Rail

One photo circulated by ScotRail on Thursday had a ‘wow’ factor to it – showing the “huge blocks of ice that can form underneath our trains as they travel through snow. Here’s one of our Inter7City trams back at the depot last night“. ScotRail use enormous heaters to melt the ice “but it can take hours”.

Photo courtesy ScotRail

Although parts of England including East Anglia and Kent suffered badly – three Southeastern rail lines remained closed throughout Tuesday – Bromley North, Medway Valley and Sheerness – Scotland suffered the biggest impact with Xplore Dundee and Prentice of Heddington, as well as others I’m sure, unable to run any services for at least most of one day.

It reminded me when freezing snow and ice hit Brighton and Hove in a bad way in January 2010 forcing a complete withdrawal of services with the hilly terrain that dominates much of the city making conditions treacherous. My friend, Commercial Director of Stagecoach Midlands, Pat Stringer, who was at B&H at the time, reminded his Twitter followers this week how we came up with a novel solution to keep some semblance of service going by deploying the coach fleet equipped with snow chains – more accustomed to freezing conditions on school ski trips in the Alps.

Photo courtesy Pat Stringer

Aside from the weather, Monday brought an invitation from the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) to its members to get in touch if they “wish to express an interest to bid” for the upcoming work from Monday 15th February of taking passengers arriving at UK airports needing to quarantine in hotels for ten days. “Depending on capacity and demand some passengers may need to be transported to hotels further away from the airport they fly in to”. There’s been a lot of discussion in the media about the timing and organisation of this new mandatory requirement and CPT’s email explained “we understand the Crown Commercial Service will soon begin requesting expressions of interest from Coach operators located in the vicinity of these airports to provide shuttle services …. the exact requirements operators must meet have not yet been finalised, but CPT are continuing dialogue with Government”.

It all sounds very last minute dot com but nice to see a bit of work for hard pressed coach operators, but I do wonder if the “requirements” when finalised (especially cleaning/sanitation) may well be onerous for the remuneration offered.

Unwelcome news on Wednesday for aspiring Open Access operator Grand Union. Its application to run a service between London and Carmarthen, planned for December this year, was turned down by the Office of Road and Rail (ORR). ORR reckons it will abstract too much money from DfT funded regular services along the same line operated by GWR as far as west as Swansea. Ironically First Group, who run the GWR ‘franchise’/’contract’/’direct award’ gained permission (pre Covid) to run a similar open access competitive service on the London to Edinburgh route which will abstract revenue from DfT funded LNER. It’s obviously all down to application timing. Mind you, if things don’t pick up for a few years, which looks quite likely, I wouldn’t be banking on any profit from any open access operation any time soon.

More positive news from Transport for Wales this week is a confirmed date for the long planned introduction of Mark 4 coach sets (ex LNER) hauled by Class 67 locomotives (from D B Cargo) on the enhanced Cardiff to Holyhead service. These will start running from the upcoming May timetable incorporating first class seating and a catering service. The ‘Gerald’ train just got better and a must repeat visit if travel restrictions are eased by then. Let’s hope so.

The TfL funding soap opera continued this week with Mayor Khan joining forces with the London Assembly’s Group Leaders writing to Grant Shapps on Monday asking for the £500 million vehicle excise duty collected from London residents with motor vehicles to be allocated directly to TfL. I’m sure at least one of the writers must have watched last week’s Transport Select Committee when Shapps gave the idea a total no no. This is surely going to go right up to the wire again.

One tangental upside of Covid has been the lack of any industrial action on public transport over the last twelve months. Sadly that seems to be coming to an end with news this week Unite the Union is planning three days of strike action the week after next at RATP owned Quality Line on Monday 22nd and Tuesday 23rd February and London Sovereign on Wednesday 24th. Both disputes are over pay and conditions. Unite also reported they’ll be balloting members at Metroline over proposals to introduce remote signing on. Meanwhile in Manchester, Unite reported on Tuesday its members working for Go North West have voted for strike action over another terms and conditions dispute.

