Wednesday 12 December 2018

The Need To Know.

That title is unashamedly pinched from the utterly brilliant Yes, Minister, which is still as relevant today as it was 35 years ago, except with fewer mobile phones. However, the premise is still the same, in that the public are only told what the powers at be think we need to know, rather than what we have the right to know.

In no area is this more blatant than our railways. Passengers are kept in the dark about everything from where profits go to, to what causes points to fail. Fares rise year in year out, and the same promises are made year in year out, that the rises are needed to fund investment. Yet nothing ever seems to improve, and, this year in particular, services in some areas have declined to a level so unacceptable it's a miracle civil war hasn't broken out.

Two years ago I wrote a post on Driver Only Operations - see here - and nothing has changed. The public want guards, the RMT members have sacrificed thousands striking to protect the role of the guard, yet the stalemate exists. And still no one from within the rail industry has stepped into the spotlight to explain to everyone WHY they want to take guards off trains. Obviously it's to save money but no one has the guts to admit it. It's because they don't think we need to know.

One of my greatest triumphs as a guard was seeing the penny drop in a passenger's eyes when I pointed out to her that leaves on the line look a lot different to leaves on the tree. A black, oily difference to be precise. That was 19 years ago. What has happened since? There is still mocking derision at the leaves on the line excuse as there was then. Yes, various operators and Network Rail have put out videos trying to explain, but the people who need to understand aren't the people watching Network Rail videos.

The media are a joke. Mainstream media are so happy to bash the rail industry they will print anything, true or not, in order to make headlines. The Woodland Trust ignore pictures of trains hitting fallen trees which could have killed drivers to bleat on about Network Rail clearing lineside trees as an affront to society. The rail media are so far up the industry's backside the day they come out on the side of the passenger will be the day there isn't a single signal failure anywhere in the UK, so who does the passenger complain to? Where is their voice? Who is actually there for them, explaining things so they understand?

If you want a job from Hell take a job on the Twitter feed of a train operator. Those poor sods get it in the neck morning, noon and night and my heart goes out to them. They have a list of stock responses they have to use, most of the time are obviously not privy to relevant information themselves, yet are the first port of call for the passengers' ire and frustration, quite often abusively. It's not their fault a train has stopped in the middle of nowhere, but they are the only outlet to vent frustration, especially if the only on board member of staff is the driver.

So how can this long standing status quo be altered? What can be done to help and educate the passenger at the same time? How can the same passenger be told what they have the right to know rather than what others decide they need to know. As Sir Humphrey would have said "If you start telling people what they want to know, rather than what they need to know, then they'll know, and start asking awkward questions we don't know the answers to."

The industry doesn't help itself. Take fares, for example. They are so damned complicated Einstein would have been confused. To give you an example I was given only this week. A friend of mine was at Ebbsfleet International station, wanting an off peak return to London, going out one afternoon and returning the next. Can't be done - an off peak return has to be the same day, so two singles totalling £36 was the cheapest option. Except it wasn't. The helpful ticket clerk realised that if you go in and out of London off peak returns become Anytime returns which are valid for a month, so sold my friend an Anytime return to East Grinstead for £24.60. It is examples such as that which drive customers crazy, yet nothing is ever done.

So a voice is needed which takes the side of the passenger, explains things they ought to know, have the right to know, and holds the right people to account. I suggested to the Association of British Commuters earlier in the year that a publication was needed to do just that, which would be read by as many passengers as possible. A weekly or fortnightly paper, given out free at stations, like the Metro or Evening Standard, that was on the side of the commuter, yet dispelled a few myths, published good stories about the railways too, but above all told the truth. I suspect advertisers would fall over themselves to be seen in such a publication, and there would need to be regional variants in time. It would also force the industry to be more transparent and honest. If tocs saw thousands of copies of "The Commuter" being recycled from their trains every week or two it might make them realise that the passengers now knew what they didn't want them to know and that meant acts had to be got together, and fobbing off was no longer viable.

