Thursday, 20 January 2022

Catch-up in Cornwall (3)

There's A Lot Of It About

Apart from a school's sixth form, there are all sorts of college opportunities straight after school at age 16 plus. fbb went from grammar school to University and straight into teaching because you did not need a teaching qualification if you had a degree. But, unlike University, a whole raft of courses are attended by kiddies who live at home. So they need to catch their bus.
Truro College is the biggie. It sits on the north western edge of the City near the "village" of Threemilestone and opposite an industrial estate and the massive Royal Cornwall Hospital (a k a Treliske Hospital).
First Bus run loadsa buses from all over the county to this site. At 1625 ...
... there is something of a Le Mans start as approx 30 buses collect their loads of weary students and convey them homewards. It is a massive operation. These services have moved from the main timetable book to a separate publication ...
... which also includes specific college orientated maps. The coverage is spectacular ...
... and includes a selection of First's "ordinary" services that also call at the campus.
Here is a full list of all the college-dedicated and ordinary routes.
Just 11 of this list are part of "everyday" services.

The pattern of these college routes is similar; they are grouped according to destination ...
... e.g. Truro to Hayle and on to the Penzance area, serving communities not covered by the T1 Tinner. Another set in similar vein is part of the extensive St Austell group (see map above).
Some groups of services have a midday return trip, as above. These were introduced from September, partly to provide links to communities that would not otherwise have a bus along that corridor.
The 470 is a case in point. Derived numerically from route 47 ...
... it provides different links from either the 46 (PALE BROWN) or the 47 (DULL GREEN) - but only on college days.

Penwith College is "branch" office" of the Truro College, situated on the north western edge of Penzance ...
... high up and overlooking Mounts Bay ...
... whereat lies St Michael's Mount.
There are fewer dedicated services to Penwith College ...
... namely 160 and 390. L1 and L2 only deliver via connections; likewise students from St Ives need to use the 18 and 19 to get up the hill. 
Mostly these are through journeys, but not advertised as such in the "normal" timetable. And there is the 390 and the L1.
Despite the limited number of dedicated services to Penwith College, there is plenty of opportunity to get to this developing "branch office" of Truro College.

The Falmouth University and Exeter University joint campus at Penryn is served by U1, U1A, U2, U3 and U4 which (apart from the 15 minute "shuttle" between Penryn and the former Art College in Falmouth itself) are rebranded "normal"  bus routes.
The U4 was simply a renumbered "normal" service 2.
The route number at Helston goes back to very early First Western National Days. Penryn Campus is big and well served with seven buses an hour on the four routes when Academe is in full swing.
So these University routes do not feature in the colleges book; they are part of the main timetable service.

There is one other college in Cornwall.
Callywith College (also part of the Truro College group) is at Bodmin ...
... and services are provided by Transport for Cornwall/Go Cornwall/Go Ahead.
And there are loads of them to marvel at.

Which brings us naturally to the Go Cornwall comprehensive timetable books that are not quite comprehensive, as we shall see.

More from the Hornby catalogue will follow at the weekend.

 Next Catch-up Cornwall blog : Friday 21st January 

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Catch-up in Cornwall (2)

Lack Of Nous - Mistake With MOUS

Due to lack of diligence, fbb misread the 6, M6, MOUS timetable and reported that the route ran every 30 minutes. Pish, tish, tosh and ferdaddle! It runs every 20 minutes Monday to Saturday, every 30 on Sundays. And in First Kernow's latest timetable book it has no route number as such, it is headed "The Mousehole.

Common Sense Prevails
Combined Services Presented?
Today's blog takes a look at the latest timetable book, but fbb is, himself, running a little late as this publication is dated from 31st October! This examination has been provoked by the substantial change of policy in the County. From "one network for the whole of Cornwall", consisting of two separate networks from First Bus and Go Ahead, there have been several steps towards making things better.
The very good news is that First is now admitting that there are extra journeys on some routes tendered to Go Ahead, and of course, fares are now inter-available so a First return will allow you back home on a Go Cornwall bus and vice versa; as below with journeys on the Tinner.
The red text is Go Ahead/Go Cornwall/Transport for Cornwall. fbb undertsands that First has always been prepared to include these journeys but the County refused, wanting to "own" all their "own" journeys. Thankfully common sense has now prevailed.

Well nearly.