In the current circumstances, I can’t see any of these threats being followed through with an inevitable lack of any public sympathy. It won’t be a good look withdrawing labour leading to no buses operating …. essential services for essential workers and all that.

Friday brought news the current three month shut down of the Island Line will be extended for “about six weeks” lasting into at least May. Why was this all but inevitable? Project timescales, deadlines and railways just don’t seem to go together these days.

Luckily the poster did vaguely say “spring 2021” which May is.

Positive news from Southern Rail this week: the first Class 377 to go through GTR’s £55 million fleet modernisation programme, now 20 years old is now back in service.

The makeover includes a much welcome introduction of USB/power sockets as well as information screens (to include current up to the minute London Underground status) and LED lighting. Only 269 more trains to do.

Talking of makeovers, Durham’s dreary bus station closes today for an eighteenth month rebuild and refresh; and a good thing too. Built in 1970 it’s long needed updating and refreshing having outlived its attractiveness at least a decade ago.

The £10.4 million project (£3.6 million from the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund) will see the current building demolished over the next three months with the replacement expected to open in September next year.

Durham County Council proudly explain: “the new bus station has been designed to increase the overall space for passengers in a light and airy setting, with increased visibility and safety for buses leaving the station. This includes increasing the reversing area for buses leaving bays and widening the exit onto North Road to improve visibility, with additional pedestrian access also being created”

Inside, there will also be increased facilities including parent and child toilets and a changing places toilet, as well as increased seating and space in the passenger waiting area. The plans also include a two-storey area with office space.

Why does it not surprise me to see the different approaches by the bus station’s two major operators, Go North East and Arriva North East to let their passengers know what’s happening.

Here’s Go North East’s comprehensive information online:

(This is just an extract)

And here’s Arriva’s:

Arriva’s famed useless website demonstrates yet another aspect of its uselessness with a default ‘service updates’ setting as a comprehensive countrywide list in date order, but (see below) starting from the earliest date at the top of the list (eg early January) before displaying a small number of entries below which you need to click on a “search all service updates” icon to find the latest news. Useless. At least you can filter a specific region (if you know your Arriva region), but as shown above, it doesn’t help you much in the north east.

More positive news from Go North East on Friday is the long awaited roll out of their ex Oxford Bus coaches on routes X9/10 between Middlesbrough and Newcastle from Monday. And very smart they look too.

Also on Friday came news Crossrail’s Tottenham Court Road station reached “an important milestone” commencing the process of handing the station over to TfL. Work is now focusing “on the extensive testing and commissioning of systems ahead of the line’s opening”. I’ll resist making any comment on timescales and deadlines (just think ‘all set for a December opening’ as confirmed by Crossrail in Summer 2018).

Many thanks to JD who passed on news last week that Scottish Borders Council’s Planning Committee have just approved plans for a new station on the East Coast Main Line at Reston. The planning documents describe the station as a “new rail halt facility” which gives it a ‘quaint factor’ and how appropriate if it was called ‘Reston Halt’ when it opens.

You’ve got to love the image showing an LNER Azuma calling at Reston. Dream on.

Located between Berwick-upon-Tweed and Dunbar, it’s another of those stations closed in 1964 and subject to local campaigning for some years to get it reinstated to the network. Network Rail began drawing up plans for its return in 2015.

Reston itself is a tiny settlement on the A1 which wouldn’t justify a rail station in its own right but it’s hoped the station will (quote) “revitalise the rural communities of Berwickshire and further afield and will enhance and open-up transport links and improve connectivity”. the nearest major settlement is Eyemouth on the east coast, about five miles away. Naturally a car park is included in the plans, but for only 70 cars, although there’s potential for “possible extensions to accommodate up to 110 and potentially up to 195 spaces”. Seventy car parking spaces doesn’t sound very viable to justify a new station to me. As JD observed “if the experience of Tweedbank on the Borders Railway is anything to go by, it would be as well to provide the 110 spaces from day one” all the more so, as although a bus turning area is also incorporated, the low population density in the area is hardly going to encourage bus operators to serve the station to connect with whatever trains are going to call there.

