Transport 2000 Cambs & W Suffolk

Newsletter 93, Apr 2006

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.


In Newsletter 91 we produced a positive vision for the future of our countryside in response to a report by the Council to Protect Rural England which, as a wake-up call, foresaw a much bleaker future. Now we do the same in reverse: in response to a positive vision for the future of transport in the Cambridge area (Cambridge Evening News, 18 Jan) we produce our own negative vision which is how we believe that things are more likely to turn out if we continue on current lines. This is a minor amendment of what we sent to the Cambridge Evening News -- we don't know what, if anything, they have done with it.

Interview with Kevin, resident of Cambourne, in 2016

Q: How long have you lived in this area and what decided you to move to Cambourne?

A: We moved here in 2004 when I got my job at Papworth Hospital. We chose Cambourne because there was a direct bus link, and at a pinch I could cycle it. Also it was within easy reach by bus of Cambridge, and we could also get buses to St Neots for trains to London. It also seemed a good place for our teenage children and my wife's aging parents. And we hoped our house would be a good investment -- its value would have gone up had the east-west rail link been built close to the A428, as recommended by the London-South Midlands Multi-Modal Study.

Q: But I gather things then went sour.

A: Yes. In 2005 the bus links to Papworth and St Neots were reduced, and I found I had to cycle in most days. The main road was very unpleasant, and the side route via Elsworth took twice as long. Then in 2006 came the Council's budget cuts to buses. In 2007 the A428 dual carriageway opened, our road became an "overspill A14", and Madingley Road became clogged, making our buses increasingly erratic.

Q: How have things developed more recently?

A: Well, a few years ago my job moved to the Addenbrookes site. This means that I can at least rely on there being buses, even though soon after the A14 upgrade was complete the journey to work often took up to an hour and a half because of gridlock on Cambridge's inner ring road. To think that if they'd built the railway I could have done it door to door in 20 minutes! The A14 upgrade also undermined patronage on the guided busway, because more people are choosing to drive in, and the cars using the Histon and Milton interchanges block the way for the guided buses. As a result the Council has been spending more and more money shoring up the guided busway to the neglect of transport in places like Cambourne. How did it ever make sense to spend nearly 100m pounds on the guided busway in the context of the 2006 budget crisis?

Q: But things are better now, aren't they?

A: Yes, in one sense. The big stores, who had for years been threatening to leave Cambridge city centre if congestion charging was introduced, ended up leaving it anyway because they realised people didn't want to have to put up with gridlock every time they went shopping. The city centre is now essentially left to the tourists. Jobs also moved out. So with fewer people in Cambridge, the traffic can just about cope. But there's the downside that it's now much harder to get to the shops by public transport. Nor could we use internet shopping as there was rarely anyone in the house to accept deliveries, apart from my mother in law who was often asleep and didn't want to be disturbed, and even when she was awake she could never get to the door on time. Fortunately we in Cambourne have a supermarket so food isn't a worry...

Q: How have your family been coping?

A: My father in law died in the bird flu epidemic. My mother in law has become increasingly frail and we are looking for a care home for her. My wife has had a local job so transport hasn't been too much of a problem for her. The children moved away when they went to University, and are now in Oxford and London. Visiting them is a problem -- the bus to Oxford has been taking ever longer because of growing congestion, and it by-passes Cambourne anyway. It's a long walk from the city centre to the rail station for when we go to London. For a time we tried the coach, but then they moved the coach terminal to the rail station too...

Q: Have you ever thought of buying a car?

A: Yes, often. But then we'd ask, how could we face our children knowing we'd helped to ruin the world for them? Climate change has become more and more worrying over the last few years. I think our society will last out our time, but our generation has badly betrayed our children's. We might have done had they not showed that they cared by not buying their own cars. Mind you, that's easier to do in London or Oxford...

Q: I gather you're leaving Cambourne soon?

A: Yes, we'll move to London or Oxford as soon as we've settled on a place for my mother in law. Good riddance -- to the Cambridge area I mean, of course!

