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Author Topic: Bath to Chippenham via Corsham - the bus alternative  (Read 7863 times)
grahame
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« on: July 07, 2013, 08:05:08 PM »

Here are the full timetables for the 231 from 28th July, as registered with the Transport folks







Added here as I have received requests for further details in my email.  Thread is open for comment, new members welcome to register (it's free, we just need to be able to get back to you by email in an emergency) and add their thoughts.

Original - posted elsewhere on this forum:

The average bus journey in the UK is 6 miles, the average train journey is 20 miles.  I'm on holiday / not got my source with me, but you get the picture. Buses are indeed great for the local feed, but how local is "local".  As an example, I'm looking at Corsham to London - Corsham was one of the places I mentioned for a new wayside station earlier in this thread.   Between Batheaston Junction and Royal Wootton Bassett Junction, with two express trains an hour, a more local service could be accommodated without the need for huge expenditure such as 4 tracks.  From Royal Wootton Bassett Junction to Didcot, extra stations will need major major track investment with 6 or 7 expresses per hour to accommodate as well!

Anyway ... here's the start of the forthcoming (28th July onwards) timetable for the 231 bus route, which becomes the only frequent bus linking Bath via Corsham to Chippenham;   232 services have become 231s.   The half hourly (5 and 35 from Bath) of the 08:05 and 08:35 continue all through the day, same intermediate timings.



Now - journey from Corsham to London. 

Timing ...

* Get the 08:52 bus, that's 09:16 at Chippenham station. Train leaves at 09:25, into London at 10:40.  End to end journey - 108 minutes.

* If that train called at Corsham (that would be around 09:15), journey time would be reduced to 85 minutes.  If a local train called at Corsham and a Wootton Basset stations before transferring passenger at Swindon to the London Express, I would estimate a 95 minute journey.

Loading ...

Corsham is a town of some 12000 people - about half the size of Melksham, vwey roughtly the same size as Westbury.  You're looking at between 200,000 and 250,000 passenger journeys per year based on other Wiltshire stations such as Warminster and Trowbridge (excluding the likes of Chippenham which is a railhead sponge, and Melksham which has insufficient service at present to make a valid comparison)

Many train journeys will be to Bath, Bristol and Swindon and the local or express service will do equally well.   Studies show a 40% drop in traffic if a service is not direct, and that would apply only to the London traffic / localish train - let's estimate a drop of around 20,000 journeys a year

The bus service, 41 minutes to Bath as opposed to 10 by train is unattractive for that local journey. And for all the other major destinations, you have a slow bus journey, connection time, and then a train - and we've found that over 75% of potential traffic gets lost in such transfers, and that's actually a very conservative figure indeed bearing in mind it comes from rail replacement bus service loadings where you have the benefits of through ticketing, and fastER bus journeys (not all round the houses) and guaranteed connections to the trains.

Observing bus journeys between towns in Wiltshire, around two thirds get on close to one town centre, then off close to another town centre.  And must be very frustrated by the sightseeing tours (231) of Rudloe and Cepen Park

All this evidence points to the sense of (re)opening selected stations on existing lines where the capacity is there and will be there for the next 15 to 20 years.   For the truely local / in town / nearby villages, totally agreed that the bus is best.  But even for some of them, the opening of selected intermediate stations makes a big difference. Rudloe to Swindon would be 15 minutes faster via Corsham station than via Chippenham - 45 minutes versus an hour.

P.S. If you attract all these extra people onto the Corsham to Bath train, you'll also help Bath with its traffic problem on the A4 approach.  Some of the extras will be new travellers, others will be transferring from their cars, typically one person per 4 seat vehicle queueing all the way in!



Edit note: I have corrected one of grahame's inevitable typos, purely in the interests of clarity.  Chris.  Roll Eyes
« Last Edit: July 07, 2013, 09:19:26 PM by chris from nailsea » Logged

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Lee
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« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2013, 11:10:38 PM »

I hope you don't mind, but I am going to repost my reply to grahame's original post, in order to help enhance the informative and balanced nature of this new topic:

Anyway ... here's the start of the forthcoming (28th July onwards) timetable for the 231 bus route, which becomes the only frequent bus linking Bath via Corsham to Chippenham;   232 services have become 231s.   The half hourly (5 and 35 from Bath) of the 08:05 and 08:35 continue all through the day, same intermediate timings.


