Thursday, 30 October 2014

Interesting Intersection of Interests [1]

It started with Stoke Bruerne, more correctly a picture thereat ...

But it got a lot more complicated.
Stagecoach X4 runs hourly between Peterborough, Northampton and Milton Keynes, enhanced to every 30 minutes between Corby and Northampton. It became part of the "Gold" brand in 2011.
The through route takes 3 hours and 20 minutes although the Stagecoach web site doesn't believe that buses run all the way without some kind of break in service. 
Mentally glueing the bits together reveals that there is no X4 between Northampton and Kettering! It is astounding that Stagecoach should advertise one of its high quality prestige routes in such a potty and incompetent way. It gets worse of you search each heading for a timetable.

"Kettering - Corby" calls up Northampton to Corby (centre)
"Corby - Corby" delivers Corby local journeys
"Milton Keynes - Northampton" delivers what it says on the label
"Corby - Peterborough" ditto

Fortunately each of the above four web-page headers leads to the same PDF file.
The service does have some passing claim to its X for Express title because it uses "fast" roads from Peterborough to Oundle and from Earls Barton to Northampton.

But not in the evenings and on Sundays. Now the X4 ceases to be anything like X rated  and eschews all its daytime Monday to Saturday fast road bits.  The running time increases slightly to 3 hours and 25 minutes.
The non X route begins by serving Lynch Wood, Alwalton and Elton on its way to Warmington services.
click on the graphic to enlarge

[note for telly addicts: Dads Army was based in the fictitious Walmington (same pronunciation) on Sea; but no connection!].
The village is bang on the border of fbb's birth county. Northamptonshire used to have an extra bit eastwards, namely the Soke of Peterborough

The term soke (in Old English: soc, connected ultimately with secan, to seek), at the time of the Norman conquest of England generally denoted "jurisdiction", but due to vague usage probably lacks a single precise definition. In some cases soke denoted the right to hold a court, and in others only the right to receive the fines and forfeitures of the men over whom it was granted when they had been condemned in a court of competent jurisdiction. Its primary meaning seems to have involved seeking; thus soka faldae was the duty of seeking the lord's court, just as secta ad molendinum was the duty of seeking the lord's mill. The Leges also speaks of pleas in socna, id est, in quaestione sua (pleas which are in his investigation).

Although Peterburians would lay claim to being a separate legal county! Anyway, it was merged with Huntingdonhire in 1965 and handed over to Cambridgeshire under the 1974 re-organisation.

Befire we look in detail at the X4 in the Peterborough area it is worth reminding ourselves of the origin of the current Stagecoach "Gold" service.

United Counties developed a network of longer distance limited stop services under the Coachlinks brand. The X65 ran to Peterborough.
Stagecoach continued the brand but dropped some of the links, notably Northampton to Bedford which reverted to an "ordinary" bus route. Peterbrough to Northampton was eventually extended to Milton Keynes with the latter link now having two buses an hour. Leicester to Northampton X7 extends to Milton Keynes as shown below to provide that extra frequency ...
... although perhaps someone should tell the Stagecoach web spinners about the demise of Greyfriars bus station!

But we are rushing on ahead of ourselves. We first need to look a little closer at the Peterborough end.

 Next bus blog : Friday 31st October 


  1. Who knows where old PDFs go? My inquiries produced a version without Greyfriars bus station.

  2. This "connections" thing hacks me off. Either domestic hours are safe or they are not. If they are not, they should be abolished. If they are, the Government should repeal this particular bit of EU law for all PCV operations.

    It is hypocritical that those operating long distance coaches (easy, relaxing motorway plodding at 62mph) are more strictly regulated than those operating intense city bus services in places like London.

    And while the law exists, the "connections" thing is firmly taking the mickey out of the law and should not be allowed.

  3. "Easy, relaxing motorway plodding at 62 MPH".
    Trust me, having done both motorway coach driving at 62 MPH and bus work for 5 1/2 hours with stand time every hour or so, I'd do the service bus work every time!

    Maintaining concentration at 62 MPH for 4+ hours without changing the position of your feet and body is hellish. I'd challenge anyone to do that and still be alert after 4 hours. (And yes, you could pull into a service area after two hours for a stretch and a cigarette, lose your passengers for a PNB for 20 minutes and have to explain why you're late at the next connectional hub (or worse still, exceed the 4 1/2 hour driving limit and have to take another break (and so on and so on)).

    Nothing wrong about having two types of driving hours; the two types of driving are quite different.

    The hypocritical point is the need to apply EC rules to stage carriage routes . . . the industry grizzled mightily about the change, but as the UK government didn't apply for any form of derogation, we're stuck with it. The Traffic Commissioners, via VOSA, issued guidance as to how the law should be compiled with . . . some operators do, and some don't, because it is only "guidance".
    It will be necessary for someone to challenge the law in court, at which time we'll get a decision based on case law and not an interpretation.
    That will cost money and time, and we might not get the answer we want . . . so better to leave well alone for now!!

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