Saturday, 11 July 2020

Weekend Variety (Saturday)

Be Positive - Enjoy A Bus Ride
Below is a link to First Kernow's Facebook site.
fbb has attempted to make the link clickable or even download the video but has failed utterly. So you need to copy the whole line (in brown on most systems) directly into your internet browser. Also, please note, it downloads with the sound switched off, so the diddy little loudspeaker icon needs a prod.

It is worth the effort!

First Bus - The M D Speaks
Giles Fearnley has sent out a letter to stakeholders in response to the "lurid headlines" as revealed in yesterdays blog. It says much the same as James Freeman wrote, but perhaps with a little more gravitas - which is delicious on fresh crusty bread with unsalted butter.

Here are a few extracts.

I thought you would find it helpful for me to put the "lurid headlines" into some context.

As we know, the entire transport sector has been affected during the coronavirus pandemic by a dramatic fall across all modes of travel, and there is continued uncertainty for the sector to overcome. We do not know how long social distancing will remain in place, how quickly passenger demand will recover, or how government and customer support might taper.

In terms of financial reporting, all these factors represent material uncertainties. As a publicly listed company First Group is obliged to set them out for the financial markets. Publication of these scenarios alongside our full year results this week this has led to some media speculation about our future viability, but I wanted to reassure you that the long-term fundamentals of our business are sound.

Through government support, we were able to keep our vital bus and rail operations running, in readiness of increasing service levels again to help economies return to strength. As a company, we face the future as a market-leader in both bus and rail, with strong liquidity as well as this fiscal support.

In other words, "We'll be all right ...
... probably!"

Uber Floats In London
Thames Clippers is not a name well-known by country bumpkins from way out west, but fbb and his Seatonian compatriots might, from time to time, spot this logo on their occasional visits to the big smoke.
Maybe when Devonians visit London they may recall Wordsworth's worthy words composed upon Westminster Bridge.

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majes tie;
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the river; silent, bare,
Thames Clippers along the waters daily ply
and men can marvel as by they fly.

This is London's modern River Bus service.
Various stopping routes are offered, particularly at peak times, but the current core service operates from Canada Wharf to Waterloo ...
... and from Blackfriars to Putney.
Fares are zonal but with the usual App discounts and reductions to London Travelcard holders.
The company has just announced a tie-up with the dreaded Uber ...
... and have begun repainting their buses, sorry boats. Presumably the deal means you can book using Uber on normal services with a discount. fbb doesn't thiink they will send one of their boats just to pick up one passenger and convey said person to their riverside destination!

Signs Of Unlockdown - Good
On the trains ...
... and on the buses (from Transdev).
Sooooo much better that the crime scene fear tactics that we have had to suffer for a while.

... And Awful
Alan writes from the delights of Northampton's cramped and inefficient bus station.
His email begins:-
Example 1
Alan then opines ...
... and offers example 2.
The technology is well observed.
There are so many ways in which this piece of very bad publicity could have been done better.

It is likely that the current services will remain unchanged until the kiddies are able to satiate their lockdowned desire for education as they return cheerily to school in September.

Mind you, if social distancing remains at 1 metre (use window seats only - no standing) there won't be enough buses in the whole of the UK.

The industry is making vociferous noises about the negatives that the government has promoted and the need to positively encourage bus travel.

Clearly Stagecoach in Northampton don't countenance any such encouragement!

Or, In Portsmouth?
The on-line version of this article is replete with effusive enthusiasm but lacking in any detail.

Correspondent Alan (a different Alan) wonders whether the shelters would still have a timetable frame? And how many upcoming services would be shown?

One positive. If you are visually impaired you can apply for a "fob" which activates a spoken version.

The Control Tower
When Airfix kits burst onto the model Railway world in the late 1950s, they were the answer to a maiden's modeller's prayer. For just two bob  a piece (two shillings - the equivalent of about £2.30 today) you could equip your model railway with all sorts of scenic stuff.

It was far more realistic than anything else and although you probably painted the models very badly (fbbs were grim!), the results were very acceptable.

An oddity, however, was the control tower. It came packaged as part of the model railway range ...
... and was this labelled  "HO & OO". It was a series 2 model, i.e. 3/-; but it never seemed to fit with a railway scene. Who would have room for an airfield on their layout? Maybe Airfix intended to sell it to those assembling aircraft kits, but planes were modelled to a slightly larger scale, 1:72 rather than OO's 1:76.

When, in its financial turmoil, Airfix sold its railway moulds to Dapol, it did not pass on the Control Tower which remained in the Airfix catalogue until at least 2016. It is now a 61 year old model, although it vanished from the Airfix list soon after the last published leaflets.

Of all the Airfix models this is the hardest to find, with some sellers charging ridiculous prices.
fbb paid £7 for his, plus postage, which appears to have been a bit of a bargain.

So why did fbb buy a control tower and turn it into one of these?
And what is it anyway?

More tomorrow.

 Weekend Variety Sunday's blog : 12th July 


  1. Good to see some positivity from an operator (the link works fine, by the way), but you'd have thought they'd have chosen a sunnier day to film it!

  2. Meanwhile as of this week South Western Railway has put up at its station posters which instruct: "DO NOT USE TRAINS FOR LEISURE TRAVEL".

    I'd like to know what those in charge are smoking because I certainly don't want any of it!