Thursday 19 October 2017

Brackley's Baffling Bus Business (3)

Frayed Ends; We're Afraid
A brief summary of the story so far, following the provision of buses between Northampton, Brackley and Oxford

338, X61, X6 etc
Providing approx four journeys Monday to Saturday with a touch on limited stoppiness.

Brackley and Oxford journeys were integrated into "gold" (joke!) service 88 by extending a small number of the hourly 88 service between Northampton and Silverstone.

Tendered journeys offering unreliable connections at Silverstone

Revised service, every hour to Brackley, every two hours on to Bicester with connections to a frequent service forward to Oxford.

Cut back to Northampton to Silverstone, AGAIN!

But change is coming (AGAIN), so fbb invites his readers to guess the frequency of buses from Northampon and Towcester to Brackley for the route change on November 5th. The current service has two buses an hour from Northampton to Towcester using different routes with hourly buses on to Silverstone (88) and via the old A5 to Milton Keynes (89).
While our readers are musing on this question, let us take a look at Silverstone itself. 
Once upon a time (back in the early 1930) Silverstone gained a by-pass. To get to the village centre from the former A43 you turned right here ...
... and squiggled through a picturesque village.
Continuing past the White Horse and along the High Street, you return to the ancient by-pass here ...
... and continue ahead to Syrseham and Brackley.

But the Silverstone by-pass has now been by-passed.
The yellow road which crosses the green dual carriageway is Whittlebury Road, and here, Streetview gives us glimpses of some twee new development ...
... with a twee new name.
But that is just the start of it. Enter Catch Yard Farm!
 fbb must start a collection of quaint names given to estates of houses to make them sound "rural".

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.
There's a green one and a pink one 
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses
All went to the university,
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same,
And there's doctors and lawyers,
And business executives,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And they all play on the golf course
And drink their martinis dry,
And they all have pretty children
And the children go to school,
And the young girls go to ballet class
And then to the university,
Where they are put in boxes
And they come out all the same.

And the boys go into business
And marry and raise a family
In boxes made of ticky tacky 
And they all look just the same.
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

Catchyard farm fills much of the green and pleasant land between the old Silverstone by pass and the new Silverstone by-pass. It appears on Google Maps as yet another muddy smear.
But the building has moved on apace as the developer ...
... explains.

Catch Yard Farm will comprise of up to 220 new homes, including an appropriate proportion of affordable housing; the creation of public squares, play areas, greens and spaces, together with improved public access to the area and associated ecological enhancements; allotments and community orchards; areas for floodwater retention and water attenuation; improved public transport, pedestrian and cycle routes connecting to the village centre and employment opportunities at Silverstone Circuit; landscaped noise bunding and woodland planting.

Does fbb espy yet more "Section 106" cash? It would appear that as well as rejoicing in water attenuation and landscaped noise bunding (that means building a wall) the residents of Catch Yard Farm are to get better bus services.


So what is happening to service 88. Every two hours between Silverstone and Brackley? Nah! Every hour between Silverstone and Brackley. Oh no, sir!

Buses will operate a half hourly service from November.

It works like this. The 88 becomes hourly all the way to Brackley - AGAIN.
But when an 88 gets to Market Place, it doesn't turn round and return to Northampton. It becomes a 98 to Towcester and Milton Keynes ...
... doing an extra bit of Brackley Town service on the way. Note tht this 98 aervice does not enter the old village centre at Silverstone and neither service calls at Syresham.

The new 98 means that the three Isle of Man legs of the "network" each have a bus every half an hour as follows.

88  89  Northampton - Towcester
88  98  Towcester - Brackley
89  98  Towcester - Milton Keynes

But nothing between Brackley and Bicester and on to Oxford?

Not yet!

Stagecoach Oxford have announced their intention to extend part of the S5 service on to Brackley ...
... although it is unlikely that it will be designed to connect neatly with the newfound riches of the 88 and 98. We will have to wait and see ...
... but the xx45 from Magdalen Street is just waiting to be pushed through to Brackley.

Of course, what folk from Brackley have always wanted is a reliable stable bus service. What they have had over the past decade is an unreliable unstable bus service changing at the whim of Stagecoach and County bean counters.

Will folk trust the much improved services? What will happen when the "Section 106" money runs out?

Frayed ends again?

Tomorrow we go on a relaxing bus ride to Towcester with a chunk of railway nostalgia thrown in.

 Banbury Lane Bus Blog : Friday 20th October 


  1. There is a suggestion that this has been postponed, as there is no information on the Stagecoach website, the Traveline website, or Northamptonshire CC's bus service change pages.

  2. Assuming it were true there's barely enough traffic between Towcester-Silverstone to support hourly let alone 2 an hour. Ok so if they have extra money available wouldn't it make more sense to have MK connections at Towcester with the current 89/X89 (or whatever they're numbered tomorrow)? That'd save a lot of mileage. But there again Stagecoach Northants aren't vey good at connecting services, they didn't used to call them Untidy Counties for nothing :)

  3. The A43 sees an daily average of over 29,000 cars west of Towcester, which reduces to 23,000 at Brackley. Plenty of traffic to tap into with the right service. Unfortunately Stagecoach is notorious for failing to connect a number of its neighbouring operating areas with regular and direct interurban services, Northampton-Oxford and Northampton-Peterborough being cases in point here.

  4. Northampton Peterborough X4, every hour?

    1. Yes, but only indirectly via Kettering and Corby. Travelling via the A45 and Rushden would probably save at least an hour and might be rather more competitive against comparable car journeys.

  5. The basic principle on naming housing developments is that they are named after the feature that was destroyed to build them.

  6. Having been a former resident in South Northamptonshire, I have travelled on the old 8 from Towcester to Brackley and indeed to Bicester. You can see why it struggles - from Silverstone west, it winds its way for 20 mins via one wealthy village to a small town. Very few passengers and the slug of s106 money isn't going to really help long term.

    Anonymous 11:16 is right to mention the lack of traffic and that corridor cannot cope with a service of that intensity (or even hourly) but unfortunately, the developer will need to provide "local benefits" so ho hum!

    The problem with Northampton to Oxford is not "frayed ends" but more akin to the TV schedules where two popular programmes are bisected by a weak one - the idea being that it will benefit as a consequence. This is the same - Oxford to Bicester and Silverstone to Northampton are robust performers but the route between (especially Bicester to Brackley) is very weak.