Thursday, 27 July 2017

Branded Bused; Bland Buses; Well Planned ... (1)

Because You're Worth It?
fbb has before mused over the branding craze which, from time to time, afflicts the bus industry. Remember that certain routes in Sheffield, mainly the frequent ones affected by post-deregulation competitive silliness, were branded "Mainline".
When South Yorkshire(s) Transport was sold to its employees, the new company and ALL its routes was named "Mainline!. Thus,effectively, the supposed benefits of the route brands were lost.

Likewise GoAhead promoted key services in Poole as "more".
Next the "brand" was deleted from the Canford Heath group of services ...
... leaving the M1 and M2 to Bournemouth as less of more. But then, the whole operation based on Poole was branded "more". 

Likewise, what began as a brand for Salisbury City services ...
... then became the company "name" for everything, even the prestigious long distance "X" routes.
Elsewhere, bus watchers have been slightly mystified by Arriva with, firstly, its "Sapphire" brand ...
... which, in certain parts of the country is the "Max" brand.
Then, of course, there are buses with lime green fronts ...
... presumably to emphasise the vehicles' environmental benefits. Yet again, some Sapphires have changed to something different ...
... as seen in the relaunch, re-rebrand of service 1 at Wrexham.
And we must not forget the revised colour blue and the proposed and utterly daft new logo. Arriva Danemark had severe warnings about altering the original logo:-
So there!

But while we are wondering about all this, it is worth remembering that we, the passengers, are paying the bill for design teams, repainting and, of course, corporate identity manuals. 

Question. Could and big bus company explain how many additional passengers have been travelling on heir routes as a result of a new paint scheme or revised logo?

Even more challenging is to ask how many extra passengers travel once the bus carries a brand which is route specific.
There is good evidence that an increased frequency brings extra passengers but no always enough to justify the extra buses and staff needed. But does paint really make a difference.

Tomorrow, we will look at London's latest "experiment" in route branding and one company that it re-branding a key service after a relatively short lifespan from its predecessor brand.

Meanwhile, up North ...
... more paint, more consultants, more logos and more cost to the passengers. This was just over a year ago.  Searching the web site, it is quite hard to find mention of  ... sh ... you know who.
ha, there it is, right at the bottom of the list.
Re-branding, is it really worth it?

 Next brand or bland blog : Friday 28th July 

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Overcoming The Work Of The Dark Lord

fbb, in a desperate attempt to escape from Poldark, repaired upstairs on Sunday evening to watch the film "Barry Putty and the Teacup of Special Effects." This is the third Barry Putty film that fbb has attempted to watch and the previous two resulted in the early application of the off button.

This time fbb did, at least, last until the end; but there were a few occasions when sleep overcame your old codger, so his interpretation of the plot may be sadly lacking. Perhaps it was all a dream?

The baddy, it appears, is the evil Lord Arrivamort ....
... played convincingly by Ralph Fiennes. Apart from an appallingly bad "nose job", the Dark Lord is intent on destroying anything and everything that involves the hero, Barry Putty. Any part of Muggle (= human) life must be destroyed to preserve the wizardly blood line.

The destructive work of "his baldness" is the only explanation, as fbb saw it, for the evil that has been at large in the Leicestershire Village of Groby.

 dateline 18th February 2017 
Buses via the village were reorganised and, positively, the correct route numbers were posted on the bus stop flags between Groby and Leicester. Previously they have been wrong for many, many years. David, our Leicester correspondent, reported thus:-
There were plenty of leaflets available in the village ...
... so everything in the Groby garden was lovely bus-wise.

But that was before the work of Lord Arrivamort began to hold sway. Notice the last sentence from David's txt, above, "I haven't checked whether the timetables at the stops have been updated. Will check tomorrow".

Tempting fate from the perpetrator of the dark arts of omnibology, surely?

