Disclaimer: the contents of articles do not necessarily reflect Transport 2000 policy at either national or branch level. If you know any reason why any opinion expressed on a matter within the branch's remit should not be branch policy, please contact the Secretary/Coordinator -- it is through the exchange of ideas that methods for solving our problems are developed.
Please note that although in this newsletter we concentrate on matters of strategic importance, we would like to hear from any member on any transport related topic, however small.} If you have a complaint or suggestion of any kind we will endeavour to pursue it ourselves or to advise you on how to pursue it yourself.
At long last, the Government's White Paper on Transport was published on 20 July. This was over a month later than originally envisaged -- which is why you have had to wait so long to receive this newsletter. However, the real question is whether the White Paper paves the way for solutions to our transport problems.
The answer to this question is ``yes and no''. Yes in that it is a definite advance on the previous government's transport policies. No in that it fails to tackle many of the underlying problems. The White Paper itself says that it is the first thorough reevaluation of transport policy for a generation. If we have to wait another generation for the next significant change in policy, the White Paper is certainly inadequate; but if the Government treats it as the first step in a programme to tackle ``car culture'' most of us should live to see transport put in its proper place as our servant rather than our master.
The White Paper proposes an independent Commission for Integrated Transport to coordinate development of the policy. Hopefully, and probably dependent on who's on it, it will lead to correction of any deficiencies of the policy that may come to light. Meanwhile here are our comments on specific issues mentioned in the White Paper.
1. Public transport.
The White Paper calls for Quality Partnerships between local authorities and operators as the way forward, and proposes to give local authorities powers to require operators to meet certain standards. On rail the Government proposes to restore franchises to the public sector only if no private bidders are prepared to meet the tighter obligations it proposes. These obligations are to be drawn up by a Strategic Rail Authority charged with the task of looking after the overall interests of passengers and other rail users. Furthermore, there is a commitment to improve timetable coordination, service stability, and passenger information. But several questions are left open:
2. Car taxes.
The White Paper suggests two forms of taxation which would both encourage motorists to shift to other modes and raise revenue locally for sustainable transport projects. One is road tolling; the other is a tax on private non-residential parking. So far so good, though we would like to see a national parking tax, for which Transport 2000 suggests a level of GBP 100 in the first year rising by GBP 50 annually (compared with its proposed local parking tax of GBP 100). The trouble is that the Government plans to delay implementation pending the outcome of pilot projects, which would let local authorities choose between a tax on parking at work (but not for shopping) and road tolling, i.e., not both. So:
The above two topics are the ones which have aroused the most controversy. But there are others where Government policy ranges from ``fully satisfactory'' to ``totally inadequate'':
3. Fares and ticketing.
There is a commitment to improved ticketing systems and to a national minimum standard for concessionary fares (half fare for GBP 5 per year), both of which we welcome. But will the Strategic Rail Authority enforce a sane alternative to the National Routeing Guide (see last newsletter)? Will rail and bus fares be more competitive with driving? And will pensioners and other passholders be able to use their passes throughout the country or just in their own area?
4. Walking and cycling.
The Government has accepted criticisms that its consultation document did not incorporate the National Cycling Strategy, and most of its recommendations, from the Safe Routes to Schools strategy for children to a commitment to tackle the perceived security problems of night-time travel, are unexceptionable. We would, however, like to see attention paid to the needs of pedestrians and cyclists on major roads (whether crossing them or picking up buses travelling along them), and for safe access between villages and bus stops or stations.
The Government has increased the weight limit for lorries from the current 38 tonnes, and the 40 tonne limit required of it under European regulations, to 41 tonnes, but with stipulations that would hopefully reduce the impact on road surfaces. It is reviewing the desirability of a 44 tonne limit, and has mentioned the likely impact on the economics of railfreight as a significant factor. We welcome the positive comments on trans-shipment depots which would enable the largest lorries to be kept away from town and city centres and possibly rural roads; also better routeing schemes to keep lorries off unsuitable roads -- provided they can be enforced.
Here the policy is far from adequate. We welcome the policy of improving public transport access to airports, but the Government seems unwilling to take moves to discourage people from flying where alternatives (mainly Eurostar) are available, or to develop and market such alternatives to meet their full potential. Furthermore the Government has given the go-ahead to several road schemes serving airports such as Heathrow, Stansted and Manchester.
See our comments on the Roads Review below.
