Sunday 9 April 2017

Humber Fastcat Changes

Last Sunday, 2nd April, Stagecoach and EYMS made changes to the 350 Humber Fastcat timetable between Scunthorpe, Barton and Hull. There have been no changes to the number of journeys, even with East Riding of Yorkshire Council withdrawing their contribution for EYMS's Monday to Saturday evening journeys, and Hull City Council withdrawing a contribution they have made. More good news is that Monday to Saturday evening journeys, and all bar the last journey on Sunday now route via the Hull City Centre loop on their outbound journey, as happens Monday to Saturday daytimes - this will be useful for the Old Town as well as Princes Quay. The Princes Quay timing point has been reinstated as well.

The main changes are down to punctuality improvements. From Scunthorpe all Monday to Saturday journeys leave at the same time as present, but daytime journey times to Hull are extended from 1 hour 12 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes. From Barton daytime departures from Interchange are now at 3 minutes past and 33 minutes past the hour, with daytime journey times to Hull increased from 27 minutes to 32 minutes. Some evening journeys do have running times reduced slightly however; for example the 1810 now departs at 1815 yet still arrives into Hull for 1922, while the 1910, 2010 and 2110 arrives into Hull 3 minutes earlier.

From Hull most Monday to Saturday journeys depart 5 minutes later at 10 past and 40 minutes past the hour with journey times to Barton Interchange during the daytime increased from 40 minutes to 43 minutes. Departures from Barton Interchange to Scunthorpe Bus Station move from 15 and 45 minutes past the hour to 23 and 53 minutes past the hour during the daytime, with journey times increased from 43 minutes to 48 minutes. Hull to Scunthorpe daytime journey times increase from 1 hour 23 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes. The 2025 and 2125 from Hull now depart 5 minutes earlier.

As a result of the extended journey times, 'turnaround' times at Hull reduce from 8 to 5 minutes, and at Scunthorpe from 17 to 5 minutes. The impact of congestion on bus services can clearly be seen here, and extended journey times won't help entice car users to the bus; hopefully improvements to Anlaby Road in Hull will help stabilise or improve journey times, but if they get much worse the only way to maintain a half hourly service with six vehicles would be to shorten the route, which isn't a good thought...

The Sunday times are also changed. Departures from Ashby to Hull at 0855, 0955, 1255, 1455, 1755 and 1955 become 0855, 1005, 1255, 1505, 1755 and 1955. Departures from Barton Interchange for Hull at 0955, 1055, 1355, 1555, 1855 and 2055 become 0958, 1108, 1358, 1608, 1858 and 2052. From Hull departures at 0825, 1025, 1325, 1530, 1830 and 1930 become 0835, 1025, 1320, 1530, 1825, and 1930, with Barton Interchange departures to Scunthorpe/Ashby moving from 0855, 1055, 1355, 1600, 1900 and 2000 to 0906, 1102, 1403, 1607, 1856 and 2000. Unlike the rest of week, EYMS and Stagecoach journeys have different running times between individual timing points creating a rather disjointed timetable.

Co-ordination between the 350 and Humber Flyer between Hull and Barton isn't as good as it was; leaving Hull the 50 minutes past the hour Humber Flyer doesn't fit in quite as well between the 40 and 10 minutes past the hour 350 and it did when they operated at 35 and 05 minutes past the hour. From Barton the Humber Flyer now leaves the Interchange 7 minutes after daytime service 350's, as opposed to 10 minutes afterwards previously. Ideally the Humber Flyer could do with operating 5-10 minutes later in each direction, but I doubt it is as simple as that sadly when driver rotas and maybe co-ordination with the 53 between Laceby and Grimsby is considered. Something to work on maybe?

The higher profile link between the 350 and another public transport option is the connection to Barton-Cleethorpes train service, and that hasn't faired well. Here is how they connect now:

From Cleethorpes to Hull, Monday to Friday
0652 train arrival, bus connection leaves Barton 0653, or more realistically 0743
0753 train arrival, bus connection leaves Barton 0810 (Humber Flyer)
0948 train arrival, bus connection leaves Barton 1003
1148 train arrival, bus connection leaves Barton 1203
1348 train arrival, bus connection leaves Barton 1403
1548 train arrival, bus connection leaves Barton 1603
1748 train arrival, bus connection leaves Barton 1803
1952 train arrival, bus connection leaves Barton 1952, or more realistically 2052
2157 train arrival, bus connection leaves Barton 2255

From Cleethorpes to Hull, Saturday
0651 train arrival, bus connection leaves Barton 0653, or more realistically 0743
0752 train arrival, bus connection leaves Barton 0810 (Humber Flyer)
0948 train arrival, bus connection leaves Barton 1003
1147 train arrival, bus connection leaves Barton 1203
1347 train arrival, bus connection leaves Barton 1403
1547 train arrival, bus connection leaves Barton 1603
1747 train arrival, bus connection leaves Barton 1803
1948 train arrival, bus connection leaves Barton 1952, or 2052
2156 train arrival, bus connection leaves Barton 2255

While the daytimes connections are at least reliable, the biggest issues are in the early morning and the evening. The answer to the early morning connection maybe at first be to simply wait the 0605 Scunthorpe to Hull at Barton Interchange for a few minutes and offer say a 0658 departure, however going by a comment on this 2015 blog post there are bus passengers who use that service for onward connections and would these be jeopardised if the bus ran even 5 minutes later? Are these passengers more numerous than those who would use the rail-bus connection at Barton? In the evening it might be easier to wait the bus at Barton Interchange, but it may result in a disjointed evening bus timetable with standardised mid evening departure times each hour lost.

