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This newsletter is being written soon after the publication of the Strategic Rail Authority's report on fares policy, and just after the Government announcement on the roads programme. We start with the highlights of the report, together with our comments.
1. ``Regulated'' fares, which have hitherto been ``capped'' so that increases must trail inflation by 1%, may now rise at 1% above the rate of inflation.
2. Operators will no longer have to keep fares down to compensate users for unsatisfactory performance, nor will they be able to increase them by more after performance has risen.
3. There will be more grouping of fares into ``baskets'', within which some fares may go up as long as others go down.
4. There will be discussions with other parties aimed at securing a National Railcard.
5. The current intention is to deregulate Savers from 2006.
1. In the last few years the small decrease in ``regulated'' fares has been more than offset by increases in ``unregulated'' fares, such as the GBP 10 minimum fare for Network Railcard tickets on Mondays to Fridays, the abolition of Supersavers by most operators, and the 09.00 Monday to Friday restriction on the outward journey for Saver tickets where fares are set by Central Trains. We believe that all fares (except those requiring advance booking, premium fares such as first class, and fares for tickets that have restrictions on the operator or route) should be regulated within appropriate baskets, so that increases such as those mentioned above would have to be offset by reductions elsewhere. It would be nice if the greater freedom to be given to operators on regulated fares led to the reduction of other fares, but what evidence does the SRA have for this?
2 and 3. In general we agree with these changes but do not regard them as major issues.
4. The provision of such a railcard has been a major goal for campaigners, and it is good to see that the SRA is prepared to push it forward. However closer reading of the report suggests that the SRA doesn't really believe that it will work. A model which has been developed by consultants on behalf of Railfuture suggests that most operators would gain if a railcard was introduced costing GBP 20 and giving 30% off (slightly under the currently standard 34%). However, we would be satisfied with less than this -- a higher priced national railcard backed by regional railcards (such as the Network Railcard) at GBP 20 -- and this option would reduce the risk to operators. But in return we would like to see restrictions on such cards kept to an absolute minimum -- it should not be assumed that people who need to start early in the morning are business travellers for whom price is not a major consideration, and restrictions on such trains should be confined to where crowding is a real problem.
5. This, however, is the biggest worry in the report. If budget travellers have to pre-book to get a competitive fare, they are far more likely to opt to use cars if this option is available. However, this may not deter operators from introducing such a system, because there may be enough people who don't have a choice to net them a profit from the changeover. The SRA report suggests that most people do have a choice: but, from places like Cambridge, what choice is there to non-motorists given that only the London route has a passable coach service?
The report several times mentions the problem of overcrowding of some trains. However there are far more trains that have plenty of spare capacity. We believe that it is the latter, not the former, that should be driving our fares policy, especially given the congestion on our roads. Believe it or not, the issue of road congestion was nowhere mentioned in the SRA report!
We now turn to the roads. The Government has mired this country even deeper in car dependency by accepting the alleged need for higher road capacity, though it has rejected some of the more environmentally damaging proposals such as the Arundel By-pass. We have so far seen no mention, either way, of the Luton Northern By-pass, probably the most damaging scheme in the London to South Midlands MMS, though another damaging scheme, the A1 Sandy By-pass, is in the new programme. Also mentioned is the dualling of the A428 between Caxton and the A1, where the MMS report recommended a joint road/rail project; we don't yet know what the Government has said about this idea (nor have we yet heard of any decision on the Great Barford By-pass where we asked for the inquiry to be reopened to consider the need to add a rail scheme to the project).
The Government statement mentions the need for better public transport but there are no specific commitments. On the East-West Rail Link, for example, the statement just says that the SRA is looking at the business case for reopening the link between Bedford and Oxford (with no mention of the Cambridge-Bedford section).
The statement also commits the Government to a feasibility study for road user charging. One newspaper, the Independent, said that this would not be introduced for 20 years, but this is not corroborated by other papers such as the Times. The statement emphasises that the Government plans already under way for user charges for lorries by 2006 will not involve an increase in overall taxation; if this is also true for cars, it will not help to reverse the competitive disadvantage to public transport from regular fare increases.
