Sunday, 23 July 2017

More Somethings

Get Lost - Go To Yeovil
Two years ago fbb visit the Yeovil Model Railway Group (YMRG) on their annual open day. It is not a public exhibition, admission is by invitation only. The club's collection of layouts is all set up and in working order and members, dressed in club sweatshirts, are busy running their trains. Tea and buns were available for a small charge and visitors were invited to proffer a donation to help the eternal roof repairs of the large but elderly building.

Despite painstaking research after the debacle of his route of two years previously, fbb got lost again and inadvertently drove past the gateway to their building three times!
Either YMRG need larger signs or fbb needs a larger brain!

The Yeovil folk are building a new layout, based on Aynho Junction on the line from Oxford to Birmingham.
It doesn't look like a "normal" model railway. Where is the baseboard? There isn't one. The scenery is "terra-formed" on plywood cut outs and the track, and later the trains, will run along strips of ply which burrow and curve around the hills. Skilled stuff, but giving an idea of the railway within the countryside, not the countryside rolled dead flat for the railway.

An older layout,based on the former Yeovil Town station is being converted to automatic computer control.
There's a long way to go yet, but fbb was well impressed with what he saw. A goods train was trundling around with the loco pushing the guards van which should have been hooked on the back.
Of course the wagon has become unhooked and picked up at the front next time around. That's the sort of think that happens on fbb's layout.

The highlight, as always, was the club "O" gauge layout based on just a little chunk of the Settle and Carlisle line. The members were running freight trains ...
... long and lumbering, just like the real thing. fbb only had to half-close his eyes and ...
... he was there with his little notebook copping the 2-10-0. Magnificent.

Another layout went in for lighting in a big way. The town bit was obviously enjoying Late Nite Shopping ...
... and the residential area was partying the night away.
All resident is Model Railway Town are superb gardeners with no sign of a weed anywhere!

Two bits of quirk caught fbb's eagle eye. here was another Hornby Dublo heritage layout, small and table top ...
... built just like so many were in the late fifties and early sixties. Younger visitors were invited to have a go at the original Hornby Dublo controller (top centre). Note the Airfix kits painted garishly as per the instructions on the packet; fbb has just bought the "modern" shop unit kit seen to the left of the Dinky Toy bus for his low relief townscape.
What will it look like when the aged modeller has finished "kit bashing" it? Who knows? fbb certainly has no idea until he grabs razor saw and tube of glue.

Joyously the layout had a working mail bag "pinger" ...
... seen here with the Maitre D' attaching little plastic mailbag to hook. What was excellent was that younger visitors were invited to push the button (below left hand) and make the pinger collect and ping the mailbags.

It was introduce by Hornby in about 1957
And yes, as fbb watched, the mailbag missed the metal "net" and flew across the clubroom floor. fbb's used to do the same.

The other delight was this layout.
A couple of your lads (ages 13-ish) were in charge as representatives of the Junior members. the layout (read the small print) was based on Wallace and Grommit and the Curse of the Were-Rabbit. It was a private estate railway running on very narrow gauge track. The boys were keen to show off what was a very small layout with some "Wallace" characters and a familiar train driver.
Other character were in attendance. The "juniors" we keen to point out that they had scratch built the rolling stock from the obligatory "bits and pieces" on surplus OO gauge chassis.
Sadly (?) no sign of the Were-Rabbit itself ...
... but what n innovative idea for a free-lance "beginners" model. Joyous.

"And," continued the enthusiastic attender, "the grass is made from hanging basked liner." Well done!

thanks again for the invite YMRG. Next time I might not get lost. Now let me see ...
... is that the turn.

And an Apology
The last couple of days have been more frantic than usual for reasons which fbb will no doubt share with his readers in due course. But it looks as if GoTimetable is about to get its desired breakthrough. The team will know more by this time next week.

Because of this, blog writing has had to be somewhat curtailed and the item on unloading a Garrett is postponed.

And, talking of timetables, still not a dicky bird about the revised services from Axminster for the forthcoming Waterloo partial blockade.