Don't forget the Faresaver X31 route, which also runs half-hourly during weekday daytimes linking Bath via Corsham to Chippenham. This takes the alternative (232) route through Corsham, and also goes via Chippenham railway station. See quote below for more details:

One of the most interesting aspects of the forthcoming First Bus 231/232 & 271/272 changes is that rather than competing directly through Corsham and Melksham, First and Faresaver will be operating distinctly different routings on these services through both towns from 28th July.

Despite this though, competition will still be fierce between First and Faresaver on point-to-point journeys such as Bath-Chippenham, Bath-Corsham and Corsham-Chippenham on these routes. However, in a fascinating twist, whereas Faresaver had previously gained quite a reputation for running their buses a few minutes ahead of First's, the forthcoming changes turn the tables so that First's 231's will be a few minutes ahead of Faresaver's X31's in both directions.

The Faresaver X31 timetable can be found here.

All this evidence points to the sense of (re)opening selected stations on existing lines where the capacity is there and will be there for the next 15 to 20 years.   For the truely local / in town / nearby villages, totally agreed that the bus is best.  But even for some of them, the opening of selected intermediate stations makes a big difference. Rudloe to Swindon would be 15 minutes faster via Corsham station than via Chippenham - 45 minutes versus an hour.

P.S. If you attract all these extra people onto the Corsham to Bath train, you'll also help Bath with its traffic problem on the A4 approach.  Some of the extras will be new travellers, others will be transferring from their cars, typically one person per 4 seat vehicle queueing all the way in!

Indeed, and a further way of doing this which would tie in with that idea is the park and rail station scheme currently under consideration at Bathampton, near the junction there. See article here.

It would certainly also be more acceptable to those in both the local area including neighbouring villages such as Batheaston & Bathford and also those further afield who were so passionately against the proposed bus-based Park and ride scheme at Bathampton Meadows, which was shelved in 2011:

 http://www.thisisbath.co.uk/Bathampton-Meadows-safe-park-ride-pledges-council/story-17515448-detail/story.html#axzz2XyEJl9wH

http://www.wellho.net/mouth/2857_Park-and-Ride-at-Batheaston-will-it-solve-Wiltshires-Ills-.html

http://www.thisisbath.co.uk/Promise-stopping-trains-Oldfield-Park-Keynsham/story-18653169-detail/story.html#axzz2XyEJl9wH
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grahame
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« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2013, 01:11:30 AM »

I hope you don't mind, but I am going to repost my reply to grahame's original post, in order to help enhance the informative and balanced nature of this new topic:


Perfectly happy with the quote. The new thread's intent is to take a look at the full new 231 timetable, but it's good to have the wider picture here too rather than just in the other thread
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grahame
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« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2013, 07:13:54 AM »

A few things to add overnight:

a) Here's a snippet of the Faresaver timetable;   Faresaver run a service from Bath to Chippenham every 30 minutes during the day Monday to Friday, and most half hours on Saturday.



Full timetable at http://www.faresaver.co.uk/timetables/50f03a171e188.pdf .  There are differences in the two routes in places (that's a good thing IMHO as it means that additional places get served) ... taking my "benchmark" of Newlands Road in Corsham to Chippenham Station, Faresaver are typically 2 minutes quicker.  They take 44 minutes from Dorchester Street in Bath (near the railway and bus stations) to Corsham - again slightly quicker, this time by three minutes.

b) National Express coaches (routes 403 and 404) also run between Bath and Chippenham, though with different stopping points in Corsham and Chippenham - that's to keep the overall route times down.   Here's the Bath-bound timetable:



These are through buses London (Victoria) to Bath - typical journey time of the services that run via Chippenham and Corsham are 3 and a quarter hours Corsham to Victoria and vice versa.  Full timetable at http://www.nationalexpress.com/assets/uploads/pdf/timetables/403.pdf

c) From a correspondent ... "Will copy you into some work Xxxxxx transformed into a good graph some years ago as I think Graham is looking at the journey from Corsham by bus to Chippenham and onwards to London through extremely rose-coloured spectacles!
 