Let’s be realistic, rail passengers are only going to arrive by car especially as Reston’s bus service can hardly be considered comprehensive – five journeys a day on Border Buses route 253 between Edinburgh and Berwick-upon-Tweed (see above) and four journeys a day on Travelsure’s route 34 between Dunn and Tweedmouth (see below).

As ever, the planning application papers enthuse about “interchange hubs” etc … such as… “the proposed site layout, access road and new junction have been designed to form an interchange hub between train, bus, cycling, walking and private car. The site, by its very nature will be highly accessible by public transport and will form a hub facility for transfer between transport modes”. Come on, get real guys.

Costs for the new station were estimated as £3.2 million back in 2015, so on current form, we could at least double that and add a couple more million, but wait for this gem, “operating costs in the region of £68 million” were estimated at that time. That’s because the idea is to introduce a new Edinburgh to Berwick-upon-Tweed local service stopping at Reston, another new station planned at East Linton, and other existing stations along the line. Imagine what Borders Buses could do with an annual subsidy of £68 million …. for just one route.

Claire Bhugowandeen, Network Rail’s sponsor for the Reston station project said: “now we have clarity on the planning decision, we can now move to get onsite as quickly as possible and work with our partners to deliver this new station for our customers and the wider Reston community”. Local campaigners optimistically hope the new station “will be open by the end of 2021”. Yeah, right.

Another proposed new station further north along the same line, East Linton, is currently awaiting planning approval from East Lothian Council. East Linton is marginally a bit bigger than Reston, but its nearest town, five miles to the west, Dunbar, already has a station, so I can’t see large numbers of passengers being generated.

News of another new station on the horizon now the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) have approved funding of £15 million from the Transforming Cities Fund is to reinstate a long closed station to serve Golborne (in the Borough of Wigan) north of Newton-le-Willows. It’s one that’s escaped my previous new stations on the horizon list and I see follows “years of campaigning to bring a railway link back by residents, community groups and businesses”. GMCA’s Transforming Cities Fund ‘tranche 2 grant’ from the DfT totals £69.5 million all told, and the other £54.5 million is going on quality bus transit (£10 million), a bus pinchpoint fund (£10 million), a travel hub at Tyldesley (£2 million), electric charging infrastructure (£10 million), other rail and Metrolink projects including Greek Street bridge works (£27.5 million). Nice to see a varied list of projects.

If you’re inspired by the soon to reopen Reston (and almost certainly East Linton) Station and have your own pet idea for a rail line reopening, never mind the UK’s record 9.9% slump in GDP in 2020 (worst since 1709) announced on Friday, now’s the time for full on ‘sunlight uplands’, ‘prosper mightily’ optimism with the DfT’s ‘Ideas Fund’ once again open for bid submissions for a third round of funding to ‘Restore Your Railways’ – but the closing date is not far away on 5th March, so you need to get a move on. The DfT will fund 75% of costs up to £50,000 to “help fund transport and economic studies and create a business case”. The DfT are interested in projects such as “upgrading a current freight line” or “restoring track and services to an old alignment” or “modifying an old route” and details of how to apply can be found here. Details of the 25 “Ideas” which made it through Rounds 1 and 2 can be found here. I wrote about them here (Round 1) and here (Round 2) and many of you kindly commented with your thoughts on many of them too. I’m looking forward to seeing what hair brained pie-in-the-sky schemes they come up with from round 3.

Another planning application approved last week was one involving radical proposals for the front of York station. Always a bit of a congestion hotspot, not helped by being on the city’s inner ring road and space being restricted by Queen Street bridge. The £14.5 million plan (Leeds City Region made a successful bid to the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund) includes the removal of the road bridge opening up space for much improved facilities.

