Saturday 20 July 2024

Saturday Variety

Rails' Bargain Bus No 2

It was only after fbb uploaded this picture to the blog that he realised that the model was mucky! It came without box or packing of any kind, so came from Sheffield stored in one of fbb's spare pair of shoes. Presumably the shoes contained significant quantities of sock dust!

Anyway, it is a "C" registered AEC Reliance with the long-window body (Three big, one medium and one small.) The only picture of a similar bus that fbb can find is one in National Bus livery.
There are plenty in the Green Line (genuine) livery but although a later "K" reg, they have the shorter windows.
This is not the latest quality of model (it has intrusive body pillars and painted skylights) ...
... but, for its age, the detail is very good indeed.
The headlights are poor by modern standards. Here is the rear end ...
... and some detail of the lettering on the side.
Again, the ugly splodge of silver paint would not be tolerated for a model created today.
It is a sobering throught to look back at the equivalent Dinky coach from fbb's childhood.
fbb never had enough pocket money for such wonders.
Ot is even more sobering to look at the price being asked on eBay!


The Reliance model sports a route 711 destination board ...
... less fuzzy at the second attempt!
fbb is, sadly, highly higgerant of his Green Line history but has recently gained the ability to look back to 1958 when he was a spotty 13. 
Presumably these so-called "C" plates varied along the length of the route with actual destinations from each stop?
Top class information, eh?

So here is the Mon to Sat version of the 711 timetable from way back then.
Note that there was no messing with the 24 hour clock in 1958. Note also that the running time as the same all day long! You don't get that today!

Ah, the joy of sitting on a Green Line Coach for three whole lovely hours is unimaginable! All the way from High Wycombe ...
... to Reigate.

Russian Roulette
It will ever catch on, you know - much like those weird oiler buses that some say will replace our trams!!

If the text is too small for your peepers (it is, as posted, for fbb's) the tram has already done 400kn without passengers and will start carrying real people from September.

Happy 70th Birthday
In 1954 a growing Triang company moved its model railway production to a brand new site at Westwood, Margate,  Kent.
Six years later a delightful little tank engine appeared in the catalogue. It was not of any particular real locomotive but it had a character of its own. It (she, of course) was called Nellie!
The body was moulded in a rather strange blue plastic and it was powered by the iconic Triang X04 motor. It went very fast, very fast indeed, due to ludicrous gearing. Some clever people calculated that at full tilt it was doing a scale speed of over 200 mph!

fbb coveted one, having yet to learn, as a new Christian, the dangers of breaking the 10th commandment.

Clearly sales of the scandalously cheap tank engine were good, so a second blue loco appeared named Connie.
As the years passed things changed somewhat. Connie became yellow ...
... and was joined by Polly ...
Other versions of these locos arrived in the catalogue, this time with numbers, not names.
... but essentially this little shunter remained physicall the same.

As fbb became more able to spend larger sums, his interest in model railways faded somewhat. A teaching career was challenging and jolly hard work and along came Mrs fbb and, in due course, three children.

But the old man still kept an eye on the model world, watching Hornby go bust, the take over of Hornby (in name only) and the subsequent insolvency and later rescue of Triang, now called Hornby!

At some stage in this process Nellie, Connie and Polly disappeared from the product list and the toolling was confined to a Margate Skip.

But the memory was kept alive by a little known version of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. Called "The Margato". It was set in China amenhotep amongst the growing overseas production of Hornby model trains there.

This song from the operetta may ring a few bells.

Three little trains from Kent are we
Pert as a loco well can be
Filled to the brim with railway glee
Three little trains from Kent!

Everything is a source of fun.

Nobody's sad wit0h what we've done!

Ours is a joke that's just begun!

Three little trains from Kent!
Three little trains who, very wary
Come from a fact'ry, Chinese, scary
Free lance, not for a detail "hairy" 
Three little trains from Kent!
Three little trains from Kent!

Three little trains to celebrate come —

Three little trains for a low price sum

Nostalgic joy, they beat the drum

Three little trains from Kent!

There is a bit of a clue in the song as to what Hornby (i.e. Triang!) might do to celebrate their 70th Margate birthday.
More tomorrow!

