On Trains & Buses

Travel news, views & information from Europe & North America by an independent public transport user

Bus service changes due to Whaley Railway Bridge Closure

Posted on January 22, 2023

To facilitate replacement of Railway Structure, Buxton Road, Whaley Bridge at Railway Bridge between junction with Forge Road and Whaley Bridge Uniting Church will be closed from 2023-01-16 until the end of March. This means that High Peak are making some changes to any bus services that pass through the area and routes 60, 61, 190 and 199 are affected.

Service 60 will operate in two halves. The first operates on a two-hourly basis between Macclesfield and Chapel-en-le-Frith, the latter being an extension from Horwich End for connection with services 61 and 199 for passengers going north of the closure. One afternoon run extends to Dove Holes for Chapel High School pupils to cover for route 199 while most journeys run via Shallcross to cover for route 190. The second half of the route operates between Hayfield and Whaley Bridge with an hourly frequency as albeit to a slightly revised timetable with all buses doing the full Stoneheads loop to turn around.

Service 61 continues to operate as through service with a reduced frequency. This is reduced to every ninety mins from Monday to Saturday and becomes more irregular on Sundays due to the length of the diversion via Chapel-en-le-Frith. Most workings serve Whaley Bridge village centre, turning via a half loop of Stoneheads (Jodrell Road and Hockerley Lane only). Buses then join A6 via Sheffield Road instead of Hayfield Road to avoid a tight left turn. Sunday service on route 61 also ends after January due to low passenger patronage.

Service 190 operates to a normal timetable, but journeys will terminate at Stoneheads like service 61 and will not serve Shallcross. Shallcross Residents can use the revised 60 service.

The timetable for service 199 is unchanged, but buses do not serve Cockyard, Tunstead Milton, Horwich End or the main part of Chapel-en-le-Frith or Whaley Bridge. Buses from Buxton will operate as normal to Market Street, but instead of continuing on Market Street to Cockyard, it will turn right into Hayfield Road at Town End, head north on Hayfield Road, turn right onto A624, then rejoin A6 at Aldi roundabout to rejoin normal line of route at Bridgemont. Buses from Manchester operate in the reverse direction. In Chapel-en-le-Frith, the Old Pack Horse (on Market St), Town Hall, Kings Arms, New Inn and Eccles Fold stops are not served for the duration of the closure and passengers need to walk down to the Town End stop on Hayfield Road (opposite Fosters Fine Food & Flowers) or Burrfields Road stop for travel towards Manchester, or Town End stop on Hayfield Road East (opposite the back of the Old Pack Horse) for travel to Buxton. For Chapel-en-le-Frith High School, there is one morning trip departing Buxton Market Place at 07:40 and will arrive at Chapel High School for 08:08am, where the bus turns around in the grounds and return to A6 using Sheffield Road. In Bridgemont, buses only serve the Crescent Drive stops on the A6.

Merseyside Bus Service Changes from 2023-01-22

Posted on January 20, 2023

There are a lot of changes to bus services around Merseyside in January. Here are the details.

Routes 3 and 3A Huyton - Halewood or John Lennon Airport

Times are changed throughout.

Route 7 Liverpool - Huyton or Warrington

Times changed on Monday to Friday services, while those on Saturdays and Sundays remain unchanged.

Route 10B and 10S Liverpool - Huyton or Prescot

Two morning journeys in each direction previously on route 10B now operate as route 10S between Liverpool and Prescot, missing out Huyton. All other journeys are unchanged.

Routes 12 and 13 Liverpool - Stockbridge Village circulars

Times changed on Monday to Friday services, while those on Saturdays and Sundays remain unchanged.

Routes 14, 14A, 14B, 14C and 14X Liverpool - Croxteth or Kirkby

Timing changes to Arriva and Stagecoach Monday to Friday morning journeys.

Route 15 Liverpool - Huyton

Times changed on Monday to Friday services, while those on Saturdays and Sundays remain unchanged.

