Thursday 15 September 2022

Delightful Devon (2)

Lost Lyme Line

It is not that long ago since fbb, No 1 Son and a grandson travelled on the first Stagecoach 9A to run between Seaton and Lyme Regis, turning in a "back street£ just beyond Lymes' town centre. The service was hourly Monday to Saturday and two hourly on Sunday.

The full horror of the tendered timetable replacing the former Stagecoach services is revealed to all in the latest East Devon timetable book.
For the summer we have had four/five return journeys Monday to Saturday with no buses on Sunday.
But fo the winter (lower panels above) look at the farcical "service" that is offered. The good news is that you can catch a bus from Lyme to Seaton at 0925 and return at 12 noon after a morning's retail excitement.

But from Seaton your options are the self-same 12 noon departure and then you have a stark choice. You could spend a whole 5 minutes in Lyme and return at 1235 or you could hope that you know whether it is a school day and, if so, return at 1500.

If not, it is a Jurassic Coaster to Axminster and then Axe Valley back to Seaton..

It is one of the poorest tendered services that fbb has even seen. Needless to say there will be very few passengers and a winder 2023/4 equivalent is highly unlikely.

Loadings on the 4/5 journey timetable have been sparse with barely a handful on any trip fbb has spotted.

But, apart from the booklet (excellent though it be) there has been no attempt to promote even the better summer frequency in Seaton - and there will be no publicity in Lyme Regis because that is in D*rs*t, wher be dragons!

The Axe At Axminster
Needless to say, Stagecoach's Devon network map has not been updated on their web site. It shows a poor representation of a half hourly service as far as Honiton continuing hourly to Axminster. This was interwoven with a 20 minute frequency to the new town of Cranbrook.
This is replaced by a totally separate twenty minute service to Cranbrook only still numbered 4.
Stagecoach does not deign to provide us with a map of Cranbrook but the replacement services to Honiton and Axminster do not serve the new town "loop", with yjusr occasional exceptions. The 44 and 44A pass by on the main road.
Cranbrook continues to spread east, some areas not yet shown on official maps.
Before the "new" GREEN A30 was built, this ORANGE B3174 used to be the main A30 between Exeter and London.
Note, in passing, that, despite plenty of provision, there is no bus to Cranbrook Station which remains a very primitive affair ...
... with even a marked bus stop ...
... but still no buses!

The new 44/44A give three buses every two hours as far as Honiton with one bus every TWO hours continuing to Axminster.
Note that the 0750 service 44A is one of the very few journeys that runs via the Cranbrook estate.

Two and a half years of lockdown and Mrs fbb's indisposition waiting for a new hip has driven fbb to being a bit of a slacker with local bus and train knowledge.

He had not noticed that trains from Exmouth now run through to Paignton every 30 minutes.
The East Devon book sensibly does not give the full service once the River Exe is crossed, merely encouraging the enquirer to go to Great Western Timetables.

When fbb last noticed, some ran through to Barnstaple - bit that might be a figment of the old bloke's dubious grey cell acuity!

In passing, fbb is rmyinded hat his local service is now hourly on Sundays. When the fbb's first emigrated from the Isle of Wight the 9A ran every THREE hours on Sundays; then, with the extension to Lyme Regis, this was upped to every two hours.

But pity poor Honiton.
On Sundays there are only two service 9 trips offering just a connection for destinations between Sidmouth and Exeter.

Despite some poor services, the timetable book is of a typically high standard. Well done Devon!

It defies common sense for Local Authorities to bleat about declining passenger numbers and then do NOTHING to encourage ridership. Bus timetable books are a dirt cheap way of promulgating "the bus" as an opportunist mode of travel, green and with a social conscience.

So do what makes sense and stop lying about the drain on budgets.

If you are putting timetables out on line, you are doing 90% of the work towards a printed book.

In The Post (1)
The expected Wrenn Presflo cement wagon - not technically an fbb cylindrical tank, but a "place holder" to show the basis for the development of of the genre - arrived c/o EBay
The model is, as they say, "tired" but many modellers pay much fine gold to have their wagons "weathered". fbb has bought one with old age doing the job for him at no cost!

It is easy to glue the label in place!

Talking of cost, this "tired" one was approx £10 including postage.

The old man could have bought a more recent model made by Bachmann.
But that would have cost £50 plus postage. OUCH!