And readers with good memories will remember what happened. The Sunday times posted at the stops were WRONG. In one direction buses actually (on the right) ran five minutes later than advertised ...
... so not  particular problem, But in the other direction the service ran ten minutes EARLIER than advertised ...
... so oh so very easy to arrive at the stop and miss the bus - and people did, until the word got round.

 weeks following 
Chum David reported the error to the Arriva enquiry office at St Margaret's bus station on several occasions. Nothing happened because, as we now know, the folk behind the counter were under the influence of the Dark Lord Arrivamort.

 dateline 1st May 2017 
Correspondence from Norman to Arriva
Norman is one of the splendid folk who create the on-line Groby magazine called Spotlight. Only three months has passed and nothing has happened - yet!

But a really quick reply from Arrivamort's lair.

 dateline 4th May 2017 
Thoughts:-

(a) Is it not potty that a business like Arriva should admit that it takes no responsibility for telling its customers what it sells.  Would the customer services people at Tesco suggest that prices on the shelves were the responsibility of a local authority?

(b) Still in the process of receiving print information. What? Since February 18th?

(c) We are supporting them with roadside updates. What? Since February 18th?

(d) Completed early next week - i.e. 11th May-ish.

(e) The use of, say a pen, to correct the mistake would be easy ...

(f)  ... but they resolved the problem by removing the whole time panel completely.

But the Dark Lord is still at work.

 dateline 21st July 2017 
Norman writes again.
To recap, it is now just over FIVE MONTHS since the mistake was pointed out to Arriva and still nothing has been done that is of any use to the passenger.

But, suddenly, and no doubt thanks to the brave wizardry of Barry Putty our hero (surely Norman in disguise?) ...

 dateline 23rd July 2017 
... correspondent David sends this brief report to fbb.
And, amidst rejoicing on the streets of Groby, dancing until the early hours ...
... and much feasting and imbibing, the new departure lists are now in the tired, vandalised and graffitied frames.
Note that buses to Leicester still run VIA St Margaret's Bus Station, to TO. But you cannot have everything. After five months of gross incompetence the Sunday times are correct - in both directions.
But please, please, Arriva and Leicestershire Council, don't rush.

Now everything is correct, it is likely Arriva will be about ready to change the timetables.

The Dark Arts are only resting before the next onslaught on the poor defenseless bus passenger.

SouthWest Trains : The Darkness Continues
Remember that timetables for the forthcoming Waterloo disruption have been on line (Monday to Friday services only) for some weeks ... EXCEPT fbb's local line.

A correspondent reported that timetables were available on another site, but fbb suspects said helpful chappie was referring to Journey Planning. Certainly fbb could find no sight nor sound of the timetable.

But the "were not telling you" on-line message has been changed.

Exeter, Bristol, Yeovil and Salisbury to London Waterloo : Table 20 - There have been late alterations to this timetable. Please check again if you obtained times before Tuesday 25 July.

There has been no timetable before Tuesday 25th July unless it slipped by without announcing itself. But now, at last there is an on-line version. But we are still not privileged to have any details for Saturday or Sunday travel.

"Pops" was at Axminster Station yesterday to collect a grandson who is staying for a few days.

And there is a poster ...
... and lots of similarly orange leaflets. these give general information but no printed timetables were on offer.

Just over a week to go ...

... an for how long has this work been in the planning stage?

It must be Arrivamort's  henchman, Lord Souter The Bearded.

 Next bus blog : Thursday 27th July 

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Grabbing a Garratt (2)

Unloading the Beast ...
As regular readers will know, fbb gets all sorts of of things dropping into his confuser's system, including extracts from various Railway Twit sites. Of these, a regular contribution comes from the Vale of Rheidol line which runs, picturesquely, from Aberystwyth to Devil's Bridge.
Two recent pictures are stunning. Here is a loco making the huge effort needed to get its train moving from the terminus ...
... and below, the photographer has scrambled up a lump of the Rheidol hills and is looking down into the picturesque greenery of the river valley.
And there is the little train chugging away just as it has done for the last 114 years.

