Sunday, 31 January 2016

A Saturday Mélange (on Sunday)

Axminster to East Cowes
Much of fbb's blogging content relates to things that aren't right; and there are plenty such! But the old crusties' journey to the Isle of Wight was trouble free, on time and pleasant. The old man had been invited to help out their fomer church in East Cowes, hence the briefest of brief visits; to the Island on Saturday and back after the service on Sunday.

Leaving the car in Axminster Station car park for £3 for the weekend was considered cost-effective ...
... so this was the schedule offered by National Rail.
0906 Axminster to Salisbury 1016
Plenty of room, on time. Cup of tea and to sticks of a shared Kit-Kat plus the Times 2 Jumbo crossword passed the time pleasantly.

1030 Salisbury to Southampton Central 1104
On time. Busy with loadsa seats reserved; but a tosome with good window view was available.

1130 Southampton Central to car ferry terminal 1137 BUS
This service has changed in character in recent months. Once free, the sponsors have cut their commitment and the fare is now £1 for any distance. Business is less than it used to be when folk would use it for short hops between shop stops. Unusually there were enough seats for passengers on the half hour frequency, times to connect with the Red Jet fast ferry to West Cowes.
Citylink is operated by GoAhead's Blue Star company, formerly Solent Blue Line.

1200 Town Quay to East Cowes FERRY
The fbbs were using the cheaper and slower big boat service which would place them in East Cowes, notably to be prepared for the return journey after church, also in East Cowes.

As ever the "sail abroad" was a delight ...
... bringing back happy memories of a Wight life abandoned nearly three years ago.
That grey horizon smear, misty in the glorious but chilly sun, was the target. The twosome got seats right at the front and the sun was very warm indeed through the picture windows.

Dead on time the ship pulled into East Cowes with a glimpse of the largest Union Flag in the galaxy accompanied by a piccy of the new Red Jet 6 ...
... which is historically being built in the historic former British Hovercarft, former Westland, former Saunders Roe mega-shed.
The newest addition to Red Funnel’s high speed fleet, Red Jet 6,is on schedule to be completed by the end of May and will begin service in July.

The £6m passenger ferry, the first high speed craft to be built on the Isle of Wight and in the UK for 15 years, will also be the first in the company’s high speed fleet to have on-board toilets, chief executive Kevin George revealed this week.

The aluminium hulled craft is similar in design to Red Jet 4 and will uses a water jet propulsion system (the same technology that powers jet skis) to race through the water.

Chum and Senior Island correspondent Alan and Mrs were the meeters and greeters and the four repaired to the Lifeboat noshery for life preserving nosh. eshewing Southern Vectis service 4, the gang travelled in style to Ryde where this building site ...
... is now a new Travelodge, opened last October.
Boring, but cheap (£30 for the night) it provded the necessary solace in preparation for todays duties. The site used to be Wight Motors garage, by appointment motor engineers to fbb!

Public transport worked a treat, and a cost-effective treat as well.
Two senior period returns (including ferry) for about the same price (£77.60) as a ferry ride for the family car; no running costs and less stress.

Don't you just love it when a public transport pan comes together?

Plymouth Upgrades Stagecoach-style
Whist waiting for their train from Axminster, who should approach the fbb's with a cordial greeting but the Minister of their church in Seaton. A bit of a bus photography nut, Ian was on his way to Plymouth on his day off to snap the new vehicles which had been displayed at a do on Friday last.

There were new Park and Ride vehicles replacing those hired back from First after the takeover.
Also due are some posh new buses for the Tavistock and Dartmouth services, the former equipped with WiFi. Apparently there isn't enough Wi on service 3 along the coast.
Also on show was one of the South West Falcon supercoaches. Bus travel at its glorious best. For lots of similar pictures see the Plymothian Transit blog (here).

Which begs the question. How come Uncle Brian can shell out loadsamoney on expensive new stock when, generally, First Bus only managed tat?

 Next rail disruption blog : Monday 1st February 


  1. The allocation of new buses to acquired operations is fairly standard Stagecoach practice - it's happened at both Wigan and Wirral (the latter now with Gold buses on the Liverpool-Chester service) and indeed the expansion in Northampton which saw off First.
    The scale of the Stagecoach business usually makes it possible to divert vehicles from elsewhere that are already on order. But the economic justification is a little more difficult to pin down. On the one hand it is a PR exercise to staff and other stakeholders, such as local councils. On the other hand, Stagecoach has a record of turning round underperforming businesses, and is prepared to allow time for things to succeed.
    I've heard Souter talk several times, and it is clear he looks for innovation and will take a flyer, on the basis that some ideas succeed while others fail. This view is backed up by senior Stagecoach managers, though seems less prevalent since Les Warneford retired.
    The introduction of express coach routes is a good example. It has been difficult to find anything in England that repeats the success of the Cambridge-Oxford X5, but that hasn't stopped them trying various routes. Falcon is the latest example of that, and unlike First, I doubt any heads will roll if it doesn't come up to expectations.

  2. Yes, the Enviro400s have just been diverted from the Manchester order, so it's not like they've 'splashed out' any moreso on Plymouth.