Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Silliness at Stranraer [4]

In 1953, there was a bus every two hours from Glasgow to Stranraer via Ayr and calling at Cairnryan. (click on any of the three panels to enlarge)
This was supplemented by short working journeys from Stranraer, presumably to suit the Navy as it pottered about its port. British Railways ferries ran from Stranraer, of course.
There were also buses from Dumfries ...
... every two hours but with a first Stranraer arrival as late as 1100. But way back then there were train connections direct on to the gangplank of the ferry from the South, from Newcastle and from Glasgow.

Today, the bus service from Ayr is much the same but through journeys from Glasgow are by Citylink/Ulsterbus as per yesterdays blog. Likewise the 500 from Dumfries. There is very little difference in 60 years! 

So we can ask Traveline for a journey from London (England!) to Cairnryan (Scotland) and back comes a list of 8 possibilities.
Ferry departures from Stena are as below ...
... and from P and O:
The most impressive schedule is for just under 7 hours and offering a potential connection with a 1930 sailing from Stena and a 2000 departure from P & O.  If we expand this journey ...
... we see that, for Traveline Scotland, "London" is Victoria Station; but we, virtually, may start at Euston. There is plenty of time to change at Carlisle into a National Express (NatEx) coach, service 921. NatEx timetables appear and disappear from their web site at erratic intervals. Searching for Stranraer or Cairnryan on the current web site is fruitless.

Timetable finder
Instead of listing all of our many destinations, we've made it easy for you to download and print timetables for our most popular routes. Just type in the name of your nearest town, city or airport into the box below and choose from the list that appears.

Thankfully, Traveline Scotland reveals all. Service 921 runs from Birmingham to the P & O terminal; but not, apparently serving the "opposition" a mile or so further north.
The service is technically joint with Ulsterbus which maybe why it is disowned by the NatEx website; we found the same UDI for the 923 from Edinbrgh and Glasgow yesterday.

But what about overnight?
A schedule is on offer via the soon to be re-branded Caledonian sleeping car trains. 
Being Traveline you would expect nonsense and a couple of walks (a) from Dumfries Rail Station to Dumfries Railway Station and (b) from Port Rodie Tesco to Port Rodie Ferry Terminal are just plain silly. The 8 minute connection at Carlisle looks decidedly risky!

But Traveline is unable to find the overnight run that, fbb guesses, would be the most popular and the most convenient. It is another National Express secret!
Sitting on a coach for ten hours is not fbb's kind of fun, BUT ...
... it takes about the same amount of time as not sleeping in the through rail sleeper (The Northern Irishman) of the "good old days". The coach will be massively cheaper, too.
Whoops forgot. NatEx disowns the service. Give Up.
Ulsterbus brochure for fares from Belfast

But will it be cheaper? According to ...
Sssshh, it's a secret! You can buy cheap combined train & ferry tickets between Belfast and London or any station in Britain, in either direction, via either Cairnryan-Belfast, Holyhead-Dublin, or Liverpool-Belfast, see the route map below. One price covers the train & the ferry all on one ticket. It's the traditional, time-honoured way to get there, through the countryside by train and across the Irish Sea by ferry, the environmentally-friendly alternative to a short-haul flight.

And there it is. London to Belfast via Glasgow, Ayr and Cairnryan for ...
... £35 single! It is, of course, a schedule that Traveline doesn't offer.
Public transport is just so easy!

 Next Pacer blog : Thursday 5th March 


  1. Is that the cheapest way of getting a walk-on single to Glasgow, by buying a through ticket to Belfast and not using the last bit?

  2. As prices are different for different sailings I suspect that the rail part is for a specific train. Nevertheless it might well be a bargain to Glasgow or Ayr!