Disclaimer: contents of articles do not necessarily reflect Transport 2000 policy at either national or branch level. Please give us your thoughts on any transport related topic, however small. This will help us develop our policies. We will try to pursue any complaint or suggestion or advise you how to pursue it yourself.
The most recent edition of the magazine of the Council to Protect Rural England (CPRE) outlined an alarming report about what the countryside might be like in 2035 if present trends continued. The full report, whose title is ``Our Countryside Our Choice'', can be seen on the CPRE website (http://www.cpre.org.uk) by clicking on ``Our campaign: the future of the countryside''.
This web page also has details of a CPRE competition to elicit more positive visions for the future of the countryside. This inspired the following, article, which suggests that traffic reduction might be the key to rescuing the countryside. (Note that the article wasn't submitted, because the competition called for visions expressed in under 200 words.)
It is noteworthy that the first page of the report contained a photograph of a Cambridgeshire landscape (the area around A14 service station near Swavesey) to illustrate the spoliation of the countryside. And at about the time the CPRE sent the magazine to its members, the Independent carried a report (Mon 17 Sept) on ``Vanishing Britain'' which, inter alia, featured the riverside at Ickleton as being under threat from proposals for development of the M11 corridor; and Transport 2000 launched its ``Growing the Railways'' campaign whose criticisms of Government policy included the lack of plans for rail improvements for the Cambridge area to cater for massive housing growth.
Here is a vision, expressed in the form of an article in the CPRE magazine of 2035 looking back over the period since 2005. Comments on the plausibility of the scenario would be welcome. Anyone who doesn't think it plausible, can you find a better alternative?
30 years ago, the Council to Protect Rural England (as we were then known) warned that the countryside as we then knew it was in grave danger and outlined a ``nightmare vision'' for 2035. This is therefore an appropriate moment to look back over the last 30 years and see how we managed to avert the crisis.
It isn't always easy to identify causes and effects in politics, but honesty compels us to admit that the publication of our report was almost certainly not the prime cause of the rural renaissance. But when the demand for improvement did materialise, we were in the forefront of the movement to direct it in the right direction. Indeed this became our principal role, and to mark this we changed our name to the Council to Promote Rural England in 2015.
The event that stands out as the main cause didn't even happen within this country. It was the economic crash in the USA in 2007. Roughly speaking, with world demand for oil running ahead of supply, Americans were no longer able to use borrowed money to outbid everyone else to support their fuel extravagance. After due negotiations they managed to get a bailout with a conditionality that they implement a plan to reduce their fuel consumption year on year. It took quite a lot of pressure for the US Government to sell this to their people -- though ironically most of them would now agree that their quality of life, like ours, has improved as a result of the move towards a low carbon economy.
After the US crisis, pundits in the rest of the industrialised world asked ``could it happen here?''. Fears of economic collapse succeeded where the climate change issue had failed, in moving the general consensus of opinion in this country, and elsewhere, towards a low carbon economy.
As far as transport was concerned, people's attitudes changed from ``we need our cars because there's no other way to get around'' to ``give us another way and we won't use them''. The same groups that had orchestrated the fuel tax protests back in 2000, thus persuading the Government to abandon its already faltering steps towards an environmental transport strategy, lobbied hard for the status quo, but transport campaigners successfully managed to argue that the rural economy could adapt to lower fuel use. Indeed, the CPRE argued that cheap fuel was one of the main driving forces behind the destruction of the rural economy as identified in our 2005 report.
In the run up to the 2009 general elections, the three main political parties were able to agree on a strategy to reduce road traffic. The need to reduce traffic had been acknowledged as far back as the 1997 Road Traffic Reduction Bill, which had however been destroyed by a series of wrecking amendments. Fortunately the coalition government that emerged from the 2009 election was in a better position to act.
Here are some of the measures implemented by that government.
1. Control of the rail and bus networks, which had been in private hands, was restored to the public sector, even though the actual operation usually remained (and sometimes remains) private. This helped the Government to ensure that it met social as well as commercial goals, and gave the Government a direct financial return (in the form of increased fare receipts) from measures to encourage people to transfer from cars to trains and buses. Believe it or not, it seems that in 2005 the Government assessment process actually penalised schemes aimed at transferring passengers from cars to buses as a minus by counting the loss of fuel tax revenue as a minus.