The statement also makes recommendations on the report of the Peterborough to Norwich MMS. We were not involved in this study, whose report came out after our last newsletter. This report calls for dualling of certain sections of the A47, but says that the remaining sections between Peterborough and Kings Lynn won't need dualling at least before 2016. In view of this, we made a written submission to the Thorney By-pass public inquiry asking why this needed to be built as a dual carriageway.
The discrimination faced by rail users as against road users is displayed clearly by these two contrasting statements.
We suggest that a promising theme for a campaign against the road proposals in our region is to portray them as facilitating unwanted and unsustainable development -- airport expansion and car-based housing -- rather than relieving congestion, thus enabling us to coopt campaign groups focused on the aviation and housing issues.
In a previous announcement the Government agreed to the road proposals of the Cambridge-Huntingdon Multi-Modal Study. One factor of major concern is that the quoted cost has escalated from GBP 192m to GBP 490m! Especially as, unlike with rail schemes, the Government is prepared to stump up the extra cost without question. Of course, the proposals (like those mentioned above) still have to go through several stages, culminating in a public inquiry, before they become reality.
We have attended a Route Management Study into the problems of the A11. Our proposals include transport interchanges at Stump Cross, Four Went Ways, Six Mile Bottom (including a new rail station) and Elveden/Center Parcs (including a bike hire centre). The first two would link with a Travel Plan for the Sanger Genome Campus (near Stump Cross) and Granta Park (near the A11/A505 junction), with a slip road enabling the latter to be accessed from the northbound A11. We were told that there is now a permissive path providing access to Granta Park from Little Abington. We have also liaised with non-motorised transport user groups to suggest network improvements, especially in conjunction with the planned A11 Elveden By-pass, and we have heard about plans for a Brecks Explorer bus service serving the area. It should also be noted that the US are reviewing the future of the air bases at Mildenhall and Lakenheath, and closure of one or both of these may have a major impact on local transport needs.
As stated above, we have not yet received notice of any decision on the A421 Great Barford By-pass, so there is still time for you to write to the Rt Hon Alastair Darling at the Department of Transport, Great Minster House, 76 Marsham St, London SW1P 4DR asking that the scheme should be redesigned to allow the later addition of a railway should this be the preferred route option. (There is the alternative of a route based on the old line -- we want to keep both options open.) While a model letter was given in our Newsletter 82, it would now be appropriate to start by referring to the A428 Caxton to A1 section, calling for the Government not to take this forward except as a combined rail/road scheme, and adding the need to consider the rail potential of the A421 corridor between St Neots and Bedford.
The time has come round again for membership renewal. Unless you are a national supporter or have already paid your subscription for 2003-4, or receive this newsletter for reasons other than being a member, you should have a renewal slip with this newsletter. The subscription rates are still unchanged -- GBP 3-50 ordinary, GBP 2-50 concessionary, GBP 5 household or affiliate.
Early Day Motions EDMs are devices which enable MPs to register their concern on various issues. By convention they are not signed by MPs with government jobs, but there have been none of these in Cambridgeshire since Cambridge MP Anne Campbell resigned her post a few months ago, so members in all parts of the county should feel free to ask their MPs to sign -- except that Helen Clark (Lab, Peterborough) has already signed 1380. There are currently two EDMs of interest:
EDM 1323: That this House expresses its deep concern about the future of local and regional rail services and the potential for line closures and service withdrawals; condemns the Strategic Rail Authority's downgrading of local and regional services demonstrated by the cuts in services announced earlier this year; notes with concern the potential for further cuts to local and regional services threatened by the Strategic Rail Authority's Capacity Utilisation Policies, the Office of Rail Regulator's interim review and the potential reductions in subsidy for services under the refranchising process; further condemns the Strategic Rail Authority's recent suspension of funding for passenger schemes including stations, new services and line improvements, such as the Rail Passenger Partnership Fund; acknowledges the success of many of the schemes arising from these funds in creating new services and attracting new customers; further acknowledges the major role that local and regional services play in tackling social exclusion and promoting sustainable development; and calls upon the Government as a matter of urgency to reinstate the funding necessary while ensuring better value for money and to provide the direction to the Strategic Rail Authority to ensure that local and regional rail services play their full part in providing the nation with the integrated public transport network it needs.