 Next Variety blog : Sunday 21st July 

Friday 19 July 2024

London's Green Belt (Imtroduction)

What Green Belt?

It would seem, from observation over many years, that the idea of a "Green Belt" round a city serves two main purposes. It seems to work like this. If the authorities want to block developers' plans, they cry loud and long "Green Belt!" But if those planners want to encourage development, grow the economy, provide social housing and blah blah blah, legislation is brought in to allow development of "selected green belt land".

But fbb's "green belt" is quite different. Here it is for the north arc of London.
The map shows the routes operated by London Transport's "Country" buses that were panted green rather than red. The network was extensive, but, unlike the red buses which retained local authority control, the green 'uns were handed ever to the National Bus Company and subsequently privatised.

And so to Sheffield?

One visit that fbb undertook when in that greet city of Steel (once, but no longer of so much steel!) fbb visited Rails of Sheffield.
He did make a massive purchase. On a shelf in the geinuine cheapo second hand room were lots of model buses at £3.50 each. So, for example, a Q class double decker on eBay is on offer at £19.50.
Admittedly, fbb's purchase was without box or display plastic thingy - but still good value and a saving of £16. Mts fbb opined that her chubby hubby could have saved the other £3 buy not buying it at all!
The model "Q" class is on bus route 310A ...
... part of a complex of routes referred to in a blog from way back in 2012. The full sized vehicle is real enough but with a mystery. There is a picture of the actual bus, AYV 616, available on line ...
... but in red bus livery! Currently, the 52 only runs to Willesden but ran to Mill Hill until 1993 ...
... including a period extended to Borehamwood. 

Wherever it went, it was undoubtedly very red.
London Country experts will be able to fathom this out, but fbb is happy with his cheap model of an unusual London Bus ...
... which must have been very chilly in winter! No doors! 

Here is the 310 route shown on the Country Bus map (above) running from Hertford via Ware and Hoddesdon ...
... all the way to Enfield.

From being a "Country" route ...
... it was transferred to central ...
... and ultimately privatised with Arriva, where it still rests.
Currently it runs every 15 minutes Monday to Friday (20 Saturdays, 30 Sundays), with no diversions or route oddities, from Hertford via Hoddesdon to Waltham Cross.
And here is today's map of the 310; from Hertford south to Hoddesdon ...
... and from Hoddesdon to Waltham Cross.
So the 310 has been cut back to the nominal boundary of the red bus area but is still essentially the same as on the ancient Country Bus Map.

Which set fbb thinking.

What has changed and what is still the same?

This comparison should be easy to do in the Hertfordshire area as the county's "Intalink" service still provides excellent on-line maps.

So next week, subject to any notable news elsewhere, fbb will have an explore and try to answer the following question.

Are today's bus services better or worse than in their London Country days?

There are two more new models to review and these will slot into the Weekend Variety blogs.

One feature of the Country Bus map has intrigued fbb.
Using black and red print, the designers have contrived to give some indication of the quality of each service. Unfortunately the actual map is a JPG graphics object that will not enlarge (much!) so the consequences of the above coding cannot be clearly seen. But you can, at least, get the idea.
Also note the triangle indicating that there are onward connection from Hitchin using, in this case, Eastern National services.

Eyeball Check-Up

Whatever sort of Macular decay fbb may be suffering, it is clear that it would never get better. The possibility was that the eyeball injections might hold back any further degeneration.

Yesterday's check-up revealed no further deterioration sice the investigation six months ago.


Praise God!

Todays's blog was a relatively easy-going piece to allow for recovery from the eyeball intrusion of bright lights and stinging eye drops! The eye drops distort vision for several hours after being dropped

So fbb has not driven or operated machinery. Sadly the 100 ton steam hammer in the back yard has remained silent all day!
 Next Variety blog : Saturday 20th July 

Thursday 18 July 2024

Arriva X1 Brighton 1X Comparison (4)

Faster Than F70/F77?

To add to the mix, fbb is grateful to correspondent Julian for this timetable. It shows Buffalo Travel ...
... (with the quality of its operation clearly indicated by its vehicles) operating an X66 between Milton Keynes and Luton. From the point times, the route is straight down the A5 to Dunstable then across to Luton. For a time the same company operated on a 66 to Buckingham. This table dates from 1994.

But then ...

