Wednesday 23 June 2021

Rail Re-openings, Ridiculous or Realistic (3)

There's Only Olney! : Part One

Until 1939, the line from Northampton to Bedford ran from the rather splendid St Johns Street Station. As well as the noble frontage, it had an overall roof and was nearer the town centre than the LNWR's Castle Station.
A Google Earth view today reveals a little bit of the street network and a line of undergrowth but nothing else remains.
From 1939, trains ran via Bridge Street station ...
... into the bays at the south end of Northampton Castle.
Between Bridge Street/St Johns Street and Bedford there were three stations; at Piddington, at Olney and at Turvey. Of these, Piddington was the daftest!
The closest village was Horton, Hackleton was next nearest and the largest settlement whilst Piddington village the furthest away and by far the smallest! The station is in the middle of a field ...
... and, even today, nowhere near any significant populations. Turvey station is on the eastern edge of the village and just off the A428.
The station building is in good condition and in light industrial use.
The "Inn" marked on the map above was the "Railway Swan" ...
... now a private residence.
In between Piddington (near Horton, remember) and Turvey (lower right) ...
... is Olney, home of Rev John Newton (Amazing Grace) and base for William Cowper poet and hymn writer. It is the largest community between Northampton and Bedford but its station has perished, leaving, one might suppose, a length of Midland Railway fencing as the only lasting evidence on Midland Road.
fbb suspects that the "authentic" fence may be a recent addition, as early pictures of the station show something more vertical!
Perhaps only platforms had the diagonal slats?
Herewith is a videoed collection of pictures, mainly in the station's latter years; a delightful bit of nostalgia.
In the latter years of the line, it was operated by one of they new-fangled diesel trains with a complex Mondays to Fridays and Saturdays intermingled timetable.
There were 8/9 round trips with no Sunday trains.

The E R T A want to see this line re-opened and integrate its services with the Oxford to Cambridge route which is currently in the process of re-opening from Oxford to Bedford.

Tomorrow, we will see how realistic it might be to see trains chuntering every two hours (possibly) between the two County towns.

Due to postal delays, the six picnic tables item is postponed again.

But instead ...

Doncaster Red, Sheffield Blue
Except When It's Green
A week or so ago fbb blogged that Buses magazine had reported a new GREEN livery for a veteran Barbie-livered decker in Sheffield. 
The bus finally crept out of its little garage on Monday 21st and was duly photographed by Sheffield correspondent Roy yesterday.

It is branded "Peak Link" for service 272 to Castleton ...
... which runs, joint with Hulleys,  "up to every hour"; that is hourly with two 90 minute gaps.
The rear end ...
... shows a stylised map of the route together with a day ticket fare offer.
As the bus is branded for the 272, it is photographed here on Arundel Gate loading for servicer 11a to Herdings which, of course, makes an utter nonsense of route branding. It did eventually find its way on to a 272, seen here on the correct stand at Sheffield's Interchange.
Smart livery, utterly daft vehicle allocation!!

Beyond belief!

Will Hulley's buses show the same livery? Will ALL the First buses on the 272 show the same livery?

Answers on a postcard, please, to the usual address.

 Next Rail Re-opening blog : Thursday 24th June 


  1. One of the biggest conundrums about route branding is the scheduling of buses !!
    Very often, an efficient schedule will see buses swopping between routes but with the same driver . . . this will minimise the times that a driver needs to swop buses within a duty. All drivers hate this . . . you set up a bus (seats, mirrors and so on) to be comfortable; feel the accelerator and brakes and get used to them . . . . and then have to do it all again !!
    If the bus type is the same, then most schedulers will reduce the different buses driven within a duty, as it keeps the drivers happy.

    And then those awkward marketeers come along; paint a bus prettily for a specific route, and don't tell the schedulers !!
    As a scheduler, I'm never convinced about route-branding anyway . . . IMHO, Joe Passenger wants a bus that's on time, reasonably priced amd fairly clean . . . pretty colours and wifi are nice to have but not essential.

    1. That's the point of branding excercises! it's not about what you current customers wants - as you've already got them. It's about trying to attract new ones!

      It does work. I've seen it first hand for myself. But you need "buy in" at all levels of the company. From commercial to ensure services are timetabled correctly, marketing to ensure they send the right message out with social and publicity. All the way through to operational staff allocating the correct vehicles.

      This is why companies such as Transdev Blazefield, Nottingham City Transport and some Go Ahead have a good image while companies such as Arriva and some First/Stagecoach have a poor image.

  2. Image doesn’t get you new customers. It’s the overall experience that others talk which gets you new customers. I would suggest route branding has been parked in the sidings in the majority of companies during covid as the requirement to have deckers for capacity, whether for schools or commuters, has been the priority. As measures ease I’m sure all companies will go back to improving their vehicle allocation.

    1. But you have to get them in the bus to begin with. If your bus looks a state like most Arriva and First Buses, it's cannot be a surprise nobody will make the switch....

    2. I think you will find all bus operators have buses of varying quality!

  3. Andrew Kleissner23 June 2021 at 10:57

    While I agree with the above, surely the no.1 factors of getting people to use the bus are a frequent service (or, if not, a punctual one with easy-to-find times), routes which go where people want to go, and reasonable fares.

  4. Technically First could operate all their weekday 272 journeys with just one bus, but very wisely they don't. If they did the timetable would fall apart as soon as any delays occur as the interval between trips is mainly very short (usually four minutes). Two buses are needed anyway on Sundays, when Hulleys don't participate in its operation.
    For obvious reasons the two buses used on weekdays don't just sit around when not employed on the 272, but in p0ractice the branded bus (perhaps there will be a second one?) will do more to raise awareness of the 'Peak line' by working odd trips in between to Firth Park, Herdings and Whiston than it will by running up and down the Hope Valley, where the 272 is perhaps taken for granted. After all, it's been running in pretty much the same form, always with two operators, for well over 90 years!

  5. Far too many bus operators seem to think all they have to do is get Ray Stenning to design a fancy livery and all their problems are solved. Service reliability, cleanliness and pleasant drivers are far more important. Eventually, the penny will drop.