EDM 1380: That this House condemns the decision of Royal Mail to transfer the movement of mail from railfreight to other modes of transport by the end of the summer with a direct threat to 500 rail jobs and other jobs at dedicated rail terminals, depots and loading facilities; believes that this decision is short term and ill conceived and represents a direct challenge to the Government's own policy of increasing the use of freight on rail; notes with dismay the increased congestion on Britain's already over busy road network which will result in an extra 30.5m lorry miles and the release of an additional 15,000 tonnes of pollutants per annum; believes that the decision not only undermines the Government's own transport policy but also its environmental and employment objectives; and calls upon the Government to immediately review the decision of Royal Mail in view of its consequences for congestion, the environment, jobs and the rail industry.
Just a few comments. We believe that it is local and regional rail services that must be prioritised if we are to shift traffic from road to rail: faster inter-city and commuter services to/from London are far less important in this context because a high proportion of people already go by rail -- and for those that don't, access to railheads and fare levels are likely to be more important than just speeding up the train itself.
Given that the Royal Mail is still Government owned, transferring its traffic from rail to road will undermine the Government's credibility when it calls for other traffic to transfer from road to rail. There is also an ``unlevel playing field'' issue: at present the Royal Mail has to pay VAT to rail operators and can't reclaim this from the Government (as the mail is exempt rather than zero rated), whereas it doesn't have to pay VAT on its own road transport operations. Finally, there is potential for combined mail/passenger trains which could provide useful overnight services in our 24 hour society; and in areas such as the Scottish Highlands there is potential for developing integrated transport networks where both passengers and mail can transfer from mail/passenger trains to postbuses.
We have been involved in numerous consultations in the last few months, a few of which are still open.
Airport Expansion: We submitted a revised response to the Government's aviation consultation, but made only minor changes to our previous response.
Cambridgeshire Local Transport Plan: We submitted a response to this which called for a more imaginative strategy to develop public transport using the ``package'' approach favoured by the county (which we are prepared to support).
Peterborough Local Transport Plan: We weren't involved in this in any formal way but did submit a wish list to the council.
Peterborough Public Transport Information Strategy: We have written to welcome this (when is Cambridgeshire going to come up with one?) and to suggest improvements, such as the provision of timetable booklets at the rail station and other outlets open outside office hours, and reciprocal agreements with other local authorities for interavailability of information.
Cambridge Local Plan: We have generally welcomed Cambridge City Council's approach, but there are some matters of detail where we would like to see improvements, such as the provision for the rapid transit system (see below). This consultation is open until 14 July.
Huntingdonshire Local Plan: We have prepared a provisional response essentially echoing those of our proposals for the Cambridgeshire Local Transport Plan that relate to Huntingdonshire. This consultation is open till 22 Aug.
Cambridge-Huntingdon Rapid Transit: We have prepared a provisional response which welcomes the principle of the scheme but objects to its route. Our prime concern is that use of the former St Ives railway line will preempt the need for a cross-country rail link from Cambridge to Bedford and Peterborough serving the planned new town near Longstanton, with all options likely to need the section of route east of Histon, though the A428 option proposed by the London to South Midlands MMS will not need the section of route west of Histon. (There may be a short term need for a busway on part of this section until the alternative route is ready -- see the report of our AGM in Newsletter 82.) In addition, we believe that a route based on the A14 between Girton and Huntingdon, with branches from near Bar Hill to Longstanton and Cambourne, and from near Fenstanton to St Ives, plus routes through Cambridge's Northern Fringe to the proposed Chesterton Parkway rail station and through the area between Huntingdon Road and Madingley Road to the City Centre, will be more effective. We are also mentioning our concern as to how bus terminal needs will be accommodated in the City Centre -- forcing the people from communities not on the busway corridor, or long distance coach passengers, to change to reach the city centre is not acceptable. This consultation is open till 8 Aug, and the County Council is mounting a series of exhibitions on the scheme in the area it will served, ending in Fenstanton on 24 July.