There’ll be an increase in the number, and length of, bus stops which move from being immediately outside the station to the west in some of the space made available by the removal of Queen Street bridge. The masterplan reckons “buses will play a vital role in growing York’s transport capacity” which is good to hear although it also believes “long-stay parking is an important part of the station infrastructure … and remains at its current level” (720 spaces) and in the “longer term, a multi storey car park could be constructed to the rear” although updated plans show this further to the west of the site.

Wednesday saw another Transport Select Committee hearing, the third session in their Enquiry entitled ‘Reforming public transport after the pandemic’ which opened on 24th July last year and had its first and second public sessions on general matters on 2nd December and 20th January . This third one was the first ‘sector specific’ and was devoted to ‘the bus market’ featuring six ‘expert’ witnesses across two hour long sessions. Up first were academia and ‘think tank’ specialists …. Professor Michael Watson of University of Warwick (and Research Associate at the Centre of Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy), Andrew Carter of the Centre for Cities and Sarah Kendall at the Independent Transport Commission. Fascinating.

The second half featured Confederation of Passenger Transport Chief Executive Graham Vidler, Alistair Hands, Commercial and Marketing Director Arriva UK Bus and Norman Baker, now acting as Advisor to the Chief Executive at Campaign for Better Transport.

Committee Chairman Huw Merriman opened the morning’s session by listing the objectives of the Enquiry …. “to examine the challenges the pandemic raises for buses for the long term as the country recovers from the pandemic and the short term; to examine the immediate steps the Government needs to take to ensure the recovery of bus services; how the pandemic has affected the ability of Government to deliver its existing commitments such as the commitment to deliver 4,000 zero emission buses during the term of this Parliament; the priorities and policies that need to be reflected in the National Bus Strategy for it to be a credible response to the immediate and long term challenges now facing bus services outside of London“.

And if that remit doesn’t do it for you, the ensuing questions and answers would definitely have left you underwhelmed. There was the usual talk of … changed patterns of commuting … working from home …. High Street changes …. online shopping …. no-one really knows what the future holds …. recovery partnerships … integration …. zero emissions …. blah blah blah …. but what really really frustrates me about these so called ‘think tank’ experts and some of the Committee members is their obsession that everything’s a bunch of Valentine roses in London but outside it’s a quagmire of flea infestations.

Take this unashamedly leading question from Committee Member Greg Smith MP (North Buckinghamshire) “…. it’s very easy to just hop on and off a bus in London, they’re very frequent, often, certainly in central London, bus stops are very close to tube stations, whereas in my patch, in rural North Buckinghamshire you have to really think about it if you want to catch a bus and time it right and really put a lot of effort in”. Arghhh!!!! Has Mr Smith not noticed there aren’t many tube stations in rural North Buckinghamshire so there’s not much need for frequent buses to stop outside them, let alone a comparable density of population to do the hopping on and off? His question went on to assume “there is a two tier system where the big cities … London, Manchester, Birmingham have good bus services but will these trends” (home working online shopping) “really challenge rural services?”

Interestingly Committee Member Chris Loder MP (West Dorset) with his quiet demeanour and extensive public transport knowledge and experience (he worked for South West Trains before becoming an MP) astutely pointed out that London is subsidised whereas many of the rural routes in his area of Dorset are provided commercially, which is the opposite of what you’d expect and most people perceive.

There was talk from the Committee and ‘think tank’ witnesses of the apparent success of municipally owned companies and franchising. Chairman Huw Merriman explained a previous report from the Committee had recommended a hierarchy of structure starting with franchising, then partnership and also including the option of municipal ownership which he reckoned is coming back into favour with Government as an option. As Graham Vidler pointedly observed “I don’t think there is a hierarchy; I don’t think it’s necessarily the case franchising delivers a better outcome than partnership. There is plenty of evidence across the country of voluntary partnerships achieving improvements in passenger numbers” giving the West Midlands Bus Alliance as an example of success. Huw Merriman pressed him on reaction if the Government changed its stance on allowing new municipals back into the market. As Graham Vidler rightly explained “ownership doesn’t take the need away to work in partnership” citing Nottingham City Transport as an example, pertinently adding “I’m not sure what particular issue it would solve” .