Here is the evening service on route 27. Note that Go Ahead runs all the way to Bodmin, but First doesn't (apart from one solitary peak journey in each direction.
So, how do you get to Bodmin during the day when the First Bus service only runs as far as Carclaze.
It certainly isn't coming together if you want to go to Bugle, Roche Lanivet and Bodmin - or even to the exciting Cornwall Services!
It's a wodge of the usual suspects at providing fast food, plus a source of fuel and toilets. It has also got a Holiday Inn Express.
What you need to get to Bodmin during the day is Go Cornwall (GC) 26 or 26A. Like many GC timetables, this one is riddled with shading and notes, so it is easy to make mistakes, but the main daytime frequency is OK.
Surely it would be better to have  Monday to Friday panel and a separate Saturday table; far less chance of obfuscation.

If it really was all coming together, you might expect, at least, a note on First's 27 guiding the user to GC's 26/26a. Likewise on the GC 26/26a it would be nice to tell users that there is a daytime 27 from First, not just some oddly numbered evening journeys.

Of course, we know that the GC timetable books (blog to follow soonest) are advertised as showing everything, so you would be able to look there. Once again a note to that effect on both web sites would be very helpful.

Remember GC's up front web site doesn't admit to First's services. If you click on the timetable list you get what it says on the page ...
... just GC's 27 journeys. But, if you are brave and determined you can click on the PDF button and get the full combined timetable.

Why show the GC only tendered trips when you have got the full timetable available on the same web page?.


And, asks fbb in bafflement ...

What About The Atlantic Coaster?
It is well advertised on the web site and is the wonderful open top route from St Ives to Padstow ...
... a magnificent and glorious ride. But does it? Where is St Ives in the timetable?

Click on the Adventures by Bus panel and look for "when does it operate" ...
... and it draws a blank. Click on the "more information" button and things are even less clear.
Look closely at the network map and you will find the answer. Well you will find an answer, at least about the bit between St Ives and Perranporth ...
... but with no confidence as to which information is correct. But the timetable shows no times between St Ives and Perranorth, so maybe the timetable as published is right. If so, then the advert panel and its  "further information" is wrong.

It is perhaps a little unfair to criticise the few oddities, especially as the industry has been in headless chicken mode since March 2020.

But you have to ask the question, "If the GC booklets are truly comprehensive, why is First Kernow still producing its own?"

And there is another question. "What has happened to all those lovely buses that take folk to and from Truro College?" There used to be several oddles of them.

Its now a separate book, innit!

We will have a look tomorrow.

It's No Joke, Steam Not Smoke!
Some collectors still have their Triang locos with "smoke", indeed with "synchrosmoke".
In its new catalogue ...
... we are introduced to the concept 2022 style. Up to now the systems available generated smoke by heating a special oil dribbled into the tiny little "heater-upper" hidden below the chimney.
Hornby's new product uses some clever technology to generates "cold" steam (no, fbb doesn't understand - something to do with agitating the fluid until it turns into a very fine mist) using just water.
Combine it with DCC control and a sound chip (don't ask!) and your ludicrously expensive loco can chuff away making puffs of cold steam to match the speed and sound of the loco. Mind-blowingly clever and mind-blowingly expensive. Here is a video promoting the system as sold by a new company called TRS. Hornby's stuff is identical.
The mind boggles!

 Next Cornwall Catch-up blog : Thursday 20th January 

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Catch-up in Cornwall (1)

It's All Happening

The introduction of the Buses for Cornwall scheme (one network - actually two, two timetable books, two maps, two sets of fares with no inter-availability) was a sour joke. But it does look as if things are changing for the better. Firstly, and sensibly (AT LAST!), tickets have become fully inter-available between all operators and on all routes in the county. (ALL excludes Truro Park and Ride and many college services).

To achieve this First Bus has reduced many of its fares. Here are the old First only prices ...
... and the new anybody anywhere fares.
Notice that weekly tickets are unchaged - so it looks as if the chummy deal is for First to reduce its day fares, in return for which go Cornwall will  increase their weekly fares. Charging HALF the weekly rate for one day was a cruel First Bus rip-off anyway, but, as First will think, it was fair game to stitch up day visitors! It now become slightly less than one third.

Note that "child" fares are now Under 19.

Also new are local town day fares ...
... with more promised for the spring. The same information in more words is on the Buses for Cornwall web site - actually the Go Ahead Go Cornwall web site in very thin disguise.