2. A universal tax on private non-residential car parking was imposed. This gave developers an incentive to ensure that people could get there other than by car. Other changes were made to planning law which had the effect of improving the bargaining position of local authorities as against developers.
3. A Transport Discrimination Act was brought in requiring service providers to consider the needs of non-motorists. As with other discrimination legislation, a main aim was to change people's attitudes, and its success can be judged by the fact that we would now regard it as unthinkable to build a factory or supermarket which couldn't easily be reached without a car. This legislation complemented the parking tax.
4. With road traffic on the wane, infrastructure spending shifted from roads to the restoration of strategic rail and bus links and improving rail capacity. Indeed, some of the new rail links, such as part of the route between Cambridge and Bedford, actually displaced roadspace which had been added at a time when we were planning for ever growing traffic.
5. Tax breaks were given to encourage people to get their access to cars through a car sharing scheme rather than by owning one. Car sharing was then in its infancy, but it has gradually developed to become people's normal mode of access to cars, with the effect that cars are now the transport of last resort rather than the first. The people of 2005 would be incredulous that now even moderate sized villages can now support car sharing schemes, and new developments are designed on the basis that their inhabitants won't need their own cars.
Back in 2005, cars were used for people's everyday journeys to work, school and shops. This meant that our big cities, regional centres and market towns were cluttered with constant traffic, causing endless traffic jams and intimidating walkers and cyclists. Even villages were often badly afflicted with traffic.
But now, even in remote areas, the majority of people only need cars for occasional journeys. Most of the strategic links in the rail network, axed in the 1960s (in what is now seen as one of this country's worst acts of vandalism), have been restored. For more local journeys, in the more populated areas (those which we regarded in 2005 as being most under threat of suburbanisation), the roads linking the main towns have buses at least every 15 minutes from early morning till late evening 7 days a week. Even in remoter areas frequencies are seldom less than hourly. People who live off the main routes can drive to the nearest main road, park there, and pick up a bus. This is far removed from the type of ``park & ride'' prevalent in 2005 (vast car parks on the edge of towns, so that only the last mile or two of people's journeys ceased to be driven): nowadays as many people often get to the sites on foot or by bike rather as by car, often on the new, attractive off-road routes that have made the walk or ride to the bus stop a pleasure. And even where pedestrians and cyclists continue to use the roads, the reduction in traffic levels has made the journey safer and more pleasant, and encouraged people to walk or cycle further.
Of course, this isn't to the exclusion of the traditional village bus, which in most areas are now more frequent than ever, and used as much by visitors to the countryside (whether as attractive rides or means of access to rural attractions) as by local people. Schoolchildren had long had a right to transport to the nearest school, but it was during this period that this was supplemented by ``right to work'' buses, which were introduced to carry people, wherever they live, to and from the nearest town for work -- but which also carry schoolchildren staying on for after-school activities, and visitors to the countryside.
Back in 2005, most goods transport was by lorry, often in huge juggernauts. The higher fuel efficiency of railfreight led to a push to transfer as much freight as possible to rail, with local delivery by smaller road vehicles, which were better suited to the streets of our historic towns and to our country lanes. With most of our towns and country lanes now covered by weight limits, even those goods for which the ``trunk'' haulage remains by road are normally trans-shipped to smaller vehicles for final delivery.
It is difficult now to imagine the extent to which the people of 2005 felt tied to their cars. The problems of carting children around (nowadays we leave them in the neighbourhood creche), of carrying trolleyfuls of shopping (we now have them delivered to our home, and if we aren't there to take them they'll be dropped off at the creche where we can pick them up later), of bringing children back from after-school activities (a minibus now does that), and so on.
How has this affected the rural economy over the last 30 years? Here are some of the trends.
In 2005, food sold in supermarkets and smaller shops was often produced far away even when there were local sources for the same food. Now local agriculture has prospered because the fuel cost of long distance haulage has made it more competitive.
With the parking tax and Transport Discrimination Act, many out of town superstores have had to relocate, and those that remain are used by fewer people. Instead people are doing their shopping in market towns and village shops. The former have also gained from the greater accessibility from villages brought by better public transport.
It has become a popular pastime for townspeople to use their Travelcards to catch a bus to the countryside on summer evenings, walk as long as daylight permits, and then resort to a country pub until the last bus back to town. This trade has saved many a rural pub, which inevitably lost its motorist trade when the dangers of drinking and driving were recognised. There is a move to extend daylight saving (as happened during World War II) to facilitate this; this would also save fuel by reducing the need for lighting.
