Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Coaches Better : Trend Setter : Henrietta : E-Letter

As you read this, fbb will (should?) be on his great royal progression by South West Falcon.
The schedule is planned is as follows:-
It would have been possible (at least in theory) to go by bus to Taunton, but this would have delayed the start and left a significant problem of getting back home.

fbb had originally planned to do a "live blog" in real time, but practicalities meant that such a project was too risky. The full story should follow tomorrow.

One piece of good news, however, is that Stagecoach have now published little maps showing where most of their stops are. The Taunton pick-up and set-down point has changed yet again.
Originally at Park and Ride OR Sainsburys (when the P&R site is closed), the next offer was "The busway" a buses only link road shown by the red dot on the above map. Now resolved at Blackbrook Park Avenue, everything should be OK. Will there be a distinctive "flag" at the location.
stop on the left : "busway" to the right
Coaches Better
fbb is not a great enthusiast for travel by National Express, but the company offers lower fares than train and some very luxurious vehicles. Sheffield correspondent Roy has forwarded a couple of photos and comments which illustrate what is available these days.

Skills of Nottingham have recently taken delivery of four Scania K340EB6 coaches with Caetano Levante C55FTL bodies in National Express livery which entered service on 1st Feb 2016. BD65 JFN is seen at Chesterfield working the 1220 service 240 Heathrow Terminal 5 to Bradford as the light fades on Saturday 13th February.
The full batch of vehicles to is BD65 JFG-J-K-N

These coaches should replace the ex Parks of Hamilton Citylink Gold liveried coaches ...
... which have been used as a interim measure pending a permanent National Express contract, as all four are being currently advertised for sale. Here is a similar vehicle devoid of logos, also on service 240.
Photos :
Citilink : Matt Brothwell
Nax Ex : Roy Wilson
Trend Setter
A £7m investment in Rotherham’s bus network means there’s never been a better time to visit the town by public transport.

The trend-setter attracting custome from all-around is ...

To be fair, Rotherham has a much improved environment with a pleasant town centre and a distinct lack of murk and gloom brought about by the sad decline if our nation's heavy industry.

But is this press release a bit ott?

Rotherham Bus Partnership is enticing visitors from neighbouring towns and cities by introducing over 30 state-of-the-art new vehicles on its routes from Barnsley, Doncaster and Sheffield.

Stagecoach has introduced 10 new single decker vehicles, the Alexander Dennis Enviro200 MMC bus, operating on its 22X route between Barnsley, Wombwell, Wath, Manvers, Parkgate and Rotherham. The new generation model is to the latest Euro 6 specification, carries more passengers than its predecessor and is 200kg lighter, making it more fuel efficient. It also has an advanced electrical system and suspension for improved reliability and passenger comfort.

South Yorkshire folk will be rushing to Rotherham excited beyond measure that their X22 buses have an advanced electrical system and to Euro 6 specification. Whippee!

Meanwhile, First South Yorkshire has welcomed 22 double-deck, Wrightbus Streetdeck buses on its X78 route between Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster. The impressive vehicles come complete with new luxury e-leather seat interiors and USB charging points. Low carbon certified, the buses are amongst the most fuel efficient buses on the market and, fitted with Euro 6 engines, contribute to better air quality.
Of course it is all tosh. The new vehicles are nothing to do with the Rotherham Bus Partnership, they are part of the two companys' normal vehicle replacement policy. The X78 deckers have been rolling along the Don Valley since November 2015!

Oh, well; they say that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Partnership is still a very dirty work along the road in Sheffield!
Of course, all our loyal readers will be familiar with Henrietta. No?

Henrietta is in a close relationship with Toby.

Still uncertain? Toby is the No 7 tram engine, one of the key characters in Rev Wilbert Awdry's Thomas the Tank Engine series of children's books. fbb needs, at his great age, to draw on an expert for detailed information about the railways of Sodor Island. His mentor in this matter is Archie Robin Fearnley, young son (aged 3) of you-know-who.

For his model railway, and aimed at entertaining young Archie, fbb bought Toby some time ago.
But somehow he didn't look right, even at the head of fbb's "fun train" with its primitive open wagons loaded with passengers and farm animals! fbb always aims at true realism (?)

What Toby needed was his beloved Henrietta.
But sourcing a reasonable representation of a Wisbech and Upwell Tramway four wheel coach presents a real challenge. There is no way fbb is capable of making one from scratch!

Then what should the chubby one espy on a model shop second-hand site, but one of these:-

Wendezug-Befehlswagen Bauart Cif der DB.

A possible candidate for a bit of superficial fettling?

More on the background to both these full-sized vehicles and the potential model successor later in the week.
from Roger French : received Monday 15th at 1235
(fbb thinks that must be the Roger French once of Brighton and Hove buses. He has scooped the South West Falcon.)

Roger writes:-

I'm on the 1230 departure from Bristol's Cabot Circus. You have to know your Cabot Circus bus stops to find it - same one as Megabus uses.

Currently relocated 25 yards on to temp stop but our coach used the out of commission normal stop.

Coach arrived 1240 - 25mins down from previous journey. Four passengers alighted. Just me boarding and we left 1245.

Struggled a bit through Bristol's lunch time traffic but very smooth drive and quite plush interior by Stagecoach standards.

Better than Gold. Can't complain at £1 fare!

And then a P.S.

Two passengers got on at Bristol Airport. We're 20 mins down but have passed the coach heading north on the 2.15 pm (Brighton and Hove never managed the 24 hour clock!) arrival in Bristol running only about 5 mins late so we might just be unlucky timekeeping wise.
 Next blog with Falcon - Wednesday 17th January 


  1. The 22X, last Saturday, was indeed using the new Enviro 200MMCs, and very nice they are too - but First's half of the service (22M Barnsley -Rotherham -Meadowhall) was using 13 year-old Volvo double decks form the era of ghastly cushionless seats! Not very 'enticing' at all.

  2. Driving down the M5 motorway over the weekend, I needed to pull in to Taunton Deane service area.

    I was very impressed to see publicity for the new Falcon service, with its introductory fares, promiently advertised in the Gents. Head-up displays above the urinals, making a pleasant change from the usual ads for erectile dysfunction cures, and above the hand dryers too.

    I don't think that I have ever seen public transport advertised in this way as an attractive alternative for captive motorists.

    Mrs P saw the same adverts in the Ladies too, so it's clearly working !

    Full marks to someone in Stagecoach for using their initiative.

  3. I haven't seen any evidence that the RBP is doing anything at all to 'entice' visitors to Rotherham. The new buses - surely routine fleet renewals anyway - are equally likely to be enticing Rotherham's residents to go elsewhere. If they've even noticed them.

  4. Look to be identical to the X5 coaches. Good to see the concept elsewhere.