Another factor to consider is that in December Northern Rail increased journey times between Barrow Haven and Barton from 5 to 8 minutes, seemingly to ensure on time arrivals. However those 3 minutes are all the difference between a good and a bad train-bus connection in the early morning, and on a Saturday mid-evening.

From Hull to Cleethorpes, Monday to Saturday
0658 train departure from Barton, no bus connection from Hull anymore
0738 bus arrival, train connection leaves Barton 0756
0923 bus arrival, train connection leaves Barton 0950 (I'm sure the 0953 bus into Barton will arrive before this, but this is not shown in the Stagecoach timetable)
1123 bus arrival, train connection leaves Barton 1150
1323 bus arrival, train connection leaves Barton 1350
1523 bus arrival, train connection leaves Barton 1550
1723 bus arrival, train connection leaves Barton 1755
1908 or 1956 bus arrival, train connection leaves Barton 1959
2151 bus arrival, train connection leaves Barton 2200

Nothing short of appalling connections apart from to the last train of the day.

I've not got this year's Summer Sunday train timetable yet, but based on last year's:

From Cleethorpes to Hull:
1047 train arrival, bus connection leaves Barton 1108
1344 train arrival, bus connection leaves Barton 1358
1548 train arrival, bus connection leaves Barton 1608
1846 train arrival, bus connection leaves Barton 1858

From Hull to Cleethorpes:
0906 bus arrival (the 1102 arrival probably arrives earlier and may connect, but not shown in Stagecoach timetable), train connection leaves Barton 1102
1102 bus arrival (the 1403 may arrive earlier), train connection leaves Barton 1359
1607 bus arrival, train connection leaves Barton 1615
1856 bus arrival, train connection leaves Barton 1911

Until this year's timetable is published it's too early to pass judgement, but if it is the same as last year the Hull to Cleethorpes connections for the first two trains of the day will be appalling. Stagecoach, EYMS, Northern and other relevant parties really need to get together and see what can be done improve things. There are constraints for bus and rail operators, but surely things could be better?

Finally, if, and at the moment it is an if, the Sunday connections are appalling, then why does the Sunday bus timetable remain structured around a 4 month a year rail service that it doesn't even properly connect into? The Sunday bus timetable has no bus from Barton to Hull between 1108 and 1358, no bus from Barton to Scunthorpe between 1102 and 1403, restricting options for Sunday shopping. There is no arrival into Hull before 1022 and no departure between 1530 and 1825 which makes commuting for Sunday shop workers impossible or very inconvenient. 6 journeys each way isn't bad, but it's the times they run that could be improved. A standard pattern 2 hourly service would be ideal, although that would require layovers of around an hour in either Hull or Ashby.

New 350 timetable


Joe said...

Thanks for the train connection times, these are useful for me occassionally, or rather they were useful. Still no other choice on Sundays though.

The connections might have been ruined on purpose, so that when Barton Line transfers to East Midlands Trains (AKA Stagecoach), the bus company can justify cutting the extra morning train which currently comes from Doncaster which will become impossible. That's my conspiracy theory anyway, but train connections were sabotaged before service cuts many times before.

Vic Green said...

Surely the units will just be sourced from Lincoln instead.
In fact,if Stagecoach are running both trains and buses,might it not be in their interest to actually attempt to improve connections if possible?

Humber Transport said...

Don't forget the Barton Line doesn't transfer until the new East Midlands franchise starts, and we don't know who will be operating the new franchise, it may not be Stagecoach

The 'issue' with the early morning service is that it currently needs a 2nd unit on the Barton Line for one round trip only. The current arrangement allows the early morning service to be "tagged onto" a morning peak Scunthorpe to Doncaster service so Northern don't require an extra unit to operate it. There is no existing East Midlands Trains service that the early morning Barton line 'extra' could be tagged onto without requiring an additional unit. This is a concern

However in fairness if the new East Midlands franchise includes extra services between Cleethorpes/Grimsby and Lincoln and/or extra units, then a solution might be found. Or maybe go back to using a TPE Class 185 in the early morning, though it may cost more as I thought it was cost that ended that arrangement?

(Or even better, keep the Barton Line with Northern, but that sadly seems unlikely at this stage)

I think the East Midlands Invitation to Tender is due in May after the local elections, so will be very interesting to see what that says, and hopefully there is an accompanying consultation

Joe said...

Stagecoach if they keep the trains will have a poorly used 450 bus, a heavy subsidy Humber Flyer, and an unreliable and loss making train all between Grimsby and Barton. I doubt that in times of cuts that any of this is sustainable long term.

The company will try to reduce in-efficiencies, and for the most part, there's alternative buses for the train passengers to use, trains have to come from further afield and have more staff. I bet Stagecoach will want to reduce services on the Barton Line as soon as they can, as the single car 153 units will be reformed into 2-car trains to meet legal requirements for a disabled toilet, each service will cost more in 2019 for the company.

Unknown said...

There is no conspiracy here. The timings were changed simply to make the 350 more reliable. Northern, EYMS, Stagecoach and myself have previously met to establish cooperative working.

Anonymous said...

Humber Fastcat Service 350: Hull - Barton - ScunthorpeFrom 3 September there will be changes to Humber Fastcat Service 350.

Monday-Saturday buses from 8.40am-4.10pm will use Park Street to leave the Interchange, so they're not held up by congestion.  This means the Interchange will be the only stop served in Hull City Centre.

All journey times will also change, and due to North Lincolnshire Council reducing funding for bus journeys, some evening journeys will no longer run.

hanges coming in September according to the latest EYMS newsletter