8. Car Culture.
There is little sign of action to deglamourise the car or to ban employers and others from the kind of discrimination against non-motorists which would (rightly) be frowned on if practised against women or non-whites. The Government has been keen to emphasise that its policies are not anti-motorist. We don't disagree, but they should be anti-motoring -- that is, the car needs to be seen as a last resort only to be used when other modes of transport are unsuitable. However, the White Paper does support the idea of partnerships such as Cambridgshire's Travel for Work scheme, which could help to foster the idea that unnecessary driving is undesirable.
There are commitments to review speed policy. Transport 2000 and other organisations are supporting a ``Slower Speeds Campaign'' -- an objective which we fully endorse provided the interests of bus users are kept in mind. It is also suggested that driving hours for commercial vehicles, including buses, should be harmonised with European regulations -- for our comment see ``Driving Hours'' section below.
There's a lot more in the White Paper, which is available from bookshops such as Heffers (20 Trinity St, Cambridge) for GBP 16-50; by phone (0171 873 9090) for GBP 19-44 including postage; or on the Government website; but the above are the highlights.
This, the next in our coverage of national transport issues, is the first in a series of follow-up documents presaged by the White Paper. Its is contained in the series of ten regional leaflets which divide the roads programme as inherited by the Government into schemes to be implemented, reviewed or dropped.
Transport 2000's national press release condemns two specific schemes in the first category: the M25 widening and the Bingley by-pass in Yorkshire. It also suggests that money for ``safety improvements'' would yield better dividends if used for local schemes like traffic calming. The Bingley by-pass runs through the sensitive Aire Valley and has been the subject of one of the longest running anti-road campaigns. The M25 widening (to 10-12 lanes between the M3 and M4) is condemned as motivated by the desire not to have to re-run the Heathrow Terminal 5 Inquiry; but it also seems to prejudge it, as it suggests that the extra lanes could be reserved for buses and other selected categories of vehicles, but the section to be widened to 12 lanes (just south of the M4) is the one with the fewest buses, and will remain so unless Terminal 5 (which would be served from this section) is built.
Locally we comment as follows. (Note: we are covering the whole region, not just Cambs. Comments on schemes outside Cambs should not be taken as reflecting the views of any Transport 2000 branch, and the word ``we'' is used editorially rather than referring to our group.)
Development related schemes.
These are our greatest concern. There is one such scheme in Cambs -- the dualling of the A428 between Cambridge and Cambourne, which can only worsen Cambridge's traffic problems. (In principle Cambourne residents could use the Madingley Rd park & ride site, but wouldn't it be better for them to pick the bus up nearer their home, perhaps at Bourn Airfield, thus avoiding higher traffic levels on the A428?) The other three are the M11 spur to Stansted Airport, the A421/A428 link serving areas of new housing west of Bedford, and the A13 between the M25 and Lakeside Shopping Centre. We believe that all of these can only enshrine the dependence of the relevant developments on cars.
Two schemes affect Cambs (A47 Thorney and A16/A43 Stamford); the first has been put into review and the second withdrawn. Four others outside the county have been given the go-ahead -- A6 Clapham, A10 Wadesmill, A120 Takeley and A421 Gt Barford, and one (A5 Dunstable) put into review. Of these schemes. we regard the Stamford and Dunstable schemes as too damaging to contemplate, and hope that the latter too is dropped. The others (including Thorney) we don't oppose in principle, but only if they are not accompanied by capacity increases such as dualling (which for Takeley is definitely planned as part of the Stansted-Braintree route), and provided that the interests of pedestrians, cyclists and bus users are safeguarded. We would, however, definitely oppose the Clapham scheme if it is designed to link up with the A421/A428 route referred to above. We note that only three of the routes are on the Government's list of ``core'' trunk routes (the A5, A47 and A421); the others are either not trunk roads (A120) or proposed for detrunking (A6 and A10) -- so why are they covered in a national policy document?
Remaining sections of the A11 are to be dualled -- we have no strong objections. We do object to the A120 dualling between Stansted and Braintree, which could usefully be replaced by a combined road/rail project. Schemes under review include parts of the A1 (outside Cambs) and M1, as well as the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon, for which we shall be strongly urging a public transport based strategy, and the A47 between Norwich and Yarmouth, which may impact on an environmentally sensitive area. Other sections of the M1, M11 and M25 have been withdrawn -- good !