Predictions were made that farmhouse B&Bs would go out of business because visitors couldn't get there. But with the above mentioned ``right to work'' buses, they can easily catch a bus out of town in the early evening and return the next morning -- and many people do this.
Predictions were also made that businesses based in the countryside wouldn't survive if it became uneconomic for their workforce to drive in. But most of them managed to find other ways of bringing their workforce in -- and often this has led to more general improvements to the public transport network. Some businesses chose to relocate to ``rural employment clusters'' which enabled workers in different businesses to share the same buses.
What about the appearance and character of the countryside?
In the last part of the 20th century, we all but abandoned traditional styles of building in our market towns and villages, in favour of estates and ``clone towns'' with little in the way of individual character. There were several reasons for this, but one of the most potent was the fact traditional patterns didn't provide space for people's cars. Now, of course, this isn't necessary.
Urban sprawl has been controlled because the Transport Discrimination Act and parking tax have reduced the pressure on greenfield sites for development. More recently, grants have been offered to those who convert formerly car-based developments -- whether residential or commercial -- to land uses which are productive, sustainable and visually attractive. It is notable that even some of the developments satisfying the then prevailing criteria for ``sustainable transport'' are now classified as ``car-based''; often this is because the need to provide space for all those cars made their densities too low to be viable.
Nowadays, ``densification'' is the vogue word. By concentrating more activity onto less land we have been able to convert sprawl to new countryside. We still have a long way to go on this, but we hope to be around for many years to come to see it through, now that there is general recognition that economic prosperity and environmental sustainability are not enemies but allies.
Oh yes, we should add that while climate change is still a problem, the world's moves to a low carbon economy have managed to avert runaway global warming. And they have given our scientists more time to come up with a ``techno-fix'' which will enable the biodiversity of our countryside to survive the foreseeable future.
Branch members and national supporters will find, enclosed with this newsletter, the notice for our AGM, which will be held at the Secretary's flat at 1 Fitzroy Lane at 10.30 on Sat 10 Dec. If you haven't received a notice, you will still be welcome if you turn up at the above time and place -- and, if you wish, you can join on the spot.
Any nominations for any of the posts referred to at the head of this newsletter (other than those relating to other Transport 2000 branches or other organisations) should be sent to the Coordinator to arrive before the meeting, or (if the consent of the nominee has been obtained) may be taken at the meeting.
Activities and dinancial reports will be circulated at the meeting, and sent to members with subsequent newsletter(s). Also to be circulated will be the minutes of the 2004 AGM.
The AGM will be followed by an open discussion on any topics members wish to raise. This will break off at lunchtime so that members can attend the Railfuture meeting beginning at 2.00 in Little St Mary's Church Hall, just off the north end of Trumpington St.
Following the success of a similar format last year, open discussion will be resumed at a further meeting on Sat 17 Dec at the same time and place (10.30, 1 Fitzroy Lane). This will provide a chance for members who can't attend on the 10th to raise discussion topics. If you have topics you want to raise but can't attend on the 17th either, please contact the Coordinator.
This year's national Transport 2000 AGM (on 19 Nov) will include a resolution (on the east-west rail link) and a topic for discussion (transport discrimination) which we submitted following last year's branch AGM. Depending on what happens at the national AGM, we may wish to discuss these issues further. Note the reference to transport discrimination in our headline article. The full text of what we submitted to national Transport 2000 was included in our last newsletter.
There are still some members who haven't renewed for 2005-6. If you have received a renewal slip with this newsletter, please send your subscription as soon as possible -- if it reaches us before the AGM then it will be included in our financial report for this year. Alternatively you can save on postal costs by paying your subscription renewal at the AGM.
Subscriptions remain at GBP 3-50 ordinary, GBP 2-50 concessionary, GBP 5 household/affiliate. Why not renew for 2 years andsave the trouble of having to send another cheque next year? We are unlikely to give any further reminders to members who do not respond to this call for renewal.
The first item in this section was contributed by our Secretary.
Oakington-Girton cycle track: This route, which has been provided by the County Council, consists of an area segregated by white lines on a pavement with low pedestrian use. It is notable because it has been marked out by big cats eyes which are solar powered.