By the time the railway was ready to open in 1902, lead mining in Ceredigion was in steep decline. However a significant growth in tourism was under way, and the carriage of passengers soon became the principal traffic of the railway. It opened for mineral traffic in August 1902 and for passengers on 22 December 1902, using two 2-6-2T locomotives built by Davies and Metcalfe and the aforementioned Rheidol, built by Bagnall.
Since the 1920s the line has been in the hands of three "new" engines, still in use today.
But the company's web site lists a whole shed load of other motive power that have been classed as "visiting engines" over the years.  Winifred popped in for a cup of coal and a glass of water in 2015.
And there are (whisper it gently) d**s*ls that live on the line and help out in various ways. fbb met this one out in the country when he rode the line a couple of years ago ...
... whilst No 10 did a bit o shunting in the yard at Aberystwyth.
But it was recent arrival No 60 that needed unloading.
NG G13 Garratt locomotive No 60 was delivered to the Vale of Rheidol Railway, Aberystwyth, Mid Wales on 17th July 2017. It has just completed an 800 mile journey from its former home at the Schinznacher Baumschulbahn in Switzerland. 

Now all you have to do, lads, is lift it off the lorry and on to the track.

Fortunately the V of R recorded the unloading on video.
Straightforward! Presumably the unload was done slowly because dropping a Garratt loco, even a small-ish one, off the rails could present even greater problems. But he slowness means that the video lacks dynamic interest, so fbb has taken a couple of screen shots.
Slo-o-o-o-o-o-wly does it, chaps!
Phew! Nearly there.

Safely unloaded, this monster is visiting for some engineering work and possibly to offer visitors a spectacular experience. fbb does not, however, know whether it will be used in public service.

So what is "SchBB"?

Die Schinznacher Baumschulbahn ist die einzige Dampfeisenbahn der Schweiz mit einer Spurweite von 600 Millimeter. In einem gem├Ąchlichen Rundkurs fahren Sie mit der originalgrossen Dampflock durch eine Baumschule und eine herrliche Parkanlage mit See. Erleben Sie eine unvergessliche nostalgische Fahrt mit dem Wind im Gesicht, dem Stampfen der Lok im Ohr und dem Geruch des Kohledampfs in der Nase.

You can have a "nostalgische Fahrt" (journey)
mid dem Wind in Gesicht (face)
dem Stampfen der Lok in Ohr (ear)
dem Geruch des Kohledampfs in der Nase (nose)

Baum (tree) schule (school) actually means tree nursery, i.e. where trees go to school to grow up! The line is similar to small estate railways that existed in the UK for the purpose of getting agricultural freight to the main line. Schinznach is the name of the village.
The Baumschule web site is more helpful about the future use of the loco; well helpful thanks to Google Translate.

On the later afternoon of 11 July 2017 the Garratt steam train Drakensberg left us for a new home for ever. 

fbb's "O" level German was inadequate for the task.

The association Schinznacher Baumschulbahn has decided to take this step, since the use of this locomotive in the tree nursery is excluded in the medium and long term for various reasons. As soon as the Drakensberg is back in operation, we will of course communicate this at this point again. We would like to wish the locomotive and its new owner all the best for the future and we would be happy if the locomotive were to have a lot of people at the locomotive again.

So, a steam ride round a tree nursery in Switzerland ...
... at a price!
An there is a plan of the full line.
There is a Gartenzentrum, a Baumschulesee ...
... a Rosenfeld and, of course, an Alpenblick. Of particular interest is the Gysiparkplatz, a word which baffles fbb and Google Translate. This little line appears to have loads of intriguing locos and is obviously worth  a visit.
The whole site is big!
But fbb still cannot quite understand whether the Garrett is to be used on the Vale of Rheidol or being fettled up for someone else.
The loco (seen here outside the Gartenzentrun) was originally built for the South African Railway network; which might take us back to the Welsh Highland.

No doubt someone "out there" can explain.

Tomorrow, dramatic news from Leicester!

 Next groovy Groby blog : Wednesday 26th July 

Monday, 24 July 2017

Grabbing a Garratt (1)

No Not HIM!
Jack Lord played Steve McGarrett (with a Mc and an "e") in several million episodes of the TV series Hawaii 5-O. Our Garratt had no Mc and an "a".

Herbert William Garratt (8 June 1864 to 25 September 1913) was an English mechanical engineer and the inventor of the Garratt system of articulated locomotives.