These include A1 Tempsford, A12 Witham, A14 Rookery (Suffolk) and Thrapston-Brampton junctions, A47 Hardwick (to be scaled down), M11/A14 junction (to be reviewed), and A428 Norse Road Link (to be dropped). We support the A14 Thrapston-Brampton scheme if it makes it easier for buses to serve villages in the area, and adequate crossing facilities are included. This also applies to some of the others including the A1; in any case we have no specific objection to them.
The Government has divided the trunk road network into ``core'' routes -- which in Cambs are the M11, A1, A11, A14, A47 and A428 -- and others, which will be considered for detrunking, i.e., adoption as part of the local highway network. One route in the latter category runs through Cambs: the A10. The other routes on the list are the A6 (Luton to Leicester), A12 (Ipswich to Lowestoft), A17, A134, A140, and A428 (Bedford to Northampton).
The major flaws in the Roads Review is that it still plans to accommodate car traffic generated by major developments rather than induce developers to move towards sustainability, and that it still seems to be geared towards continuing increases in overall traffic levels, even if at a lower rate than hitherto.
The Government has now issued details of the conditions and guidelines for local authorities to use the Rural Transport Fund. This amounts to GBP 874,308 for Cambs, of which GBP 84,040 has been allocated to the new Peterborough Unitary Authority. These sums apply to 1998-9, and similar sums will be allocated for the subsequent two years. By comparison, here are the figures for surrounding counties: Beds (excluding Luton) GBP 442,974, Essex (excluding Southend and Thurrock) GBP 1,050,249, Thurrock GBP 38,176, Herts GBP 443,714, Leics (excluding Rutland) GBP 556,163, Rutland GBP 107,010, Lincs GBP 1,194,385, Norfolk GBP 1,594,337, Northants GBP 696,765, Suffolk GBP 1,201,593. Luton and Southend are considered entirely urban and therefore not eligible for money from the Fund.
The basic conditions under which bus services are eligible for funding are as follows:
1. Services must be rural, i.e., must run for at least 3 miles outside communities of 10,000 or more people as of the 1991 census, with at least one stop within such a stretch, or must be totally outside such communities. The communities within Cambs of over 10,000 people are Cambridge, Huntingdon, March, Peterborough, St Ives, St Neots, Whittlesey and Wisbech, with Ely a borderline case.
2. Services must be new or improvements, i.e. substantively better than what existed on 1 May 1998.
3. Services must be available to the public at large.
4. Capital spending is not eligible.
5. Local authorities are required to submit by 1 Oct details of how much money, within the above limits, they expect to use. They will not then be permitted to spend more (though they can spend less). Unspent money will be reallocated to a national Rural Challenge Fund for innovative solutions to transport problems.
6. Limits on spending under the ``de minimis'' section of the 1985 Transport Act will be relaxed to enable local authorities to introduce improvements outside the tendering process.
The Government has also issued (non-compulsory) guidelines to local authorities for using the Fund. Here they are with our comments.
1. There should be explicit and specific criteria for use of the grant, such as minimum service provisions. Our first priority would be the reinstatement of recently lost services, though usually not in the same form as before as more cost-effective options are likely to be available. Beyond this we would suggest the minimum service provisions proposed in the traffic reduction plan which we issued last year in response to the original version of the Road Traffic Reduction Bill.
2. Integrated networks should be developed including connections, both bus/bus and bus/rail, to enhance journey opportunities. Yes indeed ! We would also like to see existing services amalgamated into longer routes to enable passengers to go further without having to change.
3. Community and other organisations should be consulted about what improvements are needed. Yes indeed ! We have received an invitation from Peterborough Unitary Council, but not from Cambs County Council. (Incidentally, Worcs CC has put a form asking users what they want in the amendments to its series of area timetables.) We hope that community groups will have a chance to study our proposals, and would like to see what they want, which might result in useful improvements to our own ideas.
4. Account should be taken of the needs of people with impaired mobility, for example in specifying vehicle standards. We agree, but suggest that this should be used in the first instance to widening access to established services.
5. Use of the Fund should be monitored. We have no comment on this.
There are two serious anomalies in the eligibility criteria: the restriction to new or improved routes penalises local authorities like East Cambs District Council, which, by putting up money to support local services that would otherwise have been withdrawn, made them ineligible for funding; and improvements to rail (or ferry) services are not eligible -- our priorities being weekday off-peak trains at Manea (connecting with an extension of 360 from Wisbech) and Sunday trains at Whittlesford (connecting with 102/3 to Duxford etc.).