Here is Luton and District (later to be Arrva) running the self-same X66 ...
... and, by way of conformation, another X66 actually going to Milton Keynes.
Did L & D tyke over Buffalo? Dunno. Maybe this note will prod Julian's memory a bit further?

But, for another twist in this convoluted tale, we need to move to Railway Privatisation. 

Some bidders for franchises were so keen to get the job that they made what seem now to be some outlandish promises. So it was that Stagecoach with South West Trains and Virgin West Coast offered a whole collection of bus links with through fares.

One such was route VT99 from Milton Keynes to Luton. It was operated by Virgin Trains liveried coaches ...
... including at least one with a yellow splodge on the front ...
... just like the trains! Sweet!
Not sure who that bloke is leaning against the front of the train or what became of him. Neither could fbb find an actual timetable of the VT99; but the leaflet ...
... implies the most limited of limited stops.
So it would have been Fast! Coaches ran every hour seven days a week.

Of course Virgin did not operate the coaches; that was down to their partner Stagecoach ...
... who had a 49% share in Virgin's rail operations anyway.

Slowly but surely the train link buses either just fizzled out or were taken  over by the bus operator (Stagecoach) in their own right. The VT99 became Stagecoach 99 and for a time it was operated with boundless enthusiasm and branded coaches.
As the years ticked inexorably by, even that enthusiasm faded and late you would, more than likely, find yourself on a very ordinary (and probably elderly) single decker.
To make the service LESS prestigious, Stagecoach started adding extra stops in the Milton Keynes City area. These varied over the years and which variant came in which order has done fbb's head in!

So here is just a sample in no particular order.
via Kingston Industry and ...
... Simpson Close.
In case you didn't know, Simpson Close is the stop after leaving the M1 at Luton ...
... here on the left!
Bet there were queues for the 99 there!

Kingston and Simpson Close stops renamed.

Now via Eagle Farm Amazon
And what a joy and delight that is!
Actually , the buses stop right outside B&M with Amazon just down the road.

But we wouldn't want constancy, would we? So the 99 becomes the MK1 (which readers will, of course, remember was the very first MK numbered bus route running from Stony Stratford to Bletchley along the old A5.)

Bus watchers found the MK1 development more than usually crazy, so crazy that Roger French wrote a whole blog about it!
Ir is an arbitrary joining of a route from Bedford to Luton Airport with what used to be the 99 from Milton Keynes to Luton Airport. 
fbb will not attempt to tackle the Bedford side of the "V" but can report that the Milton Keynes side is unchanged in route and stops.
What a nice ride of two hours and fifty minutes from Bedford to MK - let's hope no innocent abroad decides to take it! The X5 takes just under 60 minutes so, whatever you do, don't get on the wring bus in Bedford unless you really want to!

But the MK1 takes 57 minutes from station to station. Not at all bad.

Arriva's new X1 takes 1 hour and 15 minutes from station to station.

X1 Timetables
Our first journey leaving Milton Keynes is at 04:45 on weekdays and 06:00 on Saturdays. Coaches run hourly from Milton Keynes Rail Station to Luton Interchange between 08:45 and 18:45, Monday to Friday. And between 07:45 and 18:45 on Saturdays.  
The X1 bumbles via Dunstable, hence the extra runnng time. Attractive, eh?

Single fares are still available for £2. But our season tickets can offer even better value for regular travellers with an Adult Annual Orbit ticket working out to £2.95 a day for unlimited travel in the Orbit region. To see all our ticket options visit here  

Onward travel
Customers can get a free transfer to London Luton Airport.
Simply let your X1 driver know you want to go to Luton Airport. They’ll issue you a ticket for onward travel. Then connect at Luton Interchange and show your ticket to the driver on services A, F70, F77 or 100.

Helpfully (?) The X1 does NOT run to the airport but you may travel on other Arriva buses to meet up with your flight for free; but adding even more time to your journey. (meet for free not fly for free!!

And the map?
There isn't one! The above link takes you back to the timetable.

Basket Case is a horror movie from 1982.
fbb had to hide behind the sofa as the trailer was so scary!

Arriva's X1 would appear to be a similar horror story from 2024. fbb predicts its demise before Christmas.

 Next ???? blog : Saturday 20h July