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 

Monday, 17 January 2022

Monday Variety

Can't Be Bothered, Mate

No one (not even fbb at his grumpiest!) underestimates the challenges facing the bus industry at the moment. Some operators are doing their very best to keep things running smoothly and give their customers a reliable, if a reduced, service.

Above is a picture smuggled out of Stagecoach East "traffic office", where timetables and staff schedules are compiled before being forwarded to the garage for implementation. The result of all this frantic effort can be seen at Bicester where the once prestigious X5 calls as it runs between Bedford and Oxford. (well, it was prestigious until they chopped off the bit running between Bedford and Cambridge!).

The consequences of all the hard work as illustrated is seen at the X5 bus stop in Bure Place Bicester.
fbb is not familiar with the changes to the X5 over the last 18 months, but the present on-line PDF looks pretty much the same as recent "normal".
It it really too much trouble to print out the PDF pages as on the web site?
It might take a day for the lad to take the van and drive along the route equipped with screwdriver and blu-tack - but it would give confidence to the passengers and, heaven forfend, they might actually buy an extra bus ride or two.

And while you are at it, why not print out a few copies to be available in libraries, village shops etc. It is called marketing!

Maybe you simply don't want the bother of carrying passengers?

Please don't tell Boris or Grant - they want you to ...
Or have you forgotten? It seem that they have definitely forgotten if you look at the laughable B S I P (Bus Service Inactivity Plan) proposals!

Croydon Town Centre Bus?
Yer what? It is ALL ON LINE so it must be right.
The twitter that accompanies the above picture adds to the bafflement.
The text above the windows says "East Croydon, Town Centre, West Croydon, Centrale".

Centrale is a shopping centre in Croydon, South London, one of the largest covered retail developments in London. It is owned and managed by Hammerson and was opened in 2004. Plans were announced in January 2013 to redevelop Centrale and combine it with the Whitgift Centre.

Centrale is located on North End, Croydon, facing the Whitgift Centre. 
It has even got its own tram stop!

It was developed from the existing but much smaller Drummond Centre. It now contains a large store – House of Fraser and formerly a Debenhams store – and around 50 smaller stores including Next, H&M and Zara.

Centrale is IN the Town Centre which makes the on-bus route descriptions a bit odd.
Oddly, you will find nothing about this innovative new service on the Transport for London web site. But you may find a photograph of some First Bus City Red vehicles in Southampton.
Looks familiar?

Panic not, bus watchers.

It's a simulator, innit?

Well Done That Woman And That Man
Maybe Stagecoach East should encourage its staff to "do the right thing" and post some timetables here and there!

It is also good to see that these buses, running around in Scarborough, and locally built.
Well done Go Ahead East Yorkshire.

Well Done That Man
Sheffield bus driver Linford Stephenson has just retired after 44 years working for First bus and its predecessors. He is photographed in front of a vehicle in heritage livery. fbb cannot remember seeing a picture this one before.
It reprises the immediate post PTE livery ...
... and before it all slowly morphed into Mainline.
There has been a Mainline heritage bus ...
... which ended up not far from fbb with Buses of Somerset.

That Hornby Catalogue - A Snippet
It seems that the Harry Potter craze is on the way out ...
... with the Hogsmead Station buildings relegated to page well to the back of the book. But there are FOUR new Beatles wagons on their way (marked with the red "flash") ...
... and four more pieces of Coca Cola rolling stock ...
... now offered in addition to the "Summer Coke" and "Christmas Coke" train sets. fbb does wonder why the bottle on the flat wagon is so small - surely it should fill the whole "well" of the wagon.

Tiles On The Floor
The above floor of Minton tiles is in a building in Stone, Staffordshire. Maybe the building is served by a First Potteries bus route. Maybe even a First Bus with a "tiled" floor.

Pity the seat moquette isn't from the same period.

Two Subways With A Link to Rail - But Where?
Where does the above corridor lead, open and in use today? It once led from a station to a concert hall but doesn't go quite so far today. And below ...
... a subway that has been closed for years - but which may, at long last, be refurbished and reopened. It led from a station to a palace.

Answers tomorrow - if the old bloke doesn't forget - AGAIN.

Tomorrow we Go West, young man!

 Next Cornwall blog : Tuesday 18th January