Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Entertaining (?) Expedition to Eastbourne

One of fbb's favourite Bible stories concerns the Old Testament "judge", Deborah by name. The narrative is too lengthy and involved to reproduce here, but a "baddie" (Sisera) was attacking God's people and young Debs (a fearsome l;ass, as it turned out) was seeking some defence against an unstoppable onslaught of (possibly exaggerated? but certainly "a lot!") 10000 iron chariots. The Israelites only had hand weapons - and God!

The defeat of Sisera was surprisingly swift.

It rained.
The chariots sank in the mud, the soldiers fled and Sisera was pursued and disposed of in a particularly gruesome manner; taken down, not by a peg or two, but by one rammed home with a mallet. (Feel free to read it yourself: Judges Chapters 4 and 5).

Rain, even back then, was the enemy of technology!

fbb and his Mrs were off to visit No 3 son who had bought two day's worth of "access all areas" tickets for Eastbourne tennis. Getting from Seaton to Eastbourne was simple; by car to Axminster Station then ...
All was going well and on time until a few blips after Woking. Then the train slowed down and remained crawling all the way to Clapham Junction. The guard apologised for the delay, caused by a passenger being taken ill at Clapham. 1153 came and went meaning that fbb emailed No 3 son warning him that a 30 minute delayed arrival was inevitable.

Just to be sure, your careful author checked on line and discovered a problem.

It rained.
Because of the wonderful Thameslink, disruption would be widespread. Whilst local press pictures did not seem too bad ...
... there were reports that the track was flooded. Apparently that is not good news when you are trying to pick up 750 volts from a conductor rail. Tweeters were far from 'appy.
Southern got the pumps out ...
... but by them the rain had done its damage. Trains were in the wrong place, staff were in the wrong place and, generally, chaos ensued.

So it was that the fbbs arrived a good six minutes after their connection was scheduled to lave Clapham Junction. But it was "delayed". Trains were running out of order from busy platform 13 ...
... with nothing on time, although a few were close. Eventually the 1153 was announced as 24 minutes late. Obviously the fbb's hopped aboard.
You can gauge some of the ensuing disruption by looking at the service pattern of Eastbourne trains.
Note E (for the 1153 from Clapham Junction, 1146 from Waterloo) explains that the train splits at Haywards Heath with the rear four coach unit trundling off the Hove and Littlehampton, trains which appear on a separate timetable.

Notice that the 1223 (1216 from Waterloo) terminates at Eastbourne but offers a natty change at Hampden Park (arrive 1341; cross the line and depart 1348) into the preceding Brighton train for through passengers to Hastings and Ore.

But the fbb's train was 30 minutes late by the time the split was made.
You might have expected it to adopt the stops of the 1223 but Wivelsfield was passed at speed and at Plumpton it was announced that the train would terminate at Eastbourne. It took another 15 minutes for "instant" technology to catch up!
Quite why an extra stop was added at Glynde was neither explained nor, more importantly, announced. Nobody boarded or alighted! Neither, for that matter, was any clue given as to how the "cancelled" passengers might continue to Hastings and Ore.

In fact something was held back and was waiting for them at Eastbourne.

The fbbs were 31 minutes late arriving which, considering the level of disruption earlier in the day, was not all all bad.

But all because of a bit of rain? They kept going in the good old days ...
... but perhaps not always!
But it does seem strange that, despite advances in civil engineering, track laying and drainage standards, a few inches of heavy rain should spread disruption so far and so completely.

Could Southern have done better?

Was there too much misplaced "health and safety" and not enough concern for passengers?

Many frustrated passengers thought so.

Meanwhile in Sheffield
Readers may wonder how deep the flood had to be to close the top deck of the Tinsley Viaduct!
Alas the Fourth Estate was over-egging the crisis just a tad.
Poor or badly maintained drainage? Of simply too much rain?

Big Board Bust-up Beaten
Yesterday afternoon was the Extraordinary General Meeting of First Group - called by major shareholder Coast Capital aiming to "take over" the board. The attempt was roundly defeated but the chairman will stand down.
The Guardian article (quoted above) went on to suggest that First are "rumoured" to be about to win the West Coast rail franchise.
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Please Note : The "Park and Ride" blog, planned for today, is postponed until tomorrow.