Exeter, Bristol, Yeovil and Salisbury to London Waterloo  - Table 20 * This timetable is still being finalised and will be posted as soon as possible 

They have forgotten us.

 Next load of unloading : Monday 24th July 

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Something For The Weekend Again

fbb Was Wrong - Again!
After all the keruffle of Damory's Dorset Debacle and the will they, won't they with First Bus replacement service 12, the whole thing fizzled out today hen the Barbie Boys removed any reference to the new service from the web site.
The buses in blue ...
... will perform (including Saturdays) until 2nd September.
First starts on Monday 4th September with no Saturday service. Use it, enjoy it while you can!

The Man From Porlock - Donates!
A month ago, fbb was in Minehead and took a ride on the service 10 for Porlock and Porlock Weir (read again). The ride was pleasant and the bus quite well loaded; the local gang had posted some excellent publicity, far better than Buses of Somerset (BoS) as it was a complete timetable.
The last sentence in the above bit of the bus stop displays referred to negotiations for a Saturday service. Local people and visiting tourists have put their hands in their pocket an raised enough dosh for the Saturday service to start.
Porlock Weir is worth a visit for walkers and pub goers ho ill be able to walk and go on Saturdays from next week.
Thanks to David for sending this snippet. Her writes:-

Look at the Buses of Somerset facebook page and notice that neither BoS nor First get any credit for getting this up and running. Minehead Rocks!!!!
And fbb though it was sandy?

Olly Gets Wet
The first Kernow Olympian did venture out in the rain at Seaton yesterday but not for long. A dripping Derek explains.

Alan Goes Topless
Readers may remember fbb's interest in a nearly open top railway coach running (in model form) on a layout at the Exeter Model Railway Group Exhibition (read again). fbb thought the little narrow gauge model was a bit pricey.
Northamptonian Alan, correspondent and narrow gauge railway modeller reports that he owns a similar vehicle.
Cheaper but less open top. But this one (for real) is utterly open top - no top at all.
Im Linienzugbetrieb verbindet "Rasende Roland" die Badeorte Rügens (Göhren, Baabe, Sellin, Binz) und fährt weiter bis nach Putbus und zum Anlege Lauterbach. Alles unter Dampf, die Loks sehen aus, als ob sie eben aus dem Werk kämen! Schöne alte Wagen und im Sommer ein offener Wagen.

Bright Bus Turns Utterly Dark
Brightbus is part of MASS, a bus company with a chequered history. The owner decided to close down at the end of this summer term. The bus operation was exclusively in schools work, some commercial, some with financial arrangements with the schools.

Sheffielder Roy went to take a look as the buses returned to depot for the very last time. A line-up makes a spectacular sight.
Even better from the front.
Would you like one? Just click on EBay and ...
... where you can buy your very own Dennis Condor. Bids are asked from £4000.

There is also a web site - Chinese no less - that enthuses about ex China Motor Bus vehicles. (Guess work; fbb is not well versed in the Chinese lingo!)
We might therefore guess the origin of G717 FVX.
there are oodles of Bright buses on the CMP Memorial web pages.
Link (here). Services have been taken over by a selection of companies in South Yorkshire including First Bus - of which much more in due course.

Bye Bye Beautiful Brightbus! Things will be a lot less green in South Yorkshire from now on.

Tomorrow, amongst other things, we unload a Garratt.

 Next Pot Pourri : Sunday 23rd July 

Friday, 21 July 2017

Some Blupdates With Caveats

The Dorset Debacle
Several comment writers have informed fbb that the silliness with Damory, First and the X12 is explained thus. Damory (GoShead group) won the contract for all services to Thomas Hardye School in Dorchester whilst First won the contract for the X12/187, called 12 by First. But the timetable agreed with First included some school variants for Thomas Hardye School. Damory were not happy.

So Dorset Council have agreed to continue the contract with Damory for the original services X12 and 187 with First taking over on Monday September 4th, the start of the autumn term in these parts.


Maybe not.
Could it be that the reason First's 12 remains resolutely on their web site is that the company has decided to run it anyway, as a commercial venture and without subsidy until taking over at the end of the summer hols?

