Thursday, 2 July 2020

A Rare Delight (part four)

Firstly - A Riposte
Yet again this week an anonymous has upbraided fbb for "slagging off" Travel South Yorkshire (TSY) as if that were some crime of the bloggersphere. The same comment writer suggested that fbb would be better employed writing about all the developments in Devon.

1. TSY is the publicity arm of South Yorkshire PTE. The PTE has, quite rightly, been pronounced as "not fit for purpose" by Mayor Desperate Dan Jarvis' year long investigation into the buses. fbb has sat in meetings with THREE PTE directors general and in each case has been told that they were working hard to improve the standards of their publicity.

It is now much worse.

2. Many of fbb's posts are prompted by information sent in by correspondents, some of whom wish to remain anonymous because they have a passing financial interest in keeping their jobs! Others are happy to be quoted as correspondent Bill, Stan or Clint. If any reader has an item of interest, please send details, plus the essential photographs where appropriate, to

Please remember that fbb's vital piece of blogging technology has broken down ...
... and the repair shop at Hogwarts remains closed as a result of the unforseen lockdown.

Criticism is always welcome when it is measured and informed. Moaning about content from mice of the anony kind is unlikely to have much effect.

Thank you all for your encouragement and support.

Is This The Best Way?
Midland Classic route 21 sets of from  Burton upon Trent and trundles alongside yesterday's service 4 along the A444 which would eventually take you to Coventry.
Ir dives off the A444 ...
... to serve Linton then circles back to wiggle via Castle and Church Gresley and on to Swadlincote. Effectively it is a service from Burton to Linton/Gresley linked end-on to a service from Swad to Linton/Gresley. It currently provides a 30 minute headway Monday to Friday and a bus every hour on Saturday.
Mention should also be made of route 19 ...
...which runs Burton Swad via a direct route and then goes on a magical mystery tour via Overseal and Measham to Ashby de la Zouch.
The town was known as Ashby in 1086. This is a word of Anglo-Danish origin, meaning "Ash-tree farm" or "Ash-tree settlement". The Norman French name extension dates from the years after the Norman conquest of England, when Ashby became a possession of the La Zouche family during the reign of Henry III.

Neither the 19 nor the 21 has an evening or Sunday service which, one assumes, is particularly bad news for Overseal.
Overseal is located very close to the furthest point from mainland Britain's coast, at Church Flatts Farm near Coton-in-the-Elms 3 miles to the west.
Not very exciting, is it, for such a geographically auspicious place?

Overseal was said to be the 'population centre of Britain' in 1971 with an equal number of people living north and south of it, and similarly for east and west. However, this centre has slowly been moving southwards and is now claimed by the nearby village of Appleby Parva in North West Leicestershire 4.5 miles (7.2 km) south of the village.

Overeseal lies at almost the same latitude as Shrewsbury and Barmouth.

Not a lot of people know that!

Anyway, fbb does not really know why Overseal should get special treatment, but it alone of the wiggle villages of service 19 gets an evening and Sunday service. Might it be because Overseal is in Derbyshire and the rest of the route is in Leicestershire - where be dragons?
But service 21E incorporates some of 21 and a little bit of 19; but, in order to achieve this, its route is radically different from the 21. It is normal to south of our old friend Stanton, then it nips smartly across to Swad (cased green line) ...
... then runs due south. missing out great chunks of the 21 before arriving at the start of the Linton loop. Instead of looping like the 21, it zooms off down a bit of re-routed A444 ...
... before turning via a turning loop at Overseal ...
.. and returning to Swad and Burton via Linton and "as outward route reversed" - as they say.
Maybe Derbyshire pays for the service; which is why it goes no further than Overseal? L**c*st*rsh*r* is only about 1½ miles along the A444 with the boundary at the Hooborough Brook ...
... which flows gracefully under the bridge shown above.

So here is an extract of the 21E timetable.
Presumably the timings are such that you can get an hourly service (sort of) out of one bus, and thus providing some sort of service can be done as "cost effectively" as possible. Hopefully the few regular evening passengers on the 21E will soon learn how it works - but you do wonder whether its very different route will be off-putting to new entrants into the "travel by bus" market. 

Would running two-hourly over the normal 21 route, with an extra "stub" to Overseal, be more attractive than the 21E? At least people would understand it!

There again, does Overseal deserve an evening and Sunday service when Measham, for example, gets none?

Such are the mysteries of transport politics.

