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of Havant timetables is still there in the ever grasping  hands of the world wide web and, of course, now hopelessly out of date! []

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 

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Newsworthy Notes (?)

At First Glance 1
Scottish Citylink running trams?
Of course not! The news item refers to the withdrawal (again!) of Sheffield's new "tram-train" trams, manufactured by Stadler ...
... and branded "Citylink"..
They must have a six-digit National Rail fleet number (399202) because they will run, at some time in the future, for about a mile on National Rail tracks. Notwork Rail's sophistical confuser system, apparently, cannot cope with calling then "tram".

Anyway, they don't seem to work very well on Sheffield's non-train tram tracks; this is not the first time they have been popped back into their Nunnery!
Of course in Karlsruhe (Germany) tram-trains have been running happily for ages.
There they also operated Citylink tram trains ...
... with, apparently, no problems or delays.

Vorsprung durch technik, as Audi used to say.

At First Glance 2
An e-mail from our Senior Isle of Wight Correspondent gave fbb some journalistic collywobbles.
Didn't it used to be called Nexus?
Had thee good folk from the land of Newcy Brown, Cushy Butterfield and Pan Haggety (pronounced "Pernackety") finally decided to return to common sense and yellow buses?
And why had fbb not gotten wind of this dramatic rebranding. According to the press article, the changes ...
... had not gone down too well with the public.
Lambton was, of course, familiar, but surely "Swansea" was a misprint ...
... or some recent development?

But belay that order Cap'n, what's this snippet from the article?
Whilst the story sounds real enough, and typical of bus operation anywhere in the UK, the station building looks odd and the stop sign itself is either revolutionary or just plain wrong.

More slowly that he would like, it dawned upon fbb that his correspondent had made a mega-bludner. This was NOT Newcastle-upon-Tyne England, as perceived by out esteemed correspondent,  but ...
... Newcastle Australia. fbb likes the juxtaposition of suburbs called Kooragang and Islington!

A family, aggrieved at the loss of their through service 334 ...
... did not look much like a typical Geordie clan! And Jettson?
What became genuinely interesting, however, were the similarities between Oz and the UK; new networks that don't work, bus stops not updated, dissatisfied customers plus a raft of criticism of operator and local authority. Seems very familiar to those of us who follow the decline of public transport in Sheffield!

The news item came from a web site that "collects" bits of intriguing news from local newspapers.

Livery Delivery Update
Back in July 2017 Bright Bus, operators of school services in the Sheffield area, closed down. Buses were sold or scrapped and other operators struggled with replacement services as it appeared that South Yorkshire PTE hadn't done their sums properly - insufficient seats were provided and min-chaos ensued!

A while ago, fbb reported on one Bridge bus that and found a new home.
Originally with First Bus in Glasgow, it ran in white for Bright (a distinctive sight, right?) before becoming Bright green. Bought by T M Travel for schools work, it remained green but with T M T logos applied.

The bus (photographed by Roy, supplier of much good stuff for this blog) has now appeared in T M Travel's sedate and respectful all-over maroon.
To fbb's antediluvian eyes, this looks so much better that all of today's squiggles, swoops and diagonal zots.

Talking of Odd (?) Liveries ...
Bachmann EFE have announced their first releases for 2018. One, due in a month or two, is a VR liveried in Midland Fox style.
Memorable but ugly! The blurb reports that rear view mirrors are fitted and body panel lines will be seen for the first time on their  VR model.

The first release for the year is an AEC reliance.
The vehicle began its life with Maidstone and District looking a bit like this one ...
... and was bought by Booth and Fisher of Halfway, Sheffield. fbb remembers the bus, indeed the whole fleet in the declining years of B&F.
Interestingly (?) the model depicts the short period when buses were repainted into PTE livery but retained Booth and Fisher legal ownership as the PTE had bought the company as a "going (?) concern."

Here is the bus for real ...
... pictured outside the Halfway depot, now occupied by T M Travel!

 Next Havant blog : Monday 19th February 

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Tramway Transfrontalier Trois (3)

Let's Take a Ride ...
No 3 son did just that a couple of weeks ago; he was intrigued by the idea of a tram that crossed national borders and decided to take a trip from Basel Switzerland to Saint Louis France on the recently extended route 3. 
The new line opened on 9th December last on time and with appropriate ceremony.
We will join the run, virtually, at the Burgfelderhof stop, located to the right of the rebuilt border post.
Trams then turn sharp right ...
... just past the turning loop.
This first section takes the route off-road completely ...
... crossing some access points for industrial buildings. There was no road here before the tram was pushed through. It turns again to join the dead-end end of Rue Saint Exupéry.
The track now bends round from the right past the sports field fence as we look back towards Switzerland, where the clump of trees marks the border.

Along this section, the road has been rebuilt and the tram uses its grassed reserved track as far as the Saint Exupéry tram stop.
Another sharp right hander takes us past the bowstring footbridge which carries pedestrians across the junction, providing a link between the Lycée and its Sports Centre.
 Another wiggle takes us into Rue Jean Mermoz ...
... and past the mega-school on the left.
The stop named Mermoz is the first place, since leaving Switzeland, where we find housing. Here we can see the set-up using an architect's CGI aerial view.
Note the tight turns possible with these seven segment metre gauge trams.

We now join the short stretch of street running past the Car Audio shop which fbb failed to identify on No 3 sons' puzzle picture.

The next corner takes us past the Géant Casino ...
... which isn't a casino but a supermarket. The stop is called Soleil ...
... and we are soon in an "area of development" along the Boulevard de l'Europe.
The silver-roofed building is the Fire Service HQ. The final turn right ...
... taker us down a heavily rebuilt link to the terminus. Here the whole road layout have been brushed away to make way for the tram, also obliterated is the car park as we saw yesterday. Here is Google's aerial view of the old layout ...
... and here is what it has become.
And the navetteurs français now have a stylish multi-storey car park to enjoy!
Trams run every 7/8 minutes as far as the Bergfelderhof border stop (note "C"), continuing every 15 minutes Monday to Saturday (every 10/20 on Sunday) to the new terminus.
And, for completeness, a diagram of a typical seven-segment tram similar to those in use on line 3. (click on the drawing to enlarge it).
If you are visiting Basel, you can pick up a line 3 tram at Aeschenplatz, a short walk from the main railway station ...
... a location that is both terrifying and wondrous to see!

There is a 7 minute video on YouTube which is worth a watch. It was too big to download, so a link has been "embedded" in this blog - hopefully!

Note the cavalier way in which the residents of Basel, young and old, wander obliviously across the road in front of several tons of moving tram.

"Terrifying" says No 3 son who routinely endures the experience!
This is happening far too often!

Rumours are circulating that another bus company has issued redundancy notices to its drivers. G & J Holmes is based in Clay Cross, has a coaching business and runs several tendered (?) bus services in North Derbyshire.
The following public routes are listed on Derbyshire's excellent on-line timetable library.
Local bus watchers report that Derbyshire has already issued new tender documents.
 Next Newsworthy Notes blog : Sunday 18th February