If you have not been here for a while, you should see signs of a refresh. The old design used code that stopped working so the website had the appearance of having gone offline. That has been replaced by what you find here now and all appears to be working well so far.
Though there were continual updates to a lot of the content on here, 2016 still was a quieter year on here. Other things in my life took up more of my attention so longer entries were absent. Now that we are in 2017, the big task that dominated last year is behind me though there will be smaller ones to do in addition to my day job. The upheaval cause by bereavement still makes its present felt.
2016 also was a big year in world news with Britain sadly and narrowly choosing to leave the European Union in a referendum and the U.S.A. electing Donald Trump as its president. Both of these mean that uncertain times that lie ahead of us and the impact on public transport is as yet unknown.
Still, I did get to sampling train and bus services on much needed breaks away from a frantic everyday life. These included Austrian and Norwegian train services as well as Mallorcan bus services. They may provide inspiration for entries on here yet. The same may be said for the Swiss train network and Icelandic bus services too and these were experienced during 2015.
Otherwise, there are sure to be developments in British and Irish public transportation. After all, Bus Éireann is in financial trouble at the moment and needs to restructure its operations in order to survive. What that means for bus services in Ireland has yet to be seen and trade unions are unhappy too. Then, there is the long running saga of industrial relations problems in Southern Railway that have made life a misery for so many in the southeast of England. GHA Coaches went bust and the affects of that business collapse still are being felt across much of England and Wales. Such developments mean that there always is a need for some public transport advocacy too. Maybe it is time for a little more of that in these testing times.
Having subscribed to news alerts from Staffordshire County Council regarding bus services, I always have fancied distilling the news for publication on here, only for the time or inclination needed to prepare the digests never to appear. The emails are split by district so there is some overlap between them. Rather than preserving that, I am going to present a county wide summary here and Traveline should let you in on any new bus times.
From 2016-01-03Services 1 & 2: Huntington - Walsall (Arriva Midlands)
Revised route and timetable, with new 14A and 14B journeys, replacing cancelled X14 and X14A services.
Services 16 & 16A: Hanley - Buxton (D&G Bus)
Revised route and timetable with some Sunday journeys extended to Buxton to replace service X15.
Service 31: Leek - Hanley (D&G Bus)
Revised route and timetable.
Service 35: Newcastle - Chesterton (D&G Bus)
Revised route and timetable, with Meadow Avenue no longer served.
Services 73 & 74: Newcastle - Audley (D&G Bus)
Revised route and timetable. Service 74A will be cancelled, and 74 re-routed to serve Lower Milehouse Lane. Evening journeys 74E will be re-numbered as 74. These are service changes delayed from 2015-11-16.
The new Northern and Transpennine Express franchises have been awarded and the government is celebrating the changes that are promised by the successful bidders whose terms begin next April. For Northern, it will be Arriva and First will be continuing its involvement with Transpennine Express without its current partner Keolis.
So much is planned that you have to ask if all of it will come to pass even if it fits in well with the government’s Northern Powerhouse idea. The list of improvements is so long that consulting what the government has published for Northern and Transpennine Express is worthwhile. Initially, I was going to confine myself to aspects that piqued my interest but I went beyond this to be more comprehensive. Still, there is so much to come that the linked sources are worth surveying too.
The remit of the Transpennine Express has been tweaked a bit with their routes to Blackpool, Barrow-in-Furness and Windermere passing to Northern. That leaves their Anglo-Scottish services as their sole involvement on the West Coast Mainline and some new journeys are to serve Liverpool so this is no longer solely based at Manchester Airport as its southern terminus. The southern route via Sheffield to Cleethorpes is to get extra capacity and more frequent services. The same is to come to the northern route too with an hourly service to Edinburgh via Morpeth. Train refurbishment is on the agenda and we are supposed to see new five-car 125 mph trains on the northwestern and northern corridors too.
The new Northern franchise is where the improvements mount up and it was supposed to be a no-growth franchise when it was let in 2004. That is not something to be repeated so there are a lot of changes planned and I will step through a lot of these. In summary, there are more services, updated and new trains as well as newly staffed stations. There is a lot to cover.
Firstly, more Sunday journeys are to be offered. Of particular interest to me is the upgrade of Stoke-on-Trent to Manchester route (it goes via Macclesfield) to an hourly service instead of the current three to four trains per day. Others mooted for an hourly service include the mid-Cheshire line between Manchester and Chester that goes via Knutsford and Northwich, Bishop Auckland to Darlington, Hull to Scarborough, Hull to York, Hull to Sheffield, Scarborough to York, Leeds to Bridlington, Bradford to Skipton, Bradford to Ilkley, Leeds to Doncaster, Leeds to Sheffield, Sheffield to Huddersfield, Lincoln to Sheffield, Knottingley and Pontefract to Leeds, Chester to Manchester and Leeds via Warrington and Colne to Preston. Some lines are going to see two trains per hour on Sundays with that from Buxton to Manchester being one of these. Others include Leeds to Harrogate and Knaresborough, Bradford to Manchester and Wigan to Manchester via Atherton. If this all comes to pass, it will a major increase in Sunday service level and that only can be good.
