Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Farnborough Fun : Farnborough Farce (1)

Our senior Isle of Wight correspondent (our ONLY Isle of Wight correspondent, but he enjoys the status!) was celebrating his 40th (ruby) anniversary on Sunday 1st October. Although it was to be almost exclusively a family "do", the fbbs also had the privilege of an invitation.

Mrs fbb advised that two journeys on the Sunday might be risky, a wise counsel as things turned out; so outwards travel from Axminster to Farnborough (Hants) was on Saturday. Thanks to good fortune, or, more likely, divine intervention, Mrs fbb found a delightful Bed and Breakfast establishment in Netley Street ...
... technically in North Camp, part of greater Farnborough. A bus stop at the end of Netley Street ...
... is served by Stagecoach Gold service 1, as are the stops outside Farnborough Main Station.
The timetable showed a ten minutes service ...
... with a time pont at the end of Netley Street - couldn't be better.
A few oddities to confuse the unwary. 

1. Where is "Farnborough Main" railway station? fbb arrived at Farnborough!
2. Or is there another station at Kingsmead as shown by the "double arrow" logo on the timetable?

3. North Camp Netley Street says Stagecoach, timetable and next sop signs on board. But Google Maps and the bus stop flag have a different idea.

Historically, buses in Farnborough (etc) were provided by Aldershot and District whose service 1 ran to Aldershot even then!
How you get from Aldershot and District to Stagecoach must be one of the most complex machinations of the bus industry and for too involved to cover in this blog. But the journey takes you via Alder Valley ...
... a non-existent chunk of the geography of the UK.

The name Aldershot may have derived from alder trees found in the area (from the Old English 'alder-holt' meaning copse of alder trees). Aldershot was included as part of the Hundred of Crondall referred to in the Domesday Book of 1086. John Norden's map of Hampshire, published in the 1607 edition of William Camden's Britannia, indicates that Aldershot was a market town. There is an "Alderholt" near Fordingbridge in East Dorset.

But Stagecoach is now the incumbent.
Service 1 was gilded with due ceremony ...
... and much emptying of Uncle Brian's fairly capacious piggy bank ...
... last December.

Say it quietly lest any one is listening, but this would be the very first time that fbb has travelled on a "Gold" route. He has attended a couple of launches (Exeter to Plymouth, just called "Gold" and Exeter to Exmouth, Gold 57) but has never experienced the delights of the brand.

Excitedly he and Mrs fbb (less excitedly!) alighted from the class 159 at Basingstoke; crossed from platform 3 ...
... via the subway to Platform 1 to await the onward local train. Time to spot yet another failure of electronics ...
... namely a "not in service" train packed with happy passengers on their way to Southampton and Bournemouth.

There was also time to spot the slick scheduling. The stopper arrived from Waterloo, unloaded and pulled forward into a siding to the west of the station where it lurked patiently for the well loaded out of service train to pass by, followed by Cross Country ...
... which needs to weave its way across all through lines to get from the Reading tracks across to Platform 1. Meanwhile a slow to Southampton uses Platform 2 and ...
... tada! The fbb's slow via Farnborough not Main pulls out of its hideyhole and back in to Platform 1.

Tomorrow we ride the Gold and experience the Farce.

 Next Farnborough blog - Wednesday 4th October 


  1. I sometimes read this blog with the fresh faced enthusiasm of youth and am pleased, genuinely interested with a perceptive blog that rightly challenges the issues of modern day public transport. I like some of the foreign sorties and the historical pieces (though I confess the model railways and the adverts for Go Sheffield leave me cold).

    However, sometimes you read the title and fear this is going to be an FBB "why oh why oh why" rantathon that actually has a kernel of truth and a raft of hyperbole.

    Already, we have the issue of Farnborough vs Farnborough Main. Now obviously Farnborough station is called "Farnborough". There is a Farnborough North as well - so perhaps, just perhaps, they have decided to reflect local parlance and call it the "main" station? When you consider that, it actually makes a lot of sense!

    Then you have the rail symbol next to the Kingsmead stop on the timetable and FBB does have a fair point on this. Is it just a simple though obvious error from Stagecoach?

    The St Albans RAB/Netley Street question IS a quandary though even FBB is also mistaken. On Google Maps, the northbound stop is Netley St, whilst the other way is St Albans Roundabout. The stops do say St Albans, the timetable Netley Street. However, agree that consistency would certainly help!

    However, before FBB gets too smug, it is easy to make mistakes. So when FBB says "Service 1 was gilded with due ceremony ... and much emptying of Uncle Brian's fairly capacious piggy bank ...last December" - er, no. The route was actually converted in 2009. FBB's assiduous research has landed on the 2016 press release for the service although the clues were there...

    The headline "Next generation Gold buses make a huge impact in the Blackwater Valley" OR the first lines of the article "The popular Stagecoach Gold route 1 from Aldershot to Farnborough and Camberley has long proven its value to the local community, taking commuters to their trains, students to college and shoppers to the town centre's. So significant is the route, its reliability and growth that Stagecoach have now invested £4.5 million in the next generation fleet. The latest vehicles are 18 double deck buses and include e-leather seating, free WiFi and USB charge points."

    On a blog that may move to lambasting attention to detail......

  2. Getting from Aldershot & District to Stagecoach is actually quite simple. After Nationalisation Aldershot & District was merged with neighbouring Thames Valley to form Alder Valley, in preparation for privatisation it was split back into Alder Valley North (which switched to Berks Bucks trading as Bee Line & the remnants are part of First) & Alder Valley South (which dropped the South when North was renamed). Alder Valley passed through two owners (Frountsource & Q-Drive) before being sold to Stagecoach in the mid-nineties though not before the Guildford & Woking area operations were sold to London & Country to raise funds after a split between the then owners of the parent group of the time.

    The 1 has actually been Gold for 9 years, the launch last year was the replacement of the original single-deckers with new double-deckers (the service already having had a frequency increase in the mean time) which shows the route is growing successfully.

    The mainline station at Farnborough (which you used) has always traditionally been known has Farnborough (Main) to differentiate it from Farnborough North which is round the corner on the Reading line though when they stopped applying it to the stations.

  3. Thanks for your corrections, folks. I do have a life outside blogging and quite a busy one at that. It is not always possible to cover every possible line of research which is why I appreciate all helpful corrections.

    Local usage is fine but needs to be reflected in actual usage. If Farnborough Main is really helpful, then let Notwork Rail rename the station.

    1. FBB - take your point though most of us also have a myriad of other interests with work (we're not all retired), family, and a number of other interests (sporting or otherwise).

      However, it's a difficult argument in that having referenced an article (where the images came from) that you didn't actually read it properly.

      The fact is that the station is called Farnborough. They could just refer to it as that but, and I think that this is commendable, they have tried to differentiate and emphasise this as the main station as per local usage. They could've just said Farnborough (being absolutely exact) but what they've done is arguably more pragmatic and useful.

  4. Andrew Kleissner3 October 2017 at 15:44

    The station is still named Farnborough (Main) in Network Rail's working timetables but not in South Western Railway's timetable booklets.

    To take a different example, local people in Colchester still call the mainline station "Colchester North" (so do destination blinds on buses) although, to my knowledge, that has never been its name. But it does differentiate it from "Colchester Town" formerly known as "St. Botolph's".