Wednesday, 21 February 2018

First's Foray to Fakenham (1)

Stagecoach Shuts The Shop
Whilst the local response to Stagecoach's close-down of almost all of its Norfolk operation came from relative newcomer Lynxbus ...
Stagecoach in Norfolk King’s Lynn potential depot closure
Following the announcement yesterday (30th January 2018) that Stagecoach in Norfolk are likely to close their King’s Lynn based bus operation, Lynx are now looking into the viability of providing replacement bus services.

... nothing further from them has yet appeared since the initial press release. Will it be an expansion too far for Lynx?

First Bus were quick to register a service between Norwich and Fakenham, numbered X29 to match the withdrawn Stagecoach route.
Also entering the fray, we were told, was GoAhead company Konectbus.
Interestingly there is now nothing about this project on the KonectBus web site. Does fbb see a tactical withdrawal from potential harmful conflict?

The X29 was acquired by Stagecoach when it bought out Norfolk Green ...
... and the current timetable is largely unchanged under the aegis of the doomed Stagecoach.
An hourly service runs Monday to Saturday with a bus every two hours on Sunday.

Thanks to information sent by correspondent Nigel, we can go back to 1972 and examine the service way back then. On Sunday buses ran ...
... less frequently during the day and not at clock-face intervals, but there was a later bus on Sunday evenings - something unheard-of in rural areas today.

Saturdays times were relatively straightforward ...
... but, again, not at a constant number of minutes past each hour. There are only eight journeys along the full route but the picture is complicated by route 402 to Melton Constable. This turns off the A1067 in common with most 29s, then at Foulsham ...
... it continues to the village of Melton Constable. It has a delightfully minuscule church ...
... which is nowhere near the village and was built to appease the sins of the residents of Melton Hall.
Melton Constable reached its heyday about 1911; in the census of that year it had a population of 1,157. It was a new town built in 1880s at the junction of four railway lines, which came from Cromer, North Walsham, King's Lynn and Norwich and linked Norfolk to the Midlands.
A station with a platform 800 feet (240 m) long was constructed with a specially-appointed waiting room for Lord Hastings, the local squire.
The Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway's main workshops and factory were also situated in the village, helping to give it the character of a rural industrialised village (rather similar to Woodford Halse in Northamptonshire). The workshops were often called the Crewe Works of North Norfolk. The last vestiges ere demolished in 1971

Nothing remains of this glory except a tediously boring industrial estate.
With the closure of the railway and works, one assumes that the 402 lost most of its "raison d'ĂȘtre". There is, currently, one X29 Monday to Friday peak journey in each direction that runs via Melton Constable ...
... or, commuting passengers have a sparse service from Sanders Coaches (45/45A) via Hellesdon to Norwich.
Which leaves the 1972 Monday to Friday service 29!
Just dig those crazy notes, man!
The 1972 version of the 29 was, of course, operated by Eastern Counties, later taken over by First Bus, now returning to the Norwich to Fakenham Road.
Tomorrow we take a look at exactly what First Bus are offering and at their now-published timetable.

 Next Norwich blog : Thursday 22nd February 

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Emsworth & District : Expires or Declines (2)

Today's Diminished Network ...
... with one exception. Emsworth and District won the tender for services between Petersfield and Midhurst. fbb does not know when the contract began but service 92 with occasional 91s and 93s ...
... trundle between the two towns.
SERVICE CANCELLED from 14th April.

The route is tendered by Hampshire and West Sussex, but the latter authority doesn't admit to the 91 on its map!
Fortunately Hampshire is correct and up-to-date with 91, 92 and 93 shown on their version.

Still operating the moment is route 54 from Petersfield to Chichester, BUT  it too is ...
SERVICE CANCELLED from 14th April.

The West Sussex map also shows services 300 and 36 ...
... which haven't run for over 12 months!

Now that graphics are so easy to amend, it seem daft to post inaccurate maps on line; as fbb often says, get your average 7 year old to make the changes - it will only take a few minutes!

So what is the 28, eh? And where is the 27?
they both appear on the Havant local network map courtesy of Hampshire.

A little over two years ago, the former half hourly route 27, the mainstay of Emsworth and District's business, was put out for tender by Hampshire Council. E & D lost the job to, incredibly, First Bus.
It must involve horrific amounts of "dead running" to get a bus from First's depot to Havant or Rowlands Castle. Rumours locally are that First got its sums wrong and they are losing much fine gold!

The service was drastically reduced to every two hours (formerly half hourly between Emsworth and Havant, hourly to Rowlands Castle). Local resident Alan has contacted fbb to confirm and enhance much of the detail. He suggests that, despite fbb's assertion that the "old" 27 was "commercial", the route has always been tendered. The reduction was the result of Hampshire's substantial cutbacks in their budget.

Thanks Alan for your helpful contribution.

Disappointed at not winning the contract, E & D started a commercial service 28 two years ago.
Sadly for the company, it was not a roaring success and so was cut back and now operates a few journeys off peak.
SERVICE CANCELLED from 14th April.