Our response largely follows the document ``Developing Cambridgeshire's Rural Transport Network'' which we circulated with our last newsletter, and the similar document for Peterborough which we have since produced and sent to the Unitary Council. Almost all the proposals in the former are (we believe) eligible for funding; the only route we had to modify for this purpose is the circular route in our Cambridge Park & Ride network which would now run every 15 minutes from Madingley Rd P&R via the City Centre, Newmarket Rd P&R, Fulbourn Tesco, Cherry Hinton (Robin Hood), Addenbrookes, Trumpington, Grantchester (or direct via the M11), M11/A603 roundabout and back to Madingley Rd via the M11.
Otherwise, the changes we've made are largely minor. Some of them are ideas we forgot to include; others are due to changes in the existing network, or to our knowledge thereof. The most important change in the latter category is our new scheme to restore the West Hunts network, now operated (at a considerably reduced level from before) by Fenstanton based Whippet instead of Thrapston based Keystone. Our new proposals would mean that the main service would be run by Keystone, with the supplementary school services shared between Whippet and Keystone. This would, we believe, enhance the value of the network, for example by allowing daily shopping services to Huntingdon operated as the positioning workings of the school buses.
It should be noted that our proposals largely adopt the strategy of rearranging existing services to provide improvements, rather than introducing totally new routes. We believe that this is more cost-effective. For example, Cambs CC has announced a half hourly service from Soham to Sawston via Burwell, Newmarket Rd P&R, City Centre and Addenbrookes. But the eastern section may well be beyond what the population of the area would support (our plan calls for hourly buses on this section) and may also put at risk existing commercial services serving villages such as Reach; while we support the need for a link from Newmarket Rd P&R to Addenbrookes, we don't believe motorists will want to detour through the City Centre; and while we agree that the link from Addenbrookes to Sawston is urgently needed, our plans would also provide direct links to villages beyond Sawston.
Incidentally, we suspect that the improvements we have proposed for Cambs outside Peterborough would use up the county's allocation several times over; but we believe that Peterborough's allocation would amply cover our proposed improvements for villages within the area of that authority. We have, therefore, proposed that Peterborough should use part of its allocation to promote services that fit the definition of ``rural'' but whose main benefit within the Peterborough area would be to its urban population, such as the reinstatement of the former Barton service to Nottingham via the A606 corridor.
If you want to receive a copy of either or both of our ``shopping lists'', (with the Cambs one updated in response to impending changes) please send a stamped addressed large size envelope to the Coordinator. We hope that they will also be available in due course on our website which already contains the previous version (for Cambs excluding Peterborough), plus our Traffic Reduction Plan and newsletters from 51 onwards.
Earlier this year the bus company Northumbria was prosecuted for infringement of driving hours regulations, as a result of a re-interpretation of the regulations whereby all routes over 50km are considered as ``express coaches'' (even if they stop everywhere) and subject to European rules, which are tighter than our own. The ``dodge'' that has hitherto applied, whereby such routes were registered in sections, was ruled illegitimate.
We believe this is a classic case of judges applying the law mindlessly without heed to the consequences. Northumbria promptly responded by axing the Sunday service on part of the route in question (Carlisle to Hexham) and rerouteing some of its weekday buses by the main road omitting villages such as Gilsland; the two county councils (Northumberland and Cumbria) have bought back a Sunday and weekday local service, at a lower level than hitherto, at the expense of the local taxpayer; and the upheaval has caused confusion to passengers.
In other parts of the country, operators and councils have had to change their routes in the middle of the season, again causing confusion to all and sundry and inconvenience to many people. It would be surprising if some of the latter have not turned to their cars (for which there are no driving hour restrictions) and in doing so caused considerably more accidents than may have been saved by the reduction in driving hours for buses.
The Government's White Paper proposes applying European driving hours regulations to all bus services. This will, at least, reduce the incentives for operators to inconvenience passengers by splitting their routes into sections without adequate provision for connections, through marketing and through ticketing. But it will also increase costs for operators, who will, no doubt, pass them on to passengers, so, Government, please accompany the change in regulations by tax changes that will fully compensate operators and passengers.
Subscriptions are now due for 1998-9 (GBP 3-50 ordinary, GBP 2-50 concessionary, GBP 5 household or corporate); renewal forms have been sent to all members who haven't yet paid and need to do so. Please send your renewal as soon as possible -- we do not guarantee to issue a reminder with our next newsletter. If you do not wish to renew, please let us know -- and give us a chance to meet your complaint if that's why.
Our next newsletter will carry an announcement of the date, place and time of our AGM.
