Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Tuesday Variety

Fourth Estate Farcical Explanation

fbb would have liked to provide his readers with a map to support the blog item, but neither various on-line maps nor the sainted Google Streetview have discovered Fox Valley Shopping Centre. Streetview shows the former steel stock yard which has been replaced by the retail area.
The best fbb could find is a developer's plan on an estate agent's web site.
(Click on the plan for an enlargement) The main road to/from Sheffield is bottom left and the steep-ish Hunshelf Road (see below), that may have been re-named Fox Valley Way, drops down to the roundabout, also pictured below.  So, with inadequate cartography ...
Hunshelf Road, according to the sign on the wall, leads down a fairly steep hill ...
 ... to where Mr Stocks built a bridge over the embryo River Don and where Mr Fox set up his steelworks.
Mr Stocks and Mr Fox were, effectively the Box and Cox that created the town of Stocksbridge on the A616 north west of Sheffield. In the days of fbb's youth 257 and 357 Sheffield Transport buses would descend Hunshelf Road to the roundabout ...
... to collect the workpeople and take them to their homes on the mountainous hillsides of the town. 

Now the land to the right of the roundabout has become the Fox Valley Retail Park - deep joy!
There is a very nice bus stop with luxurious but minuscule people shelter at the entrance to the retail wonderland ...
... but "for operational treasons" (bus speak for "can't be bothered") the main buses to the Stocksbridge estates, Stagecoach "local" Supertramlink 1 and 1a ...
... don't deign to descend to the depths of the Domino dominated delight. Together with Sheffield bus 57 ...
... they stop on the main road at the top of the Hunshelf Road hill near Lidl (on picture below, the hill is the turn is to the right).
There are proposals, unlikely to ever be fulfilled, to provide some kind of lift or escalator to get folk up to the main road.
The local press has given the job of reporting this technological excitement to one of its top hacks, an expert in all things transportational and geographical.

Here is the headline!
City Centre? Sheffield is about 10 miles from Stocksbridge so, some "cable car"!

Cable car? The report continues:-
Hmmm. Up the side of a slope AND ten miles to glide over the city centre. It could be that the author of this informative piece hasn't got as clue what he/she is talking about.

He/she probably doesn't knew where Stocksbridge is. Maybe he/she doesn't know where Sheffield is?

When fbb booked the funeral notice for his late sister to be published in the Northampton Chronicle, he found himself dealing with a very nice man in the offices of The Star newspaper in Sheffield!

Maybe the author of this lift/funicular/cable car piece was resident in Taiwan or Pratts Bottom?

NEVER believe what you read in a newspaper - especially if it is about public transport!

Sheffield to Lincoln and Cleethorpes
Replacement buses, covering the week-long closure of the line east from Sheffield, are being provided by Johnsons, Andrews and T M Travel. Matthew (yet another helpful Sheffield correspondent) reports that the bus stops in Woodhouse are well labelled.
Woodhouse Station is a reasonable stagger down an access road opposite the bus turning circle.
The station buildings appear to be in good condition but boarded up and no longer in use for anything.
And - a piccy of an engineering train waiting to engineer having arrived via Sheffield Midland station and Nunnery curve ...
... to stand near the city's waste disposal incinerator (above the loco). The train is approaching Woodburn Junction where sits one of the three signal boxes to be expunged.

Behold Boris' Bonus Bus Bonanza
OR ... 
Pages of Predictable Political Posturing

fbb looks at some extracts from the DaFT's press release.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson today (15 March 2021) unveils the most ambitious shake-up of the bus sector in a generation, which will see lower, simpler flat fares in towns and cities, turn-up-and-go services on main routes, and new flexible services to reconnect communities.

Yes, but what's new?

The government’s new bus strategy, backed by £3 billion of investment, will see passengers across England benefiting from more frequent, more reliable, easier to use and understand, better coordinated and cheaper bus services.

Yes, but what's new?

The changes include:

Simpler bus fares with daily price caps, so people can use the bus as many times a day as they need without facing mounting costs.

See the complications and mysteries of London's Oyster! And the near bankruptcy of Transport for |London.

More services in the evenings and at the weekends

At what cost?

Integrated services and ticketing across all transport modes, so people can easily move from bus to train

Unless a Tory government FORCES the railways and the buses to integrate - IT WON'T HAPPEN. Neither party has any interest in integrating with the other.