And Wetmore Park?
fbb is eternally grateful to correspondents Julian and Tony for reminding fbb of the location of Burton's Wetmore Park. On reflection, fbb had not forgotten where it was - he never knew and had never been there. But now he knows.
On the above aerial view you can see some Midland Classic buses lower left at the termini on New Street. Next road north (centre above) is Station Street, now pedestrianised but formerly the main corporation bus stops area. At the top, upper right, you mught spot a "traffic gyratorty".
The curvy bit of road was Wetmore Park.

Julian explains:-

Wetmore Park was at the western end of Bridge St, the northern of the two river bridges. There is a little loop in the bus routes which is where a road was built through the former bus park. It was there to provide a park for out of town buses to keep them out of the town to protect the Burton Corporation Buses, with the misguided idea that passengers would change to a Corporation bus for the journey into town.

When Stevenson’s fought and won the battle to get into the town centre, passengers went up by 30%, after several days in traffic court. Midland Red soon followed. This was in 1978.

If you are younger than ancient, you need to remember that this was before "deregulation" (actually the replacement of one sort of regulation with another more frustrating sort!). The incumbent operator (e..g. Burton Corporation) could object to any bus service that might compete with or extract revenue from its existing services. It was very hard indeed to "break in"!

There was also New St Bus Park, for  buses from the south of the town.  This was close to the present town bus stands.
The town shopping area moved to the south, it was originally centred around Station Street. 
When the Octagon shopping centre was built the owners wanted the buses outside their shopping centre so persuaded the Council to shut Station Street to buses.

So now fbb knows.

Flixbus Starts UK Internal Routes - Today?
A few days ago, fast growing European cut-price coach service operator Flixbus made a significant announcement.
Flixbus will launch domestic intercity coach services in the UK on Thursday 2 July. The network will initially be resourced with six vehicles from smaller operators, but that number will be added to “quickly” as demand rises, the company says. It aims to be market leader in the UK by 2025.

Birmingham, Bristol, Guildford and Portsmouth are among the first domestic destinations to be served via four routes from London. In a further indication of the speed of its planned growth, Flixbus says it anticipates carrying “several million” passengers in the UK in its first 12 months.

Bristol-based Turners Coachways and London operator Your Partner In Journey are each involved in providing vehicles for the launch network.

Around 200 internal journeys will be made per week in the initial stages.(from today?) Fares will start at £2.99.(but where will they finish?) From the same date, Flixbus will also restart its international scheduled coach services from London to cities including Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris.

fbb has tried to find some timetables - but has failed. He was (at 2100 last night) unclear as to how you might book.
The above graphic refers to coaches between London and Paris, NOT internal UK services.

No doubt somebody will comment that it is all on-line and fbb is, yet again, not savvy enough to find it!

Tomorrow we go to Hastings.

 Next Narrow-thinking blog : Friday 3rd July 


  1. It is online at, when choosing London as a destination the other UK cities are available as starting points.

    1. To be fair to FBB that wasn't the case until this morning as Flixbus seemingly only populated their journey planner with UK information at around 06:30 today. Before that the only way to book tickets was obscurely hidden away and only accessible by clicking (blue) linked city names in the main text (so departures from Portsmouth didn't seem to be obviously bookable until after 06:30 this morning - handy as the first departure was at 07:00. I wonder how many it carried?!).

      Out of interest I tracked the 07:00 departure from Portsmouth on the Flixbus website. It looked to depart on time, but then the moving coach symbol seemed to get stuck outside Portsmouth and didn't move for about an hour before jumping to Wandsworth.

      The live departure times did seem to work and Showed it at Guildford 08:27 (should have been 08:00) and Wandsworth 9:07 (should have been 08:40). As I write this (09:14) the coach is showing as just entering the arrival lanes at Victoria (was due 09:10).

      Not the best of starts given loadings (and traffic) would have been light. Looks like timings may need adjusting too given the vehicle was nearly 30 mins late at Wandsworth, but arrived only 5mins down.

  2. Bookings could be made for all FLiXBUS journeys England from the afternoon of Tuesday 30 June, but only by using the 'Find schedule between London and 'destination' facility.

  3. The 21 had its evening and Sunday service as a 21E since January 2008 (the earliest timetable I can find -, so potential users have had ample time to get used to it!

    In addition, neither MC nor Derbyshire CC say there is any financial support, which implies it is a commercial decision by MC - and presumably they know where passengers are, unlike FBB...