So my plea to the Association of British Commuters is this. You are doing an amazing job in highlighting what you do, but a publication would reach millions more, and force people to give answers and improve things. We've seen in France recently what can happen if the public pull together. The railway passengers cannot pull together unless they know what they are pulling together over, and to do that they need to know what currently they don't know! I want to be a part of this, and I have no doubt whatsoever it would be a winner, particularly for the poor passenger, who is still in the dark because what they think they know is only what others think they need to know, not actually what they need to know, or indeed have the right to know. Know what I mean?


  1. Isn't it a problem with every utility/things we used to call "public services, including the NHS, education, the roads and, yes, the buses too? I suspect that a lot of it is, for good or ill, people fearing for their jobs (the same is true in France) if they "step out of line" i.e. go out of their way to help the customer, or tell the truth rather than what someone further up wants to hear. We all do it.

    I fondly remember the story of an old US store that when the fad for staff handbooks came in, produced their version with a single sheet of paper that read "in all things use your own best judgement". Compare that with any of the current ones produced by our employers. They wouldn't dare, and neither, usually, would their staff! But if we did, how many of us would lose our (useless) jobs? There's the rub. Name me any current controversy that isn't about someone looking after their rear end?

    1. There isn't so the trend has to stop somewhere. This can be the start.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. The return from Ebbsfleet to East Grinstead is still an Off-Peak return not Anytime. The problem with Ebbsfleet to London is that only an Off-Peak DAY return is available.

    1. Oh heck I understood it when it was Standard Returns, Cheap Day Returns, Savers, Supersavers, Network Away breaks. Now even I'm confused so what chance has Joe Public got. My friend has worked in public transport all his life, commuted for some of them so is no mug either!

      Thanks for pointing that out, Rob.

  4. The problem with the guards dispute is that the industry don't want to remove the second staff member from the trains (they may want to move door control, or at least opening, to the driver to speed things up but they know passengers want the second staff member and don't want to remove them) so can't make a good case. In most cases the drive for this is from the DfT (for instance on Southern and here a DfT official said publicly that they expected and were even looking for a fight with the RMT over it several months before that dispute happened), who won't admit they have any involvement with rail operations, with the problem made worse by a Union pre-empting any discussions with a strike and/or not picking their fights. On MerseyRail the proposal to move to driver controlled doors is at the suggestion/instruction of the Railway Inspectorate (the Accident Investigation authority for railways) following a fatality where a passenger got trapped by a train and died at one of the underground stations (and the guard went to prison for manslaughter) as it is easier in this circumstance to give drivers equipment to see the length of the train than a guard that moves around the unit. On Anglian & Northern the DfT contract required an investigation into the possibility of introducing driver controlled doors (but unlike Southern doesn't actually require it to happen) whilst on South West Trains the Union have a legal agreement that it can't happen without their agreement and yet the Union are still striking. The problem is the RMT is demanding guarantees from the TOCs that go beyond the term of contract they hold which they can't give as such decisions are essentially at the power of the DfT. Somehow, and here the complete lack of any knowledge by mainstream media outlets Transport Correspondents, the RMT is getting away without having to explain why a strike (or at least so many) is needed when no change is proposed and the DfT is getting away with not explaining why they are pushing so hard for something passengers don't want and why they aren't getting involved in resolving the disagreement as they are the only ones with the power to make the agreements the RMT want.

    1. The trouble is that when we refer to the DfT, the Union, or even TOCs they sound like inanimate things, so it gives "their" decisions a sense of inevitability, if not infallibility. You can't argue with a machine after all, can you?

