Thursday 4 May 2017

Interesting Interchange Information

A Bournemouth PS
Thanks to correspondent David for this helpful note.
Well done Bournemouth, badly done First!

But why charge anything for information. £1.30 is nothing when compared with fares revenue. If good publicity brings more business, why charge for it at all?
Bus to Train to Bus

The near-universal opinion is that Stagecoach's tenure of the SouthWest Trains' franchise has been one of the best in the chequered history of rail privatisation. Rail watchers were astounded when the new award went to First.

They were even more astounded when it emerged that First would be, effectively, throwing away serviceable existing trains and, horrendously, trains ordered but not yet in use. The economics of train building seems as Daft as the government department that has approved the deal.

Only time will tell whether the promises made by the new incumbent will be delivered and whether First have got their sums right.

But fbb was intrigued to spot this poster at Weymouth Station a couple of weeks ago.
What a wonderfully risky start to a new franchise. First takes over right in the middle of a massive Waterloo station refurbishment (of which more in a later blog). Stagecoach must be enjoying a few moments of "schadenfreude" (look it up!) as they see First getting the blame for delays and disruption!

But it was the bottom of the poster that intrigued.
The South Western Railway?

A new name for the franchise or a temporary invention of the PR gurus to make it all sound sweet and lovely?

But, idle speculation apart, fbb is impressed with the latest, indeed the final, leaflet for his local Stagecoach SouthWest Trains service.
At first glance, there is nothing very different between old (left) and new (right) but look closely and something has been removed.
A summer only service between Yeovil Penn Mill and Weymouth was announced at this time last year.

Services to Dorchester and Weymouth direct from Sherborne, Templecombe, Gillingham, Tisbury and Salisbury

Services run on Saturdays and Bank Holiday Mondays between 21st May and 3rd September

South West Trains serving Maiden Newton, Chetnole, Yetminster and Thornford for the first time

Direct trains between London Waterloo and Maiden Newton for the first time in nearly 50 years

Observers reported that these trains usually ran nearly empty which might explain why he 2016 hype was not re-hyped for this year. The service will not run in 2017.
But open up the leaflet and something positive has happened. Table 20B is for the Great Western Railway (First) service between Penn Mill and Weymouth.
Then comes a batch of connecting bus services that previously only appeared in the full Stagecoach timetable book obtainable by post and at selected (a very small selection) of their larger stations.
20C is the half hourly (seven days a week for the Summer) route that links to Lyme Regis and Bridport.
Next comes 20E ...
... the bus from Honiton to Sidmouth which actually pulls into the station forecourt.
Excellent interchange! The route is now numbered 9.

These tables are in no particular order. But next is 20F ...
... the bus link between the two Yeovil Stations and the town centre.
Of course, SWT runs trains between the two but at arbitrary and infrequent times.

The final bus timetable is 20G ...
... an hourly service between Exeter and its Airport.
This is not a dedicated airport route but Stagecoach's "normal" service 56 between Exeter and Exmouth via Woodbury.

But, our reader cries in frustration, "What about 20D?"

This is a minor revolution just along the road from fbb mansions. Axe Valley Mini Travel (no longer "mini") has changed its timetable for the first time in many years.

1. Service 885 (Axminster to Seaton) has been extended to Beer, partly absorbing short workings on the 899 Seaton, Beer, Sidmouth.

2. But, more dramatically, the Saturday service (formerly two hourly) now mirrors the Monday to Friday frequency for the main part of the day.
This is, fbb believes, the first time in history that through buses have run between Beer and Axminster to connect with the trains to Exeter and all the way to London.

fbb will write more on this improved service after he has had a chance to sample it. Now folk will be able to travel all the way to Pecorama by train and connecting bus.
One promise made by First in the PR for their takeover of the franchise was to improve interchange facilities and through ticketing. Has First had an influence in this new timetable book? Or was Stagecoach pre-delivering a similar "quality" proposal?

What is lacking, however, is a note explaining which bus services (if any) can be pre-booked at railway stations.

 Delayed updates blog : Friday 5th May 


  1. I wonder if inclusion of the bus timetables is because there won't be (according to Barry Doe) a SWT all-services timetable book this time around?

  2. Quote:
    But why charge anything for information. £1.30 is nothing when compared with fares revenue. If good publicity brings more business, why charge for it at all?

    Answer - because publicity costs money and when we reviewed our mailing list it was apparent that most went to enthusiasts who rarely or never visit our area.
    It's the same reason that operators make a small charge for booklets; charge 50p and people keep the booklet and reuse it, issue them free and they pick up a copy each time they pass. Our print runs proved it, and if anyone objected staff would happily issue one for free. Likewise I suspect if one was to contact Yellow Buses saying you were visiting on holiday, asking which bus will take you from the railway station to your accommodation, I suspect you'd be sent publicity free of charge.
    It's a fine line, but I'd suggest the operators know more about the topic than most timetable geeks and bus spotters would admit.

    1. Only the bus industry could come up with an argument like this. Buses: The Secret Service!

  3. Enthusiasts are excellent publicists for bus services and sending them a free timetable would seem to be very cheap publicity. I am regularly passing on "free" timetables to friends and acquaintances and replacing my own.
    I am unlikely to do that if I have to pay for it.

    Short-sighted CBO - ?

    1. Nah, that's a load of old garbage.

      Its a complete waste in times of cuts etc to send full sets of timetables for some individuals to keep in their mothers attic for posterity.

  4. While the inclusion of bus timetables in the rail guide is to be appalauded, one hopes that the bus companies will now only change their timings to coincide with the issue of the next guide. Is that a pig I spy flying past the window?

  5. The South Western Railway refers, I believe, to joint SWT and NR communications.

  6. I am looking forward to a blog about the 885

  7. I have seen AVMT's new roadside timetables, they are quite impressive. also they have flag stickers at Beer Cross, some stops along Hairpath Road and at Colyford.