Monday 5 December 2022

Monday Variety

Vivarail Marston Vale Service Fail

London Northwestern Railway has confirmed that it has suspended Marston Vale Line services between Bedford and Bletchley until further notice.m 

The announcement comes because of the recent announcement that Vivarail, the company that maintains the Class 230 trains that operate services on the line, has filed a ‘Notice Of Intention To Appoint Administrators’.

A rail replacement bus service will operate until further notice.
After a very shaky start, Vivarail trains have been trundling (slowly!) between Bletchley and Bedford for some time now. fbb had not realised, until he saw the above video, that these particular ex London Underground "D" trains have had their centre set of doors removed.

Anyway, London North Western Railway has announced their withdrawal and the cancellation of the service. It will be replaced by (even slower) buses.
John Doughty, LNR engineering director, said: “I apologise to our customers who will be impacted by the temporary suspension of the train service on the Marston Vale Line.

“Following the news that Vivarail is to enter administration, we have been left with no alternative but to pause the service as we can no longer guarantee the required level of maintenance for the trains on the route will be available.

LNR says this therefore means that there is no guarantee of maintenance for the trains on the route.

Usually when administrators are appointed, their priority is to keep things going with a view to selling the company. Maybe LNR knows something the rest of us are not being told (that there is no hope for a buyer for Vivarail!) or maybe LNW is being risk averse and copping out.

After all, it is cheaper to run buses than trains!

No such panic is emanating from the Isle of Wight or Transport for Wales, other operators of the Vivarail marque.


PS from FT : Printed Timetables?
A recent article in the Financial Times Magazine ...
... seems to support the view, oft expressed in this blog and elsewhere, that the decision by some bus companies (ironically the larger of that ilk) to ditch paper publicity is somewhat short-sighted.
Hooray, sense at last!

Contravision c/o Nature!
It is nice to be able to see out!

They Might Have a Few Spare

According to an "informed source" the closure of First Bus operation in Southampton  (due in Feb '23) should not have been necessary and is not desirable. Other ways, fbb is told, could have been found to "deal with the problem".

Mr I. Source did not proffer a view as to what these "other ways" might be. Maybe open enquiry offices and get some good house-to-house publicity distributed. If you want to sell something, you have to "Create Desire" (as someone once said), not just hope people will casually look on-line!

First Bus' on-line efforts are pretty poor at the best of times.

Is First Bus losing the plot - yet again?

How Did fbb Miss It?

There is the northbound stop at Great Ponton complete with lavish but decaying shelter.

Correspondent Neil writes:-

The situation at Great Ponton is caused by the highways agency, years ago, banning buses from pulling out of bus stop laybys onto the A1 (i.e. Dual Carriageways). 

Trent Barton aren't allowed to do it at a stop in my village onto the A610, though it didn't stop Stagecoach from doing it. 

At Great Ponton the northbound shelter is at the end of the slip road onto the A1 from Heath Lane and is still there on streetview but buses aren't allowed to stop!

Travelling north on the A1, you pass under the footbridge ...
... and just past the entrance/exit from Heath Lane ...
... the turning to Hungerton ...
... is the stop that buses cannot use because they will be pulling out on to the fast A1. 

They don't use the minimalist layby opposite either despite Google Maps showing a stop there; which explains those morning peak southbound services which omit Great Ponton (see yesterday's blog).

Now here's a thing. Vehicles can pull out of the filling station ...
... and vehicles can pull out of Heath Lane ...
... but buses can't use the northbound bus stop.

Bet they do!

Puzzle Picture
Which London terminus was this?
Answer tomorrow.

 Advent Calendar Day 5 

Enigmatic Episodes

Hit or Myth?
People often misunderstand the word "myth", thinking that it means the same as Fairy Tale" or "untrue". A myth is an event positioned in "history" which, as they say in modern news bulletins, "cannot be independently verified". So the early chapters of the Bible "cannot be independently verified" but they do seem to be based in recognisable archaeology and supported (if not complete verified) by other "myths" from elsewhere.

We have Cain and Abel ...
... where sibling rivalry and jealousy...

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Sin is crouching at your door. It wants to rule you, but you must overcome it.”

... leads to murder. Cain was punished but not destroyed.

We have Noah and the flood ...
... where mankind's selfish and immoral desires were punished ... 

When the Lord saw how wicked everyone on earth was and how evil their thoughts were all the time, 6 he was sorry that he had ever made them. But the Lord was pleased with Noah.

... but Noah and family were save because "he walked with God". ("Ark" means box. Noah didn't build a boat - he built a very big box - God would decide where it went not Noah's navigational skills!!). 

There was always hope even after punishment.

The Tower of Babel (Ziggurat of Babylon) ...
... where mankind's arrogance was thwarted. 

The Lord said, "Soon they will be doing just what they want! Let us go down and mix up their language so that they will not understand each other.” So the Lord scattered them all over the earth, and they stopped building the Tower. 

The people were punished and scattered but survived God's anger.

In all three cases, the sin was punished but not by the total extermination that some people want from God. The failed humans were given another chance to get it right by God's standards.

But there is more. We have a brief record of mankind being encouraged to use its God-given gift of free will to develop a range of beneficial skills.     

Adah gave birth to Jabal, who was the ancestor of those who raise livestock and live in tents. His brother was Jubal, the ancestor of all musicians who play the harp and the flute. Zillah gave birth to Tubal Cain, who made all kinds of tools[d] out of bronze and iron  
The descendants of murderer Cain are seen as developing the beginnings of "civilisation" with farming, music and metalwork.    

Of course these stories "cannot be independently verified" but they paint a very realistic picture of the challenging relationship between Mankind and God; but with God anxious to give Mankind second chances.
 Next Variety blog : Tuesday 6th December 


  1. I imagine that pulling IN to the bus stop is even more dangerous than pulling out, as the bus will slow down much more than the following lorries will expect, as well as making sure they park perfectly so as not to leave any bits overhanging the running lane

  2. Transport for Wales has yet to run its Vivarail trains in service. SWR maintains its own, but the Marston Vale trains were maintained directly by Vivarail, and the staff involved have, I understand, been made redundant by the administrator.

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