Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Loopy in Gillingham [2]

How to Spin a Reduced Service as Good News!
There will be more frequent buses for many parts of Medway, new or more frequent Sunday services and new links for several areas. Some services will be given new numbers and the existing Services 113/114 and 116 will be combined. 
The 132 is unchanged, but the 113, 114 and 116 are linked to form a huge circular service branded as "The Loop".

Let us examine this particular improvement for the folk of Medway.

 Improvement 1  Hempstead Road now gets a Loop bus every 30 minutes (previously a 113 every hour) but Pear Tree Lane and Hempstead Valley Drive drop from one 114 an hour to nowt, zilch, zero.

 Improvement 2  The top bit of Maidstone Road drops from a 116 every 20 minutes to a Loop every 30 minutes.

 Improvement 3  Deanwood Drive had a 116 every 20 minutes but now has a Loop every hour. This road does still have the more frequent 132, of course.

 Improvement 4  Bredhurst Road and the bottom bit of Maidstone Road had a 113/114 on its terminal loop every 30 minutes; now has a both ways Loop every hour.  

 Improvement 5  The Loop now runs via Twydall ...
... instead of straight along the A2 London Road with the result that through journeys from Chatham and Gillingham to Park Wood, Wigmore and Hempstead Valley and about 10 minutes slower.

 Improvement 6  The whole shebang is called The Loop irrespective of direction or route. To explain this to Joe and Josephine Public, the journeys will be colour coded as shown in the timetable. Here is the anti clockwise version.
In the opposite direction the colours are YEL and PUR.

There will be four variations of route (Blue Loop, Purple Loop, Red Loop and Yellow Loop), two running clockwise and two anti-clockwise, with variations to serve either Wigmore or Parkwood.

The publicity does not explain how these colours will be shown. Will there be LED panels on the screen, programed to show the different colours; or will there be a chunk of plastic balanced precariously in the windscreen? Fine until the "slip boards" get lost or broken. Our frequent commentator "Man of Kent" will doubtless explain all in due course!

Initial on-line publicity is a mess showing apologetic notes for some days now ...
... also claiming that the 116 will still run!
The PDF timetable (of you can find it) is similarly apologetic.
Let's hope the good folk of Medway can sort it out!

And a final thought. In December 2012 the Capstone Flyer appeared replacing what was there previously.

The predecessor was ...
... an hourly circular service. What goes round comes round; but at least the frequency is now half-hourly.
How to Spin a Reduced Service as Good News?
The consultation documents for a rejigged Sheffield network were published yesterday. Initial reactions from fbb is one of mind bogglement. It is as if the Partnership has thrown all the Sheffield bus routes into a large mixing bowl and stirred them up with some sort of hyper whisk!

The proposed changes are absolutely massive.

So what might be happening?

This phrase in the initial press release might give a clue. 
Starting tomorrow, fbb will analyse the documents and try to fathom what exactly is changing and why. Suffice it to say, it is hurting the big fella's brain!
 Next partnership blog : Wednesday 8th July 

Monday, 6 July 2015

Loopy in Gillingham [1]

Hempstead Valley's Happy Varieties
An fbb confession; fbb has never explored the Medway towns, other than by passing through on a train. It is all a bit of a mystery. But the Chatham and Gillingham of old, clustered round the coast and navy, have both expanded southwards. Here is Gillingham pre Word War Two ...
... with loads of nothing much between the town and Rainham and even less travelling south to Bredham.

Today we have the Hempstead Valley etc.
The minimalistic community of Capstone (Capston in the 1930s map) still exists ...
... with the more recent country park across the road.
Services 113 and 114 from Chatham are branded as "The Capstone Flyer ...
... despite NOT running via Capstone! Buses operate every 30 minutes alternately via different bits of Hempstead ...
... then via the Shopping Centre ...
... to terminate in a mega one way loop at Wigmore. There is still a quality Arriva map for the 113/114 ...
Things get a tad more complex when we look at the "Wigmore" loop in more detail. Medway Council's map dates from 2014 but appears to show the current (but soon to change) Wigmore and Park Wood services. (click to enlarge the map below).
In trying to understand, we can quietly forget the 700s (commuter coaches) and the M1 (Saturdays only, three trips) which leaves, firstly, the  yellow  130 and 131.

