Thursday, 20 July 2017

Stagecoach Waterloo .... Interrupted ...

... For Damory Dorset Daftness
But A Bit Of Stagecoach First:-
fbb's survey of SouthWest Trains timetable for the August Waterloo upgrade begins with Chessington, where was now know that trains are replaced by buses. Here is the normal timetable; a short extract thereof.
Note that here are to trains an hour from Guildford via Leatherhead and on from Dorking. There are two trains an hour from Chessington and it takes 37 minutes to get from Chessington South to Waterloo.

Now here is what is provided during August.
the whole caboodle is wrapped together to provide just two trains an hour. there would normally be SIX on this service group from Motspur Park into Waterloo; here there are only two.

Passengers from Dorking have alternative routes to the Capital but need to change trains to reach any station on the South West Trains line which means that the 51 minute full-length journey time increases to 1 hour and 27 minutes.

Instead of Chessington's journey of a few minutes over half an hour, these poor folk, using train and bus will toil laboriously for nearly and hour and a half.

What of Hampton Court? First normality. Peak hour trains between 0623 and 0923 have been omitted to allow fbb to show the standard repeat pattern.
Southwest Trains have graciously retained the through trains at peak ...
... but off-peak you get turfed out at Surbiton to wait for something else that may well be jammed to the roof with sweaty travellers who themselves have lost over 50% of their trains. Journey time increases from 37 minutes to 49 minutes.

Here is the usual service on the Portsmouth Line.
Notice that there are two "fast" (i.e. "less slow") trains every hour, taking approx 1 hour 35, augmented by one nearly-all-the-way stopper and a short working from Haslemere. That gives a train every 15 minutes from Guildford to Waterloo.

Now for the August squash!
Again the whole lot is glued together to offer just two trains an hour all the way (hooray) by taking about two hours (horrors). A short run stopper picks up the hordes of passengers at Witley and Milford.

Those campaigning for some form of price reduction or automatic compensation would seem to have a point. SouthWest Trains says that the usual compensation regime will remain in place, but therein lies the cunning plan. Compensation is only paid if the train runs significantly later than the timetable says it will.

If all trains are timetabled to run more slowly no bunce is paid.

fbb would have explored further but at this point in his preparation came some really daft news.

Damory Delivers Double Daftness
And A Bit of First Second!
The story so far - but briefly. Damory (A GoAhead company) goes backwards in Dorset by cancelling ALL its registrations from the end of the school summer term. That's tomorrow! Dorset County Council assembles a package of revised routes serving (their quote not fbb's!) 90% of the passengers carried by the previous network. The other 10% can, adopting the policy of Boris The Tousled, go whistle for a bus!

These routes are put out to tender and Damory wins almost nothing.

First Bus wins the tender for services between Dorchester and points north-east as heralded on the company's web site.
It is explained in a text block:-
There is a complex map for a typical local authority service that tries to do everything ...
... and the timetable is equally complicated.
But at least folk along this corridor have some buses.

There is one little niggle. Damory have registered a journey and a half in each direction (unsubsidised) as an X12.
Probably Damory have a school bus sitting around and they thought the driver might like a pleasant ride in the country.

So far, so good.

Then this note pops through fbb's electronic letterbox from his Dorset correspondent.
These look like the services given up by GoAhead's Damory and replaced by Firsts 12. Here is the X12 ...
... which currently runs on Saturdays as well. And here the 187 (not Saturdays)
These are NOT subsidised and start on Monday 24th, the same day as First's 12. It seem unlikely that such rural wanderings could ever be profitable, but Damory obviously thinks they can be OR (surely not?) is plying the spoiler game against Dorset and First.

Crazy or what?

But, fbb hears you cry, "don't you have to give eight weeks' notice if you want to run a bus route?" This appears to be less than a week? Why has it been allowed?

So First's response. The 12 is cancelled according to Traveline.

But, fbb hears you cry, "don't you have to give eight weeks' notice if you want to cancel a bus route?" This appears to be less than a week? Why has it been allowed?

It was all still on the First Wessex web site at 2200 last night - not a word about cancellation.

The big question is, "What will turn up at Dorchester at 0936 on Monday?" Two buses, one bus or none at all?

There is something very fishy going on here. Somehow, somebody is pulling the Traffic Commissoners' strings. Normally these splendid folk are punctilious in applying the rules unless there is a real emergency.

There is no emergency here, just plain daftness.

 Next sanity blog (?) : Friday 21st July 


  1. My understanding (at the moment) is that DCC have asked Damory to continue with the existing contracts until 3 September when First's will commence. VOSA website is showing approved short notice registrations from Damory to introduce the 187 and X12 as "new" services from 24 July, and is also showing an approved variation to First's registration to change the start date to 3 September. So the rules are being followed.

    1. A traveline service update states as follows:
      "Update. Changes to Dorset tendered bus services from 24 July 2017.
      Until further notice Damory services 187 and X12 will continue to operate to their existing timetables."

      I also seem to recall a complaint in the TC's annual report in recent years regarding councils not sorting their house out in time for the 56 day registration period to take place, causing lots of short-notice changes. Nothing seems to have come of it, it seems!

  2. Sorry fbb but the Licensing Office in Leeds (who handle bus registrations) are anything but punctilious in applying the rules (unless they want reason for not allowing something) or consistent in their decision making process. They can also be quite slow in making decisions at times which means this could all have been applied for weeks ago but just not been approved until the last minute (we had a short notice application take 7 weeks without a decision or even anyone able to indicate that one would be made so eventually we had to tell them to forget it as we were about to hit the 8 weeks notice period). There are a number of acceptable reasons for short-notice registrations (there is even a section available for any other reason on the form if one of the standard reasons is not applicable) but, even for someone who deals with the system regularly, it is not really very clear on what will be accepted and what won't before you apply, I've had changes that would have no impact on passengers refused, minor changes that are positive for customers receive a full inquisition on the whys & wherefores whilst fairly major changes sail through without question. It is all simply completely opaque as a system.

  3. I think the Dorset situation revolves around school work. First has a contract to replace the Damory X12 & 187 but they include school runs to Blandford and Thomas Hardye schools. However Damory has the contract to supply buses for services to those schools. Hence postponed the change until the school services are known.

    1. Will we now see a similar occurance with the X10?

  4. Dorset CC reissued their earlier tender announcements without amending it for this last minute change.

    Damory's website now refers to a new Dorset CC tender.

    So for the summer Blandford folk now retain five return journeys to Weymouth on a Saturday.

    1. First have now cancelled the registration for the Weymouth to Blandford 12

    2. Although First have removed the publicity for route 12 from their website. - the timetable is still there in a separate section.

  5. With reference to cancellations and the previous blog on Wessex Bus, Wessex route 90 in Bristol which duplicates First 90, started on June 12th. Its cancellation was registered for a date in August. On 11 July they changed the cancellation to 22nd July (this Saturday). So much for having to operate notice and the commercial cost implications. They have now picked to compete against First 18/18A as their 10/11/11A from early September.

    1. Looks like it might actually be a change of operator as First have de-registed the 18/18A.