We welcome the following new members: P. James, Bottisham; R & S Macaulay, Cambridge; and Cllr A. Taylor, Cambridge. The last was formerly a local member but is now a national supporter, as is the second family.
The need to respond to all the issues mentioned in the above sections has meant that we have been unable to arrange any meetings, but Cambridge area members may wish to attend meetings of Cambridge Friends of the Earth transport & planning group (2nd Monday, 7.30, FOE office, St Michael's Church, Trinity St, Cambridge) or Cambridge Cycling Campaign (1st Tuesday, 7.30, Friends Meeting House, Jesus Lane, Cambridge).
Cambs County Council has consulted on a proposal to bar right turns to or from the A505 between the M11 and railway bridge. This would also affect the straight-on movements performed by bus routes 112 (weekdays) and 102/3 (Sundays) between Cambridge and Saffron Walden, and we have objected strenuously.
Peterborough City Council has opened the first stage of the Green Wheel, a Millennium Commission project to open up a vaguely circular leisure cycling and walking route round Peterborough serving major attractions such as Flag Fen. The project also includes ``spokes'' linking the ``wheel'' with the city's urban core.
Cambs County Council has been consulting on plans to remodel the traffic system on the Hills Rd/Babraham Rd corridor out of Cambridge on the road towards Haverhill. This is in conjunction with its Babraham Rd Park & Ride project. One idea is to send peak buses via side roads to join Babraham Rd at the Worts Causeway junction at which they would have priority signalling. We prefer this to the alternative (widening the main road to include a bus lane) and have suggested that buses from the villages beyond Fulbourn (route 45 etc.) could usefully use this route to the City Centre too. We've also taken the opportunity to suggest that the site should be served not by dedicated park & ride buses but by an upgraded conventional service on the Sawston and Haverhill corridors -- but their consultation seems to be limited to infrastructure as opposed to services.
We attended the first of a series of meetings organised to discuss the Fenland Waterways Regeneration Strategy. This was at Ely, and issues raised include ideas for an Ely based trip boat (which could usefully provide access to the Prickwillow museum and Stretham Old Engine). Further meetings are planned at March, Downham Market and Boston.
The new footbridge over the Ouse at its confluence with the Cam was officially opened on Sat 1 Aug.
Here are some corrections for mis-statements in the last newsletter and previous issues. The first two are our fault but the rest are due because information given to us was incomplete or inaccurate.
The withdrawal of service 435 has not left Wennington and Little Raveley entirely without buses, as some time ago the 431 was rerouted to serve these villages.
The ``regularisation'' of the WAGN train service to Peterborough happened some time ago and was not one of the improvements in the May 1998 timetable.
The Spaldwick primary school buses are still available to the general public (routes 834 and 835 operated by Whippet).
Cambs CC is still producing local area timetables; issues for West Hunts, Wisbech and Cambridge S/SW have appeared since our last newsletter, in addition to Peterborough Rural (which appeared in March), the Sunday booklet, and the county-wide map (which includes Peterborough).
The Norfolk Sunday network does include a summer service from Downham Market (10.00) to Hunstanton. As last year this provides the earliest arrival at Hunstanton, so get off the 08.54 train ex Cambridge at Downham Market, not Kings Lynn, and walk to the bus station; at Hunstanton there's a connection ``round the coast'' to Sheringham and Cromer. Also running are buses from Norwich to Wroxham (route 5) and North Walsham (route 8) which look like all year services. Sunday Rovers are still valid on the Bittern Line which links all the above towns in East Norfolk.
The Southern Vectis timetable for Norfolk and Suffolk will not be available till the end of September.
It is possible to get to Orford for a long day trip, but only on Thurs during the school holidays, when the 09.06 Woodbridge to Orford (route 106) starts at Ipswich bus station at 08.40. Boat trips available from Orford include Orfordness (01394 450057), Havergate Island (01728 648281), and cruises round the island (1 hour 01394 450844, 4 hours 0831 698298). Last return from Orford is the 18.22 bus to Snape Maltings (route 122) which connects with a bus to Ipswich at 19.07 (route 124). Buy return to Melton (same price as Ipswich) and catch 08.12 train from Ipswich if possible (19.49 return). Don't arrive bus stops too close to departure time.
And Guide Friday's villages tour from Bourton on the Water does not serve the Swells, only the Slaughters, which means it is not as good value for money as we thought. If you want to go, pick a good day as the vehicle used is an open top single decker !
Due to last year's axing of Travel Times we can no longer provide definitive information, but here is what we know (excluding what's already been stated, here or in the last newsletter).