      Actually those "things" are human beings, under the same pressures and with the same faults as all the rest of us. So a DfT oficer or TOC manager wants to please their overlord (whoever that may be) and gets no kudos for telling them what they do not want to hear, and their job is even more vulnerable. It's just that we know about the jobs that we see, the station, on-train and bus drivers, but not about the ones we don't. As one of the first things I learnt from my first infant comic was how the message gets subtly altered the more it gets passed from one person to another. We "anticipate" the message, as much as interpret it. And in the words of a 1960s American psychologist "Games People Play". They wrote a entire book of about it.

      I used to write outsourcing contracts. If the measure was a successful business (but of course that, or even the customers, weren't uppermost in our minds) not one of them worked; it was like plugging my leaky garden hose. As in the rest of life simple solutions work best, but we always end up layering complexity, even until we lose the plot.

      Once, for an experiment I tried stripping out the complexity, and the result was simple and predictable; none of my colleagues were having any truck with any of it! We all know the theory: focus on outcomes, not processes. But our brains don't work in that way. Just try it. It's like that magical place at the end of the rainbow.

    2. I'm sure the RMT know very well their argument is with the DfT, but to call a strike over that would be unlawful. They're not stupid either.

      The Dft (or DoT, its predecessor was known) was known as "penny wise and pound foolish" when I first started work in the 1970s. Some things don't change. The hand of the Treasury ever looms large over a big spending department. And Beeching was a chastening experience.

      Why isn't safety left to the Railway Inspectorate, the industry's expert safety body? What a stupid question! He who pays the piper (the least) calls the tune. (Not the customers, then).

  5. There are no plans to take guards off of the trains. All the trains will normally still have a guard but the driver will be responsible fore the opening and closing of the train doors. In expectational circumstances when a guard is not available then the train can operate without a guard

    1. Incorrect. A guard is safety critical trained. The On Board Supervisor isn't, which is why trains can run without them. In an emergency they are as good as useless. The RMT is insisting that the second person on board is safety critically trained, so if the unthinkable rather than the norm happens they know what to do. This is the sticking point. It has very little to do with who closes the doors

    2. The second person on the train is trained. The only difference is they will no longer be responsible for opening and closing the doors and will be focussed on customer care and safety

    3. Trained in what, precisely?

  6. Go East Anglia "We will be investing in approximately 10 new buses within the next 12 months to help bring our average fleet age down. These will be a mix of single and double decker buses. This would be our first investment in new buses since 2015."

    1. Will they have enough routes left for 10 new buses?

    2. And how can it be 'approximately 10'. Either it's 10 or it's not!!

    3. Obviously they haven't finalised the plans! Do you find faults with everything about them?

    4. Don't bother anon, he's not worth it. There's much better blogs out there with less bias people.

    5. Then read them, then, and stay away from here. Then we'll all be happy!

      And right now even Go Ahead HQ have admitted they have made an almighty balls up with East Anglia. I know further routes are being dropped next year, so yes - until something physically positive happens I will be sceptical and critical. If you think anything I say is false or libellous feel free to meet me in Court.

    6. Like which routes? 85? Who's told you that GA HQ have said there's been a balls up? A driver?

    7. Sorry, I don't publish news that's not official yet, and certainly don't reveal sources. But before you start suspecting everyone at Dereham it wasn't a driver

    8. And they have already thrown the 85 in - Our Bus are taking it over.

    9. Maybe it is the first green shoots of recovery? Yes, I am an optimist. No company invests in something that doesn't have a future. East Anglia needs bus companies that invest in the area. Go Ahead groups' profitability means at least they can afford it.

      I'm afraid that whilst, on the present evidence, I see no evidence of any medium or long-term future for their main competitor in this area other than terminal decline, I will welcome such investment wherever it comes from.

      What are First's announced investment plans for this area? In case I missed them. Nationally FirstBus have a big, acknowledged problem: when one area improves profitablity, it is cancelled out by declining profitability in another. Without profits (or public subsidy as in the Mets, perhaps, and where is that coming from in Suffolk, Norfolk or Essex?) there is no investment.

