Wednesday, 10 June 2015

One Small Step for Todmorden [1]

Where? What? Why? Witch?
George Adamski (April 17, 1891 to April 23, 1965) was an American citizen who became widely known in UFO circles, and to some degree in popular culture, after he claimed to have photographed spaceships from other planets, met with friendly Nordic alien Space Brothers, and to have taken flights with them to the Moon and other planets. Adamski called himself a "philosopher, teacher, student and saucer researcher," although investigators concluded his claims were an elaborate hoax, and that Adamski himself was a skilfull self-publicist and a con-man.

Later (in 1980) another Adamski (no relation) was involved in a weird and fatal disappearance.
Zigmund's body was found on a coal heap in Todmorden. George's family claimed that the aliens had made a mistake and got he wrong Adamski.

In Public Transport terms, Todmorden has one particular claim to fame. It is,possibly the least known of the four Joint Omnibus Committees.
This was a cunning plan devised by the four municipalities (Halifax, Huddersfield and Sheffield were the other three) to keep control of the Railway Companies' expansion into bus operation. Effectively the railway buses were controlled and co-ordinated by a committee "jointly" with the local authority.

So, what, where and why is the "Todmorden Curve" an important development in the area's rail network.

A press article from the Bolton News in  May 2011  introduces the topic.
Faster trains could be running between Burnley and Manchester as soon as December 2013 after engineers gave their seal of approval to the project. Network Rail has completed a detailed assessment into whether the vital Todmorden Curve link could be reinstated. Its engineers say the project, which would cost between £7.5million and £8million, is feasible, despite complications over the exact route. 

This means the only obstacle now is finding the cash. 

The 500-metre stretch of track known as the Todmorden Curve, which has not been used since the 1960s, connects the Burnley to Manchester lines. Journey times would be cut to 40 minutes. Commuters currently have to change at Hebden Bridge, Blackburn or Preston, or use the Witch Way bus service, all of which take over an hour.

Burnley has a population of about 74,000 but, for the last 40 years or so, has lacked a direct rail link to Manchester, the capital of the north west (but don't say that in Liverpool!) only 21 miles away. The "Witch Way" bus (X43) runs every 15 minutes ...
... and is a direct route via Rawtenstall and the M66.
Its vehicles are high quality with the usual extra leg room, leather seats and wifi ...
... enhanced (?) by an alluring dolly-bird of a witch revealing far too much leg for the stereotyical "old hag" of her chosen profession!
It would be a bit breezy round the nethers aboard a broomstick as she flew across the icy-blasted East Lancashire hills!

But the journey time is not attractive at one hour and seventeen minutes. The route is heavily promoted ...
... with a range of special offers.
But ...

The offer of a reduction of journey time of nearly 50% (77 minutes to 40 minutes) looks too good to be true. The Todmorden Curve at £8 million seems like a real bonus for commuters, always heralded as the only  travellers on public transport, but also for their oft ignored off peak and weekend compatriots.

And all this by December 2013!

Hmmm ...

It didn't quite happen that way, as we shall see. But we need to explain how big brave Burnley lost its link to Manchester.

It's a bit complicated and will manifest itself on Friday.

 Next bus blog (Prince William) : Thursday 11th June 

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