Xxx Xxxxx used to wait for the ?8.15 am to get her to Chippenham for work, and often had to catch a cab because the bus hadn't appeared, caught up in Bath's congested traffic.   At peak hours the timetable often bears no resemblance to people's experiences.   Xxxxx, who works at The Pound at times, as a student in Bath can make the journey in half and hour, but at times it can take almost double that.

The graph referred to is one I already have, and with permission from the originator to reuse - so here it is in full:



Since that diagram was produced, the Chippenham to Swindon bus service has been drastically improved and a comparison is now possible - it takes 70 minutes (as against 15 minutes on the train on service 55 - that's a daytime figure, or 30 to 35 minutes by National Express).

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« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2013, 04:31:38 PM »

How long before the X31 is brought forward ten minutes?

...oh, wait a minute, guess which route has since been registered as changing on September 1st?
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« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2013, 09:44:31 AM »

First Bus view on upcoming 231/232 bus service changes:

Quote from: First Bus
Service 231/232 (Bath - Chippenham): A number of significant changes are being made to the route and timetable of this service. Specifically the route around Corsham is being altered, with the Service 232 variation withdrawn. Instead, buses on Service 231 will run every 30 minutes throughout the day Monday to Saturday, supplemented by evening and Sunday journeys, travelling via Valley Road, Furzehill and Kings Avenue. This change does mean that two sets of stops on Pickwick Road and one stop on Cross Keys Road will no longer be served, however customers will find it is only a short walk to alternative stops. On Sundays and Public Holidays, journeys will also be extended to travel beyond Chippenham Bus Station to provide services to and from the Pewsham Estate.

In addition to this, the route that buses take in Bath city centre is also changing with inbound buses travelling via Bathwick Street and Pulteney Bridge instead of Walcot Street. The change, which is being made to avoid issues with traffic congestion, does not affect journeys from Bath.

The timetable is also being changed slightly. Specifically, it is being simplified and from 28 July buses will run every 30 minutes during the daytime (Monday - Saturday), with some journeys from Bath brought forward slightly to leave at 05 and 35 minutes past the hour. There will also be improvements to the early morning timetable to and from Bath - with an earlier first journey from Bath running Monday - Saturday, and alterations made to the Monday to Friday timetable to improve the spacing of buses into Bath at peak times. Customers should note that on Sundays and Public Holidays buses will leave up to 15 minutes earlier than at present too. Notably the timetable changes being made will help to improve the connections between bus and rail services at Chippenham Railway Station and in addition to this will also provide a more equal spacing between Services 231 and 272 on those bits of the route they have in common.

There will also be new journey opportunities provided by an earlier first journey from Bath and improvements to Monday to Friday morning peak intervals into Bath, meaning there will no longer be a 70 minute gap in the timetable between 0830 and 0940 hours.

Finally, following a review of tendered services by Wiltshire Council, the way services are funded is being altered slightly. From 28 July late evening Monday - Saturday journeys from Bath to Chippenham will be provided on a commercial basis by First (with no support from the local authority). Late evening journeys in the opposite direction - from Chippenham to Bath - and those operating on Sundays and Public Holidays will continue to receive financial support from the Council though.
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Lee
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2013, 04:08:13 PM »

How long before the X31 is brought forward ten minutes?

...oh, wait a minute, guess which route has since been registered as changing on September 1st?

Well, waddya know  Grin

The X31 will indeed be changing from 1 September 2013, and the forthcoming timetable can be found here.

The utterly surprising key changes are as follows...

- The X31 is retimed to run a few minutes in front of First Bus 231 in both directions during the daytime. Faresaver will doubtless claim this was because they want their buses to leave Bath at 00 & 30 mins past the hour, which probably puts paid to any bonus which the First timetablers who didn't see that coming may have otherwise received...

- There are earlier arrivals into Chippenham at 0806 on Monday-Fridays, and 0845 on Saturdays, which will mostly be of benefit to travellers in from Corsham. There are also some interesting splits of morning services (some beneficial, others not) along with the removal of a mid-afternoon Mon-Fri Bath-Corsham service.

- The revised provision of daytime Saturday services may be seen as a slight improvement, but that judgement is very much in the eye of the beholder.

The official Faresaver explanation of the forthcoming changes to service X31 is as follows:

Quote from: Faresaver
X31 - Some timing changes across the route along with enhancement of our Saturday service. All trips will service into Bath via Walcot Street to improve punctuality.
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« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2013, 03:42:06 PM »

What I don't understand about these various forums is why the focus on getting Corsham Rail Station re-opened and not on improving the bus service.