Norman Baker made the excellent point on franchising: “there’s a huge cost to it just in terms of the processing and the preparation and there’s a risk afterwards in terms of the farebox and what that will produce” adding that Government’s have given local authorities various options since 1986 including, for example, Quality Contracts which “weren’t taken forward often because the bureaucratic hurdles were thought to be too high. So if the Government believes franchising is an option that ought to be available to local areas it needs to make it easier to achieve. If it doesn’t like franchising it shouldn’t be there at all. There’s no point offering franchising as an option which is difficult to achieve”. Which made total sense to me; and as we all know franchising is only around as an option because George Osborne and the Treasury offered it as a sop to Manchester as part of that city’s devolution deal. It makes no sense in terms of delivering better bus services. Thanks to Norman too for his praise for the long history of successful partnership working in Brighton during the session.

Wednesday’s Transport Select Committee session left me none the wiser for how public transport will be reformed after the panedmic; I’m not sure the Committee had their preconceived views of bus matters changed either.

Finally for this week bus seat moquette obsessed viewers of Good Morning Britain on Tuesday will no doubt have instantly spotted the uncanny resemblance of presenter Charlotte Dawkins’ outfit to …..

Roger French

BusAndTrainUser View All

I used to run a bus company but in retirement enjoy Britain’s splendid scenic delights travelling by bus and train, and commenting along the way.

18 thoughts on “Week 6: Darcy. Leave a comment

  1. An interest in more municipal ownership to mark a year since Halton gave up.
    The idea that franchising would lead to frequent services in rural areas is snake oil. There are areas that have been very badly served by private operators (I’m thinking Ken’s partner here in their downward phase early this century) and there are some that have been very well served (Birmingham and, er, Brighton) spring to mind, so it is more the strategic direction rather than ownership. Having good management makes such a difference too.

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  2. I totally agree with your take about certain groups of people giving evidence to the Transport select committee in relation to evidence.

    I live in an area where you have these academic types running down the local network whilst also producing lovely “tube style” maps with vague routings showing what a “new” network could look like, filing out the “Bus Bingo” card by talking about a “London style” franchisng system and then of course “£1.50” for a full house

    No details of timetables or even frequencies, no costings. Just nice colourful maps that catch the eye and blather about needing lower fares.

    One of them even cited using profit made by the dominant operator in the area as a way to boost services, not knowing that half of that profit was made OUTSIDE the city they were refering to. More worryingly, they assumed all profit went to shareholders. Yikes! Good luck negotiating wages and loan repayments in your utopia!

    Instead of drawing maps and using emotive language, I’d genuinely love to see these people put actual timetables and bus workings together. Then I’d take them seriously

    Liked by 1 person

    • Of course strikes hit the general public; that’s how they work. The general public can’t use the service, so the company doesn’t get any money coming in, and yes that does affect the company even if they publicly claim otherwise. In my experience the louder a company shouts that industrial action is having no effect, the more effect that action is having in reality.

      I’ve worked for public transport operators whose managers flat refuse to negotiate on any topic unless there’s a strike ballot taking place.
      When faced with that attitude, what can the staff do? Roll over and let themrselves be shafted?
      It’s not 1972 any more, the unions aren’t in the hands of Red Robbo and his bully boys (regardless of what the Waily Mail may claim), so strikes can only happens if enough of the workforce are aggrieved enough to vote for the strikes – and the very fact that so many *are* voting for strikes across the industry should tell you that there are serious problems on those companies.

      Public support is irrelevant. Neither the companies nor the unions actually care what the public think, and the public don’t pay union membership fees so they get no more say in union decisions than they get in the company’s decisions.