The contrast between moonlight and car headlights caused difficulty at nighta and it is hoped that the low lights at the edges of the track will give guidance when a car is approaching.
The Secretary is planning to write a report on this for national Transport 2000 and would like to know what people (you or others) think of it, whether they are cyclists, drivers or pedestrians. Please ring her on 01223 360988 or email the Coordinator.
Cambridge coach terminal (see Newsletter 90): The County Council has deferred a decision to allow more options to be studied. We hope that these include multi-stop arrangements which would provide several access points within the Cambridge area if they are using the London or airport routes in particular.
Cambridgeshire Guided Busway: The Inspector's report was sent to the Government at the end of July, but it won't be released till the Government has made its decision. This will probably be after our AGM, but if not it will certainly be among our topics for discussion.
Cambridge Local Plan: The public inquiry into this is now under way. Unfortunately, due to confusion on procedural matters, we were unable to put our case against the deletion of plans for an Addenbrookes station, which are our main complaint against the Plan as it now stands.
We were sent a list of tendered bus services where the contract is due for review next year. Here they are together with the comments we submitted. Members who support these ideas may wish to lobby their county councillors; and if you believe they could be improved on please let us know.
1A/5 (Cambridge-Huntingdon-Peterborough, Sun): Advance first journey from Cambridge and retard last journey to Cambridge by an hour to improve connections between Cambridge and Peterborough.
3 (Papworth-Huntingdon): For the ``main line'' service, see the next section (Cambridge western corridors). For the ``village'' service, see route 414.
X11 (Cambridge-Newmarket, Sun): Amalgamate with Suffolk CC routes 200 and 354 to provide through journeys between Cambridge and Mildenhall, Thetford and Bury.
X12 (Newmarket-Ely, one commuter journey): No change.
16/17/44 (Cambridge-Fulbourn-Haverhill/Newmarket): Replace by hourly route from Cambridge to Haverhill via Fulbourn, possibly running via Addenbrookes and replacing part of 13/13A, together with feeders linking villages on this route with Newmarket, also replacing part of 46/7 and 901-4. A twin to the 114 could replace the section of these routes within Cambridge.
19 (Cambridge-Wisbech, Sun): Divert/extend to serve Cambridge, Ely and March stations. North of the last run as a loop serving Friday Bridge, Wisbech, Wisbech St Mary, Guyhirn and Chainbridge, or the same in reverse.
31 (Cambridge-Fowlmere/Barley): Run on a regular interval 2 hourly basis from Cambridge to Addenbrookes, the Shelfords, Hauxton, Harston, Newton, Thriplow and Fowlmere. Peak time journeys then run as now, off-peak journeys do a loop serving Shepreth, Meldreth and Melbourn. Trumpington estate facility to be transferred to another route (H1, or under our Cambridge Western Corridor proposals below, 2 or 75).
110 (Histon-Ely, Thur): Could be amalgamated with 106 (Cottenham-Ely), with Histon passengers being given through ticketing with C7.
129 (Blackhorse Drove-Ely, Thur): Could be amalgamated with 115 (Gold Hill-Ely), running via Ten Mile Bank where passengers could change to/from route 47 for Downham Market and Kings Lynn. This would also provide a visitor facility for Welney Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, and a further diversion via Southery would part replace former route 32 -- see next section.
133 (Ely City, Mon & Thur): Interworking with other route should be sought, possibly entailing moving the Monday service one or more other days.
152 (St Neots-Bedford via Kimbolton): Divert via Sharnbrook to improve connections with A6 corridor. Provide connections at Kimbolton with North Beds Dart to/from Bedford via Pertenhall.
196 (Cambridge-Waterbeach via Horningsea: Extend to Landbeach, Cottenham, Rampton (replacing part 106), and Willingham, with services timed to provide rail connections at Waterbeach.
213 (Ely-Bury, Wed): No change (except possibly for retiming in connection with the proposal for route 133, see above).
352/3 (Peterborough local routes, Sat): 352 could usefully extend to other villages, and 353 could be replaced by a Saturday service on route 333 (Ramsey-March/Chatteris).
390 (Wisbech-Peterborough via villages): No change.
414 (Graveley-St Neots, Thur): We suggest that this, together with the ``village'' element of route 3 (see above) and route 9, could form part of a single contract that links local villages with different market towns on different days of the week, and, on schooldays, interworks with the same school service.
