Monday, 30 April 2018

Will It Or Won't It?

Will It Or Won't It Number 1
Readers who have stuck with this blog over recent years will remember that kerfuffle over the development of a new Exeter bus station. The developer pulled out just as its closure was announced, then it was to stay open, then it was to close anyway, then it was to stay open.

Stagecoach have now announced a "partial closure" starting on Sunday June 17th.
Buses to Tiverton will move to stop 16 ...
... on Paris Street next to the Park and Ride. Sidwell Street, already used by most cross-town city services will gain two stops ...
... for buses to Exmouth (57 is "GOLD" but that is not mentioned) and ...
... the various 1s via Cullompton. Further along Sidwell Street and well out of the way is the poor quality stop for long distance passengers of National Express and Megabus.
Stop 39 on Cheeke Street is for the 56 to Exeter Airport and round the back way to Exmouth. 
The bosses have pontificated as follows.
Karime Hassan, Chief Executive and Growth Director at Exeter City Council, said:

“We are in conjunction with the operators, that the planned changes to services at Exeter Bus Station will come into force from June 17. This will allow the start of enabling works which are necessary for us to deliver this key city centre redevelopment.”

And for Stagecoach:-
Bob Dennison, managing director of Stagecoach South West, said: 

“My priority has always been to minimise disruption to our customers whilst the new bus station is constructed. “I am therefore pleased that we will be able to continue to use a number of bays at the current location, helping to maintain easy access to the city centre. Our existing Travelshop will also remain open to help with customer enquiries and ticket sales. I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with Exeter City Council as the project progresses and the new bus station takes shape.”

This is for "enabling work". Maybe fbb has missed it, but he cannot remember reading anything about who will be breaking open their piggy bank to pay for all this development.

Do remember as well that the new bus station will be significantly smaller than the old/existing facility, which wasn't really big enough for the services that used it.

Will It Or Won't It Number 2
Kenilworth Station has been finished for months and months.
It lies half way between Coventry and Royal Warwickton Spa on a line currently served by Cross-Country trains (German State Railways) on their way to/from Birmingham. But at a conference attended by fbb a few years ago, one of the Cross-Country bosses said he had no intention of stopping his trains at Kenilworth unless the nasty DaFT compelled him to.
The station has a splendidly huge footbridge and two shiny new platforms - only one track but two platforms!

Instead of an Inter-City type service from Cross Country, longer distance passengers will see their potential trains whizz through and have to suffer an hourly shuttle between Leamington Spa and Coventry ...
... possibly run by an unattractive and low capacity 153. This is NOT what the residents of Kenilworth were promised!

West Midlands Trains have published a timetable from 20th May ...
... but rumours are rife (why aren't other things "rife"?) that trains will start running today.

One reason for the delay is that West Midlands Trains could not find a train to run the service. But it does appear that a 153 has turned up in the back of the General Manager's filing cabinet, hence today's threatened start date.

Nearly 18 months after the original opening date, Kenilworth Station is finally set to open on Monday, with train services calling at the Warwickshire town for the first time since 1965.

Campaigners have battled for more than 30 years to get the station reopened, and at 6.16am on April 30, the first train will depart to Coventry, arriving at platform four some nine minutes later.

Originally, the station was set to reopen in December 2016, but the project has been delayed on more than one occasion since then.

Earlier this year, Warwickshire County Council’s joint managing director Monica Fogarty revealed services would start on Monday February 26, before West Midlands Railway dismissed this, saying that the opening would be "at least 5 March" - representing the fourth delay to the opening.

But Monday's date looks set in stone, with a full, albeit infrequent timetable now available on National Rail's website.

Will It Or Won't It Number 3
Apollo Global Management has made a bid for the whole of First Group and must make the offer firm in early May or back out.

An article in a usually reliable trade magazine ...
... suggests that First Group will be broken up whether Apollo confirms its bid or not. Talk is that the South Western and Trans Pennine rail franchises are in financial "schtum", Greyhound in the US is a basket case and UK Bus is simply not profitable enough to satisfy the "grey suits" that control big UK business.