Weekday services are also set to increase with two trains an hour between Macclesfield and Manchester, Buxton to Manchester, Middlesbrough to Newcastle, Newcastle to Carlisle, Knottingley and Pontefract to Leeds, Greenbank to Manchester and Blackburn to Manchester. There are myriad of other improvements too with more evening services on some lines and some Leeds to York via Harrogate getting four trains per hour. All this is going to boost capacity and the sooner that comes, the better.
New trains are to come too (281 new carriages in total) and the dreaded Pacers are to be withdrawn by 2019 while the remainder of the fleet is to be refurbished. Some of the new trains will be electric so existing electric ones like those on the Hadfield to Manchester, Skipton and Ilkley to Leeds and Doncaster to Leeds will be replaced to add capacity beyond what is there now. This comes alongside increased staffing of stations with 45 unstaffed stations to get staff and another 54 to have extended opening hours. Stations are to be improved too.
Northern also is to operate a network of semi-fast services with new and reconditioned (class 158) trains. The routes are Middlesbrough to Newcastle, Newcastle to Carlisle, Hull to Sheffield, Leeds to Nottingham, Lincoln to Sheffield, Bradford to Manchester Airport and Liverpool, Chester to Leeds, Blackpool to York, Blackpool to Manchester, Barrow-in-Furness to Manchester Airport and Windermere to Manchester Airport. Some of these replace existing Transpennine Express routes and that may explain how the brand has been created. All in all, this will be quite a network once it is in place though it is disappointing to see Leeds to Carlisle and Leeds to Lancaster omitted, even if these too see their modest improvements.
New routes are to be undertaken by Northern that are not part of what they have taken on from Transpennine Express or Northern Connect so it is worth highlighting them. These are Leeds to Bridlington and Scarborough to York. Currently, Transpennine Express are the only operator on these lines so the addition of Northern will complement those journeys to increase the service frequency.
One is left wondering how all these new trains and extra services are to be funded. After all, Transpennine Express has to pay a premium for their franchise and Northern needs to operate with a reduced subsidy. One would like the reality to match the intent without extra restrictions on off-peak ticketing beyond what we have now. If that could be managed, the overhaul would be both welcome and long overdue.
It is coming a bit late this year but here is my Yuletide and New Year summary of public transport services for 2015/6. Items will get added as I find them so it is worth returning here time and again throughout the festive season.
While some operators have left their Christmas and New Year service pages with the same addresses as last year, most leave them as fleeting seasonal items. The exceptions include High Peak Buses, Arriva Trains Wales and London Midland and there is something to be said for that. Otherwise, I am gathering together what has come my way so you can go on yours. Some like Arriva may have a hub for their bus services where you can start your search for information on their Christmas and New Year services but most are regional and that is how I have arranged things here.
Traveline Cymru again has their service summary
posted online. Information for most major bus companies is included and there are plenty of links included if you need to find out more. Edwards' service changes are below and Cardiff Bus’s Park and Ride service changes are online
as are those affecting Arriva bus services, First buses in south & west Wales and anything operated by GHA Coaches.
Merseytravel has their usual service round-up for the time of year and some free buses are running on Christmas day too. Services finish early on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve while New Year’s Day sees only limited services.
Services see limitations in Manchester too so TfGM has published a useful summary guide. Bus services are limited on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day while train services pay less heed to the start of 2016 than Christmas because it is seen as an opportunity for engineering works. As you might expect, Stagecoach Manchester has a special timetable in operation from 2015-12-21 to 2016-01-01 inclusive while both Arriva and First have their service changes too. All is back to normal from the second day of 2016.
Here, First have listed what is happening with their bus services by area: Bradford, Huddersfield, Halifax & Calder Valley, Leeds, Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster and York
. Travel South Yorkshire
and Metro in West Yorkshire are other good places to look since they are transport authorities and cover more than one mode of transport.
In the English northeast, Nexus, Go Northeast, Arriva and Stagecoach have information on what you can expect of public transport over the festive period. Of course, Nexus is the local transport authority so everything you need to know about journeys on local trains, buses and ferries should be there.
In the English Midlands, Arriva and D&G Bus have announced what is happening with their bus services. National Express West Midlands has done the same and Network West Midlands have more details for their region so other bus companies and modes of transport are covered. First operate buses in several areas and they have split things up more: Leicester, Staffordshire & North Staffordshire and Worcestershire.
Oxford Bus Company still have some services running on both Christmas Day and New Year’s but these run to Heathrow and Gatwick airports so services otherwise are limited. Keeping with the airport theme, Stansted Citylink is operating throughout the season with only Christmas Day seeing no services at all. Both Arriva and Yellow Buses also have their seasonal service levels published for customers to check and First have done the same for their Berkshire, Bristol, Bath & the West, Cornwall
, Essex, Norfolk & Suffolk, Solent, Somerset
, Southampton and Wessex operations.
