Monday, 13 January 2020

The Good, The Bad And the Ugly (3)

The Good ...
There is no doubt that the Model Railway brigade, trade and its customers, have reacted amazed, jaws dropped at Hornby's announcement of it produce range for 2020.
Back in the days of fbb's youth, the old man remembers the launch of Hornby Dublo's Bristol Castle locomotive and train set.
It had chocolate and cream coaches and "The Bristolian" nameboards! Wowsers! But that was the model for the year! Later, with the launch of Dublo two-rail, there would be a series of so-called superdetailed wagons but in twos and threes.

fbb has lost count of how many new products Hornby is "promising" for 2020 and, to be realistic, we have become used to delivery dates slipping in true prototypical fashion. Also many of the "new products" are existing models in different liveries or old models resurrected from the stores and given a new look.

In some cases, however, old models are announced with "new tooling", recognising that, although the items "look" is similar, the model is a completely new produce. Two such appear on the new Hornby catalogue - not yet available but, like everything else, can be pre-ordered.
The APT, Advanced Passenger Train, was a model available about thirty years ago.
By today's standard, the model lacked some detail; but then so did the actual train! "Old" APTs are readily available on a certain on-line auction site if you are prepared for the stress as the biddy cranks up in the last few seconds. Because of the "auction" style it is impossible to give a price ...

... but the chances are this the set would not be as expensive as the new one.
And note also that delivery is not expected until December 2020.

The full sized APT project was cancelled, not because of technical problems or because some people felt travel sick as the tilt tilted, but because the British Railways bean counters worked out that there was no commercial future for such trains.

We now have tilting Pendolinos whizzing in and out of Euston and, one day soon (???), will have "High Speed 2". Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Also on the cover of the Catalogue is a mode of Stephenson's "Rocket" plus three coaches; a blast from the even further past!

Launched by Triang in 1963 this was the must-have of the day.
Unfortunately the model suffered from unreliability due to lack of adhesion and poor pick-up. fbb always hankered after this set but was never able to afford it or have the opportunity to run it as his railway modelling was cut short by University and gainful employment.

Maybe he will save up to buy the new version ...
... but yet again Hattons have already sold out as a result of pre-orders. Doubtless more will be made available but a delivery date has not yet been announced. Certainly, if the "pre-owned" price is as shown above and, considering its intrinsic problems, the new "retooled" version looks a good bet.

Maybe fbb will save up his weekly pocket money and buy one to trundle about on the Peterville Quarry Railway.

... The Bad ...
In passing, another extract from Travel South Yorkshire's service 83/83a timetable. Yesterday, we saw the appallingly unco-ordinated service from Ecclesfield to Fulwood and Greystones offering passengers roughly two buses every twenty minutes rather than a helpful every 10 minute service..

This, of course, is one of the great benefits to accrue from Buses for Sheffield a k a the Sheffield Bus Non-Partnership.

The service is equally dire in the opposite direction with two buses running close together every twenty minutes.
How would the bemused passenger interpret the timetable.

Presumably the First Bus (FST) route 83 journeys do not call at South Lane Moor Market?
Although it is indistinct on the Streetview Map and the Google computer is suffering from a dose of mystified confusion ...
... fbb can say with indubitable confidence that both 83 and 83a stop there.  We move to Southey Green. According to the timetable, Firsts 83 serves a different stop from Stagecoach's 83a.

They both serve both stops. They both serve the same STOPS.

So why?

One of the important traffic objectives of the 83 and 83a is Morrisons on Ecclesfield Common.
Why does First 83 not go there?

Of course it does go there. In the picture below the store entrance is on the right ...
... and the stop for the 83a and the 83 can be glimpsed on the far left.

Useless co-ordinated frequency, useless timetable presentation so ... it is inevitable that passenger numbers will fall yet again.

Beyond belief.

... And The Ugly!
Roger French has recently ridden on Carousel Buses service re-extended to Heathrow Airport. On one vehicle he photographed the collection of notices applied to and around the driver's cab.
There's more behind you!
And more on the first window behind the cab.
Are they all important?
Are they relevant?
Does ANYONE read them?
Could they be simplified?
Above all - are they welcoming to the passenger?

Answers, please, on a postcard to Carousel Buses; part of the GoAhead group.
The only slight consolation is that most company web sites are far worse, doing an absolutely splendid job at obscuring the information that the passenger really wants.

It is all on-line - IF you can find it and IF you can be bothered to wade through the rubbish.

N.B. This blog ws published in error yesterday afternoon.

 No idea what's coming next blog : 14th January 


  1. Don't buy the Rocket. It won't fit under the bridge !

  2. The Hornby catalogue is available, and has recently been on a one week special joint offer with Hornby Magazine (same name, no connection) at Tesco's and WHSmith's.

    An excellent example of marketing to non-traditional customers; something which other sectors could copy. OK, probably not a bus timetable on Tesco's shelf, but leaflets on the counter in the local village or estate shop? A current and regularly changed poster next to the classified ads cards, and a copy on the local notice board? Sure, all that is more labour intensive than Hornby placing a single batch of X thousand copies of their catalogue into the news trade distribution system, but its got to be worth a try, hasn't it?