The article makes grim reading for bus passengers and an unhappy time for bus Chief Executive Fearnley. This is sad, because, in a bus industry overflowing with doom and gloom, First seems to be doing better than most - but in the eyes of the all-important "City", they are not doing well enough.

The article goes on:-

Significant action to reshape First’s UK bus division will be considered in the wake of Apollo’s interest in the company, industry sources have predicted.

One of the UK bus industry’s most experienced managers told Passenger Transport that the case for substantially reducing the size of the division to create a more profitable and manageable business is highly likely to be revisited. He considered that private equity ownership of most, or all, of First UK Bus is a likely outcome, regardless of whether Apollo ultimately buys FirstGroup, due to the need for a new management perspective.

He recalled that in 2013 First had been looking to sell low profit and loss-making companies amounting to around half its UK bus business, but had not been able to dispose of a large number of its worst performing operations which had distracted from the turnround plan for the bus division and contributed to failure to meet profit targets.

First's very survival looks to be in question.

Will It Or Won't It?
Technology Success NOT?
Following yesterday's loony departure screen at Bristol Temple Meads, this offering comes from Roy, one of our prolific Sheffield correspondents.
This display was from Heeley Retail Park (outbound stop) recently.
The 25 to Bradway seems about right, but the X17 doesn't go anywhere NEAR Bradway.
The X17 is on its way to Chesterfield and Matlock.

Many moons ago, Sheffield city route 17 ran via Abbeydale Road, Abbey Lane and Greenhill to Bradway but the service was relatively short lived.

But modern technology is SO-O-O-O useful!
 Next catch-up blog : Tuesday 1st May 


  1. Andrew Kleissner30 April 2018 at 07:28

    For your interest: Kenilworth station link, started today:

    1. But... one journey on SL started back on 3rd April to replace part of a journey on another operator's route. It didn't reach Kenilworth Station then but it does from today!

  2. I assume city buses in Exeter are also changing stops to Stops 21 and 25, given on Sidwell St they currently use Stops 19 and 21. Also it looks like the 1 and J/K/T will stop at different stops which is nuts.

    There also currently only 3 bus stops where stops 19-25 are shown (2 used and 1 unused) so where is the fourth one!

    The Nat Express/Megabus stop has far bigger issues, namely that local buses will find it very difficult to pass coaches parked there and what happens when more than 1 coach arrives (often 3 are in at once in peak). also surely coaches won't be able to sit there for breaks. Chaos will ensue on Day 1, mark my words.

    1. It's going to be fun at the top end of Sidwell Street, especially when the shops need to take deliveries (not all have rear access), you have a High street bound city bus on the stop there and a couple of coaches on stand, especially as there are some booked connecting services and some routes often end up waiting time in Exeter for up to 30 mins (for example if the 501 has no bookings in the Villages it will often run fast to Exeter on the A380)

      Also the minimal shelters that have been installed (old shelters from upgraded stops in the city fished out of storage) only fit a couple of people underneath

  3. Kenilworth - I hope that they have taken down the fence between the lamp posts and the platform. It looks rather permanent to me.

    1. I think the fence separates the level platform from what looks like a downward slope into the station building. There seems to be a gap in the fence at the left hand end near the next train indicator - presumably another one off camera to the right?
      I would have thought a slope in from the car park to a slightly higher building would have been preferable.

  4. Andrew Kleissner30 April 2018 at 10:36

    Kenilworth's opening is indeed flagged up on the WMT websitye's homepage. However it hasn't yet made it to the national train times/tickets search engine! That's a shame, especially as I seem to remember that the Borders Railway stations were put in some time ahead of opening.

    1. This reflects the very short notice given about it definitely opening. It was only announced in the middle of last week.

  5. The council wanted to level the bus station site in advance to make it more attractive to new developers, because obviously their prestige leisure development is more important then public transport.