United Counties has made major changes to its Bedford area Coachlinks network. The X3 no longer runs to Northampton, nor the X1 and X2 to Luton. Alternate X3 journeys terminate at Eaton Socon with onward connections by X1. There is now an hourly service between Peterborough and Huntingdon continuing alternately to Cambridge (X51) and Bedford (X1). The stopping patterns on routes X1, X3 and X51 have been harmonised with new stops at Histon Road Corner (Cambridge), Yaxley Crossroads, and Peterborough District Hospital, but Sawtry Royal Oak is no longer served (not surprisingly as the area is now covered by motorway works, and won't be accessible to express services at all when the motorway opens). Bedford now has no buses to Heathrow Airport or off-peak to London, but the rest of its network is mostly intact and there is still through ticketing for journeys such as Cambridge to Northampton or Luton.
The North Beds based ``Villager'' community bus now serves some W Hunts villages occasionally. To be precise, on the 3rd Friday of the month, there's a route from N Beds villages to Kimbolton, and on the 4th Monday, there's a route from N Beds villages plus Tilbrook, Kimbolton, Stonely, Staughton, Dillington, Perry, Grafham and Ellington to Huntingdon and St Ives. Booking is recommended unless travelling on the morning outward journey towards St Ives -- ring the Beds CC enquiry line on 01234 228337.
The St Neots postbus now uses a different route on Tuesdays, serving Covington, Tilbrook, Perry and Dillington instead of the Spaldwick/Catworth circuit.
The Croft Carrier was withdrawn in March. A replacement for the Friday service to Downham Market has been introduced, running from Wisbech at 09.15 and Downham Market at 12.15 via Christchurch and Welney. There is, however, no replacement for the Wednesday and Saturday buses to Peterborough and March (or for the 361 which partly duplicated the former).
Minor changes have been made to buses between Wisbech and Kings Lynn on routes 46/46A and 63/63A, in addition to the changes to the X94 and new route X56 as mentioned in our last newsletter.
Minor changes have been made to routes 42 (Royston-Saffron Walden), 90/1 (Hitchin-Morden), which no longer serves Bassingbourn, and 139 (Sawston area to Royston). New route 34 runs on Fridays from Standon to Cambridge.
Until end Aug there's a free bus from Cambridge to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, leaving the Holiday Inn in Downing St at 10.30 or 12.00, the station 25 minutes later, and returning at 16.00 or 18.00.
On Sundays route 640 to Clacton, which in previous seasons has duplicated the 200 on the Cambridge to Newmarket section, now serves Histon, Lode, the Swaffhams, Burwell and Exning instead. Connections to/from the 200 at Newmarket enable travel from these villages to Yarmouth, or from St Ives, Fenstanton, Bar Hill, Cambridge and Bottisham to Clacton. (Both routes connect for Southwold and Lowestoft, see below.) Also, all journeys from Ely on route 156 to Ipswich have been withdrawn except the first out and last back (which provide the day out facility to Felixstowe).
Changes impending at the time of writing: introduction of a Sunday service on routes X55/6 (Cambridge to Peterborough or Kings Lynn) and other changes on 9 Aug; withdrawal of Cambus 11 (Cambridge-Hilton) from 10 Aug; and changes (including renumbering) to the Huntingdon & District network on 17 Aug, with more buses between Huntingdon, St Ives and Cambridge including an evening service. Whippet are also making changes. Further details are awaited.
Here is a summary of changes since last year. Services are listed by the county that primarily supports them.
Cambs: 337 withdrawn, minor changes to X5 and 104. New routes X55/6 (see above).
Suffolk: New route for 640 and cuts to 156 (see above). However, service levels are maintained east of Mildenhall, though some buses are renumbered 757. The Colchester to Lowestoft route 166/7 has also been severely cut, and now runs in three sections (Colchester-Ipswich, 3 journeys; Ipswich-Saxmundham serving Aldeburgh and Framlingham; and Halesworth-Lowestoft via Southwold). Sunday Rovers are now valid on trains between Saxmundham and Beccles, but connections for through journeys are poor and there are no services to Dunwich or RSPB Minsmere. The 649 (Haverhill-Lowestoft) still provides facilities from Cambs to Southwold and Lowestoft, connecting with 38 (from Cambridge and Linton) at Haverhill, 640 at Bury, and 200 at Diss. The Felixstowe service only serves the docks 2 hourly and the stop is some distance from Landguard Fort, served by the ferry to Harwich and Shotley.