These are operated by Nu-Venture, supported by Kent and Medway Councils and offer a combined hourly service from Maidstone.
Next we look at  yuk green  132 by Arriva. This runs fom Chatham direct via the A2 before swooping down to Hempstead Valley.
This route would be the main service from Chatham to Park Wood and the Shopping Centre. 

Which leaves the   yuk green  116. Recently marketed as the Xbus116 ...
This also runs from Chatham to Hempstead Valley but wiggles via Gillingham ...
... and taking a different route to Park Wood than the 132. The latter uses Lonsdale Drive ...

... whereas the 116 uses Maidstone Road ...

... then they both run via Deanwood Drive.
This banded service runs every 20 minutes Monday to Friday ...
... every 30 on Saturday and a big round zero on Sunday.

It is from this mix that Arriva's new Loop will emerge; as we shall see tomorrow.
 Sheffield's New Network - Again? 

Consultation documents (aka we're doing it anyway unless there is an enormous kerfuffle) are published today. fbb will proffer a headline review with tomorrow's conclusion of the Arriva Loopy saga.
 Next bus blog : Tuesday 7th July 

Sunday, 5 July 2015

St Pancras to Waterloo : A Week's Holiday (2)

Taking the Lift : a Usual fbb Policy!
fbb does not own shares in Ffestiniog Travel, nor has he ever travelled with that particular tour company; but Northampton correspondent has. Because public transport in Belgium is less well known than other "trans-Manche" offerings, we are taking a brief look at the above recent tour. For days 1 to 5 inclusive, see yesterday's blog (here).

Sloping Lock? It serves a similar purpose to a much smaller boat lift somewhere north of Hadrians Wall. But at Ronquières the "giant bathtub" ...
... is hauled up an inclined plane.
The Ronquières Inclined Plane is a Belgian canal inclined plane on the Brussels-Charleroi Canal in the province of Hainaut in Wallonia that opened in April 1968 after a six-year construction period. It is located in the municipality of Braine-le-Comte, and takes its name from the nearby village of Ronquières. The purpose of the construction was to reduce the delays imposed by the 14 locks (already reduced from 16 in the 19th century) which had hitherto been needed for the canal to follow the local topography.
Eat your heart out, Falkirk Wheel; you ain't seen nuttin yet!
This is the boat lift just down the road canal at Strépy-Thieu.

The boat lift was designed during the Canal du Centre's modernisation program in order to replace a system of two locks and four 16-metre lifts dating from 1888 to 1919. Construction of the new lift commenced in 1982 and was not completed until 2002, but once operational, permitted river traffic of up to the new 1350-tonne standard to pass between the waterways of the Meuse and Scheldt rivers.
The four older lifts on the Canal du Centre, which are bypassed by the new Canal du Centre, are on the UNESCO World Heritage list, because of their architectural and historical value.

It's quite difficult to grasp the size of this beast, but thid video may help. Look, for example at the size of the roads; you might even spot a minuscule car!


Correspondent Alan writes about Day 7.

Friday's programme was a visit to the mock battle leaving at 0830, back at the hotel c. 0030 on Saturday with lots of waiting around, crowds, possible rain and cold.

Cunning plan - back on Sunday 14th buy a €5.40 day return for trip to preserved railway at Maldegem which means you have a spare day on your Inter-rail ticket for some serious track bashing on Friday. Charleroi - Namur - Luxembourg - Liege - Brussels
 - Brussels Airport - Charleroi. 

I did go through pictured Waterloo station twice ...
... and this time it was the former embattled Waterloo!

A huge variety of steam is on show from the sublime ...
... to the ridiculous!
There are plenty of diesels and this beauty of electrical power dating from 1960.

Alan, always an observant lad, also sends three helpful pictures.


cartoon character?

scuba diver?

fbb's list of "things to do before you are utterly decrepit" extends still further. Dijon, Lyon, Basel and now Belgium. Better start saving the pennies.

But, one week late, the Sheffield Network proposals are published tomorrow. They may well be surprises ahead.

But first : loopiness in Chatham.

 Next bus blog : Monday 6th July