Route 17 Chain Lane - St Helens - Sutton Manor - Widnes

The Arriva service route is shortened and now runs between Chain Lane and Widnes Green Oaks, no longer serving Vicarage Road. The service is also re-routed around Laffak, now turning left from Bosworth Street onto Chain Lane, omitting Old Nook Lane and Paisley Avenue. Monday to Saturday times are changed throughout. The Merseytravel service, operated by HTL, is also re-routed now turning left from Bosworth Street onto Chain Lane, omitting Old Nook Lane and Paisley Avenue. In Widnes the service is re-routed along Lockett Road, in line with the daytime service. Times are otherwise unchanged.

Routes 320 St Helens - Earlestown and Ashton in Makerfield or Wigan

Times changed on Monday to Friday services, while those on Saturdays and Sundays remain unchanged.

Route 26 and 27 Liverpool ONE - Sheil Road circulars

Times changed throughout on Monday to Friday services, while those on Saturdays and Sundays remain unchanged.

Routes 28 St Helens - Blackbrook -St Helens - St Helens Hospital - Haydock Industrial Estate

The 15:00 journey from Hall Street now departs at 15:10 and runs ten minutes later along the route. All other journeys are unchanged.

Route 31 St Helens - Parr

Times changed on Monday to Friday services, while those on Saturdays and Sundays remain unchanged.

Routes 37 and 38 St Helens - Eccleston or Rainford

Times changed on Monday to Friday services.

Route 47 Liverpool - Crossens

Times changed on Monday to Friday services, while those on Saturdays and Sundays remain unchanged.

Routes 52, 52A and 52B Liverpool - Netherton, Old Roan or Bootle

Times changed on Monday to Friday services, while those on Saturdays and Sundays remain unchanged.

Route 53 Liverpool - Crosby

Times changed on Monday to Friday services.

Routes 54 and 54A Liverpool - Thornton

Times changed throughout on Monday to Friday services, while those on Saturdays and Sundays remain unchanged.

Routes 55 Liverpool - Old Roan

The Monday to Friday times are changed throughout. Sunday times from Liverpool have changed.

Route 56 Liverpool - Netherton

Times changed along the route on Monday to Friday services, while those on Saturdays and Sundays remain unchanged.

Routes 58 and 58A Liverpool - Netherton

58: Monday to Friday times are changed. The Merseytravel bus service (starting at Netherton at 05:39), operated by PeoplesBus, is unchanged.

58A: Monday to Friday times are changed from Liverpool to Netherton. From Netherton into Liverpool the buses retimed one minute earlier at Trinity Road.

Some stops renamed to bring details into line with the digital timetable.

Route 60 Bootle - Aigburth

Times changed throughout on Monday to Friday services, while there are minor retimings to those on Saturdays and Sundays.

Routes 61 and 61A Bootle - Aigburth

Times changed on Monday to Friday services, while those on Saturdays and Sundays remain unchanged.

Route 61 Liverpool - Halton Hospital

The Monday to Friday and Saturday times are changed throughout.

Sunday times are unchanged.

Route 62 Penny Lane - Bootle

Changes made to Monday to Friday times. Saturday and Sunday times remain unchanged.

Route 63 Bootle - Aintree Hospital

Monday to Friday times have changed.

Routes 68, 68A and 68E Bootle - Aigburth Vale

Minor timing changes to Monday to Friday journeys while there are no changes to those on Saturdays. On Sundays, there are some minor timing changes to evening journeys towards Aigburth Vale on service 68A.

Route 75 Liverpool - Halewood

Times changed on Monday to Friday services, while those on Saturdays and Sundays remain unchanged.

Route 76 Liverpool - Halewood

Monday to Friday times changed.

Route 78 Halewood - Liverpool

Times changed on Monday to Friday services, while those on Saturdays and Sundays remain unchanged.

Routes 79 and 79C Liverpool - Halewood and Murdishaw

Route 79: Monday to Friday times are changed throughout. Saturday and Sunday times are unchanged, although there are some corrections to Saturday evening journeys from Liverpool ONE.

Route 79C: Monday to Friday times are changed throughout. The Saturday journeys that depart from Murdishaw at 11:45, 12:15 and 17:48 are retimed at some stops along the route along the route.

Saturday journeys towards Murdishaw and Sunday times are unchanged.

Routes 80 and 80A Liverpool - Speke

Times changed on Monday to Friday services, while those on Saturdays and Sundays remain unchanged.