Garratt began his engineering career by serving an apprenticeship under John Carter Park, then locomotive superintendent of the North London Railway, from 1879-1882 at the North London Railway Bow works. Garratt transferred to the Argentine Central Railway in 1889, where he became Locomotive Superintendent in 1892, and between 1900 and 1906 he worked for railways in Cuba, Lagos, and Lima (Peru). In 1902, Garratt was elected to membership of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. He returned to England in 1906.

So what was his big idea?
Effectively, two locomotives (heels, cylinders, brakes etc) share the same boiler. Because it is slung between rather than above the wheels, it can be bigger and heavier. The two sets of wheels can negotiate sharper curves and spread the weight over a wider area; this making the concept popular for narrow gauge railways in difficult territory with winding steeply graded routes. the coal bunker and water tank sit on the wheeled sections.

Herbie's first effort was small and sweet!
Here is a Garrett from South African railways at work on the Welsh Highland Railway that runs from Caernarfon to Porthmadog.
They are hefty and powerful beauties and do go round some sharp corners as at the loops near Beddgelert.
The London Midland and Scottish Railway built 33 for the full sized system. They, too, were huge in every way.
The correct designation for the wheel arrangement is 2-6-0+0-6-2 and they were used for heavy coal and stone trains. The last one was withdrawn in 1955 and fbb has no recollection of ever seeing one. You now elderly blogger was probably too young to know what he was looking at even if he did see one.

The London and North Eastern Railway built just one in 1925.
Latterly numbered 69999, it was even bigger than the Midland's with a 2-8-0+0-8-2 wheel arrangement. It was built to haul heavy coal trains up the Worsborough Bank. Sometimes these trains needed four locomotives. Here are two banking engines (at the back) and there are another two at the front.
Even when the line was electrified, four locos could occasionally be seen.
After electrification, this monster was tired out on the steepest bit of main line UK railway, namely the Lickey incline but was not satisfactory and it, too was scrapped in 1955.

Elsewhere in the world Garrats can be even bigger. Here is a Russian locomotive ...
... 2-6-4+4-6-2! Wowsers.

Sadly, no main line UK Garratt was preserved but a model was sold for a while.
Sadly, when Airfix/Kitmaster models were taken over by Dapol, the tooling for the Garratt was scrapped. Boo!

Recently, you could buy a working OO gauge loco. Commissioned by Hattons from manufacturer Heljan, this loco was a magnificent replica of the huge original

Sadly, but not surprisingly, these have all been sold out and second hand models attract a premium over the as-new price of £199 ...
... or greater premium premium if you are offering a new one!
As fbb is wont to say - "OUCH!!"

You blogger began enquiring into the world of Herbie's spectacular locomotives when he read this little heading to an Twit message that popped into his in-box.

It read, "How do you unload a Garratt?"

Intrigued? fbb was, so the rest of the story is revealed tomorrow.
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Snippet
fbb is often castigated for his sloppy proot cherking and spelong mistooks. Quite right too, but blogs are often composed in a sweaty panic, hence a bit of excusable slop?

This, from Stagecoach in Sheffield, out-fbb-ed fbb.
As well as being pretty well incomprehensible as a message, the double misspelling of Oughtibridge is a delight.

Ouibridge - A corruption of a "little bridge" as misunderstood by a French tourist

Outibride - Rejected at the altar.

Oughtbridge - a village between Sheffield and Stocksbridge Say "OOT-EE-BRIDGE"

Oughty Bridge - designation used by the Great Central Railway
A Sheffield Transport service 18 at Oughtibridge, its terminus.
Under First Bus' take-over regime, now numbered 68.
Given up by First, now a Stagecoach route ...
... with the former "main road" 57 diverted via the 18/68 Worrall road.
The half hourly frequency is due to be cut to hourly from 3rd September. The main road is covered by Supertram Link buses running every 10 minutes ...
... so Oughtibridgers (?) still have plenty of buses to go at. The 268 is infrequent and visits parts that other buses don't reach!
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 Next Garratt blog : Tuesday 25th July