Branch News

Our financial report will be distributed to members with this newsletter. Meanwhile membership subscriptions will soon be due for 2006-7, and we have sent renewal forms to those members who haven't already paid up. Rates are still unchanged -- 3-50 ordinary, 2-50 concessionary, and 5-00 household or affiliate. As before we are offering a 2 year option for those who don't want to receive another renewal form next year. And members can opt to receive regular copies of "Transport Retort", national Transport 2000's publication, for an extra 8 pounds per year.

East-West News

Apart from changes to bus services, this is our main news item for this time.

As described in our last newsletter, following the success of our resolution to Transport 2000's national AGM in 2005, we canvassed support for a meeting with the aim of setting up an umbrella group to campaign on both rail and bus issues on the east-west corridor. There were a few dissidents, but the overall message was one of support and the meeting was in due course convened in Bedford on 8 Apr, attracting attendance from most of the urban areas covered. It was agreed at the meeting that an umbrella group would serve a useful purpose. The following principles were agreed:

1. The group would not interfere with the work of any existing group.

2. The group would not intervene in current negotiations about restoring rail services to the western end of the corridor (Oxford and Aylesbury to Bletchley), which are currently in a fairly delicate stage, except to offer support where appropriate.

3. The group would act as a voice for bus users on the corridor. The main existing bus routes involved are Bedford-Northampton (X2), Cambridge-Oxford (X5), Northampton-Oxford (X6) and Aylesbury-Milton Keynes (X15), the first three being operated by Stagecoach and the last by Arriva.

4. The group would campaign for the selection and protection of a suitable route between Bedford and Cambridge. The approval of the guided busway, which will take over both the former rail routes west of Cambridge, means that it may be difficult to proceed in the Cambridge area until we can see whether the project can attract the finance necessary to go ahead. The "official" route selected by the East-West Consortium (consisting mainly of local authorities), and supported by Cambridgeshire County Council when they promoted the guided busway, is the route via Letchworth, but this may not be considered "suitable" because it's a long detour (though we would accept it as an intermediate stage), and anyway there are doubts as to whether the requisite rail traffic could be accommodated on the well used Cambridge-Hitchin and East Coast Main Lines. The main potential obstacle in Bedfordshire is the proposed Willington Rowing Lake, which the county council seem to be supporting oblivious of its incompatibility with the most obvious route for the rail link which they also support!

5. The group would set up an email discussion group on east-west matters and continue to circulate news to one another.

Meanwhile, as hinted above, there does at last seem to be some progress regarding the western section of the rail route. The formerly mothballed section of route between Bletchley and Swanbourne Sidings, about 2 miles east of Winslow, has been reopened to freight traffic. As the routes from Bicester and Aylesbury to Claydon are already open it means that the only "missing link" left is between Claydon and Swanbourne. Also, funding has been given for a new station north of Aylesbury, which will mean upgrading to passenger standards the section of line between there and the existing station. And a report has come out supporting the business case for the project -- though more reports have to be awaited before anything will get done!

The approval of schemes to increase the capacity of the Haven Ports (Felixstowe and Harwich), together with proposals for a new port at Thames Haven (west of Canvey Island), means that pressure on existing freight routes is likely to increase considerably in future -- especially if passenger services on the North London Line, which serves the main Olympic site in Stratford, and other London orbital routes, are developed. This may yet provide a rationale for justifying a new east-west route which could carry some of the load.

Other Rail News

First Group has taken over the franchise for the rail services between Kings Cross, Cambridge and Kings Lynn, and between Kings Cross and Peterborough serving St Neots and Huntingdon. First have to pay a premium to run the service -- and this money will have to be extracted from passengers, which is worrying unless it's done by increasing loadings on off-peak and counter-peak trains. The Government has at last provided money for the new station at St Pancras Thameslink, but not yet for the link between the Great Northern lines and that station enabling trains to run south of London.

Planning News

In February Cambridgeshire County Council sought planning permission for the Addenbrookes Link Road which would cut across what is likely to become public open space on an important "green finger" south of Cambridge, and which would undermine the economic prospects of the southern section of the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway by encouraging people working at the new Addenbrookes biotechnology developments to drive all the way to their workplace rather than leaving their cars at Trumpington Park & Ride. The official objection period has long since expired, but the issue hasn't been discussed by the relevant committee (which next meets on 15 May) so objections may still be accepted. The web page for information about the scheme is -- click on "Addenbrookes Link Road".

