Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Bouquets, Boos and Bears

Last Sunday's South Yorkshire Changes

The big happening in the land of Pie and Pea Dinners, Arthur Scargill and the Great Ian McMillan ...
... the town's self-appointed Laureate, is the consequence of the Barnsley Bus Partnership ...
... almost exclusively a partnership between Stagecoach and ... erm ... Stagecoach! As in previous South Yorkshire "partnerships" this is just a poorly disguised way of cutting services.

But a  Bouquet  for South Yorkshire PTE (Travel South Yorkshire : TSY) for producing an excellent map. It appears to be correct and shows one of the areas with a hefty chop, namely Stocksbridge  and Penistone.
The country routes via Thurgoland and Wortley are fiercely pruned and there are merely remnants of a service to Holmfirth. 
Of course, TSY has all its standard timetables available to download, but produces no printed material. A Sheffield correspondent is visiting Barnsley tomorrow to see what Stagecoach have on offer, but yesterday, the first weekday of the changes, you could also go to Stagecoach Barnsley's site ...

Here you would find not a dicky-bird from Stagecoach, timetable-wise, and all the out-of-date TSY downloads, specially left there so you cannot obtain the full information on the changes. As mentioned above ...
... service 25 to Holmfirth was there yesterday in all its glory, as it was on Sunday. It is withdrawn completely!
Its replacement is occasional extended journeys on the cut back service 29 (Sheffield, Chapeltown, Penistone).
But nothing on Sundays.

So a long and loud  BOO  to Stagecoach for (a) being too lazy to put their own information on their web site and, more horrifically, (b) ensuring that the WRONG information via TSY is well displayed.

There is tinkering in the Rotherham area, but the big change is the renumbering of many First Bus service as a result of the move of operations to Olive Grove depot in Sheffield. First Bus on-line information has been well promulgated and its "Forthcoming" timetables index had been merged into a simple (current) "Timetables" section by Sunday morning - i.e. on time.
So First gets a  Bouquet .

But a massive  BOO  goes to TSY. They cannot be bothered to update their Rotherham network map which, as a result ...
... is showing all the WRONG numbers.

It is a big old  BOO  again to Stagecoach, but here they have managed to upload a table for the new 106 ...
... whilst leaving all the old tables in place.

There is tinkering in the Sheffield area as well, mostly just timetable tweaks and First's web site is fully updated. But for the joint services with "partner" Stagecoach (stop sniggering at the back!), First only deem to show their own journeys. But we will give them a  nosegay , if not a full bouquet.

As fbb has said before, "Partnership, what partnership?"

Let the  BOOs  continue even louder as Stagecoach still shows the old tables.
This is a particularly poor poor show with the changed service from Killamarsh.
We might excuse an incompetent Stagecoach for not bothering with the mildly tweaked 52/52A but, as reported in this blog a week or so ago (read again), there is a major change on the 71 and 72.

Stagecoach wants to keep it a secret from the good folk of Sheffield.

It gets worse.

A Sheffield correspondent was trundling along happily on a Stagecoach Chesterfield route 25 a few  days ago, when he espied an attractive full colour leaflet.
This includes an excellent explanation of what is happening, plus detailed coloured maps of the Killamarsh area and a colour coded timetable.
So  BOO, double BOO and treble BOO  to Stagecoach for having the information and not bothering to use it.

And yet another  BOO  to Travel South Yorkshire. The Killamarsh and Stocksbridge areas have not been updated on their usually excellent Sheffield network maps.
Try finding a 23 at Bolsterstone from today onwards!
But the biggest  BOO  of all must go to First and Stagecoach. According to one of our more rigorous Sheffield hacks ...

... so no surprise there.

fbb has a proposal. In Sheffield's Botanical Gardens there is a bear pit.
It currently contains one plastic bear.
In to this we should hurl the bosses of First Sheffield and Stagecoach Sheffield, the chief honcho of the PTE and, for good measure, Messrs Fearnley and Montgomery. They will be allowed plastic macs, an Elsan toilet and feeding by the occasional jammie dodger flung half-heartedly from the viewing area above.

Cabbages and rotting fruit will also be made available for the viewing public. OR?

They will not be let out until they have sorted out South Yorkshire's appalling bus publicity mess.

More news if anything ever happens!

The PTE aka TSY, hiding behind the Partnership,  has declined to support the GoTimetable App in any way - preferring their more co-ordinated approach as we observe above. Needless to say, the GoTimetable App was close to accurate completion two weeks before the changes. the final mini-tweaks took a few days longer.


