Thursday, 15 June 2017

It's OK : It's All On-Line (2)

This Time It's National Rail
From time to time, the fbbs visit their old haunts on the Isle of Wight. The good folk who previous shared leadership at Clarence Road Church are moving house on 20th inst. fbb and Mrs offered to help out by taking a Sunday service off their hands.

So a quick nip to East Cowes is planned; out on Saturday 24th June and back after the service on Sunday 25th.
To reduce thee stress (did we say REDUCE the stress?) the old folks are going by train. It is all very simple.

Southwest Trains from Axminster to Salisbury
Great Western from Salisbury to Southampton Central
Bus from Station to Ferry Terminal
Red Funnel big ferry to East Cowes

And, of course, it is all on line. Go to the National Rail journey planner ...
... and East Cowes doesn't exist. But surely ...
... you can book to West Cowes?

Maybe try just Cowes,
Silly fbb; he should have asked for Cowes East Rfshp. Everybody knows that!

Long standing convention names the communities on opposite sides of the River Medina as Cowes and East Cowes.
But National Rail says "hang convention, we will make it just that little bit more confusing." Anyway, foot passengers always use the fast Red Jet service to Cowes (that's West Cowes); why would anyone want to take an hour for the crossing when it can be done in about 25 minutes?
If you are old and creaky, and if you are going to a B & B near the ferry terminal at East Cowes (or is it Cowes East Rfshp?) and if you know how reliable the floating bridge is at the moment, you can work out that the big slow car ferry ...
... takes about the same time as Red Jet plus walk plus Floating Bridge.
And you can get yummy food on the big ferry ...
... even real meals.
The outward journey chosen by the fbbs is slow but with plenty of time for connections.
There is the remote possibility of catching the 0830 bus from station to ferry (vice 0900) or even taking a taxi. This would save an hour on the overall journey.

But fbb is blissfully happy that the information is correct and makes sense.

But coming back on Sunday is a very different matter. The journey planner shows paths every TWO hours.
But, thinks fbb, the big ferries are every hour ...
... and trains between Southampton and Salisbury are every hour!
Is it the Quayconnect Bus that has gone on a reduced schedule? Indeed does the Quayconnect bus still run on Sundays?

The Red Funnel web site is uncommunicative on the matter ...
... but the fast Red Jet timetable is showing an hourly link.
And fbb knows the hourly timetable between Salisbury and Axminster by heart.

Engineering works? Nothing from SWT.

From: 25.06.17
Until: 25.06.17
Route affected
Buses replace all trains in the Kingston area on Sunday 25 June

From: 25.06.17
Until: 25.06.17
Route affected
Buses replace trains between Virginia Water and Woking
until mid afternoon on Sunday 25 June

Lots about the Glastonbury Festival but nothing is impending between Southampton and Salisbury.

But it gets worse.
Look at the top line. The car ferry from Cowes East Rfshp takes just 30 minutes for the crossing. Unless Red Funnel have invested in turbo power for their big boats, this is profoundly WRONG.

The ferries leave on the half hour and take (approx!) ONE HOUR for the crossing.

The Quayconnect bus ...
... does run every 30 minutes on Sundays and the train times all look right.

So far unexplained, then, is the supercharged double speed car ferry service and the two hourly frequency when all contributing routes are operating at least once very hour. fbb will keep an eye on the journey planner pages to see if someone corrects the mistake.

Likewise the fbb's actual return journey from the Isle of Wight may yet prove "interesting".

Why not plan a pleasant strain free expedition from Northampton to London over the August Bank Holiday weekend later this year?

How does train company London Midland advise you. They say:-


Here is the announcement that greets our Northampton correspondent as he contemplates the possibility of a trip to the Metropolis.
And more detail?
And a map to get you from Stanmore to Euston.
Never mind, All the timetables will be available in an easy to understand printed booklet, won't they?

Guess the answer.

All together now ...


Or it will be - eventually.

 A delayed Minehead blog : Friday 16th June 


  1. Euston Bank Holiday Closure - it won't even all be on line. Any train times will probably be hidden some where in a journey planner, anyone who wants to see the whole timetable so they can plan their route is ignored by London Midland.

    By August Bank Holiday London Midland (a.k.a. Govia) will probably be packing their bags before handing the franchise over to the Dutch and the Japanese.

    1. In re Euston . . . . we'd better get used to closures . . . . HS2 and all that.
      To be fair, LM had a shutdown over Easter 2016 that closed the line south of Hemel Hempstead, and I was driving one of the replacement buses laid on. Loads of buses, not many passengers (they'd all heeded the call to go via (no pun) Chiltern or East Midlands trains (with connecting coaches from MKC to Bedford)).
      Bus links were to Edgware and Stanmore, and worked very well (onto the M1 @ J8 and 20 minutes later off and onto the Tube).

      Joe Public was quite complementary about the arrangements; and he's what matters!!

  2. Nothing wrong with the National Rail journey planner. Firstly East Cowes works for me... Secondly on the Sunday everything from the 13.30 ferry shows correct journey time (i.e. one hour).

    The problem is with allowable connection times.
    From 1330 the bus doesn't connect with the Cardiff train at Southampton. This puts you on the Romsey to Salisbury via Southampton circular at 10 past the hour. Unfortunately every other hour these call at Mottisfont and Dean, taking 6 minutes longer and don't have sufficient connection time at Salisbury.

    Every other hour you therefore, "miss" the Axminster train.

    As the next Cardiff train from Southampton (xx.54 which remember doesnt connect with the bus from the ferry an hour previously) puts you on the same connection as the xx.10 from Southampton that means you can leave Cowes an hour later and arrive Axminster at the same time.

    Therefore you only have a valid connection every two hours, even though everything runs hourly.

    Blame SWT for stopping at Dean and Mottisfont every two hours breaking the connection at Salisbury.

  3. Sorry Katie. Your arguments don't hold water. Firstly no Red Funnel big ferries take half an hour; secondly the bus is half hourly throughout the main part of the day, so can always "connect".

    I often make the journey and hourly always works.

    If the JP can't find the hourly links, then the JP is not doing it right.

    1. I accept everything prior to the 13.30 ferry is wrong. However from the 13.30 if we sit down with a piece of paper:

      East Cowes: 13.30 14.30
      Southampton Quay: 14:30 15:30
      14:43 15:43
      Southampton: 14:50 15:50
      14:54 15:10 16:10
      Salisbury 15:24 15:48 16:42
      15:51 16:51 16:51
      Axminster 17:05 18:05 18:05

      As you can see, as the 14:54 from Southampton does meet the connection allowance (5 mins?), the NR journey planner will not show it as a through journey.

      The 15:10 from Southampton does not make the connectional allowance at Salisbury, but the 16:10 does. As a result both the 15:10 and 16:10 trains connect into the same train at Salisbury. This is why the journey planner only shows a 2 hourly service - there is no advantage to catching the 13:30 ferry as opposed to the 14:30 one. You might be able to run from the bus to train at Southampton, or along the platform and down the subway at Salisbury, but the journey planner doesn't know that.