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  3. A few thoughts here:
    Municipal ownership? Unlikely unless funded by the Treasury . . . surely local government is aware of the fall in ridership, and those (very few) authorities with money available seem to prefer to throw it away on DRT (pace Watford).

    Ownership and/or Management? I’d say that good local management, supported by far-seeing ownership who are prepared to take a longer view, is what is both desirable and desperately needed post C-19. I’ll develop this further . . . the local management must be given latitude in proposing changes; not all initiatives will succeed, but those with local buy-in will have a better chance. They’ll need time to talk to users and authorities, time away from the day job, otherwise nothing will be thought through and success will elude them.

    Of the big groups . . . Stagecoach has always tried very hard to keep Perth away from what happens locally, and has generally succeeded.
    First was too Aberdeen-centric, but in recent years has eased central control, and has seen the results in improved ridership.
    Go-Ahead has always played the “local” card, even down to liveries and marketing, and has generally been successful, although their model didn’t work so well in East Anglia.
    Arriva . . . well . . . I guess that the lack of support from DB is showing here; both senior and local management look to be both dispirited and marking time. There seems to be no direction . . . I can’t help thinking that the Stagecoach attack on First 10 years ago might be replicated on Arriva in some areas . . . Guildford would look to be a ripe target, amongst others. If it wasn’t for C-19 . . . we might have seen this already.

    No changes in ownership in 2021 . . . CBSSG support will continue (IMHO) until the Autumn; but after that? Once CBSSG support is finished, I’d predict a year of continual network retrenchment, as we see that ridership simply doesn’t recover . . . after 18 months of “don’t use the bus”, after seeing ever more shop chains and shopping centres close and decline, after people realise that on-line shopping is actually OK (including me!) and after working from home continues to be popular. If ridership recovers to 75% overall, I’ll be very surprised.
    Is 75% enough for commercial networks? Outside the big conurbations . . . probably not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m beginning to wonder if Stagecoach is becoming the new First. The imposition of the new livery, and particularly the insistence that it replaces all local liveries, suggests that Perth is taking control and if so, that risks Stagecoach making the same mistakes of over-centralised control that First did.
      It’s fair to say that the last time Souter pulled back from control of Stagecoach the group started to struggle and I have a nasty feeling that it’s happening all over again.
      I don’t think they’ll attack Arriva simply because I don’t think today’s Stagecoach has the attack instinct of old. It’s gone from an innovative, hungry organisation to one full of yes-men managers with little understanding of the industry they’re in (or perhaps that was only Stagecoach Rail) and certainly without enough feel for it to be able to identify viable targets.

      Arriva has long been clueless, even before DB bought them to get their European businesses, and it’s fair to say that we’re probably going to see it being slowly dismembered with depots being sold off piecemeal (as with Cannock) to anyone who’ll take them. Perhaps that’s a good thing; perhaps new local owners will be able to revitalise the operations they buy in a way that Arriva never could.
      If that doesn’t happen then I can see them suffering death by a thousand cuts as they slowly reduce their operations to a point at which they’re simply not viable. The German government won’t care if Arriva UK Bus closes down; the prevailing opinion in Germany is still that DB AG should be concentrating on its domestic operations rather than playing internationally.

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  4. Fantastic round up yet again Roger, another brilliant read !!.

    Your spot on Durham bus station and Arriva’s response doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. As many people have mentioned before, both on here and also in recent Bus publications letters pages , their journey planner is abysmal and hopeless. Surely you’d think they would get their act together and sort the bloody thing out !! Being a part of Deutsche Bahn with their most excellent rail planner (which not only covers Germany but nearly all other European rail services) you’d at least think they would get it sorted…… obviously I was wrong !!

    Liked by 1 person

    • DB’s rail planner was and is created by an outside company called HAFAS, a specialist organisation who understand both their business and their market. Arriva’s website was created by some marketroid operation who clearly understand neither!

