An Arriva rearrangement to arrive in June 2014

This has been Catch the Bus Week across the U.K. and I have learned that something less positive is on the way for Arriva’s bus services in Cheshire East from the start of June. It comes in the form of many services seeing curtailment of evening journeys.

There are other less notable tweaks too in the form of changes to Macclesfield town services 2, 2A and 4 with the 31 and 31A between Crewe, Winsford and Northwich also coming into the same category. Further details of what is coming have yet to become clear but let’s hope that service reductions are not in order for these.

Others are less fortunate and Monday to Saturday journeys between Macclesfield and Bollington after 21:00. There is little sign of a campaign against this at the time of writing but it really took a big push to get Arriva to provide the commercial service that it has done since council funding was withdrawn. The same sort of thing is coming to Macclesfield town service 9 after 20:45 and circular town services 5 and 6 after 19:30. Also, the 08:35 and 09:05 Monday to Friday journeys on the Macclesfield to Hurdsfield town service are set to go too. These were route 21B and routes 21 and 21A will survive untouched though it does the morning peak travel time no favours at all.

Service 38 between Macclesfield and Crewe loses out too. On Saturdays, there are to be no Arriva buses after 18:00 and that leaves a gap until the council-contracted BakerBus journeys that start at 20:35. It will be interesting to see if Cheshire East Council fills the gap here though I realise that money is tight with them. Otherwise, there is sense in pulling the short return journey between Macclesfield and Congleton that leaves Macclesfield shortly before BakerBus’s first evening journey to Crewe.

Also not escaping unscathed are services 37, 37A and 37E between Crewe and Northwich. There is set to be only journey from Crewe to Northwich after 19:00 and that leaves Crewe as the 37E at 19:34 to arrive in Northwich at 20:49. The other 19:00, 20:00 and 21:00 journeys will not operate.

Other than the above, it is the 23:00 journey from Crewe to Nantwich on service 84 that faces withdrawal. This completes a series of changes that look anything but positive. Recently, I learned that the head of Arriva Northwest is an accountant so it is tempting to lay the blame at bean counting but I reckon that is not the whole story. Of course, there is the matter of passenger patronage to be considered too and High Peak is withdrawing the the last journey of the day on service 14 between Macclesfield and Langley (a Monday to Saturday affair anyway since Arriva stopped offering a Sunday service) to leave no service after 18:00, not a good thing for any commuters though the new 109 service between Macclesfield and Leek could help to fill the gap. Maybe it’s time to support what services are running and get campaigning when we need to retain any that are threatened.

Update 2014-05-19:

BakerBus are to plug the gap left in the Saturday service 38 between Macclesfield and Crewe. Their Saturday departures from Macclesfield will start at 18:35 and continue hourly until the last bus of the day. Their equivalent Saturday departures from Crewe will commence at 19:35 and continue hourly until the end of service, so ensuring a complete service over the whole day. If only something similar could be said for soon to be withdrawn services between Macclesfield and Bollington.

Update 2014-05-27:

BakerBus are set to lose their Monday to Saturday evening journey contract to GHA from the first Monday in July (2014-07-07) so that last evening journey from Biddulph to Macclesfield is set to go at the same time. GHA are taking over service 77 between Congleton and Kidsgrove, another Cheshire East Council contract, from the same date. No timetables are changing though.

It is not all bad news for BakerBus though since they won the contract to operate the soon to be discontinued evening journeys on Macclesfield local services 9 and 10 on Friday and Saturday evenings from the first weekend in June (2014-06-06) onwards. It would be better if Monday to Thursday evenings gained the same reprieve but anything has to be better than nothing at all.

Cheshire Bus Service Changes during December 2013 and January 2014

Just because Cheshire East is quieter than this time last year or other places when it comes to bus services does not mean that there is nothing happening all the same. Other distractions have meant that anything that happened during November passed by on me so it’s best that I capture what is happening now and what is to come in the near future.

At the start of the week, Knutsford town service 300 saw some tweaks with a reduction in the number of journeys serving Lilac Avenue. Next Monday sees little alterations to the BakerBus service between Biddulph and Congleton with its occasional forays to and from Macclesfield. The current 99B journeys will be renumbered 99A and there will be two new journeys too: an 08:10 from Biddulph to Cionleton and one at 15:50 going in the opposite direction. In an age when bus services are being lost, this is a good thing to see.