415 (Upwood-Peterborough, Wed) and 431 (Gt Raveley-St Ives, Mon): These could combine with route RH3 (Upwood-Huntingdon, formerly 435) to form a single contract using the same principles as with routes 3/9/414 (see 414 above).
553/4 (Cambridge-Huntingdon): Retard last journey from Huntingdon to connect with 22.22 train from Peterborough, with rail tickets accepted for journeys from points north of Peterborough to Cambridge.
There have been two sets of major changes in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
Cambridge western corridors: These long expected changes were implemented on 23 Oct.
X5: Sunday buses start earlier and are increased to half hourly from late morning. Buses no longer serve Summertown in Oxford but presumably use the Woodstock Road and Gosford by-pass (A34) instead. Evening buses serve Papworth, Eltisley and Eynesbury in both directions 7 days a week -- however passengers are referred to the route 18 leaflet for details, and this leaflet doesn't show them. Note that they continue to pass close to St Neots station, but on Cromwell Road rather than Cambridge Street. No journeys now serve Cambourne. Timings are shifted which means longer journey times and an earlier last bus for passengers from Milton Keynes to Cambridge.
14: The section between Cambourne and St Neots is withdrawn (see 18). All journeys are rerouted within Cambridge, with the terminus by the Crowne Plaza hotel in Downing Street, and running via Regent St, Lensfield Rd and Trumpington St (westbound only), then Silver St and Queens Rd tp Madingley Rd. The service is half hourly weekday daytimes and hourly evenings and Sundays. For a trial period Dayriders and Megariders are available to Cambourne. This service is now operated by Stagecoach in Cambridge instead of Stagecoach in Bedford.
18/A: This replaces the former 118 and 119, and the Gamlingay to St Neots section of route 461. (What's left of the 461 now runs between St Neots and either Eynesbury Tesco or Little Paxton.) The off-peak pattern is for buses to run hourly from Cambridge to Bourn, then on to Cambourne, then to St Neots alternately by the former 14 route (Papworth, Eltisley and Eynesbury), or via Caxton, Longstowe, the Gransdens, Gamlingay, Waresley, Abbotsley and Eynesbury Tesco. The former 119 route via Eversden is reduced to a single school-time journey, though the area is also served by Whippet 75. For a trial period Dayriders and Megariders are available as far as Bourn.
Here are some other effects of these changes.
Cambourne-St Neots: One of the biggest losers, and on a route which Cambridgeshire County Council was formerly trying to develop. Daytime service down to 2 hourly and no evening service at all. (Though it is possible to use the longer route via Gamlingay.)
Papworth: Daytime services to Cambridge and St Neots are considerably reduced (and disappear completely on Sundays), though Whippet provides alternative facilities to Cambridge. Furthermore they use a less direct route. First bus from Cambridge is too late for normal working hours, which makes it difficult for non-motorists from Cambridge to hold jobs at Papworth Hospital. With the likelihood of the Hospital relocating to the Addenbrookes area this is storing up trouble for the future when we come to tackle the traffic problems of Addenbrookes. However, evening buses are improved and now run 7 days a week.
Cambridge-Gamlingay: There are now more buses on this route than before, though the opportunity has been missed to create new links by extending some journeys that start or finish at Longstowe to/from Cambourne where they could connect with the 14. Connections at Gamlingay to/from Biggleswade are erratic.
Cambridge-A40/A44 corridor: One now has to go right into Oxford and out again, instead of walking between the Summertown stop and the Woodstock Road. Why can't a stop at the northern end of Woodstock Road be added to help passengers changing for Woodstock, Chipping Norton, Witney, Carterton etc.?
In the short term, we would like to see extension of some 18/A journeys to/from Cambourne, with timings suitable for interchange with the 14; and advertised connections at Gamlingay with the 188 to/from Biggleswade. Here are some more far reaching proposals which would help to create an integrated network in the area.
1. Curtail the 18 at Cambourne and transfer the sections beyond to route 14.
2. Route 14 would continue to run half hourly from Cambridge to Cambourne. Because our proposals would considerably increase its strategic importance it should start from Drummer St or Emmanuel St. Over a 2 hour cycle, 3 out of the 4 journeys would extend to/from St Neots via Papworth (former route 14 now 18), St Neots via Gamlingay (route 18A), and Huntingdon via Papworth (Whippet 3). This could be integrated with other services (Whippet 1 and 5) to provide half hourly links from Cambridge to Papworth, hourly rail links from Cambourne and Papworth (alternately to St Neots and Huntingdon), and hourly links from Cambridge to Godmanchester.
