Seen around

Thursday 30th March 2023

Welcome to another monthly miscellany round up of what’s caught my eye on travels during March.

HS2 into Euston delayed until 2041

And I don’t mean just after twenty to nine. It’s 18 years away. I’m thinking I’ll be very lucky if I live that long to see the day trains arrive and depart. I’m not commenting on the merits or otherwise of HS2 but we are where we are and I couldn’t help ponder about this when travelling into Euston by train as well as along Hampstead Road by bus last week. The scale of the work in hand which is to be paused is just mind boggling.

It’ll blight this area for nearly two decades. Quite apart from Old Oak Common being unsuitable as anything but a temporary fix terminus.

Thank goodness the Leslie Green designed original Underground station building has so far escaped demolition and currently sits isolated and alone in the man made wasteland. If the worst case scenario comes about and Euston is permanently cancelled as an HS2 terminus and all the current work is written off at least that’ll survive as a memorial.

Train timetables at bus stops

I know, it’s unbelievable but when I was in Melksham last week I spotted a departure listing by destination station of trains from Melskham station incorporated into the bus shelter at Market Square.

I couldn’t contain my excitement which was only dented by the realisation it was three months out of date, but checking through, most of the times were still valid, it’s just a pity it couldn’t be reassuringly up to date.

The bus shelter on the other side of the road had a blown up copy of GWR’s printed timetable leaflet which should be praised for actually having a printed timetable leaflet …

… also three months out of date, and again most departures haven’t changed. But people might not know that.

Hopefully the up to date timetable can be installed when the new one is introduced in May.

Aberdeen rail station revamp

I was impressed to see the new look station in Aberdeen after its £8 million makeover. It was officially opened last December and features a much better link to the taxi rank…

… new departure boards above a new ticket office….

… a huge open space for the expanded concourse…

… with space for retail units….

… and a rather swish first class lounge on the first floor which I’m guessing is popular with passengers using the four times a day LNER and the Caledonian Sleeper departures.

The gateline looked as though it had been expanded too.

Why don’t bus companies take down dated notices?

It would certainly give the impression they were on top of what’s happening rather than a couldn’t care less approach. This one was spotted in Milton Keynes…

… while this one is on my own patch between Hassocks and Hurstpierpoint. It was still there yesterday.

Overground marketing

It was nice to see a poster promoting the London Overground when I passed through Honor Oak Park station recently but a closer inspection left me puzzled what it was really trying to convey. It didn’t really show you how to reach the attractions illustrated and it seemed a bit of a wasted opportunity.

As was this bus stop poster I saw again on a visit to Waltham Cross last week – for route 139 which is miles away. I just don’t see the point of it.

Train time posters

It’s pleasing to see more and more Train Times posters returning to station displays but I do wonder whether the plethora of departure times on this one at Honor Oak Park befuddles passengers more than helps them. A shortened display showing “at the same minutes past the hour” might make it less forbidding.

50p pee

One of the great improvements at National Rail run main line stations in London in recent years has been the investment in refurbished toilets and doing away with entry charges. The newly revamped Queen Street station in Glasgow is always a pleasue to travel to and from now but I wish ScotRail would follow suit and dispense with its 50p entry change. I’m sure most passengers do the wiggle with the barrier to squeeze past without paying anyway.

The same applies at nearby Buchanan Street coach station too.

Lovely sign denotes a world leader

I loved this station platform sign at Workington station as I passed through recently. I’d no idea the town is “World leaders in railway technology”. The Workington Transport Heritage Trust explains “a new exhibition, celebrating the heritage and importance of the railway industry in West Cumbria, opened on 26th May 2021 at Workington railway station. With funding and support from the Community Rail Network, ‘The Rails Which Circled the World’ heritage project has transformed Workington railway station into an exhibition centre that celebrates a time when the town was a world leader in rail technology. Iron and steelmaking in and around Workington used to employ thousands of local people, producing industry-leading rails that still circumnavigate the globe to this day.” The things you learn looking out of a train window.

Cash only here

Even Big Issue sellers and buskers now accept contactless cards but sadly North Yorkshire County Council aren’t world leaders in card technology.

I noticed their own minibuses operating the town services in Skipton are “CASH ONLY”. I’m wondering if the County’s own operated DRT over in Bedale is still issuing hand written tickets too?

Lancaster District Bus Users Group doing their bit

I was invited to give a talk to the Lancaster District Bus Users Group a couple of weeks ago and met a keen and enthusiastic bunch of committed passengers doing their bit to promote buses. It was good to see they’ve been given more space in Lancaster bus station (they used to have just one poster case)…

… and made sure there were some timetable leaflets (where available) on display in the nearby library.