Proposals to redevelop the area around Cambridge Rail Station have been turned down. This may mean yet more delay to the prospects for a multi-modal transport interchange there. By contrast, redevelopment of the huge site north of Kings Cross station has got most of the permission it needs to go ahead. We believe that both these schemes demonstrate problems with our planning system, which encourages developers to hold out for all they can get knowing that the local authority has no option but to take it or leave it.

Proposals have been put forward to change the area to be occupied by the proposed new town at Northstowe. If, as proposed, the centre of the town moves to the north, this will have the advantage of making it easier for the guided busway, or other rapid transit system, to serve the centre; but it may make it harder to separate Rampton effectively from the new town.


Our Secretary has produced the following two news items:

At the AGM last December, we discussed the Hills Road Bridge. In addition to discussing general reconstruction difficulties we voted on the county council's cycle lanes proposals. We agreed that we preferred on-road cycle lanes (Option C). We were also concerned about bicycles at the two junctions either side but think there may be space if the roads are suitably marked. This will be even more important if the new houses on the Government Offices site are not to get access to Addenbrookes via the Cambridge University Press site and disused rail route. Even with the houses not yet occupied cycles are damaging the footpath along Holbrook.

Together with the Cambridge Cycling Campaign, led by Jim Chisholm, we persuaded South Cambs District Council to alter the solar powered lights on the Oakington road quickly. There is still room for improvement and we hope that any cycle routes on the University's proposed development sites will get these markers put down correctly the first time.

City Centre

As we said in our last newsletter, the current proposal for the city's coach terminal is Parkers Piece rather than Victoria Avenue. Adshel are replacing bus shelters with their advertising glass walls and slippery bench seats. This is the last chance to say something if you don't like either of these actions -- talk to your local councillors.

Area congestion charging is back on the agenda for Cambridge not only for the central area but for Addenbrookes, Fen Ditton and Chesterton. Our AGM discussed this and decided that an area charge was preferable to more bollards. We believe that the following two conditions would help to make an area charge effective:

Further comment on the last issue: as stated in our last newsletter, we have adopted a neutral stance on the proposed coach terminal on Parkside -- it's better than Victoria Avenue, but it may still be inconvenient for many users, and it may detract from the amenity value of Parkers Piece. And very recently the County Council has come up with proposals for more bollards on Victoria Avenue and Maids Causeway: as stated above we would prefer an area charging scheme, or a parking tax, but worst of all would be to do nothing and allow more and more cars to flood the city as development proceeds.

Waterways News

The 2007 National Waterways Festival, which runs over 3-4 days during the August Bank Holiday weekend, will be in St Ives. (The 2006 festival will be at Beale Park near Pangbourne -- we hope that the rail service between Paddington and Reading won't be suspended for engineering works as it was last time this venue was used!)

Concessionary bus passes

Our Membership Secretary has written the following on the new concessionary fares scheme for the over 60s.

From 1 Apr 2006 a new scheme will apply in the 5 Cambridgeshire Districts and Peterborough for holders of the Cambridgeshire concessionary bus passes. This scheme replaces the previous countywide scheme of half price fares for the over 60s.

Basic Scheme as set by Central Government: After 09.30 Mon-Fri and all day on Sat, Sun and Bank Holidays bus travel will be free in the home district of the resident of a District council. The period of free travel ends at 23.00.

Additions to the Basic Scheme for Cambridgeshire:

A: During the permitted scheme hours it will be possible to travel from one's home district across one or more district boundaries for an additional fare of 1-80 return or 1-00 single. This also includes journeys out of county to Newmarket, Haverhill, and Saffron Walden.

B: The free travel period is extended to include selected services before 09.30 in some rural Districts.

C: There is no end time of 23.00.

D: There will be a new 3-00 Multibus concessionary ticket for all journeys by bus throughout Cambridgeshire during the scheme hours for use on participating operators' services. (Note: Multibus tickets can't be used on Stagecoach in Bedford/Northants services -- X4 and X5 -- nor on the Hospital Link route H1 from Trumpington Park & Ride. This applies to all travellers, not just holders of concessionary passes.)