While many are reading this blog, fbb himself is on safari from Eastbourne (via Brighton and Hove buses) to Brighton and on by train to Ford. Such fun! Mrs fbb was hoping to be watching Andy Murray live for real, but he and his doubles partner were soundly defeated yesterday afternoon.

 Postponed Park and Ride blog : Wednesday 27th June 

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Bus Stop Bludner 2

For more background to buses to Bradway see a previous blog (here).

In summary, the first bus service to Bradway Bank was 59 via Hutcliffe Wood Road; then, for a while, it was service 17 via Abbeydale Road and Beauchief. But the third version was an approach via Woodseats, Meadowhead and Greenhill Parkway as an extension of former tram route 75.
This remained stable on into the PTE era ...
... until deregulation and competition brought Kingsman/Yorkshire Terrier to Bradway with service 25.
First Bus responded with a rejig, bringing their own 25/25A to Bradway ...
... and Terrier was taken over by Yorkshire Traction, itself later bought by Stagecoach.
But (and it is a big but, as we shall see) Terrier/Stagecoach extended their 25 into the estate at Bradway Bank, running via Wollaton Road and serving a loop at Longford Road/Longford Drive.
Remember (how could you ever forget?) that the traditional terminus was outside the Old Mother Redcap (pub) at the junction of Everard Avenue and Prospect Road. Before the pub and its bus turning loop were built, buses simply reversed into Wollaton Road.

But the extended route beyond the pub was never equipped with bus stops. It has always been "Hail and Ride". Of course, traditions develop and there are universally accepted corners (etc) where you would wait.

But when you wait is a real problem. Whether buses actually "wait time" at Longford Rd/Longford Dr is debatable.
The terminus is Old Mother Redcap; indeed, and unhelpfully, the timetable for journeys back into city simply ignores the "Longford" loop.
So we are looking for a bus stop for buses to Dore (M17) and even a bus for the last few hundred yards to Longford Drive (25). And if we look opposite Old Mother Redcap ...
... there isn't one! The turn into Wollaton Road is just past the post box.

Bradway residents know this well; the lack of stop and pole has existed since the competition introduced the Longfords extension - a good thirty years (?) - but is that really an excuse for neglecting to inform potential customers fully and correctly?

Sometime last week, correspondent Andrew made his way to Old Mother Redcap to catch his service 25 into town. He was surprised to find that the timetable had been removed from the twiddly thing ...
... and replaced by an advert for "cheaper travel for all 16-18 year olds". And what was on the other side?
More advertorial material and, at the top, a departure list for the M17. Would this be for the M17 that should leave from the pub stop going towards Jordanthorpe?

Of course not.

It was for the M17 that goes to Dore from the opposite side of the road, leaving from the non-existent (or invisible) stop! Did the frame tell you to cross the road and hang about somewhere, expectantly?

Of course not.

But, as fbb revealed at the start of yesterdays blog, SYPTE has had second thoughts. At some time over the weekend, possibly on Saturday morning, the display had been reorganised.

The "GoCheap" poster was replaced by a departure list for the 24/25 to City and on to Woodhouse.
The reverse now has the times for the M17 in the correct direction, i.e. towards Jordanthorpe. 

Hooray!

Erm ... but it doesn't stop there, at the shelter outside the pub!
It stops on the main road by the grassy knoll (!) but away from the shelter and timetable.

Does anything tell you that?

Of course not.
But there are also times for buses in the wrong direction, i.e. to Dore.

Does it tell you to cross the road and lurk somewhere?

Of course not. Local knowledge reveals that they actually do stop here ...
... although the phone box has gone and the street lamp has been renewed; but a "flag" and timetable frame on the post would make things considerably easier.

Does it tell you when buses leave for the Longford Road loop?

Of course not.

Is there ANY evidence of buses to the Longfords, or any evidence ANYWHERE of buses from the Longfords?

Of course not.

That means, yet again, that the journey planners cannot find ANY bus from Longford Drive (for example) and insist that you walk to Old Mother Redcap.
What about a bus in the opposite direction, from pub to estate loop?
Enjoy your unnecessary walk!