Still registered, apparently, are the odd X12 journeys which Damory has opted to run commercially before this kerfuffle erupted.
So fbb's parting shot from Yesterday remains "on the table". How many buses, and operated by whom, will be leaving Dorchester at 0936 on Monday. fbb predicts at least two, one painted off white and puce and the other a rich dark blue.

Still crackers.

Remember that First has run its service 5 (Weymouth - Crossways - Dorchester) whilst Damory continued to run its 101 over most of the same route. There is precedent for "doubling up"

Wessex Wails Whinges and Walks Away
In Bristol, Wessex started a competitive service 90 "attacking" First Bus.
First responded with a significant increase in frequency. So Wessex (Rotala Group) registered a cancellation from 21st August.

So far it all makes some sort of sense. But then this tirade appears on the Wessex web site.

We have tried to bring in competing services to new areas within the Bristol area, in doing so we have put together special offers and ticket prices far below our competition.

In the case of the 90 we have watched the service change over the last couple of years, this has seen a big re-launch in October 2015 (photo on-line, not included in the Wessex page) ...
... and then over the last 12 months the new vehicles introduced have been removed and the frequency of services reduced

We registered our services to help fill the gaps of the frequency reductions and to introduce lower fares to the area, however within one week our competitor decided they could increase the frequency on the service and as a result flooded the service with buses. In addition to this, since our service 90 has been introduced several of our drivers have been victims of verbal and physical abuse.

Whilst fbb does not, in any way, condone bad behaviour by any of the warring factions, he has to ask, "What do you expect". Along comes Wessex seeking to pinch another company's trade and other people's jobs; some reaction is very likely.

Turning the other cheek is the only option and if the abuse in, indeed, one-sided, the Police must be called.

In response to the fierce competition from our competitor and continuing daily driver abuse we will remove our service 90 from 22nd July.

So what has happened to the 8 week notice - AGAIN?

We would like to thank those who travelled with us and supported our service 90 during the short time of operation.

The route end on Saturday but full publicity, as partly illustrated above, remains on-line.

Meanwhile on the Other Side of Bristol
The seemingly never ending saga of route 18. In January 2013 fbb penned a [iece about the ups and downs of this service (read again).
Now it seems that First is giving up today's version of the 18 ...
... and Wessex have registered a replacement. fbb does not (yet) know whether the Wessex version is commercial or subsidised. No doubt somebody will put the old man right!

Jurassic Mule Goes Lame?
This weekend cheery chappie Derek Gawn ups his two hourly open top bus tour (based in Seaton) to an hourly frequency. For this he will need two buses. The single decker has been giving sterling service on and off ...
... but the double decker is poorly. Some bit of wodgit that turns the drive through ninety degrees sort of stopped doing it.
Repairs are under way and recovery may well be quite quick.
The bits are in there somewhere!

fbb is well aware of that sickening feeling when (a) you lose a vehicle (b) and have to dig very deep to pay the bill. OUCH and double OUCH! Been there, done that, got the tee shirt!

On-line chat suggests that Seaton should expect a First Kernow Atlantic Coaster branded vehicle as cover for the VR's absence. fbb has yet to spot the furren substitute.
Probably because it hasn't yet appeared on service - and Del-Boy is not telling!
The header to these twits quotes a registration number of S637 SEU but this is a slip of the brain, pen or keyboard. The vehicle is L637 SEU which was part of the City Line Fleet in Bristol.
It then lost its roof with the help of  a low railway bridge in Falmouth and became OT in Barbie's colours.
Finally it was adorned with the new Atlantic Coaster livery as a promotional bus as it can no longer be used on stage carriage services.
The Jurassic Coaster is not a bus service - it is a tour.

Maybe fbb will take his brolly out today and have a look.

 Next weekend "stuff" blog : Saturday 22nd July 

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Stagecoach Waterloo .... Interrupted ...

... For Damory Dorset Daftness
But A Bit Of Stagecoach First:-
fbb's survey of SouthWest Trains timetable for the August Waterloo upgrade begins with Chessington, where was now know that trains are replaced by buses. Here is the normal timetable; a short extract thereof.
Note that here are to trains an hour from Guildford via Leatherhead and on from Dorking. There are two trains an hour from Chessington and it takes 37 minutes to get from Chessington South to Waterloo.