Also cancelled from the start of the Easter Holidays are various school services, namely:-

28A
44B
147
635
636
639

Is anything left? This is a bit of a mystery; the E & D website shows several school runs for which fbb has NOT seen cancellation documents. These are-

44A
51
121/121A
641
S1

It would seem somewhat illogical to run these bits when all the rest are being ditched. Perhaps these five make pots of money?

Maybe an expert on the company's activities will be able to correct and update fbb's information?

It is also unclear as to whether the coaching business will continue.
As an indication, their web site advertises trips for 2014!

A DAY IN EASTBOURNE
Sunday 17th August 2014 £17.50 Adults & Seniors, £12 Child A drive to this historic seaside town with more details to follow.

THORPE PARK COACH ONLY
Saturday 30th August 2014 £15 Adults, Seniors & Children Coach only travel to Thorpe park, use vouchers or Merlin passes but save on the driving.  

THAT'LL BE THE DAY CHRISTMAS SHOW
Friday 12th December £33 Adults & Seniors Limited Spaces

So we are too late for them!
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fbb's Best Worst Endeavours!
Last Sunday's episode featured action on and around a railway station. The setting was a Southern Region Branch near to Oxford (very likely!).
The episode features a grumpy and mysterious ticket office clerk. Is he the arch criminal?
Trains come and go, but then Endeavour Morse sets off down a closed branch line ...
... with very shiny tops to the obviously in-use rails!

And what hobby do you think this guy enjoys?
Towards the end of the episode there is a scene is a loft complete with railway memorabilia and a model layout.
But fbb is pretty sure you couldn't by a Class 52 diesel with a working headlight in 1968.
But your eager blogger really struggles with that station.
Ropley? Yippee.  On the Mid Hants Railway (Watercress Line), Ropley is the location for the "outside" shots, at least.
But NOT the booking office shots?
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 Next Norwich blog : Wednesday 21st February 

Monday, 19 February 2018

Emsworth & District : Expires or Declines (1)

Honourable Historic Heritage
The first Hants and Sussex "group" (owned by Basil Williams) operated buses over a wide area of Hampshire and West Sussex.
This operation collapsed in 1954 with substantial debts. But the late Mr Williams was nothing if not resolute, and a "new" Hants and Sussex (aka Southern Motorways?) was reborn. The history of the Williams companies is long and complicated and far beyond a one-day blog.

Suffice it to say that, by the eighties, two groups of services were in operation, one centred on Eastleigh and one serving the area round Havant.
In October 1987, the Eastleigh block was bought by Solent Blue Line on the same day as the southern bit of Hampshire Bus was acquired from Brian Souter.

This left the Havant routes which morphed into Emsworth and District.

fbb's Fond Farewell
fbb was, for a number of years, responsible to the Havant Borough Council public transport web site which closed just over four years ago when Havant joined the Hampshire trendy journey planner.
What Havant gained was the essential knowledge that a journey to Seaton Devon would use 29cals and produce 17.1kg of CO2. What Havant lost was easy access to bus timetables.
Much to his amazement, fbb discovered that his simple (but non-twiddly) collection of Havant timetables is still there in the ever grasping  hands of the world wide web and, of course, now hopelessly out of date! [www.havant.tbctimes.com]

But it does give a snapshot of the Emsworth and District network in recent history. (click on the map for an enlargement)
The "main line" route was the 27 (BRIGHT GREEN). This ran every 30 minutes between Emsworth and Havant, continuing every hour to Rowlands Castle.
A few trips continued beyond Emsworth to Southbourne and Westbourne. As far as fbb can remember this was a commercial service, run without subsidy ...
... although a few journeys may have been "on tender".

Service 36 (GREY) ran from Southbourne to the ASDA at Leigh Park calling at a few bits of Havant unserved by anything else.
Service 300 (GREY) ran on market days all the way from Denmead to Chichester.
On the map, this leaves the mysterious 75 (MID BLUE) to Penner Road.
This is a huge industrial estate south on the A27.
The service was, of course, tendered; the subsidy being funded by some of the works and by Havant Borough Council. (?)
This leaves service 54, running between Petersfield and Chickester.
This service did not, technically, serve Havant Borough, so was not included on their web site.
The company also operated a number of school services but fbb has no idea which were commercial or which were subsidised.

As can be seen from the pictures included above, the fleet was almost exclusively second-hand but when fbb was toddling over from the Isle of Wight to Havant, the company looked efficient and in good heart.

So, tomorrow we try to bring the story up to date and, equally trying, we try to understand which services are being cancelled in April!

Some readers may be asking, "What happened to Thorney Island?"
Emsworth and District service 11 once ran to this weird and desolate area.
It ceased at about the same time that fbb ceased with Havant.
And an amusing snipped to conclude. Hants and Sussex served West Leigh and East Leigh!

Pause for polite but embarrassed snigger!

 Next Havant blog : Tuesday 20th February