In The Post (2)
The mess that was Cornwall has been much improved of late with a common fares structure with Government funded discount plus timetable books containing both Transport for Cornwall AND First Bus services.

There are now interavailable fares where, for example, Transport for Cornwall operate evening services on First Bus routes.

The "joint publicity" has provided three area timetable books in "one third A4" format.
Imagine fbb's surprise to receive a mailing from correspondent Keith, enclosing ONE timetable book for all bus services in Cornwall and in A4 format!
A full review is upcoming!

And thank to Keith for the unexpected package. And "tanktainers" due to arrive later today.

 Next Karyns rag Kernow blog : Friday 16th Sept 


  1. So . . . let's summarise:

    Seaton - Lyme Regis: hourly service tried 6 days/week (2 hourly on Sundays) . . . insufficient passengers, so service reduced to provide a basic timetable. Are there many "chimneys" along the route? Not many. It sounds like the service provided is proportional to the usage, and presumably run by Auntie Frances with a school bus, so pretty cheap.

    Seaton-Sidmouth (and on to Exeter): upgraded over the years to run hourly, daily. Presumably the service is proportional to the number of passengers travelling?

    Honiton-Sidmouth: reduced on Sundays, but still hourly on weekdays . . . do the good burghers of Honiton actually wish to travel to Sidmouth on Sundays?

    This all sounds like a bus company adjusting its services in line with passenger usage . . . I don't see a problem in this time of restricted budgets.

  2. Yes GL, but what FBB points out is that…..

    Stagecoach have changed their services but NOT updated the maps etc on their website to reflect the new arrangements.

    That the replacement provision between Seaton and Lyme Regis has NOT been promoted to encourage use, and has NO publicity in Lyme at all because that’s across the boundary in Dorset so they don’t care about it, and the whole service in winter now is of little use to anyone who wishes to visit Lyme Regis anyway. So no publicity to encourage passengers at the Dorset end, and no useable service unless you’ve checked it’s a school day first, from the Devon end..

    That Cranbrook has a new railway station complete with bus stop marked out etc but no actual bus that serves it even though it is a bus ride away from the “town” whose name it bears!

    That most of the work for his beloved timetable books is done when one is published on line, so it is a shame that the authorities don’t see the benefits of going that extra few yards and actually printing a few.

    Whilst I agree with you that Stagecoach aren’t a charity and haven’t done anything you wouldn’t expect them to do here, they and the authorities of Devon and Dorset haven’t done much to help connectivity and/or the spread of information either, and none of this will help stem the continuing decrease in use of all the services concerned. If all anyone is interested in is managing decline then that’s great. They’ll all be out of a job in due course and there will be no buses at all.

    1. Your points (and FBB's) are well made . . . I read this blog differently to you.
      I don't know how to promote bus services other than by printed timetable and on-line . . . both of which Devon CC have done. Dorset CC abrogated their publicity responsibilities several years ago.

      This conversation needs to be had UK-wide . . . but will it? I doubt it.

  3. School day or not, you can only come back from Lyme Regis at 1235.

  4. My apologies… when typing a comment you can’t look at the main text of the blog at the same time… so the reference to the school journey was done from memory.. which was incorrect… that’s an excellent example of why access to a PAPER COPY comes in handy!!! 😂

  5. FBB is not imagining it and the Exmouth Branch used to have three trains every two hoursto Paignton and one every two hours to Barnstaple. The Barnstaple train now generally terminates at Central with the hope that one day it will be extended to Honiton.

  6. First is part of Transport for Cornwall, not separate. TfC is the partnership between all the bus operators (GoAhead, First, Travel Cornwall, OTS, Hopley's), GWR and Cornwall Council. I realise it's confusing given the initial mess and the fact that only Go Cornwall and sub-contractors use TfC livery.

  7. The dreadful decline in Seaton-Lyme Regis buses was highlighted in last month's Buses mag with some historic facts about the link.

    1. Exeter-Poole through buses?

    2. Yes read it, lovely summary of how to destroy the link. No wonder people rely on private cars so much.

  8. Definitely miss the X53 running through from Exeter to Poolle every 2 hours.

    1. Yes its loss was damaging with loadings declining massively after Devon & Dorset County Councils left the route to First to destroy commercially. Shameful. Reliefs were once required!