    10. Certainly the X1 Enviros are being replaced. They will, in turn replace the B9's on the X2, which will go to Norwich to replace some of the remaining Presidents.

      As for anywhere else I don't know. Norfolk and Suffolk is making money, and being noticed by HQ, whereas Essex isn't and seems to lack direction.

      Nothing can happen at Ipswich 7ntil the depot situation is sorted and the amount of vandalism at Great Yarmouth doesn't exactly encourage the company to send new vehicles there.

      With places like Leeds declaring themselves a Euro 6 zone it will inevitably mean new buses go there and older vehicles cascaded elsewhere.

      But to be honest any bus is better than no bus these days.

    11. That's good to hear, as long as it happens! As good as your conversion to realism on our prospects!

      The problem as I see it for Go-Ahead Anglia is that playing second fiddle in an area like Norwich (or even Essex) is a difficult balancing act for any operator. Nothing is guaranteed. See the relatively successful Uno with Arriva in Herts, for instance, even though they have the benefit of a captive student market.

      I admire the Norwich Network: a simple idea, well-executed, and specifically adapted to meet the needs of the area; and now a springboard for controlled growth. I don't know what more we could ask for.

    12. continued/ . . .
      So why the mess in Essex? I'd really like to ask some pretty pointed questions of your industry contacts.

      Essex has a modernised depot network with multi-million pound investment; and significantly higher passenger revenues than Eastern Counties (and which seem in line with neighbouring competitors of similar size) completely wiped out, according to the latest accounts by their operating costs (excluding the pensions albatross around their necks). Their neighbours make reasonable profits on their P&L. So what the heck is going on? And, more importantly, why are the management seemingly looking on helplessly, wringing their hands giving an excellent impression of the Clueless Wonder? They share management with Eastern Counties so the question is very relevant. No wonder depot staff are demoralised, leaving in droves, and appear to have all but given up. I'd do so in their shoes too (and as I've said, I'm an optimist). How expensive can you make this bus lark? Where are our (expensive) fares going exactly? They're certainly not providing a decent service.

      I get that Norfolk, based largely on one town, is different from the Home Counties where First have no experience, apart from in Berkshire where they have largely withdrawn County services to become the "Heathrow operator". But the formula is the same: simplification, and concentration on getting the details right. Essex can't even manage to put their bus washes in locations where freezing is less likely! They tinker endelssly with timetables, but it makes no difference. No, with the wrong network, it won't.

      They've consolidated shorter routes into longer ones, more affected by and spreading the impact of congestion across the network; and chased every bit of subsidy they can lay their hands on, irrespective of the consequences or any attempt at network planning, it seems. The result is they need more buses and drivers which they don't have. It all makes no sense.

      We know that it's a longstanding problem. Where Eastern National and now First Essex abandon unprofitable services, even Arriva let along Stephensons came along and them profitable (and as we may now find, Go Ahead, too). So the costs issue is nothing new.

      Any fool can run a bus (well almost). The problem is running a viable service and the key to that is keeping your costs under control, at least where your passengers are a given which on the evidence seems to be the case in Essex. It's what management is about. Except in Essex, apparently.

      I appreciate, as does everyone else (it seems) that First should dispose of the Essex operation to someone who can. That seems to be almost anyone so there are no shortage of them. The problem is that no-one will pay what First think it is worth, not least because of the hefty pension liabilities that bedevil both First operations (just look at their size 40 years ago and you see the size of the problem - beyond the operating costs). So let's ask the management: given that you can't sell it, what exactly is your plan to realise shareholder value from by far the largest asset under your local control that is First Essex. It looks like there isn't one.

      Essex, by rights, should be the local bedrock that is supporting Suffolk and Norfolk where economic activity is more fragile. Instead it is the other way around.

      HQ and the shareholders whom they claim to represent, if not the customers, should be asking some serious questions about this strategy.

    13. And yes, we do already know about the closure of Clecton's daughter depot and the Braintree outstation. You'd have thought they would at least have taken care to ensure they didn't make things worse? But no. They have made things worse for the remaining passengers! What game are you playing?