Norfolk: The Diss-Norwich service has been withdrawn, but the rest of the network is mostly intact.
Essex: Several routes have been split up with sections renumbered, but the network is mostly intact. Sunday Rovers are now valid on Great Eastern (not Anglia) trains between Colchester and Manningtree, Harwich, Clacton and Walton. Access from Cambridge is by using route 38 (08.00 return 21.50) and changing either at Radwinter (connection leaves 09.00, returns 20.52; serves Thaxted, Finchingfield and Braintree with connections or through running to Witham, Maldon, Burnham on Crouch and Colchester) or at Haverhill (connection leaves 09.21, returns 20.26, serves Clare, Long Melford, Sudbury and Colchester with connections to Maldon, Clacton, Walton and Harwich).
Beds: Route 61 (Luton-Aylesbury) curtailed at Edlesborough but otherwise little change.
Herts: Little change.
Bucks: Severe cuts, but tickets are still valid on trains between Denham, Moor Park, Watford, Chesham, Aylesbury and Haddenham.
Northants: Saunterbus runs by a variety of routes till the end of September, for details see last newsletter.
Oxon: The Ridgeway Explorer has been split into two sections, from Reading and Swindon connecting at Wantage (also with routes 31/32 to/from Oxford and Didcot). The service is now 3 hourly with 4 journeys each way, the first leaving Reading or Swindon at 08.40.
As in previous years the Norfolk Coastliner also runs till end Sept on Tues-Fris covering the coast and Broads between Kings Lynn and Yarmouth. But an all-year service is planned Mons-Fris from the beginning of the school term, opening up new opportunities for winter days out.
All Sunday services in this section run on Bank Holiday Monday 31 Aug.
There are several routes in Kent and East Sussex. From Sevenoaks buses run to National Trust properties at Chartwell, Ide Hill and Emmetts Garden (till end Aug plus 5-6 Sept, not Mons or Tues, first departure 10.25). There are also buses to Knole House, believed to be Weds-Sats, though this is not too far to walk. Tunbridge Wells (Fris-Suns till end Sept) has buses to Bayham Abbey, Bewl Water (boat trips and ferry available), Scotney Garden and (Sundays only) the Finchcocks Music Museum, first departure 10.40 (Sundays 11.10). In Sussex open top buses run (daily in Aug, Suns in Sept) from Brighton and Hove to the Devil's Dyke, and there's a hourly coastal service (Suns till end Sept) from Brighton to Eastbourne via Birling Gap and Beachy Head. The Seven Sisters Country Park is also served by an hourly bus from Berwick station (connecting with London trains), out via Alfriston and back via Wilmington Long Man, and also runs on Sats (last day of operation Sun 13 Sept).
Our last newsletter mentioned services in Hereford & Worcester (which are now two separate administrative areas): the North Worcs Wanderer (linking Kidderminster, Stourbridge and Barnt Green, till 20 Sept); the Malvern Hills Hopper (Gt Malvern to Ledbury, outward via West Malvern and Eastnor Castle, till end Aug); the Wye Valley Wanderer (Pershore to Chepstow, till end Sept); and the main route between Birmingham, Kidderminster, Bewdley, Ludlow and Hereford (all year). These have now been joined by a 3 hourly all-year service between Kidderminster and Worcester via Bewdley, Stourport, Hartlebury, Ombersley and Holt Heath. There is a Sunday Rover ticket valid on all these and other services in the area, though not the Cotswold routes Evesham-Moreton in Marsh and Stratford-Bourton in the Water mentioned in the last newsletter.
Two noteworthy routes in Derbyshire are the Bolsover Heritage Bus linking Worksop, Whaley Thorns Heritage Centre, Bolsover Castle, Stainsby Mill and Hardwick Hall on Sundays till end Aug; and a Sunday and weekday evening service from Sheffield to the Peak District via Hooks Car, supported partly by the British Mountaineering Council (!).
Here is an update on summer services in Northern England, outlined in our last newsletter. In Nidderdale, Middlesmoor and Kirkby Malzeard are served on Suns till end Sept; the Ennerdale Rambler (between Buttermere and Ennerdale) is running (Sats and Suns till end Aug); and there are new routes between Garsdale and Aysgarth (daily till 28 Sept), and to attractions around Ripon (Tues to Suns till end Sept). Ripon has daily buses from Leeds. There's a school service between Carlisle and Brampton via the Roman fort at Bewcastle, and the Roman Wall bus between Carlisle and Hexham (daily to 27 Sept) partly compensates for the loss of direct journeys referred to earlier.
