Monday 30 June 2008

Stagecoach East Midlands Annual Performance Review

An attempt to get some free publicity and look good or being a responsible organisation updating stakeholders on progress? I'll let you decide after reading Stagecoach East Midland's Annual Performance Review.

Stagecoach East Midlands covers Stagecoach Hull, Stagecoach Grimsby Cleethorpes, Stagecoach Lincolnshire (former RoadCar business) and Worksop and Mansfield depots. So East Midlands isn't the best name but geographically it makes sense as a grouping.

Getting onto the report it starts by outlining what Stagecoach has done in the area last year. Hull is seeing good growth of 3% compared to last year carrying 17 million passengers. Investment in Frequento services with new or cascaded low floor buses seems to be paying off.

Grimsby and Cleethorpes have seen higher growth at 10% and the report mentions the X1 New Waltham to Hull service via Grimsby which after past threats to it's future is performing well with a 15% increase in customers.

However no such claims for Scunthorpe which may indicate poorer performance. The report comments on changes to 'minimise the impact of loss making routes in Crosby and Berkeley'. Sadly the report makes no mention of interurban routes such as the 350 (Hull-Barton-Scunthorpe) or Lincoln services from Scunthorpe and Grimsby.

The report notes that £1 million has been added to the fuel bill in the last year and comments the trend is likely to continue. More fare increases on the way?

The report continues to cover issues such as Health and Safety, the environment and staff. Sadly the 'Looking Forward' section does not include any improvements or investment in the Humber region but commercial considerations could prevent that, or plans may not be finalised. From an interview in a trade magazine last year with the Stagecoach East Midlands Managing Director, we know investment was being considered, including doubling the 350 to half hourly with new buses (Something I would certainly welcome, but thats something for another time).

Stagecoach attempt to increase bus usage in Greatfield (Hull)

While this blog will not normally over fare or ticketing issues, a new offer from Stagecoach Hull has caught my eye - the Greatfield RouteRider. It allows for 7 days unlimited travel on the main bus routes that serve the Greatfield estate in east Hull - the 40, 42 and 43 (plus variations 40A and 43C). It will be available for £5 in July.

Stagecoach say the reason for the new offer is that services to Greatfield do not see the same 'positive growth in bus usage' that other parts of the city see. It is pleasing to see an operator trying to rectify the situation rather than concentrating elsewhere in the city and letting these services decline.

Thursday 26 June 2008

National Express East Coast has officially announced its plans for a Cleethorpes-London Kings Cross service which would be provided by extending one of it's new Lincoln services. In the absence of an official press release on the NXEC website full details are provided on The Railway Centre website

The plans have not yet been approved.

The extended services would call at Cleethorpes, Grimsby Town and Market Rasen - but not Barnetby (or Habrough). How attractive would this service be to people in the likes of Barton, Brigg and Scunthorpe? If you have to drive into Grimsby, or down to Market Rasen you may as well drive to Doncaster and have a choice of times and indeed operators. For the few extra minutes a stop at Barnetby would take another market could be opened up to London.

If you live in Barton, Brough is also rather useful except for the small issue of a bridge toll ...

Bringing this back to my earlier post on the competing proposals to link the South Humber area to London this plan has the advantage of not taking up any capacity on the East Coast Main Line since Lincoln services are happenning anyway. But if fails to serve North Lincolnshire and other proposals offer more frequency. The Office of Rail Regulation must decide if the South Humber area has the demand to support more services, and precious East Coast Main Line paths, compared to various parts of Yorkshire and the North East.

Monday 9 June 2008

EYMS withdraw a Beverley Town Service (apart from Sundays)

From Monday 23rd June East Yorkshire Motor Services are withdrawing the commercialy operated journeys on Beverley Town Service 522 to Normandy Avenue. The comercially operated journeys were on Mondays to Saturdays and operated every hour. The decision is blamed on increased congestion and rising fuel prices. Service X46 between Hull and York serves this part of Beverley as well and will continue to operate.

The Sunday service, of two journeys, remains as it is supported by East Riding of Yorkshire Council. Other Beverley Town Services are also unaffected.

EYMS Changes to service 180

From Sunday 22nd June East Yorkshire Motor Services are diverting most journeys on route 180, which links Hessle and Beverley via Willerby and Cottingham, to serve Willerby Parkway. Times will also be revised, which will also help reliability according to EYMS

Stagecoach close Louth depot

Outside the Humber Region, but will have an affect on North East Lincolnshire, is the announcement that Stagecoach in Lincolnshire will shut it's depot in Louth at the end of August due to poor financial performance. The depot has three main services

10: Lincoln-Louth-Mablethorpe (occasional journeys operated by Lincoln depot)
41: Louth Town Service
51: Louth-Grimsby (occasional journeys operated by Grimsby depot)

However apart from these the only other services operated from the depot are mainly school contracts, which will be surrendered. The replacement of many market day and off peak services by demand responsive Call Connect services is being blamed for the decision, since these services improved utilisation of school buses and staff. Staff and buses are being relocated to Grimsby and Skegness depots.

So what will this mean for bus services? Well the 10 is likely to be the route transferred to Skegness depot though complicated interworking or lots of dead mileage may be needed. It would not surprise your author to see Lincoln depot take on additional workings on this service. The 10 is a bit of an exception in Lincolnshire as a rural route subsidised by the County Council that they have not axed and replaced by Call Connect services, but instead recently enhanced in frequency.