Back to the comparative sanity of Kent (?) tomorrow

 Next Ashford blog : Wednesday 1st February 

Monday, 30 January 2017

Ashford's Astounding Announcement (1)

A One-Horse Town!
Indeed, Ashford Kent was, for most of its life, a one horse town; the horse being the Iron Horse. Ashford Railway Works was Huge ...
... and it looked huger from the air. This is looking from the opposite direction to that of the map above.
There isn't much of it left ...
... but the iconic clock tower still stands. Most of the main site is (or will be) housing. But opposite the tower, the circus is in town.
Only it isn't. It is a huge retail park with shops round the edge complete with weird tented roofs ...
... and car parking in the middle. Buses, as you would expect, are not allowed in the middle; they are relegated to a busy stop at the bottom end.
A glance at maps, old ...
... and new ...
... will show how the Railway town has grown. (click on the maps to enlarge them).

Ashford still has its original centre; but it can be hard to match older with new. Here is the "top end" of the High Street then ...
... and now.
The obvious landmark is still there, hidden behind the tree.
But at the lower end ...
... restful trees and not quite pedestrianised roadways replace the bus stops.

Ashford railway station has also changed dramatically.
It was much rebuilt in preparation for trains to Europe in the 1990s.
The "International" bit provides a stop for Eurostar services via the Channel Tunnel.
The service isn't what you might call lavish. There are two trains TO Paris Monday to Saturday, one on Sunday. FROM Paris there are again two trains but three on Sundays. TO Brussels there is one Monday to Saturday train and one on Sunday, but two extra departures on Mondays and Fridays. FROM Brussels just one train Monday to Saturday and one on Sunday.

There are also trains to Disneyland Paris, Marseille and Bourg St Maurice for the Alps, some running seasonally only.

Seems a lot of station for hardly any trains.

But we must now turn to the buses. Part two of this series will appear on WEDNESDAY to allow for a quick review of South Yorkshire's changes which came into effect yesterday.

 Next South Yorkshire blog : Tuesday 31st January 

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Perrache P.S. Deuxième Partie

No Longer Up But Under?
Thanks to the wonders of Google Streetview we can explore much of the "Gare Perrache" without the expense of a trip to Lyon. The best way to understand the station is to start from the southern entrance.
We can virtually alight from Tram 1 at the Suchet stop on Cours Charlemagne ...
.... and walk forward.
One flight of escalators takes us to platform level but with no way in.
We need another escalate to gain access to the main footbridge with crosses the station from South to North.
Arriving from the north (Place Carnot) we also need the escalators.
Perhaps the best way to understand things is to list the various levels and their purpose.

Basement Level
Bus Station of seven echelon bays.
This is a busy place, but gloomy and dismal.

Ground Level
Metro and Tram Station.
Tram 1 (above right) continues southbound through one of the ancient tunnels under the platforms. Tram 2 (above left) terminates taking its layover in the "virgule" (comma)  very tight curved siding. 
Metro Line A terminates on the same level.

Platform Level
No access to trains. Long distance coaches and a few local routes call here.

Level 1
Here is a continuation of the station footbridge and the main pedestrian access to all modes of transport
Note that, having ascended to this level, you now need to descend to find any actual transport! There is a mezzanine deck with toilets, offices and other useful but uninteresting stuff.

Level 2
Shopping. (Yawn) But it does have one of these.

Level 3
Splendid but largely unused roof gardens.
Maybe roof gardens enhanced with the fumes from the motorway was less attractive than the architects intended?

For completeness we need to record that several of these levels also have lumps of multi-storey car park.

But there is a cunning plan. After much local debate, arguing for either demolition or refurbishment, the current plan is to make dramatic changes to the layout and access of all the transport facilities. The core of the plan revolves (not literally!) round one of the three tunnels under the station which has existed since construction in 1855.
Currently used by service vehicles ...
... this is to become part of a clear and uncluttered public pathway and cycleway from South to North.
The escalators (highlighted earlier) will disappear and there will be access to the station from the new tunnel.
The walk and cycle route will continue at ground level for Metro and Tram ...
... with escalators up to the platform and "traditional" station entrance levels. The exit at the north, again sans escalators, is on the level and into Place Carnot.
At Platform Level all the old covered walkway clutter will go, restoring the station frontage to the glory that was intended when it was built.
To add to this positive regeneration, we also have the consequences of downgrading the A6 from motorway status to "ordinary" road. Replacing the Cours de Verdun on the north of its former avenue cannot be achieved, but ...
... proposals are being discussed to remove the 1970s motorway clutter and replace it, in part at least, with tree-line avenues similar to those destroyed by the so-called progress of 45 years ago.
Getting rid of this lot really is progress, surely?

There is, on the station footbridge, a sombre reminder of the consequences of the German occupation of France during World War 2.
It commemorate the mass murder of Jews and members of the Resistance after deportation by train on 11th August 1944.

Coming up : a trip to Ashford in Kent and a review of the latest tranche of changes in Sheffield.

 Next bus blog : Monday 30th January