    14. Sorry, Smurf, are you saying you're happy or not?? Only there's some on here who start throwing the toys out the pram if a bus company is criticised, so just wanted to clarify....

    15. Confused, is the better word.

      I'm naive enough to think that all the bus companies are trying to do their best by the passengers BUT some of them seem to be their own worst enemies by making the job much harder than it is already!

      The waste of drivers goodwill, and testing passengers' patience beyond any reasonable limit doesn't make me happy . . . no. But sad and disappointed rather than angry. It's so unnecessary with a bit of forethought.

    16. Don't worry. The bus management fanboys are endemic on the web. Usually led by the accountants. I wonder why??

    17. "Certainly the X1 Enviros are being replaced" I'll believe it when I see it, Steve. As your post earlier this year states "The X1 will be getting new buses this year as they will be 5 years old...". Have you not given a timescale for a reasons? When will they be replaced? 2 years time? I have some news too! There will be no presidents in Norwich at some point in the future. First haven't even conformed an order for new buses for the X1. Is this the same source as your GEA information?

    18. Well this time next year I can either apologise for my false information, or you can apologise to me. It will be interesting to see which way it goes

    19. Apologise for what exactly?

    20. Quite frankly I'm envious of the rest of the country which has such good services that we can afford to engage in petty squabbles over this and that! To have a defender we have to have something worth defending in the first place.

      So, I'll be blunt. Here the obvious explanation has to be true, though it still pains me to acknowledge it: that First (well actually, it's not for no reason they're known to the locals as Worst) Essex behave like cowboys, because that is precisely what they are: the local management and drivers are cowboys, doing as they please and out of the control of First's regional and national management, who are powerless to do anything about it. It's no surprise that every successive management for at least the last 20 years has given up on them, and that they are left with a fleet scraped together from everyone else's rejects. It is quite understandable with their reputation why nobody else wants anything to do with them, either; and why any decent staff who make the mistake of falling in with this bunch leave, as quickly as possible.

      Let's face it. None of them has the guts to deny it, or any evidence to back that up, do they?

  7. Steve - I have been brought here from a tip off from one of our drivers.

    I am unsure which source you are referring to, as, other than managers, no other employee would know about any routes being cancelled until 2 weeks before customers are aware. I have not seen any emails, calls or post from you asking for this information, so I base your comments on nothing other than hearsay. Moreover, having the front to say that further routes will be cancelled, but you cannot say which routes, is indeed verging on libellous. I'm sure some of our customers read your blog, and coming out with tripe such as this is something our customer service team will have to pick up the pieces for.

    The only routes which we have planned to cancel are:

    5 Queens Hills - Norwich
    87 - except Sundays and evenings
    85 - being taken over by Our Bus.

    I am unsure how you can claim to know that further routes are to be dropped. The next round of reviews would come in April 2019 at the earliest. We haven't planned anything regarding this, and won't even start discussions until late January at the earliest.

    Over the past 6 months, we have successfully trained 14 new drivers within our new training school. As you may be aware, within the first year of driving with us, their salary would be lower to recoup a small portion of this cost. What you seem to suggest (where we will not need 10 new buses within the next year) is utter rubbish. If we were looking to cut back drastically, why would we have opened a new training school for this? This is a fact. If you tell me when you are next in Norwich, I will happily provide you with times and routes of these new drivers so you can have a conversation with them.

    I will end by saying this: the bus industry is well- known for hearsay and gossip. The fact of the matter is, as said before, no discussions about reviewing our services will start before the end of January. Anything you hear before then will be nothing other than hearsay.


    Go East Anglia Manager

  8. Oh bless!!! First of all a real manager would have emailed me privately to discuss this. Secondly I can't meet you if you don't say who you are and thirdly I made it clear that my information did not come from a driver!!

