Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Courageous & Confrontational in Cornwall (2)

Looking At Links To The Lizard 

fbb "visited" The Lizard in a blog over a month ago in a search for a mysterious and unidentified First Kernow bus stop. The blog in question is available (here) for those who may wish to re-acquaint themselves with the old bloke's words of wisdom and entertainment (??). In summary, fbb reported that First Kernow's branded route was reduced to a college journey ...

... and that the tendered "proper" route was now number 34, operated by Go Ahead in the guise of Transport for Cornwall (TfC) and helpfully listed on their web site between 35 and 36.

The route runs hourly with a Monday to Saturday schedule that is hopelessly and unhelpfully cluttered with schoolday variations.
The route appears clearly on the TfC map of their uncoordinated one network map of bus services throughout the county.
The 34 runs through from Redruth on a route that was once branded "The Helston Branch Line" and operated by Truronian.
When Roger French popped out west a while back, he nopticed that the bus stop at Redruth Station still carried the long out-of-date branding.
And so it is that from Sunday last, First Bus have re-started their Lizard Bus. It is open top, continuing the branding used when First ran the full timetable; and ...
... there is a sumptuous leaflet. The timetable is uncluttered with school journeys, very simple to understand and, surprise, surprise, buses lave Helston at the same time as TfC's 34.
The map implies that the route is identical with the 34, apart from a wiggle round the bits of Mullion previously served by First's college trip.
You would guess that the wiggle is designed to get passengers a little closer to Mullion Cove ...
... about 1 kilometre (3/4 of a mile in old money) from the bus stops on the wiggle (map, top right).
Talking of walking, although the leaflet advertises Lizard Point ...
... that is a bit of a porkie pie. No buses run to Lizard Point - the road is too thin!
The walk from the bus stop (top centre) to the cove is also about 1km with Lizard Point being a tad further just off the above aerial view bottom left.

Kuggar (Kennack Sands) ...
... is more pleasant, slightly less commercialised, but still a hefty trudge from the bus stop!
But, not just satisfied with "The Lizard" open topper, First have added some connecting routes. On offer is an L3 from Truro, the U4 (used to be service 2) from Falmouth ...
... The U4 from Penzance and the L5 from St Ives.
The hourly L3 ...
... parallels TfC's 36.
... and leaves at roughly the same time. The leaflet version is a summary but Traveline confirms that it does serve a full set of intermediate stops.
The L5 is something new. It links Helston with St Ives, but takes a circular route at the sea side end providing a link for the plethora of holiday, caravan, camping and chalet sites that surround the town.
There is no existing route that provides this link; which offers trips from Helston to the picturesque St Ives and well as connections with the Lizard open topper.

Once again, the Lizard leaflet offers an excellent map ...
... showing that, in addition to a lovely open top ride, the route provides many opportunities to plan walks along various sections of the magnificent coastal path.

Please, Mrs fbb, can we have an extra holiday in Cornwall this year? There are lots of lovely bus routes to try out; and you will enjoy them - honest!!

Tomorrow, after a brief stop in Falmouth we review what is happening in and around Newquay.

 Next Cornwall blog : Wednesday 19th May 

Monday, 17 May 2021

Courageous & Confrontational in Cornwall (1)

Problems With The Penwith Peninsula

It is the sticky-out bit of Cornwall that includes Penzance, Lands End and St Ives. Readers may be familiar with the reduced First Kernow network in the area.
Last Summer (but much reduced in the winter season) We had:-
  A1 - Penzance and Lands End (MID BLUE)
  A2 - Penzance and St Ives via Marazion (ORANGE)
  A3 - St Ives to Lands End (CYAN)
These three operated as an open top "circular".
A17 - Boscaswell and St Ives via Penzance (ORANGE)
 M6 - Penzance and Mousehole (PINK)

Then, under the Transport for Cornwall (TfC) disintegrated policy we have a separate map.
These are the routes operated by Go Ahead (and some subcontractors). The colours are, of course, difficult and slightly more troublesome to reproduce using the limited capabilities of "Blogger". Three routes consist of "extra bits" as follows:-
  A1 - Penzance and Lands End (MAROON
          two journeys each way early morning and early evening
A17 - Boscaswell and Penzance (LIGHT BROWN)
          hourly evening service Monday to Saturday
 M6 - Penzance and Mousehole (RED)
          one school journey each way

The rest are tendered services, most of which are much improved in frequency when set against their previous timetables (mainly First Bus), also tendered.
5 (PINK) becomes  a very tidy hourly schedule, previously a bit of a mess

7 (GREEN) is a bit of a "mop up" route having its tendered origins in the days when no First buses ran along the northern coast of the peninsula in winter.

