Thursday 29 January 2009

350 Changes Update

Further to yesterday's post on the changes to service 350 (Hull-Barton-Scunthorpe), this is from VOSA today:

Variation Accepted: Operating between Scunthorpe Bus Station and Hull, Ferensway given service number 350/360 effective from 23-Mar-2009. To amend Route and Timetable.
Variation Accepted: Operating between Barton Cemetery and Brigg Leisure Centre given service number 450 effective from 23-Mar-2009. To amend Route and Timetable.

With Stagecoach also planning to make changes to the 350 from March, as well as EYMS, looks like this could be when the service goes half hourly. The 450 from Barton to Brigg also looks to be changing at the same time.

Hull Trains guaranteed 7 trains a day to London till 2014

First Hull Trains's 'Back our Bid' campaign has been successful. The Office for Rail Regulation (ORR) has today said it is minded to allow the company to continue operating all 7 of it's existing daily services between Hull and London Kings Cross. There is a reduced weekend frequency. These services also stop in the region at Brough and Howden.

However the campaigning is not all over yet, First Hull Trains was not awarded the 10 year track access rights it asked for; it only got 6 years. It also wants restrictions on the number of services that can stop at Stevenage to be lifted. Looking further ahead it wishes to introduce a 8th daily service between Hull and the Capital.

Also today the ORR said it was prepared to approve National Express East Coast's plans for a daily Cleethorpes to London Kings Cross service, which would also serve Grimsby. However further consultation is needed because they may affect other operators track access rights.

Today's ORR announcement also included good news for Grand Central and Grand Northern, but the ORR said they were minded to refuse proposals from Platinum Trains and from First Hull Trains to set up a new company, First Harrogate Trains, to link Harrogate and the Capital.

First Hull Trains Press Release -
The full ORR decision -

Tuesday 27 January 2009

Changes to the 350 in March

EYMS, one of the operators of service 350 between Hull, Barton and Scunthorpe via the Humber Bridge, have given notice of changes from 23rd March. This is taken from the VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Service Agency) website.

Variation Accepted: Operating between Hull, Ferensway and Scunthorpe Bus Station given service number 350 effective from 23-Mar-2009. To amend Route, Stopping Places and Timetable.

Is this the date for the service to go half hourly Monday to Saturday daytimes, as is expected? In September we reported about the possibility of this, with 3 new buses on order to upgrade most of the Stagecoach workings to low floor status. Since then this order has been reported as being increased to 6, with two vehicles for Hull and 4 for Scunthorpe, meaning a frequency increase looks almost certain. All the extra journeys would be operated by Stagecoach, so are EYMS just going to be making minor alterations to fit in with the enhanced timetable, or are the changes unrelated?

Monday 26 January 2009

Scunthorpe-Doncaster Rail Blockade Dates Announced

Last year we reported that the Scunthorpe to Doncaster (or more accurately Scunthorpe to Thorne Junction) rail line would be closed by Network Rail this summer for an engineering blockade. The line has passenger services provided by Northern Rail and Transpennine Express, the laters as part of the Cleethorpes-Scunthorpe-Doncaster-Sheffield-Manchester Airport service.

The Dates for this have now been announced. The line will shut on June 21st at 11.45 pm and reopen on September 7th at 4am.

It appears that replacement services will provided totally by bus. Obviously the Scunthorpe to Doncaster section has to be served by replacement buses, but what about the Cleethorpes to Scunthorpe section? Through passsengers from Cleethorpes, Grimsby, Habrough and Barnetby may prefer one bus through to Doncaster, rather than a change from train to bus at Scunthorpe, and depending on their destination, back to train again at Doncaster, but local passengers between Cleethorpes and Scunthorpe will have to use a slower bus service.

