Thursday 16 June 2011

Unsettling Sunday Saunter to Settle [2]

The Rigours of Railway Research
The Great Britain Rail Timetable is currently available in printed form from two publishers.  Above is the TSO [used to be "The Stationery Office"] version at £16.  Not a bad price, one thinks, for 3,263 pages packed with essential timetable information. From TSO, postage is extra at £3.75.  It is available from Amazon post free and when fbb looked on 2nd June was offered at a substantial discount ...
... of 4p.  What a bargain!  [The discount had increased to 44p by 14th June] A similar version is published by Middleton Press at £15.95 post free and, of course, the pages are available on-line if you can wade through Network Rail's site and find them.  Thanks to the tireless efforts of railfare expert Lord Barry Doe of Moordown, (well, he deserves some recognition for his genius) fbb can direct you here.

But both these publishers have no editorial input.  They receive the pages, exactly as they are on-line, and simply print them in book form. This means that, if the pages they are given are wrong, then the book will be wrong.

So fbb grabs his pocket-sized work of reference and turns to Table 94 to examine connections with the Dalesrail trains on the Settle and Carlisle Line. See "Unsettling Sunday Saunter to Settle [1]" (read again). To make life easy for our fearless forager for facts, there are FOUR versions of the Sunday Table 94.

Until Sunday 11th September we have the hourly service from Manchester to Clitheroe with the two Dalesrail northbound trains shown from Blackburn with timings elsewhere cross-referenced to table 97.
Next we have the whole Table 94 again from 18th September, the only difference being that one of the Dalesrail trains no longer runs.  How to waste paper.  Once upon a time trains had wiggly lines and date letters at the top of the column if they did not run for the whole timetable.  Now, apparently we have to reprint the whole thing!
But it gets worse.  From Sundays 9th to 23rd October we have version 3.  And there are now NO TRAINS between Manchester and Clitheroe except the 2200 departure from Victoria.  Oh, really?  Pull the other one, Network Rail!  The Dalesrail service is still shown.
Never mind, from 30th October we have the fourth version.  Dalesrail has come to the end of its season and we now have an hourly bus service from Bolton to Clitheroe with no mention of how a prospective Clitheronian might get from Manchester to Bolton, despite the fact that there are connecting trains.
And, dafter still, version 4 shown the ever-reliable 2200 from Manchester as still running as a train; presumably flying, Harry Potter style, over the engineering work.
Coming back south, the same four-table plethora of pottiness prevails; but looniness goes further.  The tables until 11th September and from 18th September ...
... are exactly the same, created by the simple expedient of missing the second Dalesrail train out completely.  It simply doesn't exist.  The same train is also missing on Table 97.

Just in case you are losing the will to live, or losing the will to ever travel by train again, here is a copy of the "proper" southbound times, complete with correct date codes and times.
Or are they?  There is yet more to come!

But, to recap for now, there are FOUR versions of Sunday's Table 94. Northbound, one is just plain wrong, and two could easily be merged whilst southbound three are wrong and two could still be merged. Barry Doe writes (in Rail Magazine) that this is the worst edition of the GB Rail Timetable ever. And fbb has just shelled out £16 for a book of unstinting unreliability.

There is a glimmer of hope if you are prepared to trawl wider through cyberspace.  Northern Trains, the company that operates the service, manages with just two Sunday tables; one to October 23rd and the replacement bus version from October 30th. Well done chaps!  Even here, however, we find a minor mystery.
Note "g" tells fbb that the trains arrive in Clitheroe 2 minutes later from 9th October.  Why?  What does the driver do in those two precious minutes?  Does he have an extra allowance for buffing up his accoutrements? Is it to allow him to sprint to a more distant gents as the nearest ones are closed for repair?  Maybe someone knows. Clearly that extra 2 minutes will significantly disrupt onward journeys for many passengers. Hey, why bother?

Episode three of Unsettling Settle will follow soon.

 Next blog : due Friday June 17th  


  1. 2 minutes later in October - will that be leaf-fall minutes?

  2. Leaf Fall Minutes as JimmyMac Said