8 (DARK BLUE) offers a significantly improved service via Sancreed, previously covered by oddments.

16 and 16A (PURPLE) are really very different routes with not much commonality, but they were traditionally shown in one table by First, presumably to convey the mistaken impression that there was a better service together! Under Transport for Cornwall ...
... we have an unheard-of hourly 16 ...
... and a tad better than before on the 16A.
There can be no doubt that TfC has delivered on its promise to improve services; but some of their improvements seem extravagant and, of course, expensive. It will be interesting to observe loadings when (according to Boris) all restrictions are removed and normality returns.

What is particularly potty is for TfC to fail completely to deliver one integrated network. What is the use of publishing two disjointed journeys on the A1 ...
... without reference to the full daytime service? Crackpot! Likewise what use is and evening service on the 17A ...
... without integrating with the daytime frequency. Utter nonsense.

fbb understands that, in the early days of discussion, First Kernow offered to include the tendered bits and pieces on their commercial timetables and even print them in their book (shock horror!) but the Council politely declined in the interests of providing a unified picture (of an very much non- unified network).

But, from yesterday, it becomes really silly.

We know that First has taken the "courageous" step of developing a huge swathe of "tourist" routes, no doubt to the anguish of TfC and the Council. Whether by accident or design is not known officially (fbb has a view and what follows is no accident!) but the "conflict" between the two non-united operators becomes even more dis-united from yesterday.

Here is First's summer network map extract for the Penwitn Peninsula.
The former Atlantic Coaster linked routes are now branded as the Lands End Coaster (MID BLUE) ...
... showing route designation "LAND" in the on-line timetable list with a correct but hard to unravel presentation.
Will "connected" potential passengers be able to find "LAND" as they benefit from the joys of on-line public transport information?

Thankfully the timetable book (remember them?) ...
 ... and the splendid leaflet (of fond equally memory in some places) make a much better job!
There are a few gaps to aid the brain!
Needless to say, TfC's odd journeys between Penzance and Lands End do not appear and, to keep the integration flag (not) flying, they will remain as route number A1.


The A17 has been dropped from the scheme; understandable as it could just about be an Atlantic Coaster (hence A17 - clever?) ...
... but a Lands End Coaster that never gets to Lands end might not be the best brand for passengers. 

So the section from Penzance to St Ives becomes plain unlettered 17 (ORANGE).

But, in another twist of fate (maybe deliberate?) the section from Penzance to Boscaswell becomes 18 (PURPLE) and from Penzance to Madron becomes 19 (DARK BLUE).

Meanwhile the TfC evening service from Penzance to Boscaswell via Madron will, it appears, continue to show A17.


Far more wonderful is the map on the Lands End Coaster leaflet. It's too big to show in the limited confines of a blog, but and extract will delight those who like to understand where bus routes actually go (again nostalgia remains of days when a printed map was always part of a company's printed timetable)
The leaflet also includes a summary for route 18 (was A17) - very useful short cut for those whose bladder and buttocks preclude doing the whole round trip in one go.

And this is just the first of many astounding developments from First Kernow.

Next we search for a Cornwall speciality!

 Next First Kernow blog : Tuesday 18th May 

Sunday, 16 May 2021

Sunday Variety



Today's service is live and ON-LINE
back in the Church.
 Click on this link (here),
which will take you to the YouTube page.
Then click on the icon for today's date.


Expensive Hydrogen?

Coming a close second to Aberdeen, Hydrogen double deckers have just appeared on route 7 in London. The 7 runs from East Acton ...
... via Ladbroke Grove Station and Paddington to Oxford Circus.
Roger French has travelled on the 7 to experience the buses; and asks the following question.
He is also concerned that for over half a million quid, you only het FOUR seats on a level floor, two in front and two right behind the centre exit doors.
Everything else involves at least one step up.