Now here is what is provided during August.
the whole caboodle is wrapped together to provide just two trains an hour. there would normally be SIX on this service group from Motspur Park into Waterloo; here there are only two.

Passengers from Dorking have alternative routes to the Capital but need to change trains to reach any station on the South West Trains line which means that the 51 minute full-length journey time increases to 1 hour and 27 minutes.

Instead of Chessington's journey of a few minutes over half an hour, these poor folk, using train and bus will toil laboriously for nearly and hour and a half.

What of Hampton Court? First normality. Peak hour trains between 0623 and 0923 have been omitted to allow fbb to show the standard repeat pattern.
Southwest Trains have graciously retained the through trains at peak ...
... but off-peak you get turfed out at Surbiton to wait for something else that may well be jammed to the roof with sweaty travellers who themselves have lost over 50% of their trains. Journey time increases from 37 minutes to 49 minutes.

Here is the usual service on the Portsmouth Line.
Notice that there are two "fast" (i.e. "less slow") trains every hour, taking approx 1 hour 35, augmented by one nearly-all-the-way stopper and a short working from Haslemere. That gives a train every 15 minutes from Guildford to Waterloo.

Now for the August squash!
Again the whole lot is glued together to offer just two trains an hour all the way (hooray) by taking about two hours (horrors). A short run stopper picks up the hordes of passengers at Witley and Milford.

Those campaigning for some form of price reduction or automatic compensation would seem to have a point. SouthWest Trains says that the usual compensation regime will remain in place, but therein lies the cunning plan. Compensation is only paid if the train runs significantly later than the timetable says it will.

If all trains are timetabled to run more slowly no bunce is paid.

fbb would have explored further but at this point in his preparation came some really daft news.

Damory Delivers Double Daftness
And A Bit of First Second!
The story so far - but briefly. Damory (A GoAhead company) goes backwards in Dorset by cancelling ALL its registrations from the end of the school summer term. That's tomorrow! Dorset County Council assembles a package of revised routes serving (their quote not fbb's!) 90% of the passengers carried by the previous network. The other 10% can, adopting the policy of Boris The Tousled, go whistle for a bus!

These routes are put out to tender and Damory wins almost nothing.

First Bus wins the tender for services between Dorchester and points north-east as heralded on the company's web site.
It is explained in a text block:-
There is a complex map for a typical local authority service that tries to do everything ...
... and the timetable is equally complicated.
But at least folk along this corridor have some buses.

There is one little niggle. Damory have registered a journey and a half in each direction (unsubsidised) as an X12.
Probably Damory have a school bus sitting around and they thought the driver might like a pleasant ride in the country.

So far, so good.

Then this note pops through fbb's electronic letterbox from his Dorset correspondent.
These look like the services given up by GoAhead's Damory and replaced by Firsts 12. Here is the X12 ...
... which currently runs on Saturdays as well. And here the 187 (not Saturdays)
These are NOT subsidised and start on Monday 24th, the same day as First's 12. It seem unlikely that such rural wanderings could ever be profitable, but Damory obviously thinks they can be OR (surely not?) is plying the spoiler game against Dorset and First.

Crazy or what?

But, fbb hears you cry, "don't you have to give eight weeks' notice if you want to run a bus route?" This appears to be less than a week? Why has it been allowed?

So First's response. The 12 is cancelled according to Traveline.

But, fbb hears you cry, "don't you have to give eight weeks' notice if you want to cancel a bus route?" This appears to be less than a week? Why has it been allowed?

It was all still on the First Wessex web site at 2200 last night - not a word about cancellation.

The big question is, "What will turn up at Dorchester at 0936 on Monday?" Two buses, one bus or none at all?

There is something very fishy going on here. Somehow, somebody is pulling the Traffic Commissoners' strings. Normally these splendid folk are punctilious in applying the rules unless there is a real emergency.

There is no emergency here, just plain daftness.

 Next sanity blog (?) : Friday 21st July