3. Under the timetable pattern we have in mind buses would serve Gamlingay at the same minutes past each hour, alternately in each direction. It would therefore be possible to arrange connections with route 188 to/from Potton and Biggleswade.
4. We would like to see a route swap between the 188 and East Beds Dart whereby Sutton would be served by the former and Gamlingay (including Great Heath and Cinques) by the latter, which would also be timed to provide direct connections between Sandy and Cambridge.
5. Whippet 2 would be extended to provide an off-peak replacement for part of the 119: Cambridge, Hardwick village, Highfields, Caldecote, Kingston, the Eversdens, Harlton, Haslingfield and back to Cambridge.
6. Whippet 75 would then cease to serve the Eversdens and Harlton, instead running from Cambridge to Haslingfield, then as now to Croydon, then via Wrestlingworth Crossroads (connecting East Beds Dart) to Guilden Morden where it would take over the existing 127 to Royston. This service would run at regular 2 hour intervals.
In the medium term we would hope that each of the three routes beyond Cambourne could be upgraded to hourly (possibly excluding the Gamlingay to St Neots section of 18A).
The same date also saw quite a lot of changes to services in the Peterborough area, both urban and rural. The most important affect the Oundle corridor. Buses continue to run hourly from Peterborough to Elton (via Lynch Wood). Beyond Elton alternate journeys (route 14) run to Warmington, Tansor, Cotterstock, Oundle and along the A605 to Titchmarsh and Thrapston. (Thrapston is served by hourly route 16 to Kettering and Raunds, connecting at the latter for Rushden and beyond.) The other journeys are numbered 13 and most run to Stibbington (using the new flyover across the A1), Wansford, Nassington, Kings Cliffe, Woodnewton and Oundle. Some of these serve Glapthorn and Southwick, which are also served by some shuttle journeys from Oundle.
The Stibbington diversion brings buses closer to the Nene Valley Railway station called Wansford but actually at nearby Sibson -- just in time for those who go for Santa Special trips which can only be boarded there. The new links to Barnwell, Thorpe Watervilla, Titchmarsh and Thrapston are also valuable. But Fotheringhay (where Mary Queen of Scots was executed in 1587) loses out, and fewer buses now serve Warmington village.
City services which are changing are 2 (evenings and Sundays), 4 and 5 (replacing 45), 12 (no longer serving Hampton, which gains a new route 6) and 15 (replacing 12 on Sundays). There are also minor changes to the 46 (renumbered 16), 36, and 47. Also a seasonal park & ride service is reintroduced from Lynch Wood, Maskew Avenue (Bourges Boulevard), and Oxney Road (Frank Perkins Parkway).
There were also changes to the Village Link services from 5 Sept, and Morleys have ceased trading with their network taken over unchanged by Alec Head.
We have one other change to report, the withdrawal of Norfolk CC's contracted service 32 from Brandon to Ely on Thursdays. This was the only service on the A10 north of Littleport. Our proposals for route 129 (see previous section) would provide a part replacement -- but we'd really prefer to see a regular service on this section of the A10. The withdrawal of the 32 is reported on the Norfolk County Council website but the service is still shown on the Cambridgeshire website.
Norfolk: Four items worth noting. This year saw the introduction of a twice daily service, called the Peddars Wayfarer (PW1), between Thetford and Swaffham, via Knettishall and Watton, 7 days a week. As the name suggests it is intended for Peddars Way walkers and cyclists (it carries a cycle trailer), but it provides a more generally useful facility. It has now finished for the 2005 season but should be running again next year.
Buses on the North Norfolk Coast now run 7 days a week throughout the year, and there's a new ticket costing GBP 6 called the Coasthopper Rover Plus. Publicity is confusing, but it should be valid on all Norfolk Green services (including the Coasthopper, X8/X6 Kings Lynn-Fakenham-Cromer, 29 Wells-Fakenham Mon-Sat, and X5 Cromer-Norwich Sun), plus Sanders 29 (Wells-Fakenham-Norwich Sun) and First 410-3 (Kings Lynn-Hunstanton), though it cannot be bought on the last. First Sunday departures from Kings Lynn are 09.55 along the coast (connecting with 08.18 bus from Peterborough) and 10.30 via Fakenham (also connecting with 09.33 train from Cambridge). Still available are Coasthopper Rover and Bittern Line Rover tickets, though neither is valid from Kings Lynn.