Routes 81 and 81A Bootle - Liverpool John Lennon Airport or Speke

Route 81: Monday to Friday times are changed throughout. Saturday and Sunday journeys have minor retimings at some stops.

Route 81A: Monday to Friday times are changed throughout while there is no change to those on Saturdays.

Route 82 Liverpool - Garston or Speke

Times changed on Monday to Friday services, while those on Saturdays and Sundays remain unchanged.

Route 82A Liverpool - Murdishaw

The Monday to Friday journeys are retimed throughout. Saturday and Sunday journeys now start an hour earlier with three additional Saturday evening journeys from Murdishaw to John Lennon Airport and one additional Saturday evening journey from John Lennon Airport to Murdishaw.

Routes 86, 86A and 86C Liverpool - Garston or Speke or Hope University

Arriva services: Times changed on Monday to Friday journeys, while those on Saturdays and Sundays remain unchanged.

Stagecoach 86: The Monday to Friday times are changed throughout. Saturdays towards Liverpool ONE are changed between 09:20 and 18:00. Saturdays towards Liverpool South Parkway and Sundays are unchanged.

Stagecoach 86C: Monday to Friday times are substantially changed before 09:00 (up to ten minutes earlier), then minor changes at certain points in the route. On Saturdays minor changes between 08:05 and 17:30 at certain timepoints.

Route 89 St Helens - John Lennon Airport

Times changed on Monday to Friday services, while those on Saturdays and Sundays remain unchanged.

Route 97 Kirkby circular

All trips are rerouted via Bewley Drive, Peatwood Avenue, Gaywood Avenue and Broad Lane as they miss out part of Moorgate Road. Timings are amended accordingly.

Route 102 Aintree University Hospital - Broadgreen Hospital or Page Moss

Times changed for journeys earlier than 18:00 hours.

Route 133 Kirkby - Waterloo

Minor timing changes to the first journey of the day and afternoon journeys to and from Kirkby Admin. 18:16 journey to Waterloo Interchange now leaves Kirkby Admin at 18:32. 17:12 journey to Kirkby Admin now leaves Waterloo Interchange at 17:22.

Route 144 Bootle - Litherland circular

Start times from Bootle Bus Station are unchanged, but there are minor timing changes to the rest of the route for Monday to Saturday journeys only. Saturday journeys now run at slightly different times to ones operating from Monday to Friday. Sunday journey timings remain unchanged.

Routes 166 and 188 Belle Vale and Halewood circulars

All times have changed.

Route 174 Belle Vale - Penny Lane

Monday to Friday times have changed.

Route 204 Liverpool ONE - Belle Vale

The long-term diversion via Upper Parliament Street, Mulgrave Street and Princess Avenue towards Liverpool ONE is now permanently registered. There are minor timing changes to Monday to Friday journeys while Saturdays and Sundays are unchanged.

Route 300 Liverpool - Lydiate or Southport

The main daytime service is unchanged. There are some minor retimings for the Monday to Friday evening journeys that run between Lydiate and Liverpool only, in both directions. The Saturday and Sunday journeys are unchanged.

Route 310 Liverpool - Maghull or Skelmersdale

All times are changed.

Route 319 Kirkby - Skelmersdale

New route 319 operating between Kirkby Bus Station and Skelmersdale Concourse with a 30-minute Monday to Saturday daytime frequency. Services operated on evenings and Sundays operate to an hourly frequency.

Route 345 Liverpool - Waddicar - Kirkby

Monday to Friday times are changed.

Routes 375 and 385 Southport - Wigan

Monday to Friday times changed on both services. The Neverstitch Road timing point replaces Old Skelmersdale War Memorial on journeys heading towards Wigan.

Route 409 Wallasey Village - Woodside circular

Monday to Friday times are changed throughout. On Saturdays the 07:29 journey from Birkenhead Bus Station to Wallasey Village is now retimed at St Albans Road to be two minutes earlier at 07:45. All other Saturday times are unchanged.

Route 410 New Brighton - Clatterbridge Hospital

The Monday to Friday 07:20 journey from New Brighton and 08:30 from Clatterbridge both now run five mins earlier throughout. Times are unchanged for Saturday journeys, but there are additional journeys in both directions at 22:10 and 23:10, the latter finishing at Birkenhead. On Sundays all daytime journeys prior to 18:30 depart five mins later with additional journeys in both directions leaving at 21:10, 22:10 and 23:10, the latter finishing at Birkenhead.