Thames Gateway Bridge: This is outside our area, but it has been identified as an issue of national importance to which as many responses as possible would be helpful. The consultation refers to a proposal for a new bridge between the mouth of the River Roding (or Barking Creek) and Thamesmead. Our provisional response suggests that no new fixed crossing should be considered until the best use is made of those already existing and planned, including:
Woolwich Rail Crossing: Should be designed to take main line trains including freight trains between East Anglia and the Channel Tunnel.
Dagenham Ferry: This crossing for Ford workers should be opened to the general public and linked with public transport at both ends.
Dartford Crossing: This should be provided with regular bus services, of which one is important to our area: a coach link between Stansted and Gatwick airports which could run through to/from Cambridge and Brighton, and which would in any case connect with radial rail services between the corridors served by the two airports. The development of such bus services can be done immediately so deserves the highest priority.
Channel Tunnel Rail Link: The Thames tunnel could form part of a London orbital route linking Romford with Gatwick via Upminster, Lakeside, Grays, Ebbsfleet, Swanley, Bromley, Beckenham, Norwood Junction and East Croydon.
Tilbury Ferry: This route needs a reliable service (the boat was recently out of action for over a month without even a replacement bus service via the Dartford crossing) and also better bus links from the northern terminal and a new rail station nearby on the existing line.
The planned road bridge will encourage more car traffic in the area. If new development in the area necessitates an increase in cross-river vehicle capacity, this should be provided by means of a new vehicle ferry, either on the same corridor as the proposed road or on the corridor served by the Dagenham Ferry (see above).
See <http://www.transportforlondon.gov.uk/tfl/tgb-questionnaire.shtml> for an on-line questionnaire. This consultation is open till 12 Aug.
We conclude this section by mentioning two issues where we have not been involved but Transport 2000 has been at national level, and a third issue which has been highlighted by other organisations.
Car-free Leisure Network: This consists of various local authorities, including Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, which are trying to develop proposals to encourage the use of public transport for leisure trips. Unfortunately we have been unable to contact the officer responsible for the Cambridgeshire project -- an email message elicited a reply that she was on maternity leave!
Speed: The legal action mounted by Transport 2000 in conjunction with other organisations with the aim of overturning the Government guidelines on speed cameras came to court. A settlement was agreed whereby local police authorities would have discretion to mount fixed speed cameras that were not designed to be highly conspicuous. This is a worthwhile achievement because otherwise motorists who can't see a speed camera can be fairly confident that they won't be caught speeding. It should be noted that speeding is undesirable for several reasons of which safety is only one: others include noise and air pollution, as well as the greater difficulties faced by people (using whatever mode of transport) who want to join or cross the relevant route.
Walking and Crime: A disturbing clause of the 2000 Countryside & Rights of Way Act allows local authorities to apply for permission to close off-road rights of way on grounds of crime prevention. There is in fact little evidence that crime is linked to the use of such routes -- certainly they can be used for getaways, but so can roads, and a lot faster given that one can drive along them! There is also another clause allowing the closure of footpaths through school grounds. This is equally disturbing -- indeed we regard school playing fields as a massive underutilised resource in areas many of which have little public open space.
Here are a number of changes to bus services within Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
C1 (Cambridge City): Increased frequency during the main daytime period -- but not in the early mornings, evenings, and Sundays, when it is most needed.
X4 (Peterborough-Northampton): Some recently introduced late night journeys are withdrawn.
12A (Peterborough-Werrington): This Peterborough route, serving the Fengate area, is restructured on a new route and will now be operated by Cavalier.
28 (Ely-Mepal): 2 journeys operated by A&P Coaches supplementing the single Stagecoach journey on route X7. We believe that Mepal and Witcham villages deserve far better (a 2 hourly route also serving Coveney and Wardy Hill and extending beyond Sutton to Earith and St Ives).