However, Norfolk CC have made some severe cuts in West Norfolk. As well as the 32 (see previous section, both main routes serving the Docking area have disappeared (27 to Hunstanton and Fakenham and 30 to Hillington connecting for Kings Lynn), as has the 412 serving Sedgeford and Wolferton. Ironically these services provided access to a different section of the Peddars Way.
The new Norwich Bus Station now has high quality facilities including a travel centre providing information on all services within the county (and replacing the former office near the castle). Unlike the previous bus station, it is open to all operators. Unfortunately, it's still on the wrong side of the city for rail interchange -- and we're suspicious when money is spent on infrastructure at the cost of services (see last paragraph).
Essex and Suffolk: In our last newsletter we gave the wrong telephone number for the Wildlife Boat Trips from Walton on Naze: it should have been 01255 671852. The 2 hour trips run twice daily for most of the year, weather permitting, at times dependent on the tides (though they won't be running between 6 Nov and 21 Dec). Remember that Network Railcard holders can buy good value day returns to/from Walton (or Manningtree, see below) via the Stansted to Colchester rail link bus.
The Dedham Vale Hopper will be running through the winter on a revised timetable. Days of operation are now Wednesdays to Saturdays. Combined with new route 730 (Mistley-Bildeston, Mon-Sat, 2 hourly via the B1070 corridor) it provides an hourly service between Manningtree station and East Bergholt on the days it runs, while continuing to serve Flatford Mill, Stratford St Mary and Dedham. The rail connection provided by these routes replaces that formerly provided by route 96, which now, incomprehensibly, has been curtailed by First to terminate just short at Cattawade (except on Sundays, when it is a tendered service run by another operator).
First have also made cuts on the A12 corridor north of Ipswich. They no longer run beyond Rendlesham to Snape and Aldeburgh, or between Woodbridge and Ipswich station. However Suffolk CC has supported replacement facilities on routes 165 (Ipswich-Leiston via Rendlesham, Snape and Aldeburgh) and 190 (Framlingham-Snape via Saxmundham), both 2 hourly.
Northants and Oxon: According to the Northants CC website, Northampton's Sunday services X2 (to Bedford) and X7 (to Leicester) will be withdrawn by Stagecoach on 20 Nov. It isn't clear at this stage whether there will be a replacement. If there isn't, it will show the lack of joined up government, as bus improvements on these two corridors were what rail campaigners were fobbed off with in the report of the Milton Keynes & South Midlands development study. We are working out proposals to divert some of the added X5 journeys (see previous section) between Bedford and Oxford via Northampton, Towcester and Brackley -- and it might also be worth providing a weekday evening service (as the last X2 from Northampton is at 18.10).
There are major changes -- both pluses and minuses -- planned for Cherwell District in Oxfordshire on 11 Dec. See the Oxfordshire website for details.
Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes: Bedfordshire has at last published two of its three comprehensive timetable booklets. At the time of writing only the North Bedfordshire area timetable (which covers Bedford Borough) is still awaited. In the Milton Keynes area, MK Metro have introduced new Saturday shopping services from Flitwick, Daventry and Winslow (the first two of these restoring facilities that used to run 6 days a week), and diverted alternate Cranfield buses to run via Moulsoe instead of North Crawley.
Sussex: A bus service omitted from Newsletter 90 is the summer Sunday service between Havant and West Itchenor, serving the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It diverts through pretty waterside villages and connects with boat trips at West Itchenor. There's also a solar powered boat which does occasional trips from both there and Emsworth.
Gloucestershire: At least until 4 Dec, Sunday buses (212/3) link Cam & Dursley station with Slimbridge Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Berkeley Castle, Dursley, Tetbury and Westonbirt Arboretum. A day rover covering both of these routes costs just GBP 2 and provides discounts on admittance to Slimbridge, Westonbirt and Berkeley Castle. Note that the rail service to Cam & Dursley is wrongly shown in the National Rail Timetable.