Now there are local buses running around Corsham and Chippenham why does the 232 need to go round the houses?

Why can't it just run along the A4 between Chippenham Railway station and Bath Railway station.

Why couldn't the vast cost of station in Corsham be used to improve the service to 4ish times and hour rather than 2ish?
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grahame
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« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2013, 04:01:22 PM »

What I don't understand about these various forums is why the focus on getting Corsham Rail Station re-opened and not on improving the bus service.

Now there are local buses running around Corsham and Chippenham why does the 232 need to go round the houses?

Why can't it just run along the A4 between Chippenham Railway station and Bath Railway station.

Why couldn't the vast cost of station in Corsham be used to improve the service to 4ish times and hour rather than 2ish?

Hi, and welcome to the forum, Paulo.  I believe I know some very good answers to your questions, but I'll leave it to Corsham experts to fill you in as I may not understand all the nuances.

For the record, it's my understanding that there are already 4 buses per hour from Bath to Chippenham via Corsham - 2 on route 231 plus 2 on route X31, with route 232 now being (?) limited to a single school run. In addition, there are National Express coaches from time to time.
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« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2013, 01:22:39 PM »

Thanks for the welcome Grayhame,

now I was probably being a bit loose when I spoke about the 232 service - what I meant was the 231 I guess really.

I think its a bit of a red herring to say that there a 4 buses an hour at present when infact there are 2 different services running on the same/similar route one slightly before the other.

If there are good reasons why opening Corsham train station would be a better option than an improved bus service I would love to understand them?

But it still seems to me that an improved bus service would be a more acheivable option.
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« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2013, 05:14:19 PM »

I was reading two threads earlier concerning the Exeter to Barnstaple line. One talked about buses that were running to replace trains, and described them as have "a handful" or "one" passenger. The other thread talked about overcrowded trains and the problems on certain services .. same line, same journeys. People will use trains ... they'll not use buses. Look at train growth figures. Look at train v bus journey times upthread. But I'm personally an advocate of transport that uses the most appropriate means, and some of the Wiltshire bus service could be so much better "if only" ... with "if only" being largely systemic issues which effect the whole way buses work, or don't work.   It's no co-incidence that bus journeys in London have grown where they have shrunk elsewhere.
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« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2013, 12:56:15 PM »

People will use trains ... they'll not use buses. Look at train growth figures.

...

But I'm personally an advocate of transport that uses the most appropriate means
I agree with that. I'm currently a supporter of building a new railway between Carmarthen and Aberystwyth for example, but only because I know the train would attract alot more passengers. The cost of a scheme like that, forming just an isolated link (not a country-spanning link like Bangor - Caernarfon - Porthmadog - Newtown - Llanidloes - Builth Wells - Brecon - Merthyr would be), would not be justifiable if buses could do the job. Sadly, at the moment it looks like they can't.

Quote
Look at train v bus journey times upthread.
Is journey time the real killer? If so, buses never stand a chance and things like a Carmarthen - Aberystwyth railway have to happen to get a decent reduction in car use.

Personally though, I mind when public transport (whether buses or trains) takes 15mintues longer to get from A to B due to taking an indirect route via C but don't mind a fast (not too many stops) direct journey even if it does take 15 minutes longer than a ride in a car. Is it just me, or is everyone like that?

Quote
and some of the Wiltshire bus service could be so much better "if only" ... with "if only" being largely systemic issues which effect the whole way buses work, or don't work.   It's no co-incidence that bus journeys in London have grown where they have shrunk elsewhere.
Please explain further. What 'systemic issues' are you refering to? Do you mean things like having to change at B to go from A to C because a different operator is running services between B and C commertially?
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grahame
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« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2013, 03:07:13 PM »

Is journey time the real killer? If so, buses never stand a chance and things like a Carmarthen - Aberystwyth railway have to happen to get a decent reduction in car use.

