Sunday 6 February 2022

Sunday Variety

Be Careful What You Pray Pay For ...

A reminder to those in the back row who haven't been paying attention. (That may well be quite a few of fbb's readers who are less than enthusiastic about the vacillations of Government Policy, especially policy on public transport.)
From April 1st, the only "Government Money" (actually our money from our tax payments) will come via LTAs who have submitted bids for funding for Enhanced Partnership schemes. The money available is ludicrously small when compared with the level of bids submitted - so there is not much to go round.
DaFT have recently sent a circular to all bus operators explaining how the crumbs are to be distributed.
It makes "interesting" reading. (In this case "interesting" means "depressing" and/or "farcical".)

The budget available for BSIP funding is £1.2bn for the next three years. 

Previous documents implied at budget of £3bn!

We will prioritise LTAs based on the quality of the BSIPs and the types of schemes and projects they are proposing and will work closely with them to ensure that funding is maximised to reach the best possible outcomes. Discussions will be held with some LTAs over the next few weeks ...

DaFT will confirm that your plans are unfundable and hopelessly unrealistic!

... where these are needed to clarify measures proposed in their BSIPs, before final decisions are taken.

So who gets what? Well, they aren't telling; but there is a synopsis of how it will all work out.

A number of LTAs will be allocated indicative funding to deliver all or most of the aspirations set out in their BSIPs. The final funding awarded will be based on the deliverability of their schemes and their EPs.

DaFT has actually "announced" some successful BSIP bids in the recently published White Paper.
Route One magazine summarises thus, "
The white paper states that in addition to mayoral combined authority areas, the government will fund ambitious plans for bus improvement, enhanced services and lower fares in Derbyshire, Luton, Portsmouth, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington 'and many other places'." Some well informed bus watchers are of the opinion that these will be the ONLY recipients of "all or most" of what they have bid for!

A further set of LTAs will be allocated indicative funding which will be less than that sought in their BSIPs. We will ask places to re-focus, prioritising schemes which will give the best outcomes for the area.

That will certainly be the largest category and it will certainly be a lot less!

A third group of LTAs will not be allocated funding at this stage but will be supported to develop their BSIPs and EPs further, to ensure they are eligible for future funding and other possible investment streams.

They will only get the very small crumbs, if any! Or maybe they will have to wait and see if DaFT make savings elsewhere.

We may have questions of clarification for LTAs in any of these groups.

We are aiming to announce indicative funding allocations by the end of February.

We will continue to provide support to all LTAs and Bus Operators through the Bus Strategy Forum, Basecamp and the Bus Centre of Excellence once it is launched.

When fbb feels he can stand the excitement, he will review the BSIP of one of the chosen few in the "all or most" category. But don't hold your breath.

And, just to cheer us all, some industry insiders are predicting a 30% cut in bus services nationally with the choppiest chop being in rural areas.

Talking About Toplights!
The fbbs have a toplight!
In general terms it means a "light", i.e. a window, above (on top of) another window or door. But more specifically it tends to refer to a frosted non opening panel of glass above a clear window or a door, solid or glazed.
It is that specific definition that is given when describing a particular design of railway carriage preferred, for a time, by the Great Western Railway. This carriage has plentiful toplights ...
... with frosted glass. They are fitted above the windows, but not the doors where ventilators are installed.
Other companies often had taller windows and ventilators over the doors.
But here is a GWR compartment carriage with toplights ...
... and a view from inside of a carriage in the process of restoration.
The above has eight compartments, but if you wanted to cram the passengers in, you could build a longer 10 compartment version.
But at 70ft long these would not go round the corners in the tunnels on some of the suburban routes in London. So shorter, seven compartment "toplights" were also built.

It is these that form the latest model announced by Dapol.
Order in advance and you get £9 off the full retail price of £60 each. OUCH! But for your bucks, you will get superb detail inside ...
... and outside.
Of particular note are the exquisitely modelled roof ventilators.
The red rear lamp can be illuminated and the interior lighting operates.