Congleton town bus services are seeing changes on the last Monday before Christmas with the withdrawal of the 76 to Banky Fields and The Westlands; this last runs on the preceding Saturday. Services 90 to Bromley Estate and 91 to Mossley are seeing frequencies reduced to hourly on Saturdays and at certain times during the Monday to Friday portion of a week from the same day (2013-12-23).

In January, we are seeing more changes again, especially from the first Sunday on 2014. Crewe town service 6 is seeing big changes with Arriva only to operate buses between the bus station and Brookhouse Estate. D&G will then offer a longer version of the same route from Shavington to Leighton Hospital to replace the lost Arriva workings from the same date. Existing D&G services 6A and 6E will be replaced by their new service 6 at the same time.

Arriva services 31, 31A, 37, 37A, 37E and 38 also are seeing changes. Service 38 gets off the lightest with only the questionable Monday to Saturday 20:25 journey from Crewe to Sandbach lost and BakerBus have a council contract for a late evening service to make up for this anyway. In its place, there is a 20:20 departure from Crewe to Winsford Industrial Estate as part of a package of bigger changes to the service. Initially, I thought that the 37 was to become a Crewe to Winsford service with any short journeys becoming 37A journeys. However, the sight of journeys starting and ending in Sandbach makes me wonder if those are set to continue all the way to Northwich after the changes. The new timetable will make interesting reading when it becomes available and I hope that no one gets inconvenienced by the upheaval. Thankfully, service 31 still will go the whole way between Crewe and Northwich, albeit without serving Morrisons in Northwich any longer, while the 31A will become a Crewe to Winsford operation.

Other than the above, Macclesfield town service 21 gets a change of route with services from Hurdsfield to Macclesfield going via Hibel Road and Churchill Way from the first Monday in 2014. On the same day BakerBus also takes over Sandbach services SB1, SB2 and SB3 from D&G with only a slight change to the SB1 timetable at the time of the transfer. Speaking of D&G, they are introducing a new Congleton town service 39 that overlaps with High Peak’s service between the town and Macclesfield, in route rather than timings as far as I can see. It operates between the morning and evening peak travel times from Monday to Friday between Congleton and Buglawton and I hope there is no ill effect on the High Peak service caused by its introduction.

The last change pencilled in for January 2014 relates to the Sunday service for the 130 between Macclesfield and Manchester and it is seeing its share of toing and froing. Initially, GHA had lost the contract to D&G and the new timetable was to be a daytime only affair much like the Monday to Saturday operation of Arriva without the early Monday to Friday morning workings. However, GHA then decided to try running the service on a commercial basis and the council is withdrawing D&G’s contract offer. The appearance of the new GHA timetable is yet to be seen but I suspect that the timings could be like those set to be offered by D&G. However, there is one question lurking in my mind: the current GHA contract ends on 2014-01-12 and their new service starts on 2014-01-26 so will be there any 130 service on 2014-01-19 or that just something that needs tidying? All in all, the situation reminds me of what happened when they swooped in on the Macclesfield to Knutsford service 27 and that is going still.

Changes to Arriva bus services around Darlington

Since yesterday, Arriva has set in place quite a reorganisation of bus services around Darlington. This was an operation acquired from Stagecoach and I was travelling some of the bus transferred during the transaction on a visit to Teesdale during the Mayday Bank Holiday weekend of 2008. The seats still retained the covering patterns or moquette favoured by their former owner while many if not all had gained Arriva corporate paintwork by that time.

1, 1B Darlington – Bishop Auckland – Crook – Tow Law

All of these will depart now from Stand I on Tubwell Row in Darlington. The X1 sees an extra service from West Auckland at 07:44 that follows the route of service 6 as far as Tindale Crescent before continuing along the usual X1 route to Darlington with an arrival time of 08:25.

2 Darlington – Branksome

Also departs from Stand I on Tubwell Row in Darlington.

3 Darlington – Mowden

Also departs from Stand I on Tubwell Row in Darlington.