15 minutes might not be an issue.  But looking at Bath -> Chippenham you're comparing 11 minutes by train with an hour by bus, and Chippenham -> Swindon you're looking at 15 minutes by train v 70 by bus.  Oh - and if you're going further, you need to add interchange time at Bath / Swindon

Quote
Quote
and some of the Wiltshire bus service could be so much better "if only" ... with "if only" being largely systemic issues which effect the whole way buses work, or don't work.   It's no co-incidence that bus journeys in London have grown where they have shrunk elsewhere.
Please explain further. What 'systemic issues' are you refering to? Do you mean things like having to change at B to go from A to C because a different operator is running services between B and C commertially?
* Non-interchangable tickets between different operators on the same base route
* Lack of fare information until you get on board
* Running of two buses by different operators within a few minutes, then a gap of nearly an hour
* Inability to consider changes to subsidised services as part of a network including commercial routes
* Lack of information at bus stops about which services should call there and when that should be
* Lack of real time information about when a bus is running late, or any way of finding out
* Very high fares for single trips
And ... yes ... I could tell you why the current system encourages each of the above



Edit note: Quote marks amended, for clarity. CfN.
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« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2013, 12:07:15 AM »

Is journey time the real killer? If so, buses never stand a chance and things like a Carmarthen - Aberystwyth railway have to happen to get a decent reduction in car use.

15 minutes might not be an issue.  But looking at Bath -> Chippenham you're comparing 11 minutes by train with an hour by bus, and Chippenham -> Swindon you're looking at 15 minutes by train v 70 by bus.  Oh - and if you're going further, you need to add interchange time at Bath / Swindon
I was refering to attracting passengers out of their cars. Bath -> Chippenham may be 49mins faster by train than by bus, but how does going by car compare to going by bus? A train can be faster than a car, a bus can't (except in a city or large town with bus lanes perhaps), does that mean trains are necessary to attract sizable volumes of traffic?

1* Non-interchangable tickets between different operators on the same base route
2* Lack of fare information until you get on board
3* Running of two buses by different operators within a few minutes, then a gap of nearly an hour
4* Inability to consider changes to subsidised services as part of a network including commercial routes
5* Lack of information at bus stops about which services should call there and when that should be
6* Lack of real time information about when a bus is running late, or any way of finding out
7* Very high fares for single trips
And ... yes ... I could tell you why the current system encourages each of the above
I've numbered your points for ease of reference.

1, 3, and 4 are all obvious consequences of allowing 'commertial' services which aren't specified by anyone (and to make matters worse prevent the council from tendering for subsidised services on the route). My example of having to change on route is another consequence of this, and frequent timetable changes could be avoided if the contract said 'Thou shalt not change your timetable more than X times per year'.

I think council-tendered routes are a much more sensible way of providing a bus network as they can specify away these issues and possibly your 7th issue too. I suppose the 2nd issue could partially be corrected by a tender stating that day/weekly rover ticket prices are presented on bus stops, but standard single and return fares could be rather difficult to publish since there isn't a national fares system/database for buses. The 5th issue should certainly be solvable in that way, either by ordering the bus operator to stick up their timetables or by restricting the dates of timetable changes so the council can keep track and update the published timetables.

Would it be a good idea if BSOG (and son of) was scrapped, meaning fewer routes would be commertially viable, and the money instead used to fund tendered services? Is there any reason that would require a larger budget in total than at present?

That still leaves your 6th issue, and I doubt there's a cheap way to fix that one (esspecially when you have a bus service which will stop anywhere, even if it isn't a bus stop).
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« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2013, 04:38:42 PM »

Thanks again for the responses on this.

It does seem to me that issues 1, 3, 4 & 7 relate to the commercial construct under which we choose to run buses - not some law of physics issue.  I re-itterate that this is a choice that we are makin

In the age if the mobile phone and infomation technology issues 2, 5 & 6 are ones that we really could do something about.

I am forced to agree that there is an image problem with bus travel. But surely snobbishness shouldnt be a key decider in how we spend large sums of money?  At least on the bus I can invariably get a seat (unlike the train when I go to bristol) and being fairly tall (6'3'') I actually find having the space on a bus more comfortable than being cooped up in a car.

For journey time again train v bus is a hard one for the bus to win (but for chippenham to swindon it doesnt need to of course). But given a sufficient frequency of service its should have a chance against the car.  It does feel to me that the bus lanes in Bath do give the bus a bit of an edge time wise over the car.

As for cost - well it annoys me that often I seem to be the only one paying when I get on the bus (and through my council tax probably for everyone else on board to).
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