All buses to accept contactless payments

Yes, but what's new? Is HMG going to give Axe Valley Mini Travel the technology and the extra staff to administer and oversee it? At the moment boss Frances counts the cash on the kitchen table. (That last remark is probably NOT true, but it could be.)

Hundreds of miles of new bus lanes will make journeys quicker and more reliable, getting people out of their cars, reducing pollution and operating costs.

Yes, but will it actually happen? And how will your motoring voters respond, Boris?

We expect to see local authorities and operators working together to deliver bus services that are so frequent that passengers can just ‘turn up and go’ – no longer needing to rely on a traditional timetable and having the confidence they won’t wait more than a few minutes.

Yes, but what's new?

Just as they did in London, our reforms will make buses the transport of choice, reducing the number of car journeys and improving quality of life for millions.

The fragmented, fully commercialised market, which has operated outside London since 1986 will end. We want to see operators and local councils enter into a statutory “enhanced partnership” or franchising agreements to receive the new funding and deliver the improvements.

Whilst the highlighted sentence above appears to recognise the failure of the "commercial model" to deliver the bus service that is needed to entice people out of their cars, it is simply not clear how this newly financed scheme will actually deliver. And the bus companies will not be too keen; note how the boss of GoAhead responds ...
... with emphasis on "private" companies!

If this money is routed via the local authorities, can we expect the same Politically Potty decisions that are currently plaguing Manchester?

See also the Sheffield Bus Partnership which has reduced services and seen steady fares increases and growing confusion since it was promulgated.

So, what's new?

From this summer, only services under these arrangements will be eligible for continued support or any new sources of funding from the £3 billion transformational investment. The government will also consult later this year on reforming the Bus Service Operators Grant – the current main stream of government bus funding – to achieve the same objectives.

You only gets the money if you toes the local authority party line. Oh deary deary me.

Maybe this time fbb's cynicism will be misplaced? Let's hope so for the good of the industry, the passengers and possibly even the planet!

Puzzle Picture
One item in a recent Tim Dunn programme (Railways Architecture - Yesterday channel) was a visit the Bennerley Viaduct ...
... which once carried a chunk of the Great Northern Railway from Nottingham Victoria via a roundabout route across the Erewash Valley and to Derby Friargate and beyond.
But, after years of campaigning, the now-disused viaduct ...
... is being refurbished into a public walkway which will link the towpath of the Nottingham Canal in the east with similar on the Erewash canal in the west. Access in the east is relatively easy, but at the western end the viaduct is high up.

A ramped access is to be provided and that ramp is seen under construction in the puzzle picture

There will be footpath access from Awsworth Road, Ilkeston; just toddle past Town football ground ...
... over the railway line north from Trent Junction ...
... and the track on the left will, in due course, take you there.
But don't rush just yet. It will be some years before the whole project is completed with much of the work being undertaken by a growing band of volunteers.

Plenty of buses will take you to the junction of Copmanhay Road and Awsworth Road in Ilkeston ...
... whence it is about a mile to the viaduct itself.

Splendid Station Pictures via Twitter
Kings Cross

St Pancras

... and Where?

In all honesty, fbb would not have a clue; but the answer will be revealed tomorrow.

 Next "what goes where" blog : Wednesday 17th March 


  1. That looks like George Smith's wonderful Greenwich Station built in the style of a seven-bay mansion House. Opened in 1840 and one of the capital's oldest operational stations. A Fabulous building (the less said about the adjacent Novotel the better!).

  2. Andrew Kleissner16 March 2021 at 11:37

    I recognised it at once as my sister lived in Greenwich in the late 60s/early 70s. It certainly wasn't as well kept up then as it is today! My memory is of the trains first rattling over the Deptford Creek lifting bridge, stopping at the station, and then diving steeply into the tunnel under Greenwich Park. The platforms are very curvy - I think they had to be "bent" when the line was extended beyond its original terminus. I think I'm right in saying that the very oldest surviving station in London is the next one up the line at Deptford, predating (just) both London Bridge and Greenwich.

    I also remember from my visits the site of Greenwich Park station on the branch from Nunhead, by then used as a timber merchant. See: http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/g/greenwich_park/