It’s just a shame the city’s bus station is so cramped – 20 bus stands with a minimal space for passengers circulation especially with popular routes such as Stagecoach’s 555 to Keswick where the queue can stretch across a number of the bays.

In Furness or not?

I was intrigued that inside Barrow station it’s Barrow Station.

… but as you go to leave you’re welcomed to Barrow-in-Furness.

As you are when you arrive at the station.

Ageing Bakerloo

The Bakerloo line is truly a step back in time travel affair with its ageing trains (over fifty years old now) but the next stop departure signs also seem to play up these days. I’ve noticed on two recent trips in the morning peak there was no Next Train information nor any announcements over the PA leaving passengers clueless as to when the next train might arrive.

Paddington crossover

It often intrigues me what the logic is for the walking patterns between Underground and National Rail stations in London. For example when you leave the Bakerloo line at Paddington you use the right hand escalators to ascend and at the top you then use the right hand side of the corridor to the right hand gateline at the ticket office. But when you approach the stairs and short escalators to the Network Rail station concourse you have to switch over to the left hand side. Why not keep everyone on the right hand side to avoid the melee of people crossing each other?

I appreciate there has to be a cross over but bearing in mind the low frequency of service, maybe this would be better done at the bottom of the escalators by the two Bakerloo line platforms?

Rail replacement woes continue

Are rail bosses deliberately trying to persuade passengers not to use the railway at weekends? I hear Scotrail are seriously considering moving engineering works to a Sunday and Monday to avoid the busiest travel day of the week which is now Saturdays. If only Network Rail and GTR would consider something similar. Trains on the Brighton Main Line are now always busy on a Saturday yet we still have inadequate rail replacement buses laid on for the regular line closures. This minibus was out on Saturday running an all stations Brighton to Three Bridges journey. Suffice to say it was soon full up and left passengers behind at Haywards Heath and gave Balcombe a miss. There was no room for luggage either.

Cars for London

Passing this car showroom in Palmers Green last week I wondered if TfL are aware of the new use of purple colour in addition to the Elizabeth line?

A mixture of 12 and 24 hour clock ends

I see TfL are installing a refreshed design for its bus stop timetables…

… which bring to an end the rather odd practice for years of showing a mixture of both 12 and 24 hour times.

Between 4pm and 5pm there are departures at 1626 and 1659 and between 5pm and 7pm at 1731, 1802 and 1835.

New signs for STP but when will they arrive?

Those new style bright coloured departure signs are to be installed at St Pancras International but the old ones have been missing for over a month. Surely that can’t be right? Wouldn’t you think you’d take down the old signs a couple of days at most before installing the new signs?

The temporary ones are nowhere near as prominent and I suspect most passengers don\t see them.

More miscellany at the end of next month.

Roger French

Blogging timetable: 06:00 TThS

36 thoughts on “Seen around

Add yours

  1. Why are departure lists still not being posted at British stations? I found them at all Belgian stations last week, a refreshing surprise. France and Netherlands do not have them. But in other ways Belgium is far behind with few lifts, many stairs and very difficult access to many high-floor trains. Incidentally Dover Priory has three printed SE timetable booklets, another surprise – if printed why does Sevenoaks not have them?


  2. With reference to the escalators at Paddington Bakerloo line, from my experience of working on London Underground most run one direction only for 21+ hours a day & changing direction causes issues with performance & give a greater chance of breakdowns. That’s why the tend to run in one direction.


    1. Generally they tend to switch them at the larger stations to match the passenger flows

      Switch the direction of an escalator should not affect performance in fact it is probably desirable o switch them to even up wear


      1. I agree with you, Roger, regarding the “Paddington Crossover”; Before the Elizabeth Line changed my route, I used to traipse through twice a day wondering exactly the same thing! All that needs reversing are the two escalators from the National Rail station down into the Underground ticket hall.


    2. Now here is an unusual quirk if you are a 144 user in Worcestershire. As the 48 gets set for its marathon route from Bromsgrove to West Bromwich from the 15th. if you are using First 144 from Catshill to Worcester it’s a SUNDAY service. If you are using the 144A it’s a Saturday Service on National Express West Midlands. Across Worcestershire Diamond Bus are running a normal Saturday service on Good Friday whereas First Midland Red are running a SUNDAY service giving the City of Worcester an very confusing level of Bus Service on what turned out to be a particularly bad day at the office for Jesus. . Is anybody aware of any other City in the UK where the two major operators have two totally different levels of service on Good Friday ✝️


      1. The first class lounge at Aberdeen doesn’t look as though it is branded (certainly not LNER), so is presumably available to any first class ticket holder. Many ScR trains have first class seating, too.