Route 411 New Brighton - Woodside - New Brighton

Most journeys are retimed to run about five minutes earlier.

Route 500 Liverpool John Lennon Airport - Liverpool - Liverpool John Lennon Airport

Times changed with additional stop.

Route 699 Greenbank Student Village - University of Liverpool or Liverpool City Centre

Monday to Friday times are changed.

Route 835 Northwood - Liverpool Freeport

Times have changed.

Routes 897, 898 and 899 Huyton or Page Moss to Kirkby Admin

Route 897: Times are changed throughout.

Route 898: The HTL morning service is unchanged while times have changed throughout on journeys operated for Merseytravel by Arriva.

Route 899: Times are changed throughout and route descriptions and timing points updated.

More rail industry news

Posted on January 11, 2023

During the ongoing industrial strife on the railways, I have sought to see what specialist news sources like Rail or Modern Railways might have to say on the subject, much like how I used New Scientist for health news during the height of the pandemic. Unfortunately, I find that these either keep such things to their print titles or behind a paywall. The first can mean that there is a clear lag that causes one to resort to general media sources like the BBC while the second adds an extra cost in these times of income constraints. There appeared to be a need for more timely delivery.

Since then, I found Railnews to be useful for strike news, among other things. Thus, I will be keeping it on my radar along with the others. After all, Rail does feature other kinds of news on its website and I never begrudge keeping more insightful content to the print medium. There are times when considered opinion has much to add, and it takes longer to write in-depth pieces anyway. We all need our news to be both fast and slow, even if it means that we need to wait a little longer for the latter, especially in these times when the postal service has seen significant industrial disruption, and that some announcements are not timed well for print deadlines.

A new year often means a new start though the latest copy of Rail magazine is not so optimistic on its front cover. Talks can restart as they have done in the ongoing rail and postal disputes. With a whole year now ahead of us and not a last minute rush before a year-end, there may be more space for resolving these disruptions. Though the rail talks are not producing very much so far, we only can hope. It does not help that the government is also proposing legislation that may or may not hinder, and one writer even mentioned the possibility of lockouts. Actions like these cannot help for continued goodwill, an important, undervalued and priceless commodity.

In all of this, it is important to recall that the start of 2019 produced a resolution of a dispute between the RMT and Northern Railway. That became a form of release during ongoing political bedlam and was much appreciated. The now-facilitated escapes into the countryside were much needed at the time. Memories like those allow us to hope, especially for someone that does not drive and depends on public transport to get around.

On Icelandic Tourist Transport

Posted on December 11, 2022

Reykjavík Excursions coach, Hella, Iceland

This is the last instalment in my series catching up with transport experiences overseas. This again takes me back to 2015 for a midsummer extended weekend stay in Iceland. There were designs on a trip to Switzerland at this stage, but temperatures were too hot for my hiking. Thus, I ventured to cooler Nordic reaches instead.

Perhaps because of its low population and the size of the place, I was left with the impression that Icelanders are not big users of public transport. Strætó is the main operator of scheduled bus services in the country, though I never made use of what they offer. Their website does have a journey planner, so you can see how things will work. Service frequencies may mean that day trips are not always feasible, which may explain how visitors lapse into driving themselves.

When I visited, the Iceland On Your Own network looked reasonably comprehensive. However, that appears to have withered since then. Reykjavík Excursions still operates buses to popular highland locations like Landmannalaugar, Þórsmörk and Skógar. SBA-Norðurleið once operated buses between Reykjavík via the Kjölur route, but these were cancelled in 2021. That is a shame because the latter’s operations often connected with those of the former. As the effects of the pandemic recede, we may see a return, but that is not apparent at the moment.

My journeying often had me around the BSÍ bus terminal in Reykjavík with the city’s airport nearby. That is where internal flights operated by Icelandair , but my travel inexperience and limited time meant that I never went exploring such options. Instead, I largely stuck with what Reykjavík Excursions had to offer. Firstly, their Flybus service transferred me between Keflavík Airport and Reykjavík.