The buses need special "kid glove" treatment compared with so-called evil-diesel normality.
It does seem a lot of money for the dubious privilege of transferring some emissions from city streets to wherever the hydrogen is brewed!

If Hydrogen is going to catch on - at the moment it would mean higher fares or higher subsidy - someone will have to pay at some stage in the wheeler dealing. You can be certain it will NOT be the bus operating companies!

A Load Of Cobblers At Ipswich
The somewhat ramshackle hut was used by a cobbler in which to cobble. But it was spotted for what it once was ...
... and with a bit of spit (as yet no polish) its by identity was slowly revealed.
And now, £50,000 later, restoration is complete.
The Cambridge Street Tramway horse drawn car now resides in Ipswich museum with every tiny detail rebuilt and repainted including ...
... the lavish fore and aft oil (candle?) lighting.

Congrats to all those involved. Bootiful, as another East Anglian hero might say!

Not So Bootiful?
Readers may have gathered that fbb is not very enthusiastic about Stagecoach's new livery styles. Here, for example, it a bright and cheerful bus operating with Stagecoach Wales.
Upon retirement from revenue-earning service, the bus became a driver training vehicle and was repainted in a rich and noticeable bright red version of Stagecoach colours.
Smart and distinguished!

The bus has recently been re-repainted in what purports to be Stagecoach's new livery for trainer buses. It is bearable at the back ...
... and OK at the front.
But the side view looks decidedly unfinished ...
... with an "L" of a clutter destroying the already feeble Stagecoach beach ball.

Here are two from Go Ahead East Yorkshire ...
... both with an important message for passers by and potential passengers.

Hablas EspaƱglish?
Despite the desire of L'Academie Francaise to uphold the French-ness of the French language, English words proliferate - some of them only having a tenuous link to their English or American usage.

parking (car park)
basket (trainer shoe)
relooking (makeover)
brushing (brushing hair while blow drying)
scotcher (to tape, to immobilize)
pull (sweater)
lifting (facelift)
slip (underwear in general)

In many cases there is a perfectly adequate French word but the English has stuck. fbb's favourite is ...

Le hovercraft

... in place of the "correct" l'aeroglisseur - literally the "air slider"!
SNCF's cheapo version of the TGV is called Ouigo which might be "oui" for "yes" but is more likely "we" with the utterly English "go"!

So now it comes to Spain.
This is a Talgo train in eye-catching purple livery (vice the usual boring white) and branded ...

A = alta (high)
V = velocidad (speed)

... both very Spanish. But then ...

LO = Lo(w) Cost

... which a very English

First, The Good News ... Then ...
Time to pretty-up the station c/w its new canopy
Peco produce a lovely set of name boards for the various station appurtenances. You paint them all over with your chosen colour then rub the surface with a mild abrasive leaving the raised lettering and border as white.
It worked well with larger signs ...
... but when fbb exercised his skills (Ha, jolly ha!!) with smaller versions it was ...
... an abysmal failure. The close-up picture also shows how awful fbb's painting has become since one of his hands started to get the shakes!

He will try again - but has little hope of success. Thankfully, the model is right at the outer end of the platform and partially hidden by the end wall of the new canopy.

So the bodge may go unnoticed except, of course, by readers of this blog.

At least the lights look good!

And A Correction
Thanks to those who gently castigated fbb for his poor knowledge and/or poor explanation. The old man suggested that the electric string at the former Widmerpool station ...
... was "to get trains in and out" of the Old Dalby test tracks. Of course, had he used his brains, he should have remembered that this bit of former Notwork Rail line IS the Old Dalby test track.

Thanks to Northampton man Alan for sending a diagram. On the left is the connection with the line from Leicester to Melton Mopwbray etc.

The triangular junction then leads to the big test site at Asfordby.
The former main line then continues north to Plumtree.

The Asfordby site is seen below c/o Google Earth ...
The three little white threadworms are trains on test.

 Stop Press 
On Thursday 13th, First Kernow revealed details of its Summer timetable which starts TODAY, so really good advance notice!!!

fbb will review the developments starting with tomorrow's blog, but paying particular attention to how these changes fit with Buses for Cornwall's "one network" (Don't laugh too loud!!) for the county.

 Next First Kernow blog : Monday 17th May