4 Darlington – Minors Crescent – Darlington

Now departs from Stand J on Tubwell Row in Darlington.

5, 5A Bishop Auckland – Shildon – Newton Aycliffe – Aycliffe Industrial Estate – Darlington

This now departs from Stand H on Tubwell Row in Darlington with no change in timetable. However, evening and Sunday services no longer interwork with those on service 7 and the Sunday service interwork with the X66 instead.

7 Darlington – Newton Aycliffe – Woodham – Chilton – Ferryhill – Durham

It is the addition of Thinford’s DurhamGate development to the route that has meant the breaking of any interworking with service 5A. The required additional running time between Ferryhill and Durham is the cause both of this and changes in timings. There is one journey that has been removed from the service and added to another: an early morning one commencing from Coxhoe to Durham. Buses now depart from Stand H on Darlington’s Tubwell Row.

8 Darlington – Aycliffe – Ferryhill – Spennymoor
8A Ferryhill – Spennymoor

Service 8 remains unaltered apart from a change to departure stand (now H) on Darlington’s Tubwell Row that also affects the 8A. It is the latter that sees route changes to take in the southern section of Thinford’s DurhamGate development while an opportunity to standardise route timings also gets taken.

9 Darlington – Haughton Road – Springfield
10 Darlington – Haughton Road – Whinfield

An extra vehicle is added to the roster for this service to improve timekeeping and it now uses Stand F on Prebend Row in Darlington as its departure point.

11 Red Hall – Darlington

No change.

12, 12A Hurworth – Darlington Town Centre – Trees Park Village

No change.

13A, 13B Darlington – Firth Moor – Darlington

Now departs from Stand G on Prebend Row in Darlington.

14 Darlington – Skerne Park
14A Harrowgate Hill – Darlington – Skerne Park
14B Springfield – Darlington – Skerne Park

Because of the withdrawal of services 6 and 6A, this route gets quite an overhaul with even different stands being used for each service. All do use Stand J on Tubwell Row for services to Skerne Park. Services 14 and 14A see revised timetables with former long journeys on the 14 as far as Morrison’s supermarket being extended as far as Whinbush to serve former customers of the 6 and 6A using the number 14B. On the way to Whinbush, the 14B uses Stand K on Tubwell Row. The 14A will depart from Stand H on Tubwell Row for Harrogate Farm.

19 Darlington – Faverdale – West Park

No change.

21 Darlington – Sedgefield – Trimdon Village – Peterlee
21A Middlesbrough – Sedgefield – Trimdon Village – Peterlee

Service 21 now departs from Stand H on Tubwell Row in Darlington.

59 Askrigg – Hawes – Leyburn
X59 Askrigg – Hawes – Leyburn – Darlington

No change.

75 Darlington – Staindrop – Barnard Castle
76 Darlington – Winston – Barnard Castle

No change.

X26, 26A Darlington – Richmond – Colburn – Catterick Garrison
X27 Darlington – Richmond – Marne

No change.

X66/X67 Darlington – Harrowgate Hill – Stockton – Middlesbrough

The only change is to the Sunday timetable when journeys run thirty minutes later so as to interwork with services 5 and 5A. Otherwise, the Darlington departure point or the rest of the timetable is untouched.

Still waiting on complete clearance

Heavy rain might have been visiting Macclesfield this morning but bus travellers between Macclesfield and Buxton still are being diverted around by Whaley Bridge. Of course, what is rain at lower levels can become sleet and snow up higher on those hills. With that there was last night, you wouldn’t have imagined that heavy rain lay ahead but such is the British weather that big changes like that often happen quickly. What does take a while is the melting of any ice that has formed and the rain only makes it more slippery in the interim period. The result is that I have tended to walk on the carriageway where the footway looks very suspect. Speaking of roads, buses are able to travel and the usual complement of buses serving routes 4, 10, 11, 21, 27 and 130 were out and about. So, while the snow hasn’t departed us yet, milder (and wetter) weather lies ahead. Quite where all the water locked up in snow and ice is going to go is anyone’s guess but rivers and streams could get very full and the next complaint that we get to hear could be about flooding. Well, there’s always something but we have little choice but to get through it.