Friday 30 January 2015

Lost Line Leads to Leigh - but Late!

Manchester's Busway to be run by First
The announcement that Fearnley's First has been awarded the contract to operate services along Manchester's guided busway guides fbb to take closer look. The Leigh project is part of a much bigger scheme to improve public transport in the City. There are three main corridors under development.
The A664 north to Middeton and the infamous Oxford Road are part of the overall plan. Here a Transport for Greater Manchester video for the latter.
Impressive, eh?

The East Lancs Road (A580) is also getting a bus-favourable treatment.
A string of bus lanes, bus friendly traffic lights and a park and ride near the M62 all feature.
The road will also be equipped with Toucan crossings, so called because two (types of crosser) can cross; i.e.pedestrians and cyclists. [two can = Toucan. Chortle, chortle].
It ll looks very impressive indeed.
Anyroad (as they say oop north), buses will then turn smartly right onto Newearth Road ...
... to the site of Ellenbrook Station.
The line closed pre-Beeching in 1960 with alternative buses, we read, provided by Lancshire United and Lancashire United amongst others.
From here the busway runs onwards and westwards through the site of Tyldesey station ...
... and so on into Leigh.
Here the former Leigh and Bedford Station (or Bedford Leigh, not to be confused with West Leigh and Bedford which is to the west of Leigh) ...
... is obliterated by industrial premises. The busway will end here on East Bond Street (note the purple poster) ...
... before following a bus-prioritised route to Leigh bus station.

Note Queen Street (lower left). When google streetview googled past, there was but one tiny remnant of the long-closed line ...
... namely a substantial chunk of bridge abutment.

The only current service following the East Lancs Road express from Manchester to Leigh is the half hourly X34 ...
... operated jointly by First ...
... and Stagcoach.
The X34 takes 55 minutes and planners estimate that an equivalent through busway service will take just 45, a ten minute saving.

Presumably a network of revised services will be announced in due course. In various places on-line the project is due to be opened in late 2014 but on some pages this has been changed to a very nebulous "2015". No date has yet been announced but local contacts are quoting "several months".

It would be good to be there when it happens (badly disguised fbb hint!!!). Lets hope it's more succesful than Luton!

Yesterday afternoon approximately 20 flakes of snow fell on the vast fbb estates. As just one flake on the Met office roof on Christmas Day makes it an official White Christmas, the fbbs can now record their first East Devon snowfall. None of the flakes survived their fall to earth.
 Next bus blog : Saturday 31st January 


  1. Not sure about your comment on the Luton Busway, if you talk to the operators (as opposed to politicians who are trying to cover the backs or score political points) the passenger growth generated by the Busway has exceeded their expectations greatly. Arriva have already added a service to the Busway and are proposing adding another after Easter and there may well be more to come soon. The problem is that scheme promoters like to inflate their figures by making unsubstantiated assumptions (and this applies to all major transport infrastructure schemes including rail & trams as well as buses) which will often make these projects then look like failures when they fail to achieve this. In the case of Luton I think the passenger figures being quoted when broken down by the services actually being provided would have amounted to full buses on almost every journey which was never realistic.

  2. Thank you Dwarfer1979. Indeed, there are expectations and expectations.
    You refer to the "new" Arriva service. Pedantically this is not new, being half the existing service to Milton Keynes being diverted to use the busway. And if the Luton operators were uneasy about using a facility which took buses away from local stops, their aspirations might have been significantly understated to prepare their stakeholders for bad news! I predict the same dichotomy of statistic for the Leigh busway!

  3. So what happens to the Stagecoach 32 from Wigan. Will the punters from Hindley, Atherton etc. be denied a faster ride because it's not a First bus?

  4. The X34 is timetabled to take up to 81 minutes inboundto Manchester City Centre in the morning peak, so the busway project should achieve a significant time saving. And that is really the point - the busway (and the on-highway bus priority) will allow more regularity in journey times.

    Equally, the busway services will continue cross-city to the Universities and MRI, so any passengers who make that journey will achieve significant time savings through not having to change bus.

    The Stagecoach 32 parallels the busway between Tyledesley and Ellenbrook. Between Ellenbrook and Manchester the bus priority is on-highway, so, the 32 would benefit from this by by-passing the congestion on the East Lancashire Road. Whilst it fulfils a useful point-to-point function, the 32 can never compete with the train for journeys between Wigan, Hindley & Atherton and Manchester. Stagecoach has, this week, just reduced the off-peak frequency of the 32 to hourly. It remains to be seen the impact of the busway on the through service. Perhaps curtailment at Atherton and end-on connections with the busway service and a through ticketing arrangement?

  5. Mike who’s 24; He’d like to be buried in a large satin-lined coffin, with a couple of Page Three stunners. They’re alive....