Wednesday 5 November 2014

Worries Whilst Waiting at Watford [3]

W30 Ain't a Circular ...
... despite assurances from all sides!
We do know, however, that it is a Hertfordshire tendered service operated, currently, by Red Rose. According to the road signs ...
... they are "Croxley" and "Watford" business parks ...
... which isn't quite what the Herts timetable says. It certainly does NOT run to Traveline's Holywell ...
... which is served by Arriva route 10.
For the record the W30's two lumps of employment area lie on a previously green-fields site between the river Gade and Tolpits Lane (in light brown).
The railway line at the bottom of the map is closed but was the former electrified branch from Watford to Rickmansworth Church Street. Loadsa info on Nick Catford's** splendid site (here)
Caxton Way follows the line of the siding which served Dixon's paper mill.
One of their brands was, of course, "Croxley Script". The former site is now an estate of desirable commuter homes.
Back to the W30.

Without a map, the non-circular business parks service is challenging in the extreme; but a careful perusal of the three sections of the timetable and Hertfordshire's on-line maps reveals a loop at the Watford end.
Coming from the Business Parks the route passes Watford Town Hall, turns right to reach the bus station at Watford Junction ...
... runs via Clarendon Road to a stop on the High Street and rejoins its outward route at the Town Hall roundabout. This is a sensible and efficient way to get passengers from their trains and/or buses to and from their business premises.

The other end of the route is simpler than it might appear at first. At least, it is simpler in concept but confusing in timetabular presentation.
At peak times, two buses provide a fifteen minute frequency via the Metropolitan line station to Hatters Lane aka Croxley Business park and Caxton Way aka Watford Business Park (the "blue" route). Off peak, one bus provides a 30 minute frequency to Hatters Lane only (the "red" route) with a stop on Rickmansworth Road at the end of "Metropolitan Station Approach" ...
... whence there is a goodly trot to the station. There are no signs but there is the possibility that a thinking passenger seeking to make the interchange might cope with the road name. From Station to Rickmansworth Road is much more secretive.
You have to walk via the Car Park.

What adds to the confusion is that in the morning peak buses go to Hatters Lane first ...
... then the delighful Caxton Way.
In the evening peak it's Caxton Way first then Hatters Lane. This apparently unnecessary variation makes another contribution to a confusing timetable. Note that the bus maintains the Croxley Green destination; historically quite wrong but deriving its appendage from Croxley Green railway station which is over a mile from the green at Croxley.

O.K., lets write the timetable(s) out properly. Firstly FROM Watford ...
... and then TO Watford.
It would, of course, be even easier to understand if the morning and afternoon routes served the business parks in the same order. But that would be far too simple. If the timetable were poked into the Traveline data mincer in this form, there is a good chance that the journey planner would work. Give it a try folks, you never know!

Of course, work has now started on diverting the Metropolitan line via the "Croxley Link" to Watford High Street and Junction stations. A stop will be provided at Cassiobridge (formerly given the name Ascot Road).
Doubtless that will be the end of the W30.
** The splendid Nick Catford ...
... appeared in episode 2 of Channel 5's "Undergound Britain" series broadcast on Thursday 30th October. He was showing presenter ...
... Rob Pell round the WW2 bunker (called "Paddock") at Dollis Hill.
Entrance to "Paddock" : Brook Road Dollis Hill
 Next bus blog : Thursday 6th November 

1 comment:

  1. As fascinating as ever, and I cannot disagree with your final timetable. However, there IS a form of method behind the madness for the W30 . . . . . .

    The Hatters Lane leg of the service is supported financially by the Croxley Business Park, who pay for the staff of the companies who are based there to have free travel. So . . . .he wot pays the piper calls the tune! That's why the AM and PM legs of the service are thusly timed; so their journeys don't involve a l o n g trail round the (downmarket) Watford Business Park.

    You will have noticed that the peak legs run via Watford Met station. The off-peak traffic from here would (a) amount to 5/8ths of very little indeed and (b) require a second bus to provide the 30 minute service. So . . . . the daytime service runs via Rickmansworth Road to be a little quicker and thereby save a bus. It used to run via Whippendell Road to provide an off peak service along that thoroughfare, but the dreaded traffic congestion hit back!

    The daytime service operates via a loop at the Watford end (Junction then High Street, with recovery time taken at Hatters Lane) and needs one bus. The peak services operate via a loop at both ends, with stand time taken at the Junction (AM peak) / High Street (PM Peak) AND at Caxton Way, and needs three buses.

    The timetable as provided is the timetable issued by the County in the ITT, and does make sense to operators tendering for the work. Since it is a County service, there is no financial incentive for anyone to make any changes, and to be fair I'd say that the printed timetable does explain the service adequately for Joe Public . . . . it just confuses Traveline!!