And the M17 to Dore? SYPTE's journey planner offers such stupidity as walking (PURPLE) to Abbeydale Road, then 98 bus (GREEN) and Walking from Totley Brook terminus.
Or and even longer walk from the 97 bus.
Or a bus into town and another lengthy journey back out again.
The M17 simply does not exist from Everard Road/Prospect Road, Old Mother Redcap or Bradway Bank to get you to Dore.

So thanks a bunch for putting a confusing and incomplete timetable back up - that's progress. But thanks not at all for discouraging many passengers in almost every possible way.

 Next park and ride blog : Wednesday 26th June 

Monday, 24 June 2019

Bus Stop Bludner 1

This blog was to have been yet another diatribe against the incompetence of the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE), notably its lack of knowledge of where and when the buses go! From the point of view of writing an amusing blog, fbb is disappointed to report that the problem has now been resolved; but from the point of view of the befuddled bus-tomers of Bradway it is good news.

Or is it? Read on!

Once again, fbb is forced to question to wisdom of bus companies who allow local authorities to advertise their products! Once again (yawn) fbb would expect the public to be exceedingly non-plussed if Tesco were to subcontract its publicity to a County Council.

There is an argument for standardising bus stop "flags" and regulating their location; there may be an argument for centralising the provision of information on the flag (if it can be kept up to date!!) but allowing the council to mess up your timetable information is just plain potty.

Of course, all residents of Bradway (in Sheffield) know where the buses go and where they stop. 
They will know that First's 24 terminates at Lowedges while Stagecoach's 25 runs to Bradway.

They might know that in the evenings and on Sundays First's 24 also runs to Bradway and that Longford Rd/Longford Dr is not served in the evenings, early mornings or on Sundays.

They might know that, despite the timetable's insistence, you do not travel via Longford Rd/Londford Dr before getting off at Prospect Rd/Everard Av.

They will know that the buses don't actually terminate at Prospct Rd/Everard Ave, they terminate at Old Mother Redcap. It is the same place but the pub is easier to spot and the bus stops right outside its front door.
They might also know that, perversely and historically, 24s and 25s follow a slightly different route between Lowedges and Woodseats; but most will not care.

They will also know that the terminus is more correctly called Bradway Bank, NOT Bradway which is some distance away; although both are in the official district of Bradway.

And they will expect to find an SYPTE departure list in a twiddly thing at the bus stop.
They might even possess a map which shows all this reasonably clearly, but not as clear as it could be! 25s do NOT run along Queen Victoria Road.
But the M17 does! This was once, fbb has been informed, a "Little Nipper".
In the expansive days of the original bus-operating SYPTE, the politicians were anxious to run a public service with cheap fares, frequent buses on the main routes and midi-bus services penetrating the areas where big buses did not reach.

Little Nippers followed intriguing and complex routes but provided a limited but useful service for the important and respected residents off the beaten track.

Thus it is that the M17 still remains, serving Greenhill Village (not mentioned on the non-leaflet map) ...
... the Twentywell Road estate perched on a steep hillside (not mentioned on the non-leaflet map) ...
... and the Hinterland of Totley Rise (ditto).
The timetable for this interesting route (it makes a good ride!) also provides minimalist information ...
... where you might expect some guidance as to the localities for which this route was specifically designed. OK, it can be hard to know where to draw the line ...
... but if we want newcomers to use public transport, they do need more help that operators (and SYPTE) give.

Which bring us back, neatly to Old Mother Redcap.

Consider this scenario. You have taken a pleasant stroll from Dore down into the valley and up through the woods to Bradway. You have had a jar or two of something nice c/o the Old Mother and you consider catching the M17 bus back.

Which stop do you use for the bus to Dore?
There is a 25 waiting outside the pub for its return up to Bradway and on to the city centre and from the same stop the M17 would take you to Jordanthorpe. So you might expect the M17 to Dore to be opposite, perhaps on Prospect Road.

We shall look tomorrow.

And Now For Something Completely Different!
How's this for a Twitter?
Since when did the big cheese of Rail magazine ...
... develop his interest in architecture?

He might have done, but he didn't in this case. The pictures were from a heritage railtour on London's Metropolitan line. There was a maroon steam engine ...
... a maroon electric engine ...
 ... and a beautiful varnished wood arch-topped door.
Gorgeous preservation!

 Next bus stop blunder blog : Tuesday 25th June