The above are sample pre-production images. The GWR never painted their coaches blue!

fbb MIGHT save up his pocket money and buy one as his Christmas 2022 self gift. Peterville QWuarry Railwat is supposed to be a heritage line specialisng in retsoring and preserving different types of railway carriage.

Be Careful What You Pray For (2)
Also in the circular from DaFT ...

One of the new levelling up missions covers local transport: “By 2030, local transport connectivity across the country will be significantly closer to the standards of London, with improved services, simpler fares and integrated ticketing.” This underlines our commitment in the National Bus Strategy to improve bus services outside London and provides a new impetus and focus to monitoring and reporting on progress.

So you want to be like London?

Service withdrawals, frequency cut backs, managed decline of The Underground? And substantial fares increases?

And there might be integrated ticketing, but the fares on bus, Underground and National Rail are most certainly NOT integrated!Compare the fare from London Bridge to Kings Cross by bus, by Undergound and by National Rail!

This was Roger French blogging on Thursday 3rd February ...
... and this is what happened by 1800 on Friday 4th February. Well, actually nothing "official" happened; there was no announcement by DaFT or the Treasury but the BBC posted this report.

Transport for London's (TfL) emergency funding deal with the government has been extended by a fortnight.

The current financial deal was due to run out on today, but negotiations have been given a short grace period.

TfL is facing a £1.9bn budget black hole and has warned of massive cuts to bus, Tube and road services.

There have been repeated rows over funding for TfL and the cause of its financial crisis.

TfL said discussions were continuing with the government as it aimed to secure "long-term funding".

It looks like embarrassment all round.

Is this the best way to run the Capital's transport network? Do the politicians elsewhere really want this sort of omnishambles?

Levelling up? Actually very much levelling down!

I Never Forget A Face
fbb does sometimes amuse himself by watching non-gritty TV shows. One favourite has been the Father Brown series, based loosely (VERY loosely!) on a character created by G K Chesterton.
The Father's nemesis, nemesis yet respected friend at times, was Hercules Flambeau, a highly successful international professional thief. He was played, in numerous episodes, by John Light.
He is seen above prior to escaping from one of H M Prisons, helped by Father Brown!

Then who should turn up in one episode of Around the World in 80 Days ...
... (with David Tennant as Phileas Fogg), but an American "criminal" being escorted to face justice?
It was John Light, playing Ambrose Abernathy c/w beard and American accent.

He escaped - as usual!

Something Odd?
Do our observant readers notice an oddity (two oddities, actually) on the latest London Connections map which includes Underground AND National Rail?
The Elizabeth Line (at Hanwell and West Ealing) appears to be the wrong colour. It should be a bright purple, surely?
Welklk, maybe not. It may well still be classed as "TfL Rail" which did use a dull blue. But, as you can see, on this map it looks almost the same as the Piccadilly Line AND Great Western dashed "locals" - so why couldn't TfL rail be Elizabeth Line purple?

But there is a more subtle oddity.

More later in the week.

 Next 84 blog : Monday 7th February 


  1. The DfT does not do bus services. However it can make grants or generic subsidies. The BSIP process is a way of getting LTAs to write down a list of possible improvements. It is a competition and the winning entries will share a £1.2bn prize fund. The LTAs would be expected to fund some items on the list as and when locally appropriate. Some areas will have the opportunity to claim that their scheme was not on the LTAs submission and why not. The LTAs which did not satisfactorily apply will be treated to a more stick approach.

    In west Dorset Lyme Regis, Beaminster and Bridport town councils all fund bus enhancements.

    Also in that area the 9, 157 and X53 have all recently acquired winter Sunday services without DfT funding.

    London: The government has a "levelling up" policy. Funding to provide all under 16s and over 60s in London with free travel by all modes is not acceptable, when that does not apply north of Watford. There is a lot of politics and not purely money.

  2. Hmm. Politicians motivate success, and select winners. You mean like they did for nigh on fifty years from the end of WW2? What was the result of that?