Thursday, 2 July 2015

'Ereford Extrication ...

... or County's Capital Capitulation

Hereford is most famed for its Cathedral ...
... The Cathedral Church of St Mary the Virgin and St Ethelbert the King, to give it it's full and respectful title. This imposing edifice is home to Mappa Mundi ...
... a somewhat incomprehensible (Jerusalem is at the centre) world map dating from 1285.

Maybe the city is more famous for Bulmers Cider.
Fred and Percy Bulmer grew the apples at their family orchard at Credenhill in Herefordshire which would be later used to make the cider for which they became known. In 2003, the Hereford-based firm was bought for £278 million by Scottish & Newcastle (S&N) with the loss of some 200 jobs initially. In 2008, S&N were bought for £7.8 billion by the Carlsberg and Heineken groups. Bulmers now only survives as a brand name and subsidiary of the Heineken group, with operations in Hereford scaled back to focus mainly on the production of cider.
More celebrated, perhaps, was the former Bulmers Rail Centre; home to Great Western Railway "King" locomotive King George V, No 6000.

Buswise, Hereford was Midlland Red territory with city services and most long distance routes in the hands of the Birmingham company.
Following on from the so-called "minibus revolution", local routes became "hopper" services ...
... from the "hopper" bus station outside a central Tesco. This is still used for the City services ...
... with longer distance services using the "country" bus station somewhat outside the city centre,
There have been several re-organisations of the locals, from Midland Red's "H" numbers to First's 100s ...
... then 70s.
Routes have been linked cross city and de-linked but there hasn't been any of the huge changes familiar elsewhere. Neither has there been any long-term outbreak of competition.

Back in his earlier life, fbb was overseer of a web site for Hereford County, based on xephos technology; so was reasonably familiar with the network. One rejig was an utter shambles with buses leaving theouterr terminus before they arrived and huge amounts of light running to make the network not work.

Details are unimportant now (and fbb can't remember them anyway!) but the present map is still reasonably familiar. But these two extracts show great complexity. (click on the maps to enlarge)
fbb is sure there is good commercial reasons for having 71, 71A, 71B, 72, 72A and 72B to serve some not particularly huge housing areas.  Its the same on the other side of the city centre:-
Not conducive to encouraging passenger growth!

It is a low-return bet that any new operator will do it better!

But when First shuts the door and thrown the keys away on 5th September, who will take over? There are several likely contenders. Lugg Valley are dominant in Leominster to the north and run the main line route between there and Hereford.
To the east, DRM are dominant in Bromyard with some very posh motors including this super-swish 6-wheeler branded for interurban route 476 from Ledbury.
Of course, we must not forget that First also runs several rural and village routed based in the City including the 420 to Worcester.
The route is hardly frequent and announcements have not yet been clear whether it stays as part of Worcester or goes as part of Hereford.
All considered there is a lot to cover. It will be interesting to watch the VOSA registration site to see who is doing what. Somebody is going to need to get hold of a significant fleet! Mind you, there should be a few pink, blue and white candidates on the market in a couple of months.

 Next bus blog : Friday 3rd July 


  1. Not sure how many buses for sale will be worth anything beyond scrap value. Elsewhere it has been suggested that there is just about enough surplus buses from Bracknell & Hereford to replace non-DDA examples in the Potteries fleet.

  2. Whilst not as simple as Hereford or Bracknell buses heading for the Potteries, clearly they will use the fleet resources to replace non-compliant fleet. Certainly, FBB is mistaken if he thinks any of the current Hereford fleet will be available for sale.

    As has been said earlier, it's Yeomans who are the biggest firm who can capitalise. DRM aren't that large and the one route that they may fancy is the 420 and First may just run that from Worcester anyway. There may be the odd tender that could interest Stagecoach from their Ross depot too.

  3. Does First still have a general policy of not selling second buses to anyone other than scrap merchants (with key parts cut off to ensure they don't get sold on to operators)? They certainly used to have such a policy

    1. Not any more, no.

  4. Slightly surprised that Plymouth wasn't on the closures list...

  5. On the subject of Plymouth I did hear recently that the Torpoint outstation may be closing later this year.