It was stated that new bus passes were scheduled to be issued in May. These new passes were to enable the bus drivers to more easily distinguish between different District councils' bus passes. The charging back to the District councils of the cost of the subsidy is related to where the concessionary journey originated. At present, due to the difficulty in distinguishing the district symbols on the bus pass, concessionary tickets are being issued on some routes to all Cambridgeshire bus pass holders, with districts being ignored. A bus route can for example traverse 3 districts and cross district boundaries 4 times. The ticket machine programming determines the fare. It has been suggested recently that the new bus passes may not be issued until September.

Stagecoach have introduced a half price Dayrider ticket for holders of Cambridgeshire concessionary bus passes which is obtainable during the same time period.

The allocation of central funding to the Districts was based on the number of over 60s and deprivation. It has been stated that overall Cambridgeshire had sufficient funds for a countywide scheme. However it appears that some districts were unwilling to cross-subsidise other districts with a more extensive bus service. The grant in future years may however be related to expenditure this year.

South Cambridgeshire was allocated 544,000 for the free fare scheme. There are no major towns in South Cambridgeshire, so almost all travel is across district boundaries. The cost of the half price countywide fare scheme was 215,000 to South Cambridgeshire in 2005/6.

It should be noted that the 1-00 and 1-80 fares do not apply to journeys that start outside the passholder's home district. So passengers whose outward journey to a destination outside their home district is by a different route (or on a different day) can't get any concession at all on their return journey, except for a Dayrider, Multibus or similar ticket. Passengers whose origin and destination are within their home district can travel free even if the bus ventures into another district en route.

Park & Ride buses are treated no different to other buses. As all sites except Newmarket Road are within the city, passholders from the rural districts get no concessions except for the 1-00 single and 1-80 return fares from Newmarket Road, and the journey may be to any stop along the route. It is also presumed that Cambridge City people can travel free on National Express coaches between Cambridge and Trumpington, as they are registered as local services on this section, but they won't be able to travel free to London in 2008.

Anomalies such as these have caused significant resentment, as regular readers of papers such as the Cambridge Evening News will have gathered. In particular, most counties (including Suffolk) have adopted considerably more generous schemes, usually covering all journeys that start or finish in one's home county, and often with no morning time restriction. For example, Bedford passholders can travel free to Cambridge (though not westwards on the X5 route). But it seems that everything will be ironed out by 2008 when passholders will be entitled to free travel on local buses throughout England, thus placing them on an equal footing with people in Wales and Scotland.

Cambs Bus News.

The "Save Our Buses" petition was presented at Cambs CC's budget meeting, with our Chair speaking in its support. We don't know if it made any difference to this year's budget: the notes issued with our Council Tax demands seem to suggest that spending has been kept level, but because of the ever increasing costs of supporting bus services this means cuts. As yet there has been no cuts programme implemented, but rumours have circulated about the future of routes such as the Sunday service between Cambridge and Wisbech (19), and when commercial operators "cherry pick" by withdrawing from certain routes, or sections of routes, or times of operation on particular routes, it will be harder to persuade the County Council to pick up the tab.

Meanwhile, there have been quite a lot of changes to services in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Here are the main ones. (Most of the Peterborough changes do not take effect till 30 Apr.)

First X1 (Peterborough-Lowestoft): Omits Eye at all times -- see 410.

Stagecoach C2 (Milton-Addenbrookes): Some journeys extended to/from Waterbeach, also other timetable changes.

First X4 (Norwich-Cambridge): New route, 2 hourly, replacing the former X4 which linked Norwich hourly with Bury. The Bury-Thetford section is hived off to a new route 84 which is also reduced to 2 hourly. Outside the section between Attleborough and Wymondham, the only intermediate stops are Cambridge Science Park and Thetford. Also the times are practically useless for passengers originating from Cambridge, as the first arrival in Norwich is at 11.15 and the last departure only 3 hours later. The route no longer serves Snetterton where major development is in prospect, nor does it serve the important intermediate points west of Thetford at Elveden (Center Parcs), Mildenhall, Newmarket and Bottisham. All in all a missed opportunity.

