Saturday 25 April 2020

Weekend Oddments : Saturday Stuff

What Wonders Will Change, You Wonder
The express bus service across the Severn Bridge has had a varied and often ignominious history. Not long ago it was a well publicised service with posh branded buses operated by First.
It ran hourly with a few "commuter" oddments on Mondayd to Fridays.
Despite its obvious opulence, First announced that it would be handing over the route to Stagecoach.
Indeed, apart from the change of livery, you would have been hard pressed to noptice any difference.
The running times were slightly different, that's all.

Then at the end of 2019, Stagecoach announced that the service would be revised and would omit the regional shopping paradise at Cribbs Causeway.
There was uproar in the Principality - pitchforks ar doriad y wawr!

So Stagecoach relented and, in January this year added an X14 from Chepstow to the aforementioned Cribbs Causeway.
Clearly the change to the Severn Express were designed to speed the service up and this attract more end to end passengers lured by the reduced journey time. But the extra costs of running from Chepstow to Cribbs must have been a tad painful.

But then in recent weeks runours have been rumbling around, such that Mr Stagecoach has had to resort to a letter to "interested parties".

We're sorry to confirm that our Severn Express and X14 services between Newport, Chepstow and Bristol will be withdrawn from Sunday 14 June 2020.

I have been in regular contact with the LAs and WECA since late December. We couldn’t sustain the service any longer on a commercial basis and nobody was forthcoming with any short or medium term funding.

Since September we've worked hard to manage a service that costs far more to operate than it collects in customer revenue.  We took action in January to stop running trips carrying the fewest people, prioritising the busiest parts of the service.  Unfortunately, through to February the remaining buses continued to run at a loss of more than £5,000 per week.  This loss is no longer sustainable and is preventing investment in the rest of our network.

We're sorry for the impact this decision will have on the small number of regular customers travelling with us.  We will continue to run our existing emergency timetable through to a last day of service on Saturday 13 June. 

So Stagecoach have no "magic" - they couldn't make a go of it either.

Cheers For The NHS
from Go Ahead East Yorkshire
from Stagecoach Elgin
sixty from GoAhead North East
Now who will be tucking in to all those boxes of Cadbury's Creme Eggs?

Sixty After Sixty Snippet

The passenger is carried subject to the provisions of all legislative enactment in that behalf and an extract from the Public Service Vehicles (Conduct of Drivers, Conductors and Passengers) Regulations dated June 18th 1936, and made by the Minister of Transport is as follows:-

1. When a public service vehicle is carrying passengers or waiting to pick up passengers, a passenger or intending passenger shall not :

fbb will summarise part 1 (of 4!) of the "Conduct Of Passengers" section of the "Regulations and Conditions". This comes under paragraph section 11 of the 20 categories of the total regulation "package".

     (i) use offensive language or behave riotously
    (ii) enter or leave via the windows
   (iii) block anyone wanting to enter or leave
   (iv) get on if the bus is full or stops to set down only
    (v) stand on the top deck
   (vi) impede the working of the bus or injure any other person
  (vii) distract the driver in any way
 (viii) give any signal that might be interpreted as a starting signal
   (ix) damage the bus
    (x) distribute advertising material
   (xi) remove any number plate, notice or notice board
  (xii) operate any noisy instrument or join with others to do so
 (xiii) throw money to scrambled for on the footpath
 (xiv) throw anything off the bus or hang anything out of a window
  (xv) obstruct any authorised person
 (xvi) smoke where it says 'no smoking'
(xvii) beg or offer anything for sale

It must have been a terrifying thing to ride on a bus in 1960 - and remember the above is an fbb summary. The regulations are all couch in semi-legal terms to cover ever possible variation or eventuality. Nothing, so far, about how to deal with aliens from outer space who might wish to travel. But thare are three more sections to go.


This Train Is Delayed Waiting For A Platform
To give the platform at Peterville Station a touch of realism, fbb painted it thickly then sprinkled gerbil sand liberally over the wet paint. But it gets wet in the rain and the surface starts peeling off.
But it doesn't ALL off, does it? And the bits that don't peel off are fixed so firmly that fbb has to resort to a special tool to get them off. Enter the GOTK resistant gerbil sand and paint scraper
GOTK? Grandma's Old Tea Knife. It takes a whole morning but we are eventually back to painted but scraped timber. Then the platform edging has to be dealt with - that too is falling/has fallen off!

Polystyrene Cement glues plastic but not to wood. PVA (No More Nails - other brands are available) sticks wood but not to plastic. The edging is plastic, the platform is wood.

How about trying a mixture of PVA and Polystyrene Cement? Hobbyists will be exploding with disbelief. The gloop, however, does not immediately explode and, after binding with a special binding medium ...
... everything seems firm.

In fact the blotchy plank looks quite like a real blotchy station platform, so fbb paints on two generously thick coats of old and gloopy exterior polyurethane varnish (matt, of course).

The results look weather resistant and picturequely promising, so the platform will soon be back in its place and awaiting its stored appurtenances.
On and off, another day's work! Thank goodness for social distancing!

 Next Weekend Oddments blog : Sunday 26th April 


  1. Andrew Kleissner25 April 2020 at 08:38

    It would be interesting to know if the abolition of the Severn Bridge toll had any effect on the bus usage. It could be that it tipped the price balance from "bus" to "car" for some people.

    1. Yes, the abolition of tolls impacted significantly on commuter traffic in particular. It's reported that post-abolition car traffic on the crossings increased by approx 10%. The Severn Bridge is also prone to closure at weekends for maintenance, at least in one direction, and so the services have to divert via the Severn Crossing which adds approx 20 minutes to the journey time and undermines reliability.