Saturday, 31 December 2016

Major Improvements for the 5, Not so much for the 450

From Tuesday 3rd January, Stagecoach services 5 and 450 are extensively revised. Currently service 5 links Grimsby with Immingham and South Killingholme every half hour Monday to Saturday daytime, with some journeys operating beyond Immingham as either service 150 to East Halton or service 450 to Barton and Brigg. At weekday peak times some journeys serve the MIC Plant at Immingham instead off South Killingholme.

Service 5

The first working day of January sees the main Grimsby to Immingham and South Killingholme service increased to operate every 20 minutes Monday to Saturday daytimes, increasing to every 15 minutes at peak times, including Saturdays. This is a welcome boost in frequency which shall hopefully make the bus a more attractive option for local travel on the Grimsby-Immingham-South Killingholme corridor.

Peak time services via the MIC Plant at Immingham remain and now also operate on Saturdays. The current 4 morning services are increased to 6 from Grimsby, with 3 afternoon journeys. Instead off operating the main service 5 route from Grimsby to Immingham County Hotel via Wybers Wood Lights, Healing, Stallingborough roundabout and Immingham Town, before extending to the MIC Plant, morning journeys now operate direct (via the A180?) from Wybers Wood Lights to the MIC Plant before extending to County Hotel and South Killingholme. Afternoon journeys continue to operate the main service 5 route, serving the MIC Plant instead of South Killingholme.

Monday to Saturday early morning starts from Humberston via Cleethorpes remain, while hourly evening and Sunday services only have minor timing changes.

The college day 5C variation serving Grimsby Institute and Franklin College is withdrawn. The morning 5C currently starts in Habrough and this facility will be provided by a normal service 5 in the future. Two evening peak services from Grimsby continue to extend to Habrough, but no longer to Ulceby; combined with changes to the 450 (see below), Ulceby no longer has any through services to Grimsby, and no suitable peak time connecting service without using Call Connect. I hope no commuters were relying on the 5/450 from Ulceby.

These changes are a bit different from what was expected though. These improvements are being supported by North East Lincolnshire Council and the Department for Transport (DfT). The bid to the DfT last Summer was for a service every 15 minutes between Grimsby and Immingham, extending half hourly to the Able UK development, Phillips 66 Oil Refinery and the Catch training facility. Next week's new timetable only delivers a 15 minute frequency at peak times, only serves Catch via the peak time MIC Plant workings, and doesn't serve Able UK or Phillips 66 Refinery at all (although Total's Lindsey Oil Refinery becomes a timing point). Maybe there has been a change of plan, or maybe there will be a phased approach to developing service 5, as the Able UK site is largely if not totally undeveloped at the moment. If it's the latter I suspect South Killingholme better not get too used to a 20 minute frequency.

Service 450

So for the vast majority of passengers, the changes are good news or no change. However when the 150 and 450 are considered it's not quite such a good news story. I've already posted about the 150 being withdrawn - thankfully the Monday to Saturday 450 hasn't suffered the same fate but it's not come out of the changes very well.

Currently four service 5's from Grimsby extend from Immingham to Barton and Brigg as service 450, and a fifth on a Saturday as far as Barton; on weekday's there is an extra Immingham to Barton service instead. These provide a roughly two hourly morning/early afternoon service westbound. In the other direction there is one morning Barton to Immingham service that then runs through to Grimsby and three or four from Brigg to Immingham that run through to Grimsby (on schooldays the final journey operates Brigg-Barton-Goxhill then Barton-Immingham-Grimsby). This also provides a two hourly morning/early afternoon service along with a single later afternoon service.

With the new timetable the through journeys between service 5 and 450 cease, and the 450 becomes a stand alone service between Immingham County Hotel, Barton and Brigg. The loss of all through services is a retrograde step, although perhaps trying to mix the improved service 5 with the 450's school requirements based timetable and infrequent journeys proved impossible. The use of Immingham County Hotel as the 450's terminus means that not only passengers for Grimsby will need to change buses, but so will anyone travelling into Immingham Town Centre.

Four Immingham-Barton-Brigg journeys remain in the morning/early afternoon. On weekdays this isn't a major change, with the final departure from Immingham to Barton just 5 minutes earlier than at present, and while overall there is one less Immingham to Barton journey, currently two services run within half an hour of each other. On Saturday's the last westbound service from Immingham to Barton is 65 minutes earlier.

Eastbound there is a significant reduction however. The morning peak Barton to Immingham service has gone - this used to exist as a balancing working from the early morning Grimsby to Barton Humber Flyer, which since last year has extended through to Hull. There is no equivalent evening return to Barrow, Thornton Curtis or Wootton so it is only Ulceby that has lost out on a usable commuting link.

From Brigg four services remain to Barton, with the first three operating 35 minutes later than at present, and the final operating 55 minutes earlier. On Saturday's and School Holiday's all four services continue onto Immingham, but on schooldays only the first two do, with the third terminating in Barton and the last terminating in Goxhill, and not returning to Barton for an final Barton-Immingham service as at present. This means the last bus from Barton to Thornton Curtis, Wootton, Ulceby, South Killingholme and Immingham on schooldays will be at 1215 rather than 1345 and 1715.. It also means there will be no connection from the afternoon 360 from Scunthorpe Colleges in Barton for Thornton Curtis, Wootton, Ulceby and South Killingholme.

The new 450 is fine for Brigg school students, and for villagers wanting to travel into Barton for a couple of hours in the morning. It's OK for trips into Brigg, though 0840 is a bit early and 1110 a bit late for arrivals into Brigg for morning shopping. However it means a change for Immingham Town Centre, and as for the connections to/from Grimsby, they have come have out horrendously. First possible arrival is 1140, latest possible departure 1305.

The 450 receives financial support from North Lincolnshire Council, and I suspect that is why the connections to Immingham Town Centre and Grimsby have come out so badly - they are in North East Lincolnshire so not North Lincolnshire's priority. Add in tight council budgets which probably prevent adding in any more 'resource' to improve the timetable, and the existence of Call Connect, and the end result seems to be a poor service 450 timetable.

Furthermore it can't help the Immingham to Barton section that Grimsby to Barton is also covered by the Humber Flyer and the train, Barrow to Barton by the 260 and Immingham to South Killingholme by the 5. It increasingly comes down to being a service for Thornton Curtis, Wootton and Ulceby, a long way from the days of the X21 or even the 250. Welcome improvements elsewhere won't have helped viability.


Joe said...

X21, I'm unfamilar with that route, where did it run?

Humber Transport said...

Cleethorpes-Grimsby-Immingham-Barton Market Place-Hull. Operated by Road Car about every 2 hours. 1 journey each way started/finished in Louth. I think it ended in the late 90's to be replaced by the 250.

Sam Boothby said...

X21 was definitely running in 1997, but by 2002 it had ceased. I have access to North East Lincs transport maps for both years.

Sam Boothby said...

There were also minor tweaks to the 8, 9, 10 and 12 in Grimsby from Tuesday.

Joe said...

One positive is that the bus map now shows the Megarider boundary, which is smart.
Still no 50 (although 25 is shown on former 11 route), error remain on the inset map showing a non existent bus stop outside Iceland on Bethlehem Street.

Sam Boothby said...

The other issue with the map in the bus guide is that it does not show stand L on Town Hall Square, which the 6 now uses towards Wybers Wood.