Monday 25 September 2017

Critical Cymric Contrasts (1)

We mark the sad passing of David Shepherd, artist and conservationist.
Although rightly admired for his wildlife paintings; his celebrated "A Very Wise Old Elephant" herewith ...
... David was a superb recorder of the equally massive and powerful steam engine. His pictures are particularly evocative of the years of steam's decline.
The Guardian obituary concluded:-

Richard David Shepherd, born 25th April 1931, died 19th September 2017.
Conwy - Cautious Confidence?
Conwy is a Unitary Authority in North Wales.
It contains the major settlements of Llandudno, Llandudno Junction, Llanrwst, Betws-y-Coed, Conwy, Colwyn Bay, Abergele, Penmaenmawr and Llanfairfechan, and has a total population of 115,000, the vast majority of which lives along the coast.

The River Conwy, after which the county borough is named, lies wholly within the area: rising in Snowdonia and flowing through Llanrwst and Trefriw en route to the Irish Sea by Conwy. The river here marks the border between the historic counties of Caernarfonshire and Denbighshire.

One third of the land area of the county borough lies in the Snowdonia national park, and the council appoint three of the 18 members of the Snowdonia National Park Authority. Its total area is 1,130 square km, making it slightly larger than Hong Kong.

Conway has, for many years produced an excellent timetable book.
For regular readers the "what's changed" page is helpful ...
... and there is a long list of "Places to Visit" There are details of "rover" tickets ...
... and a wondrous selection of maps. A diagram of main routes ...
... plus a geographical version with more detail. A particular joy is the profusion of town maps which cover all the built up areas in the Borough. Here is a chunk of Colwyn Bay ...
... visited by your elderly author, then aged four. Despite the effluxion of time, fbb can still remember walking from Mrs Williams digs (the family had no car and travelled by train) via the Dingle ...
... to the beach. Indeed fbb has a picture of self engaged in a long-term pebble re-arranging project observed by a doting mother. It is far to yuk-making to publish!

And, of course, the Conwy book is packed with excellently presented timetables
In all a wonderful production.

Most of the buses are operated by German State Railways in the cunning guise of Arriva.
Furthermore, if we arrive by train at Llandudno Junction station, we will most likely come on a train also operated by Arriva.
Yet again, if we leave the station and wander around a bit, we will come to a bus stop ...
... whence we could travel by one of those blue Arriva buses. And fbb does know that Arrivs no longer runs the 19; it is now in the hands of Llew Jones.
fbb is not sure, but thinks all that shelterage used to be for buses; but cycle parking is now more important than passenger sheltering. And look, dear reader, the bus stop is labelled 5 - that is "Platform 5" for buses. There are four platforms in the station proper.

That alone should convince us that here is a location where integrated transport rules O.K. Apparently, all the buses stop here ...
... sorry, not quite all. 13, 25 and 27 can't quite manage to pull in, so they just make it to "across the road" stop U.
Not too bad as long as thee flag is clearly labelled "U".
Oh dear; it isn't. Neither is the flag at Platform 5 adorned by an obvious letter "S".
Never mind eh? This is an Arriva Station with Arriva buses stopping outside and there is an excellent bus timetable produced by the county, so all our correspondent Alan had to do was pop over the footbridge to the ticket office ...
... and pick up a full set of bus information.

Only there isn't any. Diddly squat. Not a single word or time given in the station for the buses that stop outside - ALTHOUGH THEY ARE RUN BY THE SAME COMPANY!

Historic Note : Arriva's bus depot was just around the corner.
It closed in 2013. Has it yet been sold and/or demolished?

Despite the shiny label, there are now no signs to "Platform 5" from the station and the name does not appear in any bus timetable. Indeed, the provision of buses at the station is not quite what it seems. The map shows service 5 as calling at stop "S". Well it does ...
... but not on Saturdays and only rarely on Mondays to Fridays.
You can interchange with rail from Service 5 southbound to and from Conwy station ...
... but northbound the stop is in Castle Street.
But if you miss your bus, you can enjoy refreshment in Costa Lot, opposite.

It appears that, back at Llandudno Junction, "Platform 5" is an jolly good idea that has faded completely due to lack of enthusiasm and/or commitment by the parties involved. There seems to be no heart for integration despite the infrastructure, the opportunities and the common ownership of many of the participants. An opportunity faded and an opportunity missed.

 Next North Wales blog : Tuesday 26th September 


  1. Your Somerset correspondent was in Llandudno Junction yesterday. Depot not demolished.

  2. It would be difficult for Llandudno-bound buses to stop any nearer the station at Conwy because of the one-way system, but then most people on the train from the Bangor direction wishing to go to Llandudno would change at the Junction anyway, from which there is almost a half-hourly train service to Deganwy and Llandudno on a weekday, so there would be little point in routing the 5s via the station stop. However, on an evening and on a winter Sunday[when there is no rail service to Llandudno], the 5s are routed via the station stop at Llandudno Junction.
    Incidentally, my Conwy Timetable booklet stillshows the station stop as "Platform 5" along with that at Betws y Coed served by the 19 & x19 services as "Platform 2"
    And, further east along the coast, at Rhyl, there is excellent bus-rail integration. Not only is the bus station just outside, but there are direction signs in the station, along with a rack of bus timetables. I think you can also buy a combined rail-bus ticket.
    So integration in the area between Arriva Rail and buses is not perhaps as bad as you make-out.

  3. It is as bad as described if you look at bus/rail integration from the point of view of the average traveller, many of whom in this area are from abroad, rather than the bus savvy enthusiast.

    I may have missed them but I do not remember seeing the Network Rail onwards travel posters at either Llandudno Junction or Bangor.

    Rhyl may be excellent, Bangor certainly is not.