Stagecoach X4 (Peterborough-Milton Keynes): Frequency now doubled to half hourly between Northampton and Milton Keynes (weekdays) and hourly throughout (Sundays). However, no longer serves Stoke Bruerne canal museum on Sundays, nor even the nearby A508 canal bridge. Route changed between Northampton and Wellingborough.

Stagecoach X9 (Cambridge-Peterborough): Replaces 19 (Cambridge-March, hourly), running hourly to Chatteris (but not serving Milton) then 2 hourly to March, Guyhirn (where connections can be made with First X1 to Wisbech and beyond, with Stagecoach Explorers valid on the X1), Thorney and Peterborough. Journeys not continuing through connect with Cavalier 337 to March, Whittlesey and Peterborough.

Stagecoach 9 (Cambridge-Littleport): Renumbering of 19A.

National Express 010 (Cambridge-London): 2 journeys on Mon-Fri diverted via Canary Wharf instead of Bow Church and Mile End.

Stagecoach 10 (Cambridge-Newmarket): Renumbering of 111, rerouted within Newmarket to replace town service 110. Service increased to half hourly with Kickstart funding. However, former 122 journeys are inadequately replaced, with no buses between Burwell and Fordham at any time, and journeys between Cambridge and Burwell reduced in the evenings -- which almost certainly means that Cambridge people won't be able to attend the Gilbert & Sullivan Opera at Swaffham Bulbeck this year -- though there is one extra journey on Sundays. We have suggested that alternate journeys on route 10 should run to Mildenhall instead of Newmarket; a 4 way interchange could be established at Fordham to enable passengers to change there for Ely and Newmarket. This would enable a significant shortening of Suffolk CC's route 200 between Newmarket, Mildenhall and Thetford.

Stagecoach 11 and 12 (Cambridge-Newmarket-Bury/Ely): Renumbering of X11 and X12, with latter extended to provide an Ely local service (replacing 133). New evening service on route 12 replaces former 122 for journeys between Cambridge and points between Fordham and Ely. There are 4 Sunday journeys between Cambridge and Soham, 2 extending to Ely, replacing former X11 (which provided 10 journeys between Cambridge and Newmarket, so this is a big cut) and 122 (which provided 3 journeys between Fordham and Ely). These services no longer have a timing point at Bottisham (former White Horse), but it is believed that they still stop there. (Going east, they would have to pass this point, but westwards it is conceivable that they would use the A14.) Wicken Fen is no longer served and now hard to get to at any time -- the option involving the least walking is to go to Ely, catch the 117 Thursday market bus at 13.29 and after visiting the Fen walk to Burwell to pick up a 10. The first eastwards Sunday bus is earlier and now connects with route 354 from Newmarket to Bury via Mildenhall, making it easier to visit West Stow Country Park or Lackford Nature Reserve, though it's better to return via Haverhill (see below).

Stagecoach 12 (Peterborough-Deepings): From 11 June will use main road north of Peterborough, and changed departure bay. Also some extra journeys.

Stagecoach 13 (Cambridge-Haverhill): This group is reduced to half hourly, with all journeys serving Abington, Linton and Horseheath. There are additional fast peak journeys numbered X13 which run direct from Haverhill to Cambridge (stopping at Linton on the main road). Retiming of the Sunday service means that it does now connect in both directions with routes 90C to Ipswich (serving Clare, Cavendish, Long Mwelford, Sudbury and Hadleigh) and 345 to Bury (serving Ickworth).

Stagecoach 36 (Peterborough-Thorney/Wisbech): Some journeys replaced by X9.

Stagecoach 44 (Cambridge-Haverhill): The list of changes on the county website includes this service but there is no other evidence of any change.

Stagecoach 188 (Gamlingay-Biggleswade): Late evening journey withdrawn. The intermediate community of Potton is still served by the East Beds Dart on a demand responsive basis, and we believe that this should also serve nearby Gamlingay. The same should apply on Sundays, when Gamlingay and Potton were formerly served by route 172, but now only Potton is served by the East Beds Dart.