38 (Peterborough-Crowland): This route, the New Eye Flyer (sorry we misspelt it in Newsletter 82), is also now operated by Cavalier, to a new and more uniform timetable. It provide access to a number of worthwhile walks as described in Newsletter 82.
178 (Bedford-Gamlingay): As a result of the A1 Tempsford Grade Separation improvements buses on this route do a double run to the south end of Tempsford village. While a significant improvement it falls far short of the hourly service between St Neots and Bedford which we believe the relevant corridor deserves.
461-464, 467 and 475 (St Neots town network): Various improvements including more buses to the rail station. There is also a new demand responsive service serving the surrounding villages, including over the Bedfordshire border, but one has to belong to a club to use it (as is also the case with similar services to the north and in other areas) -- which we regard as disturbing because we believe in a comprehensive network available to all.
Stansted-Oxford: National Express Jetlink 757, which lost the Cambridge to Stansted Airport section in April, has also been reduced in frequency from 12 to 8 journeys per day.
354: New hourly link between St Albans and Hatfield using unclassified roads north of the A1057.
382: Leisure service on Sundays till early November between Stevenage and St Albans by a scenic route via Knebworth House and Shaw's Corner, replaces last year's 900. Buses leave St Albans station at 11.40 and 15.40 and Stevenage bus station an hour later, with an additional short working between St Albans and Shaw's Corner.
500: Sunday buses between Harlow and Romford are withdrawn. Replacement route 203 does not venture south of Debden.
631-3: These Sunday services which together provided a link between Saffron Walden and Burnham on Crouch, with some journeys connecting with the 32 to/from Cambridge, are not running this year. (Nor is the Burnham Ferry.) The only replacement is route 335 between Braintree and Maldon, which, however, will run all year.
98: New Rural Bus Challenge weekday route between Ipswich and Shotley timed to connect with the ferry to Harwich when it runs (till 14 Sept).
248: Ipswich Buses route between Felixstowe Ferry and Landguard Fort, only runs Sundays 27 July to 31 Aug. The ferry link between Felixstowe Ferry and Bawdsey runs daily to the end of September and weekends in October, but there are no buses from Bawdsey on Sundays. On weekdays Felixstowe Ferry is served by route 173/4 from Woodbridge via Felixstowe town centre. The Harwich ferry continues to leave from Landguard Fort, which has no other bus service (the nearest being Carr Road about a mile away).
Saunterbus: This is running again this year on Sundays till 7 Sept. There are only minor changes to some of the seven routes, only one of which runs on any particular day, but it is now operated by Alec Head rather than Stagecoach, which means that Stagecoach Explorers are no longer valid on it, so if you wish to use it ask for a Sunday Rover, which is still valid. Unfortunately, due to heavy demand for the 09.05 coach from Cambridge (X5), we are not prepared to recommend use of this service during the high season Sundays which cover most of its remaining running dates.
Other Northamptonshire changes: There were lots of changes in Northamptonshire at the end of April, most of which were not good news. The X38 to Oxford was renumbered X6, reduced to 3-4 journeys weekdays only, and speeded up by omitting various intermediate villages. In replacement local service 88 between Northampton and Brackley was introduced every 2 hours, providing an overall hourly service to Towcester with the 89 which extends to Milton Keynes as a single route that has to cover both the A5 and A508 corridors to replace the 35 and 37. The area is also served by route 87 between Northampton and Towcester via Stoke Bruerne. The Bedford-Northampton service is rerouted via Little Houghton; the extended journey time sabotages some connections so that the first arrival from Cambridge on Saturdays is now at 10.10 and the last return journey on Sundays is at 18.00. Route 36 between Northampton and Newport Pagnell was withdrawn by Stagecoach, but part replaced by MK Citybus and also by diversions on Yorks route Y4 between Northampton and Wollaston. In late July MK Citybus are due to start a new X34 route linking Daventry and Milton Keynes via Towcester. Route 19 from Kettering no longer extends beyond Desborough to Market Harborough on Sundays. A through service operated by First is restored between Northampton and Rugby, extending the First route as far as Crick to replace the Rugby service operated by Stagecoach. However some intermediate villages lose their service. The X50 Corby-London via Bedford is withdrawn, the X49 Corby-London via Newport Pagnell is renumbered X3, cut on Sundays to 2 journeys each way, and rerouted via villages off the A509, and the X52 Corby-Bedford is renumbered 52.
