Sunday 28th August 2022
Some people like to drive cars sporting a personalised registration plate depicting their initials.
It’s not so easy to do this when you’re a ‘bus and train user’ but routes numbered RF1 and RF2 are pretty close to the concept for me personally so it was with a heavy heart I recently took one last ride on route RF1 a couple of weeks ago before it ceased to use that number after the end of service yesterday.
The two routes, RF1 and RF2, have been operated by Centrebus for some years on behalf of Rutland Council. RF stands for Rutland Flyer and route RF1 has run hourly between Melton Mowbray, Oakham, Uppingham and Corby with RF2 running six journeys a day (four on Saturdays) between Melton Mowbray and Oakham via some of Rutland’s delightful villages.
But it’s all change from this weekend when new tenders have been awarded and route numbers are changing to a new R series.
Route RF1 becomes plain boring R1 and will be operated by Stamford based Bland’s while route RF2 is renumbered R2 and will continue to be operated by Centrebus.
Other renumberings this weekend include Vectare route 47 (Peterborough to Melton Mowbray) becoming R4 and Bland’s route 12 (Uppingham to Stanford) changing to R5 with a new R9 formerly Centrebus route 9 which at one time went all the way from Peterborough to Nottingham (changing its number to 19 midway); now it’ll be operated by a Rutland County Council minibus between Stamford and Oakham, such is the way of the diminishing world of tendered operations.
My recent journey on route RF1 left Corby at 11:54. Luckily a Centrebus liveried bus was on one of the departure stands which lie either side of George Street adjacent to the town’s main retail offer as this saved me from wandering up and down the road seeking out which bus stop it departed from.
We pulled away dead on time with just myself on board which remained the case right through until we reached the village of Manton 38 minutes later on the south western edge of the delightful Rutland Water, where one man boarded.
Before that we’d paused for about ten minutes in Uppingham – normally it’s just five minutes stand time there, but due to a road closure we’d been unable to serve the village of Lyddington so had made up time.
The Manton man alighted in nearby Oakham – eight minutes further along the route – where there’s another five minutes stand time pause at the town’s bus station before continuing on to Melton Mowbray. Three passengers came on board at Oakham, one travelling a short distance home in Oakham itself, and the other two alighted near the village of Ashwell. We picked up one final passenger in the village of Whissendine who travelled the 15 minutes to Melton Mowbray.
Centrebus have been deploying three buses on the route to maintain the hourly timetable and it doesn’t take long to realise the numbers travelling are just not sufficient to justify this.
It’s not surprising to see when Bland’s start the new timetable after tomorrow’s bank holiday on Tuesday it will be slimmed down from an hourly frequency to six journeys a day including a three hour gap between journeys at 09:15 and 12:15 from Melton Mowbray and 10:54 and 13:54 from Corby which will do nothing to make the service attractive to new users.
Rutland is a unique Unitary council with some smashing scenery…..
…. not least the amazing Rutland Water (shown in the maps above).
It holds the accolade of being Britain’s smallest local authority wedged in between Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and West Northamptonshire with Oakham (population circa 12,000) its administrative centre.
Back in 2013 the Council won a grant from the DfT to fund a circular tourist bus route serving Rutland Water.
Running four journeys on a daily basis it was a great route to take a ride on which I managed to do before it was withdrawn two years later in 2015 when the funding ran out and it had failed to attract enough passengers to become commercial.
As you can see a special livery featuring Shore Link branding was applied to the bus used on the service which had facilities to take bicycles at a fare of £2. I mention this in the context of Bus Service Improvement Plans and just to show there’s nothing new when it comes to funding “new and innovative” but sadly, little used, bus routes.
However, back to the main subject of this blog and it’s cheerio to route RF1. It was good to know you.
Blogging timetable: TThSSu