Cavalier 384 (Wisbech-Long Sutton): New extension with 5-6 journeys each way via Tydd St Giles. This adds to the 5 journeys each way on route 50 via Sutton Bridge. Connections are available at Long Sutton with Cavalier/Norfolk Green 505 (and, from June, First X6) to Kings Lynn and Spalding, with Carnell 51 to Boston, and with Cavalier Call Connect Plus services to other destinations in the area (these have to be booked in advance on 0845 234 3344).

Local Link 401 (Thornhaugh-Peterborough): Renumbering of 31.

Village Link 402 (Stamford-Peterborough): New number for existing service.

Village Link 403 (Werrington-Helpston-Barnack-Bretton): New service with 5 journeys each way replacing 38 and connecting with 406 to/from Peterborough. This improvement is financed by the Kickstart fund.

Village Link 404 (Stamford-Peterborough): Renumbering of some journeys on 11/13.

Local Link 406 (Werrington-Peterborough-Bretton): Renumbering of 6 with route changes in Gunthorpe.

Local Link 407 (Peterborough-Hampton): Renumbering of 7 with route change in Stanground.

Local Link 408 (Bretton-Peterborough): Renumbering of 8.

Local Link 409 (Walton-Peterborough): Hourly, partly replaces 9 but with new route through Dogsthorpe and Welland.

Local Link 410 (Werrington-Peterborough): Hourly between Eye and Peterborough via Fengate, partly replaces 9, New Eye Flyer and evening diversion of X1. Extends to/from Newborough peaks and Sundays only, with some journeys serving Werrington.

Local Link 411 (Newborough-Peterborough): Hourly off-peak service via Dogsthorpe. Will also absorb Stagecoach 47 with 1 return journey to/from Etton, plus an evening peak journey from Peterborough to Maxey.

Local Link 415 (Hampton-Lynch Wood): Renumbering of 15 with off-peak service extended to Lynch Wood. Evening buses run to/from Peterborough.

Local Link 427 (Hampton-Lynch Wood): Renumbering of schoolday service 27.

Huntingdon & District 557 (Huntingdon-Godmanchester) is withdrawn.

In our last newsletter we listed some proposals to improve the network on the A428/A421 corridor. One proposal we forgot to include was for an hourly service between Bedford and St Neots via Willington, Mogerhanger, Blunham, Tempsford and Little Barford, replacing (and possibly taking the number of) the 178 to Gamlingay.

Other Bus Changes in the region.

Suffolk CC, like Cambs CC, cut its bus support finance this year. It appears to be implementing this by not renewing contracts as they expire. Routes so far affected include S2/3 (Sudbury), one journey on 111 (Ipswich), 306 (Bury), 376 (Bury), and 714 (Sudbury). There may be others of which we are unaware.

National Express introduced a new route 767 between Stansted Airport and Nottingham via Luton Airport and Leicester. The news of this stimulated us to suggest that this route should, instead, go via Cambridge, with Luton served by another route from Nottingham and Leicester. This would enable a service to be restored on the "missing link" section of the A14 between Huntingdon and Thrapston (then to Corby and Market Harborough).

In Bedford is rebranding much of its inter-urban network under a "planets" banner. First to change are routes 171/2 and 181/2, serving Sandy, Biggleswade, Shefford and Hitchin, which are called "Mars" and have been given the numbers M1-4. Unfortunately it was as a by-product of this change that Gamlingay has lost its evening service (see above).

Stagecoach in Northants has been changing most of its services in stages this month, but overall rural and inter-urban facilities are little changed. But the last vestige of the former inter-urban link between Northampton and Birmingham, route 4 which is operated by Geoff Amos west of Daventry only, is disappearing.

There are also changes in Norfolk, of which the most important are perhaps on the Norwich-Watton route. First X3 via Attleborough is reduced to 2 hourly off-peak, First 51 via Wymondham and Kimberley is withdrawn altogether, but several months ago Konect introduced a 2 hourly route 3 via Kimberley and Norwich Hospital.

Timetable News

Transport consultant Barry Doe, whose website is linked from ours, bemoans the fact that standards are falling for many areas that have traditionally produced high quality (printed) timetables. Here are some ups and downs over the last few years. (This list is not intended to be comprehensive.)