        1. And XC who also service Aberdeen.with Cal Sleeper I suppose that you could regard all sleeping carriages as First.


  3. Quite agree that rail information at nearby bus stops is helpful, but any out of date information is next to useless in terms of instilling any confidence in its veracity, as you point out about the bus stops in Milton Keynes and near Hassocks. It may accompany other information that is correct but the fact that there is clearly incorrect information always leaves me wondering if I can trust any of it.

    In terms of the Melksham example the GWR “B5” rail poster is (only) three months out of date. However the larger Melksham National Rail one expired in September (2022)!


    1. Regarding the Melksham posters, these may have something to do with the Trans Wilts rail partnership. I had a look at their website and their bus connections information for Melksham statin is also out of date. The list of operators with links include First (who haven’t served Melksham for a couple of years), and omit Faresaver, who have served Melksham for several years.

      Many organisations think that publishing a website is the end of the project, when it is actually the beginning. There needs to be a regular update process, including checking all links to external sites.


  4. I met Andy Street CBE for a drink last night & he insists that HS2 is currently on track and funding is to be realised to terminate at Euston albeit two years late.


    1. Never understood as to why they do not run some West Cost Mainline trains into Heathrow. The route exists but needs a minor an upgrade

      Another way of doing it would be to stop some WCML trains at Watford and run a shuttle rail service from there to Heathrow


  5. I’m surprised that you are unwilling to comment on the merits or otherwise of the HS2 railway project in your article. This vanity project is now estimated to cost £155 Billion to complete, from an original estimate of £35 Billion, yet provides only negative benefit in economic terms, saves very little travel time and benefits very few people. Whilst many bus services are being cut because of lack of funding, leaving many people isolated, a huge amount of public money is being wasted on HS2. It’s time that HS2 was scrapped before further Billions are wasted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yawn. HS2 is like Brexit, it’s very divisive and repeating the same figures won’t change anyone’s opinion on whether to build it or scrap it unfortunately.


    2. Opponents of HS2 always studiously avoid mentioning that its main purpose is to free up capacity on the WCML which will benefit lots of people.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It does not though. Most of the congestion remains and Intercity traffic is declining slightly. It is the commuter traffic that is more of an issue and HS2 does nothing to address that


      2. HS2 is the anchor to the redeployment of Eastside in Brum. Those who believe its a vanity project have obviously hasn’t seen the sheer scale of redevelopment it is leading in City Centre & as Rishi Sunak told me at the ICC last Friday it WILL reach Euston


  6. In Leicester the contractor for the bus shelters was changed in February 2021, or rather, starting in February. Almost overnight the old shelters were removed, but the new shelters took a couple of months to roll out, leaving passengers out in the cold and rain, even on the City Centre stops not in a bus station. This was part of ‘bringing buses back better’ by Leicester City Council. The reason given was that they were ‘contractually obliged’ to remove the old shelters by the end of Febtuary even though there were delays in manufacture of the new ones! This is from the council that is overseeing the BSIP which is removing a cross city link presumably expecting us to use the new free city centre circle service, even though it doesn’t directly serve one of the bus stations. Keep up your great blogs, Dennis Hemsley


  7. It’s not just posters that are out of date. The First Essex bus I rode on at Canvey Island this week shows a notice advising passengers of a forthcoming fares increase on 5 January 2020. (Incidentally, the bus murals on the sea wall at Canvey are worth the trip – a Westcliffe-on-Sea Leyland lowbridge and an Eastern National Lodekka).


    1. The difficulty with bus stops and shelters is there is no clear responsibility for them. It is basically a mess. Sometimes it it the bus companies responsibility and sometimes the LTA.. Neither though tend to have any great interest in maintain g the stops or timetables

      The sensible approach would be for the LTA to be responsible for all stop and timetable displays

      The government could help by proving funding to pout the modern electronic paper displays up at stops. These seem to be robust and reasonably vandal proof. A big saving is they do not need a mains supply. A mains supply can costs thousands of pound to install

      These modern timetable displays can be automatically updated if there is a proper process in place ensuring they are always up to date. They can even provide information if buses have to be diverted so you are not stood at a stop waiting for a bus that will never turn up


  8. I trust the signage to the bus station in the re-vamped Aberdeen station has been improved? And Sevenoaks booking office told me “South East trains no longer produce timetables”, whilst my eagle eye spotted one immediately in the rack behind the unfortunate clerk telling me this. “Oh!” he said, and I think was genuinely surprised himself.


  9. Thanks for another fascinating and amusing update. North Yorks CC’s cash only with hand written tickets is delightfully antiquated.