In South Devon a bus serves the coast between Kingsbridge and Salcombe (both to the west and east) daily in Aug then weekends till 26 Sept.
Moving to Wales, on Suns till 13 Sept there's a network of services connecting at Brecon from Hereford, Abergavenny, Cardiff and Swansea. The last is by far the most interesting, running via the Vale of Neath, Ystradfellte and the Mountain Centre at Libanus.
In Scotland the Harrier service runs till 25 Sept in the Borders, serving Moffat on Mons and Thurs and Berwick and Eyemouth on Tues and Fris. The Friday route is the most interesting; one travels, via the Pennine Way terminus at Yetholm, north from Scotland to England (or south in reverse), and the afternoon journey is believed to interwork with a school bus that terminates back in England at Longtown, where there are connections to Carlisle. Further west, interesting (weekdays, all year) routes serve Samye Ling, a Tibetan monestary near Eskdalemuir, from Langholm or Lockerbie; and Wanlockhead and Leadhills from Sanquhar or Biggar. And from Inverness daily buses (till 4 Oct) tour the North-West Highlands as far as Durness (connecting for Thurso on weekdays till 29 Aug) and Gairloch. This area is also served all year by numerous postbuses.
One item of bad news: the previously all year Sunday service between Alton and Portsmouth has been withdrawn. We suspect that poor connections at Alton are partly responsible.
We mention three day out facilities on buses in our region. The United Counties Explorer is, as stated last time, valid on services operated by Stagecoach subsidiaries Cambus, Viscount and Midland Red, plus Arriva subsidiaries Shires and Fox (formerly Luton & District and Midland Fox), plus Huntingdon & District. Explorers by these operators are valid on United Counties, but information on other inter-availability is sparse. Tickets are available all day, and there is a special bargain for families not travelling before 09.00 on Mons to Fris.
The First Ranger is valid on all services operated by Firstbus subsidiaries Eastern Counties, Yarmouth Blue, Eastern National and Thamesway. This network enters Cambs at Peterborough and Wisbech (X94 to Norwich and Yarmouth) and near Newmarket (200 to Mildenhall and Thetford plus sparse local service to Bury). Other ``gateways'' for Cambs people are Kings Lynn, Haverhill, Bury, Downham Market, Saffron Walden, Stansted Airport and Bps Stortford.
The Diamond Rover is valid on Arriva subsidiaries round London (including The Shires and Herts & Essex, formerly County Bus) plus Sovereign. Gateways from Cambs include Royston, Baldock, Hitchin, Saffron Walden, Stansted Airport and Bps Stortford.
Don't use any of these on Sundays when the Sunday Rover is available.
Now for information. Those with access to the Internet may visit the new Austin Analytics public transport information site. From there one can access journey planners and timetables for all services in Suffolk, Lincs, Herts, Bucks, S/W Yorks, Lancs and Cumbria (also Beds, though its information isn't properly updated); plus journey planners for the rail and National Express networks and summaries of weekend engineering work. Cambs has not yet joined the system, but one can email email@example.com for information.
We are glad to report that Suffolk will be covered not only by the Southern Vectis Suffolk/Norfolk timetable but also by a set of area booklets. In the area surrounding Cambs this will leave only Beds, Norfolk and Leics/Rutland uncovered. New booklets for Herts should be available in September. These timetables, and those covering many other parts of Britain, should be available in Cambridge reference library and/or Bishopsgate library, opposite Liverpool St station.
Not much this time, but the Addenbrookes and Leisure Centre petitions are still active and likely to be so for some time to come. so ignore the closing date at the bottom of the copies we sent out with the last newsletter. For more copies of the petition form contact Elizabeth Arndt (01223 570884). And we would still like feedback on our bus proposals.
And some light relief... We couldn't resist asking for permission to reproduce a song by Ian Birchall (which may be especially topical in the weather as we write) which won a prize in a New Statesman Competition (reported 24 April). No prizes for guessing either the theme of the competition or the tune !
When global warming first began we basked beneath the Sun's bright beam,
But soon to water ice-caps ran, and thus diverted our Gulf Stream.
Cool Britannia, Britannia paid the price, Britain's always, always, always clad in ice.
To travel now is wholly vain, across the land we cannot go,
We're trapped within a Virgin train, held fast by the wrong sort of snow.
Cool Britannia, Britannia paid the price, Britain's always, always, always clad in ice.