Monday 22 August 2022

Monday Variety

It's About The People

(1) Alf's Anguish.

Since taking over as owner and hands-on boss, Alf Crofts has has a hands-on handful with the dreaded virus, plans thwarted, services failed and big ideas dashed to pieces by both circumstance and, maybe, over optimism. The company battles on.

His latest "heart on sleeve" missive will strike a chord with many bus operators small and large. It concerns the effect of roadworks on your ability to run the timetabled service.

This is an expurgated version of Alf's latest heart-felt apology to his customers.

We’re really sorry that many of your buses have been running late over the past few weeks.  

From back in the Spring with the closure of the 13 Bends our X70 and 170 had to endure a lengthy diversion via Calver Sough and Hassop ...

... joining the long queues of traffic also going the same way.  More recently, we have the temporary traffic lights at the Golden Gates in Baslow, while a retaining wall is replaced, with queues of up to 3 miles at times.

Even without knowing the geography it is obvious that this diversion would be VERY disruptive.

We have to run services as efficiently as possible.  This means that, for example, when an X70 arrives in Chesterfield from Bakewell, that bus then runs as a 55 or 56 to Alfreton.  Similarly, when the X70 arrives in Bakewell, it becomes a 172 to Matlock.  So it’s easy to see how a problem at, say, Darley Dale can make the bus for people waiting at, say, Stonebroom, run late.

Maybe too tightly scheduled, Alf. But we understand your dilemma.

How long are these roadworks going to last?  We have been assured that they will be completed in time for the show at Chatsworth, so the first weekend in September. 

So the planners can respect the biggie at Chatsworth, but disrupt everyday life elsewhere. Why not do these road-blocking repairs overnight when traffic a light and buses do not run.

All together now; "ITS TOO EXPENSIVE!" But it is quite OK to palm the costs off on to other businesses, i.e. Alf's buses!

What else can be done?  

Going forwards, we’re going to be making some changes to our services which will allow us to run the 55/56, X70 and 170 independently of each other and of other services.  These changes will take effect from 2 October (as we are required by law to give 10 weeks notice) and full details will be given nearer the time.

In the meantime, we sincerely apologise for the disruption to services, but assure you that we’re doing our very best to keep things as close to time as possible. 

Who would run a bus company, eh? fbb did, for a while, and was so, so glad to pass it on to others who were also keen at the time. They gave up as well!

(2) Bell Builds Bigger & Better? (?????)

A while back, Janette Bell announced that she had appointed consultants to advise her on restructuring First Bus. The outcome of this process was to form bigger groups of companies, each one under a sort of super-managing director.

The fear was that this process would recruit from outside of the bus industry and further divorce running buses from corporate finance.

It seems that this particular horror has been avoided.

The four are:-

Duncan Cameron who stays with Scotland/

Doug Claringbold who stays with the Bristol based operation but adds Wales to his already bulky portfolio. He has only been there for a year.

Simon Goff who stays with South West (and South, which include Dorset and Slough!)

Piers Marlow who, after only two years with First Bus becomes chief of Eastern England (which includes Essex).

The position with West Yorkshire and York is not yet settled, as is the mega group of South Yorkshire, leicester, Stoke and West Midlands. No mention in Janette's missive of the future for Nigel Eggleton ...
... (South Yorks etc.) is mentioned but fbb hears that he is retiring at the end of this month.

The current MD of First Cymru is "moving on" and long-serving Steve Wickers ...
... is retiring after 45 years in the game. He deserves his pipe and slippers!

(Apologies if fbb has downloaded the wrong picture.)

There is, of course, the usual effusive thanks from those who will be leaving/have left (did they jump or were they pushed) and even more effusive praise for the new super bosses.

Janette explains:-

Was First Bus ever "great?

A few suggestions from fbb.

1. Produce PRINTED maps and timetable leaflets 

2. Re-open your enquiry offices

3. Start being proactive in seeking new customers

4. Give real power to your LOCAL managers.



It MIGHT work!

 P Q R S T ?

Peterville Quarry Railway Sudden Transformation?

What's is going on?

The model railway at fbb mansions is to be moved to the second floor (attic) room; i.e. indoors. Hithertofore this was used for two single beds to accommodate two grandsons. But as "the boys" are now hulking great brutes, one starting his last year at Sheffield Uni, the other starting his first year at Boomsatsuma (Uni course), Bristol (yes it really is called that!) ...
... it is highly unlikely that both young men will ever want to stay with their decrepit grandparents ever again.

It has been fun and a challenge to run the layout outside for nearly 8 years, but the ravages of East Devon weather mean that by the time things are cleaned and repaired after the winter, it was time to shut down for the next winter,

More news as it happens - which awaits a visit from a son to help with the not too heavy but awkward lifting.

How Much?
fbb has followed, with some anguish, the increasing prices of model railway "stuff", noting that the £200 locomotive is becoming more common. But how about this. Here is a special offer on 25Kv electric locos, brand new.

By today's standards the price is a bargain!

But soon afterwards Rails of Sheffield mailed yet another bargain.
Yikes! A coach for £127, reduced from £150. Unbelievably it seems that a coach (with no motor in it!) is nearly as expensive as a locomotive.

For those unfamiliar with the technology, a DBSO is a

Driving cab
Brake van
Standard class
Open seated (no compartments)

A train would have a loco at one end and a duplicate driving cab in the back coach of the train (a DBSO - geddit!). The whole train becomes one unit drivable from both ends.

Here is one on a Norwich to Liverpool Street train in the recent past. There would be a 25Kv electric loco on the other end.
Norwich to London express trains now look like this:-

 Next 812 blog : Tuesday 23rd August 


  1. I would like to think that First South West's commendable enthusiasm for printed timetables spreads eastwards to Mr Goff's newly acquired territory.

  2. Yes Nigel E is retiring