    But if you take another route in North Yorks, Abbots of Leeming’s 80/89 Northallerton- Stokesley, you can experience cash only with no tickets at all since the start of the £2 scheme. And you can also enjoy a good collection of Covid notices inside the buses, although when I last used the route earlier this month the “Stay at Home, Save Lives” one had been replaced by a notice about the £2 scheme and an advert for drivers. But I would praise Abbots for reliability and timekeeping, particularly given recent driver shortage.

    That route also has a good example (at Swainby, Emerson Close) of serving stops different to the registered one shown on bustimes.


  10. Some of these stick in the mud people still use the 12 hour clock and Trent Barton is the most notable but if you look at their tickets the ticket machine prints the time it was printed in the 24 hr clock.Although Trent Barton when it was the NBC Trent must had adopted the 24 hr clock at some point and someone obviously of a Sir Jacob Rees Smog or Dame Coffee outlook has taken over and imposed their outdated world view on the whole company.I was in Derby a month ago and I saw a timetable for their sister company called something like Knichbus and it was for an airport service again using the 12 hr clock which is a good way to miss your plane.Apart from the USA nobody uses the 12hr clock for public transportation.


    1. Back in the days when printed timetables reigned supreme, I took a trip on my local market day bus, Beeline Coaches, Warminster to Salisbury, through the “back road” Wylye Valley villages where I then lived. Although this was early 80’s, the Bedford bus (ex Eastern Scottish Alexander bodied I think) had a conductor. There were 2 Americans on board who were staying at a local B&B and were off to visit Salisbury Cathedral. I heard one loudly ask the conductor “Can I have a timetable?” The conductor replied “Once on a Tuesday and twice on a Saturday!”


    2. After privatisation, Trent’s new owners decided that their customers preferred the 12 hr clock and have used it in leaflets ever since. Their website and app are also 12 hr. Whether passengers are still bothered is a question that hasn’t been asked, though Trent services appear on the county council website ( and on the recently upgraded screens in Derby Bus Station in 24 hr clock.

      You won’t miss your flight on Kinch Skylink as it runs 24/7, though more frequently during the day. Regardless of content, their timetable is the only printed leaflet on display at Derby Railway Station!


      1. There’s some for the Matlock Bath cable car too which I suppose is a form of public transportation all I don’t think that I read it to see what clock format it’s in.


  11. Re Lancaster.

    A few years ago, there was a 555 departure at 09.30, concessionary ticket time, which would be well loaded and poccassionally full on leaving Lancaster bus station. At that time all services all year followed the normal route to Kendal whereas now the summer extras run fast via the M6 to Kendal. The winter service is hourly worked by Kendal depot, The summer service is half hourly with all the extra buses from Morecambe depot.

    As regards queues, pre Covid the queues of students heading to the University were even greater every day.


  12. Barrow – that goes back to British Rail days it seems from pictures so not the direct fault of the current incumbents other than doing a like-for-like when FNW/TransPennine ran the station

    Melksham – now those observations are interesting and never knew about what’s up there…might go and make some investigations about the origins and try and fix from May


  13. Thank goodness for the cessation of HS2. It is a sheer waste of public money and depriving the rural railways of badly-needed upgrades. In Lincolnshire, with a bad record of public transport, Cllr Martin Hill, leader of the county council has wasted all of the levelling up money on roadworks and the counties railways have to do without. His plan to build houses to provide per head of residents to provide the excuse for more public transport is seriously flawed; Lincolnshire contains 60% of grade one agricultural land in the country – the breadbasket of England – every house that is built diminishes that breadbasket by so much.


    1. Graham . . . your point is well made, but . . . I’ll refer you to Dorset, which has long (right back to the 1960s) had a policy of failing to permit house building outside specific towns. As a result, their bus provision is skeletal in the extreme, with even inter-urban routes failing to survive.
      Gerry Fiennes blamed the Dorset policy for the singling of the Salisbury-Yeovil railway line, as the CC refused to encourage new housing that would have increased usage.

      There is a balance to be achieved here . . . but if passenger numbers aren’t increased, then bus provision will stagnate or decrease.
      Chimneys provide bums on seats!


    2. HS2 is NOT ceasing its actually currently being built in Curzon St Brum unless from my office I can only see a mirage


  14. Regarding out of date notices, there’s a bus shelter on Sarehole Road in the Hall Green suburb of Birmingham, which still has a notice inviting passengers to participate in the South Birmingham & Solihull consultation and comment on the listed proposed changes. From memory, these changes took place in 2008, and ironically many of them have changed again since then!


    1. There are a number of these notices still stuck in numerous shelters throughout the West Midlands County. I bought it to the attention of TfWM & apparently the adhesives used by thier predecessor Centro was so strong to remove them would damage the shelter mate.


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