Any ticket, any bus

We’ve got some great news for customers within Cornwall.

From 2 January you’ll be able to use your bus ticket on any* Cornwall by Kernow or Go Cornwall bus.
Including services operated by Stagecoach, Hopleys, OTS and Travel Cornwall.

That means that whether you’ve got a return, day, weekly or monthly ticket you’ll be able to hop on any bus, whoever operates it, and you won’t have to pay another penny.

It doesn’t matter what colour the bus is, or who’s driving it, it’ll still get you where you need to be.

There’s other exciting changes too, everyone 18 and under can now purchase a child ticket, offering great value travel to young people across the county.

And there are new day tickets available for the existing town zones, with a full fare ticket at just £3.00 and under 19s can travel for just £1.50.

That is more like it - and we still have the much delayed government funded reduced fare scheme to come, also slated for "the spring".

That's more like it

Maps As Well
All "normal" First Kernow routes are on the same map as Go Cornwall ... least they are on the Go Cornwall web site. Sadly the chumminess does not extend to showing a full network map on the First Bus web site. Here we only get First services ...
... and very thin on the ground they are, too.

It is probably fair-dos to have a First Kernow only map if the web site is only showing First Kernow bus services, but making the comprehensive map available as well would be in the spirit of "its all coming together".

So First Bus only gives times for its own, and lists them in a strange order ...
Baffling if you are scrolling through in eager anticipation of exploring the network; but, if you know what you want, the search box does deliver what you ask for. If you don't know ...
... it doesn't!

Unfortunately the search term specified (Ludgvan) cannot be found in our database. Please amend your search or view all timetable listings for Cornwall.

Alternatively, you can call Traveline on 0871 200 22 33 or visit

So it's not quite ALL coming together!

How does Go Cornwall compare?
Try Mousehole, that's First Kernow's route M6.
Not looking good.
Definitely NOT looking good. The M6 used to run every 20 minutes.
Unfortunately the search term specified (M6) cannot be found in our database. Please amend your search or view all timetable listings for Cornwall.

Alternatively, you can call Traveline on 0871 200 22 33 or visit

fbb is sure it is the M6 and it is shown as such on the full network nap - but on the First map above it is just called "Mousehole".
And we then discover that fbb and the chummy map are both out of date; the route is called "MOUS"!
It runs every 30 minutes in winter.
Well it used to be route 6, then M6 - even if the camera cannot pick up all the bits!
fbb bets it doesn't show "MOUS" on the blind. But, whatever, it does not appear in Go Cornwall's "data" or its list of services.

So it's not quite ALL coming together!

In fact the list of Timetables on the Go Cornwall web site does not include ANY First Bus services. The odd matching route number ...
... just quotes the occasional tendered journeys NOT operated by First.
So it's not quite ALL coming together!

On the positive side, we now have THREE area timetable books which DO include everything - we are told. fbb will look at them in detail in a later blog. 

Tomorrow we need to take a closer look at First Kernow's web site and printed booklets.

That Hornby Catalogue - Stunning Statistics
fbb does remember the old Hornby Dublo range and it was always exciting but limited. New locos would appear from time to time and, once in thee catalogue they were usually a permanent fixture.
Here is a summary of what you can find in this year's Hornby booklet.

  8 Beatles wagons
  7 Coca Cola wagons
 33 Railroad** locos
 20 Railroad** coaches
 22 Railroad** wagons
 4 Liverpool and Manchester Railway^^ packs
 93 Steam locos
 54 Diesel locos
 71 4-wheel and 6-wheel carriages
266 coaches
118 wagons

Many of these, of course, are the same coach, wagon or loco but in different liveries. **Railroad is a slightly cheaper brand, mainly from older tooling. ^^Liverpool and Manchester Railway stuff matches the Rocket loco.

The list above does not include train sets and electric or diesel multiple units of which there are oodles more to choose from. And don't forget the LIMITED EDITION "Hornby Dublo" range of locos ...
... which are made of all-metal castings ...
... like Dublo locos from the "good old days", and sell at an all-metal price.

Nearly Forgot!
The subway that runs from South Kensington underground station to various museums, now ending at the Science Museum but in the past extended all the way to the Albert Hall.

The Colonnade linking the former High Level station with the Crystal Palace itself.

 Next Catch-up in Cornwall blog : Wednesday 19th January