    It is also not libellous to NOT reveal something. That is why I refuse to reveal what I have been told. As for your driving school I presume that encompasses Hedingham and Chambers so the number of drivers it churns out is irrelevant.

    Feel free to contact me by email I will ignore anymore anonymous comments as no bona fide manager would act in this unprofessional manner

    1. If he's a manager or not, I agree that you should not post gossip on a blog. It makes you look desperate and very a mature.

      * right now even Go Ahead HQ have admitted they have made an almighty balls up with East Anglia.

      * I know further routes are being dropped next year.

      You have made accusations which are incorrect. Did Go Ahead HQ tell you directly that they've made a balls up? Doubt it. If not, then it's gossip.

    2. Yes it came from Go Ahead HQ. Next!

      Secondly I do not print gossip. If I did I wouldn't leave such big gaps between posts. I get my info from respected figures in the industry who have too much to lose by spreading rumours.

      Read the newspapers tomorrow and see how much is fact, and how much is gossip, from football transfers to Arctic blasts or who is going out with who. They charge for that.

      I put my name to what I write, which in my view shows far more maturity than offering comment and judgement through the mask of anonymity.

  9. Interesting to see the X2 and it's many not so express variations is pulling out of Norwich Bus Station in the New Year according to the registration changes . Let's hope a forward thinking company uses the spare capacity this change will free up .

    1. Chris Speed, Head of Operations and Engineering at First Eastern Counties has confirmed to me there are no plans to withdraw the X2 from the bus station.

    2. What a grand title - no doubt with the salary to match!

      But what does he do all day then? The hard (sic) graft is done in the depots, and customer service is farmed out to Leeds. Wiping the bosses ****?

    3. No wonder engineering budgets are always overspent, and run out well before the end of the financial year!!!

    4. There must be some odd jobs .

    5. Steve might as well ban all comments if he decides to see something he doesn't like.

    6. OK you brave anonymous people making personal criticisms without knowing the facts, a bit of clarification is required

      Firstly no pun intended, Chris Speed has nothing whatsoever to do with First Essex. His remit is Norfolk and Suffolk. The only connection Norfolk & Suffolk has with First Essex is they share an MD, Steve Vickers who I understand spends most of his time in Essex.

      First Norfolk & Suffolk is making money, and keeping to engineering budgets. Chris is also one of the more approachable blokes 8n the industry, and thinks the world of his staff He has overseen many improvements to staff conditions and facilities especially in Norwich You may remember the tragic incident in Wisbech earlier in the year when an X1 ploughed into the side of an artic, killing the driver and a passenger, as well as leaving 4 with life changing injuries There were numerous reconstructions to try to ascertain what happened, and Chris insisted 9n driving the bus, so none of the deceased driver's colleagues had to

      When I was considering closing this blog it was Chris Speed who dragged me into a pub in Great Yarmouth and told me to carry it on, as he needed the type of criticism I gave. I have never forgotten that, and never will.

      When I started the blog I was accused of being anti First. I wasn't there was just lots to criticise Since then I have watched Chris turn things around to the extent there is so little to criticise I'm now accused of being biased towards them.

      So enough of the personal attacks. Get facts right before making snide comments, please.

    7. You will notice that only anonymous comments are removed. Put a name to it, be identifiable and you'll get more respect. Act like a troll you'll be treated like one.

    8. I did get a bit carried away and owe you Steve and especially Chris a big apology. But all I can say is that no offence was intended. I don't know Chris but even I know of his excellent reputation, even from far away. That's why I'd like to know how he does it, day to day! But of course I know it's his attitude. Any of us only understand the drivers, engineers (and indeed the passengers) if we get down amongst them. As we all keep on saying it's the detail that matters. Miracles don't happen with a magic wand, but come with hard, sustained work and attention to detail, and the little things that just make life that bit better.

