Well, that is if I ever get there!
My morning has started with an example of just how crap public transport can be in the UK.
I’m heading for Calvert which has no working rail links, and being environmentally conscious I use public transport whenever I can. There’s a bus route from Aylesbury that goes through the village. The No 16 is run by a company called ‘Red Rose’ and goes from this God-awful bus station buried under a multi-story car park.
I arrived in plenty of time and found the right bay by checking every one as the tiny information screens in the dingy waiting area are too small to list anything more than 30 mins later.
Some bright spark has timetabled 2 buses from the same bay at the same time, the 10 and 16. The 10 turned up and sat there for ages whilst the driver went to the toilet. The 16 never appeared. I ring ‘Traveline’ (and paid 12p a minute for the privilidge) but they’re useless as they only have timetables, not real-time info. There’s a ‘press for info’ button at the stop. I press. It says “no bus is due”. Great.
10 mins after booked departure time another Red Rose driver spotted me and asked what bus I was waiting for. When I told him he said “well, it should be running” another driver wandered over, then said “the 16? It’s gone – it pulled in over there” (pointing to an anonymous bit of tarmac at the end of the bays). There were no announcements, no information as the bus drops off the screens which aren’t real-time information anyway. Nothing. So. I now have another hour to wait. I ring the bus company after finding their number on Google. No-one answers…
Is it any wonder so many buses drive around like this? Yep, i’m the only passenger, having paid £4.40 for the honour!
My own personal taxi – sorry – the bus passed through some places I’d never visited before which included Waddesden which has some lovely old buildings. I really enjoyed the trip, even if it it did meander. I got off at journey’s end, the village of Steeple Claydon, then set off to explore.
Getting shots of the work reactivating the old East-West railway line led me to the line where it passes Poors Piece, a tiny bit of woodland that became a stophs2 protest camp. The irony being it’s nowhere near HS2! I popped in to get a few pictures only to find the camp deserted. The few remaining occupants appear to have buggered off to Stonehenge. The only occupants of the untidy mess were a couple of chickens!
It’s a good example of how the protest campaign against HS2 never stood a chance. A handful of people in camps like this were never going to achieve anything. Now, despite the bluster you see on social media from the likes of Hs2Rebellion it’s obvious all but a handful of the protesters have given up and moved on. How any of them thought sitting in a treehouse off the route was going to stop the largest construction project in Europe is a mystery, but there you go. They didn’t – and now the project’s in full swing.
On site and being briefed on the work.
Well, that was a busy day! After our site briefing and presentation on what HS2 contractors are doing in the area (lots) we went out on site to see the work up close. The sheer size of the site is the first thing that impresses, but then it includes a sizeable chunk of E-W rail, HS2s Infrastructure Maintenance Depot (IMD), passive provision for a link between E-W rail and the line to Aylesbury as well as road diversions – and that’s without HS2 itself. Plus, the site contains its own railhead which receives three trains a day of aggregates. Nearly half a million tons have already been delivered and by the end of the programme that will reach 787,000 tons. Not bad for a plan that was originally conceived to deliver 100,000 tons in total!
The third train of the day arrived when we were on site so we went out to watch the slick unloading operation. Operated by DB Cargo, the loco in charge has been converted to run on HVO (vegetable oil) not diesel. This is yet another example of HS2’s commitment to reducing its carbon emissions.
I’m now back in my hotel room in Aylesbury after a long day of wandering around the Calvert/Steeple Claydon area on what was a very warm day. With the combination of that and lugging around a full camera bag for nearly 14 miles I’m treating myself to a glass of wine and an early night. I’ll blog about my HS2 site visit in full in the next few days. There’s some great stories – including what’s probably the most expensive Jackdaw nest ever! For now, here’s a shot of where E-W rail crosses over the route of HS2. The piles for the bridge have already been sunk. Above the little digger in the far background you can see the rest of the E-W route heading East.
I’ll leave you with one last picture, which is of myself and fellow journalist and railwayman Phil Marsh. See what I mean about the camera bag?
Tomorrow I’ll be making my way back North, so I’ll be rolling blogging once more. Only this time there are no buses involved…
I’ve a favour to ask…
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Jonathan Morris said:
Uno Bus (servicing Hatfield and parts of Hertfordshire and Middlesex) used to be like this. No real-time info, no information at bus stops and nobody answering the customer service number. Intalink was also useless.
It’s still not perfect as Hertfordshire County Council still seems unable to provide real time information for all services, decide on a logical distribution of buses to the many stops at the main bus stations, and drivers who will occasionally use a different stop with no way to inform people (unlike on the railway where you can change the platform) as the displays show what appears to be hard coded information. Bus cancelled? No way to pull it from the display (or show cancelled) just let it get to the time and disappear instead. Did the bus come? Did you miss it? Does anyone know?
I am not surprised so many people avoid buses, which in turn means they run empty and get cut, and as the service deteriorates further even more people stop. Then the whole route is axed, and people complain about the cuts.
Councils, bus operators and the public all need to realise that buses won’t improve without better planning, running and patronage. It all falls apart if any one fails, but in so many cases it’s all three and they don’t stand a chance.