In Scotland, Lothian Buses have a Christmas & New Year timetable. First have posted their details for Aberdeen, Greater Glasgow and Southeast & Central Scotland so those are worth a look if you live in their areas. Scottish Citylink has a seasonal service summary to be surveyed by those travelling further afield on their services.
Irish Citylink is keeping things like last year with only Christmas Day seeing no service at all. Bus Eireann
, Dublin Bus, Northern Ireland Railways and Irish Rail all have their service summaries published online. There are some extra services in the run-up to Christmas and for New Year’s Eve too so it is not all about service level reductions.
Train Services across England and Beyond
Since there is a lot of engineering work planned, National Rail has a portal showing the effect these will have on services. For instance, anyone travelling to Heathrow, Gatwick, Scunthorpe, Cleethorpes and Barton-on-Humber will need to take note. Concerning three of these, Transpennine Express also have details of the impact of upgrade work on the Greater Lincolnshire Railway. Likewise, East Midlands Trains has a summary showing the effects that these are having on their services. Abellio Greater Anglia have their own service changes
for much the same reasons.
Northern Rail also has a service summary and have been posting images like the above to reinforce the messages. Anyone flying into the likes of Manchester Airport will need to use taxis for onward travel unless they have someone picking them up.
Another innovation appears on the CrossCountry service summary. In addition to the usual service summary, there also is a seat availability chart and Sunday 27/12 already looks busy at the time of writing.
The Summer Bank Holiday falls on the last weekend in August for England, Wales and Northern Ireland while it falls on the first weekend in August for Scotland and Éire. This listing of alterations to public transport services is for the former since the latter has passed a few weeks back. My mind was elsewhere then due to an elongated weekend spent in Iceland.
Apart from road closures causing a diversion for the baycar service, it will be a Sunday service for the Welsh capital city’s main operator and industrial action sadly is set to cause disruption during next Wednesday with a special timetable in operation. It is first of several such stoppages that are planned during September and October so this dispute hopefully will get sorted sooner rather than later.
Most bus services observe a Sunday timetable and some such as service 130 between Macclesfield and Manchester move over to a new timetable. That gets it useful departures from Macclesfield at 08:00 and 08:55 when the first journey used to be at 10:00. One wonders why they did not introduce this earlier in the year but that is how it is.
Sunday service around Swansea and areas of West Wales served by First too.
This again mainly is a Sunday service with a two hourly frequency on service 23 to Stone with service X32 not operating from Newcastle.
First Great Western
Industrial action is going to cause disruption so it is best to check train running times before you travel. Trains operated by other companies are going to be busier so that needs to be borne in mind.
The Manchester Pride Festival Parade is a cause of some bus service diversions during Saturday and there are others continuing over the whole weekend. Stagecoach has information on their affected services. The event affects not only buses for all modes of transport share the load.
Otherwise, a bike show in St. Petersgate in Stockport is affecting other Stagecoach bus services. There is ongoing railway engineering too and that means that some trains terminate in Manchester Victoria on Sunday and Monday instead of Manchester Piccadilly as usual. Metrolink trams return to St. Peter’s Square even if they do not stop there for a few months yet.
Bus services run to a Sunday timetable with journeys commencing around 08:00.
It is a Sunday service too for Metrobus services around Surrey, Kent, East & West Sussex.
Another Welsh operator observing a Sunday timetable, exclusively this time around.
Also operating a Sunday timetable for their bus services around Norfolk.
It is mainly a Sunday timetable for bus services with Unity Coaches service 127 and Stagecoach Nightbus services not operating at all. Trams are also are observing a Sunday service apart from disruption due to engineering works. Trains are running to a normal Monday timetable, again subject to engineering works.
Tyneside and Wearside
The Metro light rail system will be working to a Saturday timetable and. most GoNorthEast buses are running to their Sunday timetables.
Buses and trams are running as per their Sunday timetables. Planned engineering work is set to disrupt trains that normally travel via Stafford or Stone.
Wets Yorkshire Metro have a full summary of any differences to services over the Bank Holiday weekend. Leeds Festival is on until Sunday so that has its impact. Otherwise, most bus services observe a Sunday timetables on the Bank Holiday itself. Other bus services in operation include those making up the DalesBus network along with service 10 between Leeds and Temple Newsam, service 812 between Haworth and Stanbury, service 906 between Hardcastle Crags, Hebden Bridge and Widdop and service 951 between Huddersfield and Glossop. The extra services also run on Sunday and, of these, services 10, 906 and 951 also run on Saturday. The Elland Road park and Ride service is not working on Sunday or Monday though. Engineering work also takes its toll on train service so it is worth checking before you travel.
Again, Sunday timetables are in operation with all services in and out of Leeds are diverted via Scholes and Aberford until 16:00 and Seacroft village will not be served until then either.
The A537 Buxton New Road is closed near Macclesfield for approximately six weeks until late October. Because of this, service 58 will use Buxton Old Road instead but will still be able to serve Black Road and Windmill Street.
13:44, September 15, 2022
On the Bank Holiday for Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, a Saturday Service will operate on all services provided by First Scotland East. In other areas like Cheshire East, a Sunday service is on offer.