First of all just to reaffirm that the strike planned for Monday 10th October on Ipswich Buses has been cancelled. Agreement has been reached, however, there will still be some services operated by Suffolk County Council - the 111/173/174 - so some odd workings will still be in evidence. Thanks to all those who commented and updated the previous post - welcome back Smurf!
Now to today's topic. Who can forget this line up at Caister Rd a couple of years ago
This line up was arranged for us in December 2014, and shows the afternoon run out for Bernard Matthews, which is obviously at its peak in November and December. The revenue helps maintain several of the lesser used services in Yarmouth and Lowestoft. However, as you may know Bernard Matthews ha recently been sold to the Two Sisters Group. What isn't so widely known is that BM was in administration before being sold, and only the business was sold, not the debts. This mean many local businesses are going to lose out. It has also been revealed that currently the two BM plants are operating at very low capacity, with only a skeleton workforce needed. The ripple effect of this could be on a tsunami scale
This is worrying. At this time of year the factories should be buzzing with pre Christmas production. Many buses should be needed to ferry the workers to and from the sites. The fact it's not could have serious repercussions for the travelling public of the region. My investigations have discovered that First were paid just before BM went into administration so it's not the fact they are owed much, but the demand for buses is so low for the time of year. Without this revenue First could be forced to axe services in Yarmouth and Lowestoft and who knows where else to spread the cost. We all need to keep fingers crossed that Two Sisters realise Christmas is coming and the great British public will be wanting their traditional fayre. If they don't this Christmas could prove to be a right turkey lasting far longer than the sandwiches do.
It is officially leaf fall season, where the trees of the land take revenge on everyone and aim their tired leaves directly onto the rail network, forming mulch that even the most costly of new trains can't handle. And so Network Rail's fleet of Rail Head Treatment Trains can be seen at all hours of day and night, mainly night, spraying the rails with anti leaf antifreeze materials as well as blasting the mulch from the line. In the past the class 20's and 57's have been used for this task, but this year looks a little more mundane. Ubiquitous Class 66 "Sheds" have been spotted, all be they rarer DRS examples, but intriguingly a couple of extra Class 68's have been seen at Norwich this weekend. There isn't a 66 in the world that would force me out of bed in the dead of night to picture them doing RHTT work, but a couple of 68's might just do that, so watch this space. UPDATE: it seems 68's won't be operating RHTT trains but 37's might, and you all know about my love of 37's.....
One little piece of trivia - I was at Southwold on Friday when something rather unusual honed into view. What had escaped everyone's radar is that First Lowestoft currently have on loan Ipswich B7rle 66850. According to the extremely friendly and jovial Lowestoft driver (yes I know what you're thinking) it had been there over a week. No idea how long it's there for but it would appear the Lowestoft drivers are getting rather bored of being asked if they're going to Ipswich!
|First Ipswich 66850 at Southwold on the 99 to Lowestoft|
And that is about it, a really slow news week. Hopefully this week will be a bit more newsworthy. Take care everyone.
Just to add that First Ipswich have had a Lowestoft Enviro here so probably a straight swap as happened 2 or 3 months back.ReplyDelete
66850 was back at Ipswich yesterday. Enviro 44518 was here in Ipswich all week in it's place, to cover a lack of serviceable "short" Enviros for 70/70A/72 etc. 66850 is usually the bus to be sent to Lowestoft whenever there is an Enviro shortage in Ipswich.ReplyDelete
*45118 (ST09JPT) that should read.ReplyDelete
Thanks guys for that. Those short Enviros really are proving to be a pain, but a logical explanation. Looks like i caught 66850 just in time.Delete
On the foodie theme, I wonder if a few other operators are salivating at the prospect of the re-tendering of the BM works services? Hopefully a foodie business rather than a venture fund might have a better idea of how to package the product, as distinct from the finances? We need the jobs. (Though I'm of the school that thinks processed meat is passé). I can't think of a connection with leaves (well, apart from the salad variety, not normally found on railway tracks - though come to think of it that was probably the right place for the old BR sandwich), but hopefully a dry, still-ish and mild autumn will help to save us from the usual mayhem as much as anything. Nature to the rescue. Touch wood. Foodie and leaf connections: wow! If only it were so easy to make the buses connect.ReplyDelete
To be honest can't think of anyone else in the region with the flexible resources to take on someone like BM who can require anything from 3 - 15 buses a day. With drivers at a premium no one can afford to have 10 or so drivers sitting around in case they're needed.Delete
As for leaves - far worse on the branch lines you know - I've seen myself what chaos they cause, and will never forget gracefully gliding through Penshurst Station in Kent at a sedate but deathly silent 15mph where the wheels had simply lost contact with the rails and were effectively aquaplaning on a film of grease left by leaf mulch.We finished half a mile up the line and had to very gently reverse back to pick up the bemused but understanding passengers. I was able to educate quite a few people that day that if it still looks like a leaf all is good. If it's a black, oily paste on the line then we have problems.
Accident report on train failing to stop due to leaves on the line: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/411020/111117_R182011_Stonegate.pdfDelete
What a very long winded way of saying it was slippery and the train had no sand! Interesting to see the Electrostars have a braking system designed to mirror the recommended braking of a car or bus in slippery conditions - ie if the wheels lock then release the brake and try again. Seems obvious though that you feather the brakes to begin with, so step one would seem obvious to effectively discourage wheel lock.Delete
Although part of Southeasern the Tonbridge - Hastings line was the one line I never worked in my time there, although I did work the unit concerned. However, having had many breaks at Tonbridge I was frequently told by Tonbridge train crew how bad conditions could get on that line, so it was no real surprise to hear about that incident when it happened. It is a very troublesome stretch of line.
Many thanks for posting that, Andrew, very interesting reading particularly knowing the area and the units so well.
The report does say a little bit more than that - in particular the reasons for the sandboxes not having been filled and the procedures that needed to be put into place to make sure they are in future.Delete
There was a IB Omnicity on the 173 this evening at 5.45 (Martlesham Tesco)ReplyDelete
Yes it was tweeted earlier in the day that IB would operate that journey.Delete
The way large bus companies work are you sure the profits from Bernie's Buses were used to provide local low use services . Recently First said use it or lose it on their Southwold service . PLEASE at it's best !ReplyDelete
In a word yes. You won't get Manchester subsidising Lowestoft for example. That hasn't happened since NBC days. If anything affects profit adversely it gets axed. So if Bernies does fall flat you can look at routes like the 4 and 5 in Yarmouth, and some of the Lowestoft Town routes as being at risk.Delete
Not sure that GMT ever subsidised another part of the country!! I'd have thought that Bernies (and their staff) aren't inclined to be generous either, especially now, they'd want to save money not spend it!Delete
I wonder if the hoped-for income growth is in multi-journey E-tickets? Though when I used them over the last year, no-one else seemed to? Though admittedly Iwasn't traveling (well, at least not knowingly) with paying students, who seem to be flavour of the month. And given the reliability of the phone . . . though maybe that's another money-making opportunity for the companies! At least Arriva's CS came good quickly though when the ticket decided to vanish into thin air en route.