The 51 will probably be all operated by Grimsby depot and this may mean changes to early morning and evening times to allow for operation from the Grimsby end rather than Louth end. However daytime frequencies and times probably won't change. This service is interworked with the 41.

Full details of the changes will probably emerge over the summer.

Tuesday 3 June 2008

The race to link South Humber with London

No service since 1992, and now 4 proposals have emerged to link the South Bank to London ... It could only happen in the world of the railways. Shouldn't complain though becuase an important rail link looks certain to be restored. So who's the competitiors in the race?

Firstly there is a proposal which first came to light in 2006, from a company called Humber Coast and City Railway, set up by Renaissance Trains, who founded both Hull Trains and WSMR. Their plan is to link Cleethorpes with Stratford (site of the 2012 Olympics) via Lincoln, Peterborough and Cambridge. Very little of late has been heard about this plan, which may mean it is no longer under consideration, or work is continuing out of the public eye.

Then earlier this year three separate proposals/aspirations were submitted to the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) - from Hull Trains, National Express East Coast and Grand Union. At the same time they presented proposals for various other new services on the East Coast Mainline and the ORR has to decide which propoals to allow since all cannot be accomodated.

Hull Trains proposed a new Cleethorpes to Kings Cross service; like the Humber Coast and City proposal it would operate via Lincoln and Sleaford to Peterborough but then via the East Coast Main Line to London Kings Cross. Parkway stations in South Lincolnshire were a big part of the plan.

National Express East Coast (NXEC) proposed extended some of their new Lincoln-London Kings Cross services to start at Cleethorpes. The Lincoln-London leg is a franchise commitment that will definetly happen.

Grand Union presented a proposal to operate from Cleethorpes to London Kings Cross calling at Grimsby Town, Habrough, Scunthorpe, Thorne South and Doncaster.

So those are the contenders, but who will win? Not going to try and guess that but heres a few thoughts ...

The Humber Coast and City Plan avoids abstracting revenue away from existing operators and apart from in Peterbourough doesn't use the congested East Coast Main Line. So thats likely to go down well with the rail industry. But that comes at a price. going from Cleethorpes to London via Lincoln, Sleaford, Peterbourgh and Cambridge is a very long route and it wouldn't surprise me if a change at Doncaster would be faster.

And is Stratford the best terminus? Sure, its a very important part of London, and great for the Docklands. But not very good for Central London. A Stratford-Cambridge/Peterborough link might be useful for commuters who already have Central London links, but I can see a Humber/Lincolnshire-Stratford link not getting that much use. Leisure travellers will mostly want Central London and many business travellers too. Finally, the West Anglia Main Line from Cambridge to Stratford is very congested too.

Now for Hull Trains. Again not the quickest route to Peterborough but at least it goes to Kings Cross. Nice plans for parkway stations in South Lincolnshire but not the strongest of the four proposals.

So the two strongest contenders in my opinion. Firstly National Express East Coast (NXEC). Their proposals use no additional East Coast Main Line capacity, simply extended trains with paths already allocated on the East Coast Main Line. Going via Lincoln and Newark is just about the most direct route possible. A very good proposal.

But the Grand Union outline plan isn't bad either. Again a fairly direct route and it serves Scunthorpe and Thorne (park and ride potential). A slight oddity is serving Habrough over Barnetby - as nice as Habrough maybe Barnetby is the bigger station - but time to change that, or even better serve both. Revenue abstratction from Doncaster maybe an issue however, and sister company Grand Central's major problems won't help at all - they can't currently run existing services never mind new ones.

Of course as well as the pros and cons of each proposal there are other issues such as the small matter of sourcing rolling stock. And the ORR may decide other areas of the country need new services more than South Humber and award track capacity to those services instead. However it is great to see a vote of confidence in the area by the four companies wanting to provide new services to the South Humber Bank. Good Luck to them all.

Bridlington Route 506 Changes

EYMS have axed two journeys on circular route 506 in Bridlington which serves the town's West Hill estate. The axed journeys are the 0630 and 0710 from Bridlington Bus Station. Remaining journeys are unaffected with a Monday to Saturday daytime frequency off 2 journeys per hour

EYMS axe Mystery Trips

After this Sunday East Yorkshire Motor Services are axing their mystery trips due to the rise in fuel costs and changes in concessionary fare schemes

Another British Aerospace Bus Axed

Once upon a time there was an extensive bus network taking workers to/from the British Aerospace factory at Brough. Now one of the few remaining services has been axed. East Riding of Yorkshire Council have pulled funding for EYMS's service 610 from Goole and South Cave to the factory from Thursday 12th June


Welcome to the Humber Transport blog. The blog will mainly be about bus and train issues on both banks of the Humber, though may occasionally include other forms of transport. I will post both news and views. You can add your views by leaving a comment on the relevant blog post.

I also run the Air Humberside website - and associated forums - Most aviation news and views will be put on those sites. Why not take a look and join the forum?

For local transport discussion there are various yahoo groups and the Travel East Midlands forum (soon to become Transport East Midlands) covers North and North East Lincolnshire