Leicestershire and Rutland changes: Two routes on the county's hourly network are the 7 (Nuneaton-Ashby via Twycross Zoo) and 58 (Market Harborough-Hinckley via Lutterworth). The Nottingham-Oakham and Oakham-Stamford routes continue to offer an hourly service, but are no longer run by Trent Barton -- the last vestige of the former service to Peterborough. This is bad news for those who used to be able to use their Zigzag rover tickets on the service. The section east of Oakham is now operated by Kime -- we hope that they will in due course amalgamate with their route east of Stamford to restore a through service between Oakham and Peterborough.
Further afield. Note that despite the title many of these routes can be accessed from our area within a day trip. In addition, services continue to run in several National Parks (Dartmoor, the Peak District, the North York Moors, the Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District, and Northumberland) with little change. A notable feature is that many recreational services are running on Saturdays as well as Sundays -- which is good news for people who have difficulty getting to the relevant area on Sundays.
Surrey: The NT1 from Dorking continues to link the National Trust properties at Polesden Lacey, Box Hill, and Ranmore Common on Saturdays and Sundays. It also serves the Denbies Vineyard, Burford Bridge, and, new this year, Bocketts Farm (the stop being just south of A246 access roundabout). Travelcard holders can get to Bocketts Farm (north of the A246 roundabout), Burford Bridge or Dorking by using route 465 from Surbiton.
Kent: The Chartwell Darent Explorer 599 does not appear to be running this year, though Chartwell itself is still accessible by Travelcard using route 246 from Bromley South or Hayes stations. Nor is the Tunbridge Wells Heritage Hopper in operation.
Sussex: Walk along the South Downs Way to link routes 77 (Brighton to Devils Dyke) or 79 (Brighton to Ditchling Beacon) with route 38 (Hassocks to the Clayton windmills). All three routes run Saturdays and Sundays throughout the summer, the 77 runs all year. One of the Clayton windmills is open to the public on Sundays (but not Saturdays). Whether one travels to London by coach or train, Thameslink offers the best link to Brighton, but their trains don't stop at Hassocks on Sundays. Note that there are discounts for passengers with rail tickets to Brighton or Hassocks on these services. Further east the 713 stil offers a Sunday service to Beachy Head, and the Cuckmere Community Bus still offers links from Berwick station (Sussex) via Alfriston to the Cuckmere Country Park.
Hampshire: Until 21 Sept route 65 offers a weekend scenic ride between Fareham and Havant serving the museum at Fort Nelson. It also runs on Wednesdays and Fridays during the summer school holidays. The route also extends to Stansted Park in Sussex (though the house isn't open on Fridays or Saturdays). Further west one can try the new waterbus service on the River Hamble.
Berkshire: New demand responsive services around Maidenhead and Twyford, including links to Marlow, Henley and Wokingham. To the west, the Ridgeway Explorer service between Reading, Wantage, and Swindon is this year running every Saturday till end Oct as well as on Sundays.
Nottinghamshire: There are some minor improvements to the Sherwood Forester network this year, though don't try to visit Whaley Thorns Heritage Centre which seems to have closed.
East Riding: The Spurn Ranger continues to link Withernsea and Patrington with Spurn Head on Sundays till end Oct. There are connections to/from Hull. Completely recast this year is the Wolds Explorer, which on Sundays till end Sept and Tuesdays during the summer school holidays does a single return journey from Hull to Thornton le Dale (where it connects with the Moorsbus network) following the Wolds Way as closely as possible.
Shropshire: The scene of the biggest improvement to leisure services this year. The following routes run, on Saturdays and Sundays till the end of October unless otherwise mentioned.
