Blunder Bus

Good morning? …

TrawsCymru Optare Tempo bus
Duty Awaits: YJ06YRZ, one of three vehicles painted in TrawsCymru livery some time ago for the T5 service that has only just appeared.
Not really. Today (5th Jan 2015) sees the launch of the TrawsCymru T5 service between Aberystwyth and Haverfordwest, replacing a number of existing services. There are two good things about this service:

  1. Richards Bros has the contract
  2. The need to change bus in Cardigan is reduced

There are, however, also alot of bad points:

  1. The application of ‘T5’ number covers six different geographical routes
  2. The residual ‘X50’ local service the T5 leaves behind also covers several geographical routes, which are also confused with the 552 and 554 local services
  3. The route contains many major detours from the direct route between Aberystwyth, Cardigan and Haverfordwest, which are likely to impact on the brand image of the TrawsCymru network
  4. Despite all the detours, including operating via Fishguard, the service fails to serve Fishguard Harbour railway station for connections with Cardigan’s nearest rail service
  5. A number of timetable niggles, of varying degrees of anti-logic, have not be ironed out from the old services, and one or two new ones have been introduced
  6. New, shorter, buses are expected to be introduced in a few months time, despite the existing fleet having been repainted into TrawsCymru livery at unknown expense

Bus service logos on bus stop
Transformation: the TrawsCambria X50 logo and the TrawsCymru T5 timetable that replaces it
Each of these points probably deserve a post of their own, and I intend to do just that. How long it will take me to complete all that is another question.

Update: as promised, I have started detailing the issues listed above in their own blog posts. The series is as follows:

  1. Blanket service numbers are covered in a series of articles:
  2. This is really the same issue as item 1. above, and is covered in the same series of posts
  3. The issue of detours is covered in Cloudy, With Heavy Detours
  4. Blinded By Tradition? suggests how (and why) the T5 could and should serve Fishguard Harbour
  5. Patience Is A Virtue; Good Things (will hopefully) Come To Those Who Wait (eventually)
  6. The Fallacy Of Novelty took a rather tangential look at new vehicles that are lower-quality than the ones they replace; it wasn’t what I initially intended to write about the new fleet though

LLAnBranches – Going West?

Class 150 approaching Whitland from the Pembroke Dock branch
Sprinter To Swansea: A class 150 about to leave the Pembroke Dock branch and join the main line to Swansea
I am part way through the January 2015 issue of ‘Modern Railways’. On page 14, there is a piece hailing the success of Community Rail Partnerships. Over six years (2006/07 to 2012/13) they report an overall patronage growth across the regional passenger sector of the UK rail network of 23%. Within that though, the use of lines supported by Community Rail Partnerships grew by 45%. Further growth on many of the lines is apparently now being hampered by the national shortage of DMU stock.

Flags and flowers at Fishguard & Goodwick station
Community Involvement: Flags and Flowers at Fishguard & Goodwick station
It is a shame then that one of Wales’ Community Rail Partnerships, the one covering the Pembrokeshire branches (including, if I recall correctly, the line from Swansea to Carmarthen) appears to have become defunct. It was called ‘All Points West’, but I noticed some time ago that their website URL now pointed to something totally irrelevant. Arriva Trains Wales’ website still mentions ‘All Points West’ but they have since removed the hyperlink when they learned that the ‘All Points West’ site was gone. They obviously had no money for web hosting, and I don’t think they exist any more at all. They were, if I recall correctly, either part of or supported by SWWITCH, the South West Wales Integrated Transport Consortium. SWWITCH itself now appears to have gone the way of the dodo. There now doesn’t seem to be any single co-ordinated body promoting the rail network in the bottom left-hand corner of Wales, just a handful of independent, mostly informal, groups.

Class 150 unloads passengers at Fishguard & Goodwick
Local Traffic: Passengers alight from a class 150 at Fishguard & Goodwick station
In terms of promotion, as I remarked in one of my ‘Trains For Fishguard’ videos, it is a shame that the lines do not have a marketing name. Another of Wales’ Community Rail Partnerships is a great example of the opposite end of the scale: ‘The Heart Of Wales Line’. That has to be one of the best marketing names out there, but south-west Wales has nothing.

The best idea I’ve come up so far is to resurrect ‘All Points West’ as ‘LLAnBranches CRP’, the Landsker Line And Branches Community Rail Partnership. A bit of a mouthful, but the main route from Llanelli through to Clarbeston Road could be simply the ‘Landsker Line’ as it roughly follows the boundary between the areas where Welsh is spoken more (north of the line) or less (south of the line).

Flowers decorating the platform at Fishguard & Goodwick
Platform Plants: decoration at Fishguard & Goodwick
Perhaps trying to bring about the ‘LLAnBranches CRP’ is something to add to my already stupidly long to-do list for 2015. I’m REALLY slow, so I might need 100 of me to get all my work done. In other words, it is unlikely I will get round to doing anything about it. Still, at least I’ve managed a blog post to start the new year, and it wasn’t even the rant about the new TrawsCymru T5 service I’d expected to post, so that is still to come. I hope 2015 will be a happy year for you, me and the rest of life on earth.