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      • Well dare I mention it …. but then get HAFAS in to re do the Arriva bus journey planner and sack the cretins who allowed the abomination they call the current journey planner.

        You can virtually plan a trip from St Pancras international to Moskow via Amsterdam, Berlin and Vienna on DB’s Rail planner yet it’s nigh on impossible to find an exact Arriva bus route for say Southend, Luton or Stevenage, let alone try to fathom out a timetable !!…. you just couldn’t make it up could you…

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  5. As you state, strikes hit the passengers. The better option is to run the buses, but not collect fares, hitting the company and not the passengers.
    In a similar vein, I’ve heard of bus services (albeit a long time ago) being cancelled because the ticket machines could not be programmed. I would have just run the buses without collecting fares – it’s not the passengers’ fault the ticket machines didn’t work. It’s all about putting your passengers (‘clients’) first.

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  6. The “run services but don’t collect fares” industrial action model has been tried before. In my experience, the operator will usually ask the employee if they are “prepared to work normally” when they sign on. If the answer is to the negative, they they are simply sent home without pay, and the bus (or train) still doesn’t run.

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  7. Well yet more committees to try to revive the failing bus services. Low frequencies, poor reliability. buses starting to late and finishing to early. No integration of rail and bus and generally low standards

    Running rail as a collection of competing services failed and it is certainly a complete mess with buses unless you have a virtually monopoly but monopiles dont work in favour of the passengers neither

    To revive bus service money has to be injected into them and the current mess of competing services needs to be sorted out. Unless it happens we will see the victual collapse of bus service outside of the cities and very large towns. They are not going to win back all the passengers they have lost. At best they will get back 90% but more likely only 80%. Few routes will be profitable at that level and if hey cut the Skelton service that operated before lockdown they will simply drive even more passengers away

    Interesting times

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    • I think that Mr. Busandtrainuser, with his career running the buses in Brighton and Hove would take issue with your assertion that monopolies don’t work in favour of the passengers!

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  8. Arriva’s press release about Durham Bus Station closure is to be found in the “latest news” section. They even go as far as telling you the stops Go North East services use too, something that GNE have neglected to do for Arriva. Arriva have been regularly promoting it on their facebook page, however the website still has major issues as a lot of links just take you to an error page. Here is the article: https://www.arrivabus.co.uk/latest-news/closure-of-durham-bus-station

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Just saw about Bow Street station opening – not too sure how much use it will get as the trains are every two hours while there are three services into Aberystwyth – the X28 which is hourly, the 512 also hourly and the T2 which is 2 hourly – and the bus only takes 12 mins anyway so there isn’t gonna be much time difference. Don’t know how prices compare, but you would expect the bus to be cheaper and therefore make a lot more sense for most people travelling into Aberystwyth, which you would imagine is the main journey from Bow Street.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I suspect that Bow Street is targeted more at drivers travelling from Aber to other destinations … from what I can see, parking at Aber station seems to be very limited.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. New direct train to take travellers between Luton airport and London in half an hour

    A new direct train service taking passengers between London and Luton Airport in around half an hour will launch in May as part of an ongoing bid to improve the airport’s connectivity. The East Midlands Railway (EMR) service, which will terminate in Corby on the northbound journey, is to run every half hour between 6am-10pm on weekdays with additional late night and early morning services to serve departures from the airport. The nonstop service provides a faster option between Luton Airport Parkway and the capital than the current Thameslink trains.

    It’s a step towards the airport’s vision of providing a more direct route to travellers – at present, passengers must get a bus between the train station and the airport. However, a “Luton Airport Express” Direct Air-Rail Transit (DART) service is currently under construction to replace this.

    Projected to cost £225m, the 1.4-mile track is due to be completed at some point this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Go North West depot could close in pay dispute

    An all out continuous strike is due to start from the 28th February. Currently the depot is making a loss of nearly £2M . It employs over 400 drivers

    Liked by 1 person

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