WH1: Links the heritage sites around Ironbridge Gorge, including some journeys to/from Telford Central Station. All year.
WH2: Links Ironbridge with Much Wenlock by a circular route. All year.
85: Cheshire CC's Sandstone Rambler links Whitchurch in Shropshire with Frodsham (first and last journeys serve Runcorn) passing close to Sandstone Trail and serving Cholmondeley Castle Gardens (not open Saturdays).
186: The Countryside Explorer replaces last year's 185 and 186 to offer a link between Bridgnorth and Highley serving villages west of the Severn and connecting with the Severn Valley Railway. Till end Sept only. Note that the 180 Dudmaston Shuttle east of the river is not running this year.
280: The Meres & Mosses Shuttle links Ellesmere, Wem and Hodnet serving several nature reserves and places of interest (including Hawkestone, Hodnet Hall, and on Sundays till end Aug Wollerton Old Hall). The leaflet describing Whixall Moss Nature Reserve is produced by English Nature but it's partly in Welsh as the reserve is contiguous with another just over the border. Till end Sept only.
551-3: The weekday service between Shrewsbury and Bishops Castle is improved to serve some off-route villages including the Stiperstones. (There is also a Sunday service on the main road.)
780: This amalgmates last year's Long Mynd and Stiperstones Shuttles into an hourly service between Church Stretton, Bridges, and Minsterley, connecting at these places with other routes.
781: The Wenlock Wanderer links Much Wenlock and Church Stretton connecting with other routes at both ends.
782: The Secret Hills Shuttle links Craven Arms, Bishops Castle and Bridges connecting with other routes at these places.
783: The Clun Forest Shuttle links Bridges and Bishops Castle (plus a positioning working to/from the outskirts of Shrewsbury) and goes over the Welsh Border to Kerry (Powys).
784-8: This group of routes, the ``49 link'', connects Craven Arms with surrounding villages. Every day from Monday to Friday a different route is used, each with its own features of interest, so Craven Arms (or somewhere with a regular bus link thereto) is a good centre for a week's holiday.
Beacons Bus: This will be running again this year including last year's routes round the Torpantau circuit and to the National Botanic Gardens of Wales. A new route this year does a circular from Hay on Wye to Pandy serving both the English and Welsh sides of the border.
Shirerider: This add-on to a rail ticket purchased on a Sunday will allow unlimited travel that day on most routes in Shropshire (including all the ones mentioned above except the 85), Worcestershire and Herefordshire. Also the Beacons Bus network and Monmouthshire's Wye Valley network. A pity that Sunday train services in this area are relatively poor, so by the time one has got to one's railhead half the day is likely to have gone by! In Herefordshire and Worcestershire the Wye Valley Wanderer (234 Pershore-Lydney) and Malverns Hillhopper (Malvern-Ledbury) still run. Also of interest is route 300 between Worcester and Kidderminster via Stourport and Bewdley.
Pembrokeshire: The Pembroke Coast National Park has daily coastal buses (till 28 Sept) again this year. There are some route changes to the Strumble Shuttle which follows the coast between Fishguard and St Davids. Some routes have increased frequencies. We recommend getting to the area by train to Aberystwyth; then buy a West Wales Rover bus ticket which is valid on most services in former Dyfed (which covers the whole area beyond Aberystwyth).
Kielder: A local community minibus is offering a new route between Kielder and Hawick on Wednesdays and Saturdays (also Bellingham on Saturdays). Kielder is also served by a postbus, a school bus, and a summer Sunday bus from Newcastle.
Wanlockhead: One of the prettiest routes in southern Scotland now has a 2 hourly service between the railheads of Sanquhar and Lanark. Wanlockhead is the highest village in Scotland and it and nearby Leadhills have much of historic interest.
Midland Main Line: We conclude by referring to the new train service between St Pancras and Manchester that has been introduced to provide a partial alternative to the West Coast Main Line during major works on the latter. Trains stop at various intermediate stations as far as Leicester, also Stockport, but unfortunately not Bedford or Chesterfield.
A longish list this time -- don't feel you have to do everything or nothing.