But passengers from Cleethorpes, Grimsby, Habrough and Barnetby don't have to use buses at all to get to Sheffield. They could always go via Brigg using a line that runs from Barnetby to Gainsborough, then join the Lincoln to Sheffield line to reach South Yorkshire. That option will be available on Saturdays, using the service that operates one day a week (3 journeys each way) on the Brigg line, but it appears that this service will not be enhanced during the blockade. Freight services will be diverted via the line, taking up it's capacity. Though would it be that hard to divert a couple of freight services via Lincoln to allow a limited weekday passenger service to Sheffield?

Finally another potential issue is the effect on the Barton to Cleethorpes service. The first train of the day is operated by a TransPennine Express unit, but during the blockade they will have none at Cleethorpes to operate it with. So bus replacement seems the only option. I will be investigating this further. Also the Northern Rail stock for the line's other services will not be able to position via Scunthorpe. I presume it will have to be attached to the Saturday Sheffield-Cleethorpes service, which has happenned in the past. Better hope it doesn't break down mid-week though!

Clearly there is essential work to be done between Scunthorpe and Thorne Junction, and as far as freight services go, summer is the best time for it to happen (not for the Cleethorpes tourist industry though). But the total use of replacement buses, as appears to be hapenning, is unnecessary and probably motivated by keeping costs low. Operating a Cleethorpes to Scunthorpe shuttle wouldn't be cheap but passengers will be needlessly inconvienced as a result. Just as a limited weekday Cleethorpes to Sheffield service via Brigg wouldn't be cheap, but would ease the effects of the blockade for some passengers. Dont just think about £££'s, remember the customers too.

Saturday 24 January 2009

Improvements to Bridlington-Scarborough rail service on the way?

It appears that the current Hull and Bridlington to Scarborough rail service, operated by Northern Rail, has a chance of being improved. Currently the Hull to Bridlington service is roughly half hourly Monday to Saturday daytimes, with extensions every 90 minutes to Scarborough. On Sundays the Bridlington to Scarborough section is served only in Summer.

The Filey Mercury report that Northern Rail are giving "serious consideration" to a plan to run hourly Monday to Saturday services between Bridlington and Scarborough, as well as a year round Sunday service. This comes after work to establish the feasibility of the plan, lead by the Yorkshire Coast Community Rail Partnership and local councils.

However the plans are dependent on Northern Rail having extra trains to operate the service. Current plans show that Northern Rail will recieve additional units in the next few years, but with overcrowding on existing services into cities such as Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool, how much of a priority will extra services between Bridlington and Scarborough be?

The enhanced Sunday service is not dependent on obtaining extra rolling stock. The timescale for the improvements is at least two years (I presume the December 2010 timetable change).

Wednesday 21 January 2009

End of Walton Street Park and Ride in Hull

The BBC report, that as part of cost saving measures, Hull City Council, will axe the Walton Street Park and Ride, redirecting users the newer Priory Park site instead. The Walton Street site is located near to the KC Stadium and is part of the Hull Fair site.

The Walton Street bus service, numbered 700, is operated by Veolia, and is the only major 'public service' operated by the former Alpha Bus and Coach operation. The operation, based in Hull does have some other public services, such as Sunday workings on the 350 (Hull-Barton-Scunthorpe-Ashby) and the 78/277 circular (Hull-Hedon) along with schools work and private contracts, but will that alone sustain the operation? Could it be the end for Veolia in Hull or will they secure new work as a replacement?

Veolia recently announced the closure of their Lincoln depot, and sold their York operation to Transdev last year.

Thursday 15 January 2009

New Sunday Grimsby-Lincoln bus service

Interconnect Service 3 between Grimsby and Lincoln will operate on Sundays from the 26th January. There will be three buses from Lincoln to Grimsby, extending to Cleethorpes Pier, along with extra short services between Lincoln and Dunholme/Welton in Lincolnshire. This Sunday service is funded by Lincolnshire County Council. Train services only run between Cleethropes/Grimsby and Lincoln in summer.

Looking at the new timetable, the Sunday service omits a timing point on Hainton Avenue in Grimsby, which may indicate it will run via Bargate instead.

Always good to see services be improved.