Up: Argyll & Bute, Beds, Caerphilly, Ceredigion, Northants, Perth & Kinross, Peterborough, Portsmouth, Rutland, Torbay, Vale of Glamorgan, Warwickshire, Westlothian, Wokingham.

Down: E Riding of Yorks, Highlands, Isle of Wight, Kent, Milton Keynes, Northumberland, N Yorks, Notts, Scottish Borders, Stirling, Suffolk (according to rumours), Telford & Wrekin, Thurrock, Worcs.

Leisure trips

Here is a quick rundown of what we know so far for this year. For areas we don't mention, e.g. the Peak District and Cornwall, we aren't aware of any changes, but all that means is that we haven't looked; it's likely that any major rural tourist area will have some kind of public transport suitable for visitors.

Cumbria: Last year Mountain Goat reintroduced the route over the Hard Knott and Wrynose passes which was formerly run by another company with the same name. Watch out to see if it's running this year.

Dorset and Hampshire: The designation of the New Forest as a National Park, and the coastline west of Swanage as a World Heritage Site ("The Jurassic Coast"), have not led to any improvements -- indeed, services between Ringwood and Southampton have been severely cut, and Lulworth Cove's access seems to be confined to a demand responsive taxibus.

Hertfordshire: Chiltern Rambler 327, and the summer extension of 343 to Whipsnade, are reintroduced. The "Shaw Shuttle" between St Albans and Stevenage via Shaw's Corner and Knebworth Park is replaced by a taxibus from Wheathampstead connecting with routes 304 and 320 from St Albans and Harpenden (which can be booked on the connecting buses). This means that anyone coming from places on the Great Northern rail network has to change buses twice.

Norfolk: We still await news of the Coasthopper between Kings Lynn, Hunstanton and Sheringham, but it's probably little changed from 2005-6. Unfortunately last autumn the times were changed to improve rail connections at Sheringham but in a way which led to the loss of the connection out of the first Sunday train arrival at Kings Lynn. The Peddars Wayfarer, which we weren't awareof last year, runs daily between Thetford (09.55 and 14.25) and Swaffham (11.50 and 16.20) via Knettishall, Larling (where it would connect with the X4 if the latter stopped), Thompson (close to the inaccessible Stanford training area) and Watton: as its name suggests it serves the Peddars Way. See for information about the Broads. There are plans for a new summer ferry service between Yarmouth, Berney Arms, and Burgh Castle, but we have no details as we write.

North Yorkshire: Extensive networks are reintroduced in the Dales and Moors National Parks, though with significant changes.

Pembrokeshire: The excellent network of coastal buses, plus the Preseli Green Dragon community bus, continues to run. Highly recommended for a holiday or even a short break -- go by train from Milton Keynes or Northampton to Aberystwyth then buy a West Wales Rover and go via Cardigan to join the network. There's also a high summer service (July-Sept) that visits the coastal villages between Cardigan and New Quay.

Shropshire: The Shropshire Hills Shuttles are unchanged from last year, linking Church Stretton and Craven Arms with Bishops Castle and Minsterley. The Ironbridge Gorge shuttle also continues to run. On certain Sundays excursions are run from Bishops Castle based on the route of the former Clun Forest shuttle -- enquire locally for details.

Surrey: Routes NT1 (Sat/Sun) and 510 (Sun) continue to serve places of interest around Dorking and Oxted, including Polesden Lacey and Chartwell. The 510 has fewer journeys on the leg between Edenbridge and Oxted via Staffhurst Wood, but it can now be joined at Redhill (depart 10.20, return 18.12) which is accessible by Travelcard using route 405 from Croydon.

Sussex: Buses 77-79 link Brighton with the South Downs; 12/13 runs eastward along the coast (with 13 serving Beachy Head); and the Cuckmere and Charleston Ramblers link Seaford and the Seven Sisters Country Park (which are along these routes) with Berwick station.

Wiltshire: The only new initiative we have heard of -- From 18 June Wigglybus are planning a Sunday service between Bedwyn station and Bradford on Avon serving the Kennet & Avon Canal.

Worcestershire: Route 244 serving the Malvern Hills on Saturdays and Sundays is running again, using a new route via Upton on Severn. But Sunday route 759 between Worcester and Tenbury Wells appears to have ceased.