      And yes there are decent managers in Essex too with their heart in the right place. But the difference in performance of the two units shows just what a good job Chris is doing, especially when everything is working against you as it is in the transport industry (rail too).

      Look at the historic legacy of both units - and I'm going back several decades, and both of them have a history of problems and underinvestment. EC has had a turnaround, and I too will give much of the recent credit to Chris, though admittedly they have had to ditch much of their former "empire", but who hasn't? If only First Group as a whole weren't so screwed up to have to do a Mrs. Hubbard act!

      As a passenger, or more often now an "if only" passenger - my frustration with Essex is clear. They probably came to First with more investment, and in the Lockhead years that was largely stripped away. They weren't the only ones of course. And they have probably never recovered. And the more recent history probably doesn't inspire too much confidence either, so Steve has a unfortunate legacy (putting it politely) to deal with. Essex might be near London, but it isn't London. Miracles don't come easy. EC got their big changes over and done with and have had the benefit of consistency for a number of years now, Essex are only a few months in to any sort of recovery. As with comedy, the timing is important. Now with all the uncertainty is a poor time to try and make any big changes.

      Essex has the twin devils of Met levels of congestion without a Council with the Met will to do anything about it. In fact I suspect they are more of a hindrance than a help - just try and get a decision out of them on anything, even less a sensible one. That's always been the same too; to many residents the County Council are a (sick) joke, and always have been. (The same is often true in Suffolk, Norfolk, and Cambs - where they have a phrase for it: Clowncil).

      The sad thing (as I tried to allude to - too crudely) is that I suspect Chris like many senior managers has to try and undo the damage done further up the hierarchy, but that's true everywhere. Still kudos. When it seems that everyone else (among the big boys) is heading in the wrong direction; it's a real credit that Chris has EC, it appears, heading in the right direction. And overall it's working. It shows just how hard it is.

      The cold comfort is that I don't think anyone else would do any better with the present Essex network either. It's just too darned much to handle, but as we know changing anything in the UK is one heck of a struggle; and as with everything the longer we leave it, it just gets harder and harder, until perhaps it becomes virtually impossible.

    9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    10. I do think some of the credit though for EC's recovery should be shared: perhaps Alan Pilbeam (who I think introduced the X1 which I always think of as some sort of saviour) and after him, David Squires, if I have the names right? And I think Steve Wickers was the Commercial Manager/Director, throughout, too? As I said above, consistency matters (with the important caveat that provided it's the right sort of consistency!)

      But none of that takes anything away from Chris, who is the living proof of the old adage that the best manager is a good example. We all need a role model.

    11. X1 introduction dates back to circa 1997 - well before Alan Pilbeam - though he did a good job at the time in both companies.

  10. Is the final stopping point All Saints Green?

  11. Bus travel: Fewer passengers as funding falls

    Disruptions on England's rail network have been in the spotlight over the past year - but only 20% of all trips on public transport are on trains, although passenger numbers have been rising.
    Buses are the most common mode of public transport, accounting for 60% of all trips.
    But on the buses, passenger numbers are falling.
    There were 9% fewer journeys on local bus services in Britain in the first three months of this financial year than in the same period a decade ago.

    Between September 2017 and September 2018 in London, fares rose by 0.4% - in the capital, buses are still public and regulated.
    In other metropolitan areas in England where fares are left to the free market, there was an average 2.4% increase, while in non-metropolitan areas fares rose by 7.9%.

  12. The Future of Rural Bus Services

    An interesting Report

  13. Stagecoach pulls out of United States

    Scottish-based transport company Stagecoach has pulled out of the US.
    The firm, which has its headquarters in Perth, has been running bus services in North America for 20 years, but has had to significantly write down the value of the operation.
    Stagecoach has sold its North America division to a private equity firm for $271m (£214m).
    It said it planned to concentrate on its bus and rail services in the UK.
    Stagecoach had reported a £22.6m pre-tax loss for the six months to 27 October, driven by a writedown of £85.4m on its US division.