While I had designs on visiting both Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk, the long hours of daylight did not make for an early bedtime the first night and morning confusion about the time of day meant that I rose later than was ideal for any of these. Thus, I chose another day trip got me to Þingvellir, Geysir and Gullfoss instead for the sunniest day of my stay in Iceland. That was ample for a first getaway.

For the second whole day in Iceland, I chose Landmannalaugar instead of Þórsmörk, and the place had a decidedly frigid autumnal feel. It was a high ground clearance coach that got me there, with numerous river crossing in a barren landscape. Until Hella, we had been travelling over tarmac, but it was on to gravel tracks soon after that. The Icelandic Highlands have an even more isolated unpopulated feel than their Scottish counterparts where at least some people live.

My hike around Landmannalaugar may have been a short one, yet it took longer than I expected, so I did not make my intended departure for Reykjavík. The next one was at 20:30, and I was edgy about that given that I was flying back to Manchester the next day. The cool eery conditions around Landmannalaugar did not entice me to stay longer either. On discovering that Trex were offering an earlier departure, I opted for that instead. Due to a lack of cash, I needed to pay by card and had to wait until we had enough mobile signal before the card machine would work. Nevertheless, I got back to civilisation as I wanted and on a coach that was quieter than the one on which I had got to Landmannalaugar. This adventure would not be inconveniencing.

None of these were cheap excursions, but Iceland is not a low-cost destination either. My short stay gave me a lot, and there is more to see. The available transport got me to popular destinations, but some added planning is needed when not going to these.

It helps to start with overviews. Visit Iceland has articles on Icelandic public transport and getting around Reykjavík . The first of these mentions ferries, which I have not mentioned in this piece, and domestic flights could have their uses too. There also is an informative overview map that helps and there are other road transport options from Bus4u , AirportDirect , Gray Line and others. Between all of these, it should be possible to start sketching out an itinerary that fits the time that you have. The effort should be worthwhile.

Swiss Rail Travels

Posted on December 10, 2022

Cog railway, Bernese Oberland, Switzerland

Though I never followed it up with another visit to the place, the time that I spent in Switzerland in September 2015 possibly my best trip away from home up to that point in my life. Much of this was because of the Swiss rail system, something of renown around the world. There also was a feeling of freedom, of being able to pick and choose from the delights on offer.

There are other manifestations of Swiss efficiency, of course, with hiking trail waymarking being among them. For them, it is not enough to say how far away somewhere is, but you also have to offer time estimations for how long it would take to get there. Being proficient with maps remains necessary though, but it is useful to have the added confirmations.

All this infrastructure can come at the cost of feeling as you are in a wild place, but the Alps are a peopled mountain range anyway. Nevertheless, this makes Swiss mountains very accessible without making them feel thronged at the same time. Sometimes, it can feel as though there is a plan to keep people out of places like that in other parts of the world.

On arrival at Geneva Airport, it took me a little time to make my way to its trains station and then to figure out which train to catch for the city centre. That is because many long distance services start and end there, forming the backbone of airport rail connections instead of a dedicated local train service. Once I got onto a train with my luggage, there was no crowding, and I was soon enough where I needed to be. That my hotel was only a short walk away from Geneva’s main train station helped as well. Once I had settled into my hotel, the rest of my day was spent walking around the city, admiring its at least some of many sights.

The next day was overcast, so I decided on a day trip to Bern for more explorations. As I awaited my direct train to there from Geneva, I spotted an SNCF train awaiting its next service. It is a vague memory to me now, but it may have been graffitied as well as looking a little down at heel, a condition in which I never saw a Swiss train. Trains from other countries do serve parts of Switzerland, as I was to see in coming days.

The train that I needed was a double-decked affair, a type on which I had never travelled before. For the sake of enjoying any views, I chose the top deck on one the carriages, passing a children’s play area below. It seems as if the Swiss include a variety of layouts on their trains, something that adds family friendliness among other things.

My needs were simple, and amply fulfilled by a succession of views along the way along with a lack of any overcrowding. There was Lac Léman and the plateau around Freiburg. On arriving in Bern, I set to wandering around the city, while noting the plentiful supply of trams and buses plying its streets. The greyness meant that this was no day for meaningful photography, but I was sated nonetheless. The return journey was as pleasant as the outbound one, so this was a good introduction to travelling by train in Switzerland.

There is one subject that I have not mentioned so far: cost. You do have to pay well for Swiss efficiency, so I went about trying to get a rail pass online only to be thwarted by weekend system maintenance. This even affected the ticket machines that I tried to use when acquiring a return ticket to Zermatt the next morning. Swiss travel passes do save you money, and are best acquired in advance of going there from my experience.

The ticket machine issues did not stop me getting to Zermatt though. The first part of the journey took me to Visp on a single-deck train bound for Brig, assuming that seven years have not eroded my recollection that much. The route was roundabout due to the location of Lac Léman, international borders and mountainous topography. The latter also challenged the routing of the train to Zermatt, operated by the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn , and you have to wonder how engineers managed to squeeze both road and railway through some parts. Zermatt itself is a car-free zone, so there are frequent trains between there and nearby Täsch, where multi-story car parks abound.

My focus in Zermatt was on getting out walking and to get a glimpse of the Matterhorn for myself. That precluded any use of the Gornergrat Bahn , even if that would mean access to other hikes. Electric vehicles and horse-drawn transport were to be soon too. On a longer stay, the Glacier Express would be another option. There is a lot to savour in this part of Switzerland.

On my way back to Geneva, the train from Visp was delayed, so even the Swiss are not immune to these things. There also was a spot of bother between a conductor and a passenger on the western side of Lac Léman, not that it caused a major effect on the general peacefulness of the whole journey. The overall impression that I was forming is that train travel in Switzerland is a civilised uncrowded affair.

There was one more day for an excursion in Switzerland, and that took me to Grindelwald. This needed two changes, one at Bern and another at Interlaken Ost. The first allowed me some time to capture a few photos of the Swiss capital in bright sunshine. Then, the second was caused by needing to use the services Berner Oberland Bahn. Their narrow gauge operations often go over cog railways because of the gradients that they ascend and descend.

Once in Grindelwald, I decided to walk uphill to Kleine Scheidegg. On the final approach to the end of my ascent, I suffered shortness of breadth, so I caught another cog railway train for Grindelwald without delay. This is also the place to catch trains to Jungfraujoch , but I had got a lot out of the day even if it clouded over to leave Kleine Scheidegg feeling autumnal and not a little desolate. Once back in Grindelwald, I could have left for Interlaken Ost there and then. However, some rest was in order and there was a clock-face timetable in operation anyway. Swiss railways were easily dependable enough for that sort of concession.

Switzerland is in so many ways an unusual place. First, it has three main languages in French, German and Italian with Romansh adding another to these. My time was spent in French and German-speaking regions, so my rusty school French has its uses. Not having German felt like a disadvantage though English is spoken a lot too. The main train company gets the legend SBB CFF FFS because of the three main languages, and was the one that I used most often. There are numerous others too with Deutsche Bahn and ÖBB making incursions from German and Austria, respectively.

The timing of my return flight was such that it allowed some time for some last strolling around Geneva before I left. As I did so, I had to be careful not to get run over by speeding cyclists, some of whom surely intent on getting to work on time. Another train got me to the airport in good time, so I left Switzerland in good spirits.

Recent Snippets

12:25, January 26, 2023

For those wanting to get to Canadian Provincial and National Parks without using a car, Parkbus offers some useful travel options from Toronto and Vancouver. These do vary by season, but the destinations include Golden Ears, Garibaldi Provincial Park and Joffre Lakes Provincial Park in British Columbia while those in Ontario include Algonquin Provincial Park, Bruce Peninsula National Park, Georgian Bay Islands National Park, Elora Gorge, Rockwood Conservation Area, Rattlesnake Point and Crawford Lake.

20:04, January 22, 2023

Moraine Lake and Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada have been suffering under their popularity. Now, Parks Canada has banned the use of private vehicles on the approach to Moraine Lake year round. That may sound heavy, but oversubscribed car parks meant that the excursion was not such a viable one anyway. It means that human-powered travel as well as usage of shuttle, chartered or scheduled bus services are favoured. The move has attracted criticism, so we will need to see if that brings change.

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