05 June 2019

Stagecoach Shares, The 'Front Front', Passenger or Customer? Iconic HST & LEYTR Completed

This week's blog entry covers a two-week period.

Monday - Stagecoach Shares
Someone has been purchasing large quantities of Stagecoach shares. It is a requirement that this person be known if he or she is already a major shareholder, so the identity of this individual may be made known soon. The reason for the large purchases is more interesting though. From 19 August Stagecoach's only railway operation will be its minority partnership in Virgin West Coast and with the agreement now signed by Abellio to operate the East Midlands franchise, there can be no going back. Arriva's parent company, Deutsche Bahn, has made its intention known that it is willing to listen to any sensible offer for all or part of the Arriva UK Bus business. The City may be a little reticent to Stagecoach ploughing ahead here, since there is likely to be much duplication in many of Arriva's bus companies, resulting in investigations and legally binding undertakings. Snaffling up shares in the company considering acquisition could be a workaround to position said investor so that they can not be too closely limited by the stock market. We shall see...

Wednesday - The 'Front Front'
I was travelling by train to Boston from Nottingham and found myself aboard 2 conjoined Class 158 DMUs operated by East Midlands Trains. Such is the 1990s technology employed on these reliable workhorses that it makes calling at stations that cannot accommodate the total length of the train something of a logistical headache for staff. Since the guard can only open his 'local' door or release all doors, at stations with short platforms just the 'local' door can used. Consequently, timely announcements are needed to ensure passengers leaving at affected stations are able to do so. Yet on the 1445 departure from Nottingham, and despite very thorough announcements by the guard in which he made it clear that 'only the front door of the front coach of this train will open', two passengers were over carried at Bingham and two school children at Hubbert's Bridge.
     The reason for these over-carries was that the passengers didn't correctly comprehend where the front of the train was. One lady for Bingham thought the 'front of the train' referred to the leading vestibule of her (third) coach. The two school children for Hubbert's Bridge would, you'd think, be rather used to the procedure if this was their regular train home, but again they came a cropper. I simply cannot fathom how anyone could not comprehend where the front of their train is.

Friday - Passenger or Customer?
For well over a decade now the word 'passenger' has been dropped by larger transport operators for 'customer'. There is sound thinking for why this should be so. Referring to someone as a customer ensures staff within that business are aware that the person's custom is often discretionary and should not be taken for granted. The term customer reinforces a company's commendable ethos to provide exceptional and outstanding service to a consistent standard. These are sentiments with which it is very difficult to argue; happier customers invariably means more custom and all within the business ultimately benefit from that.
     Yet passenger is something of a bespoke word for those who choose to travel by public transport. There is nothing in the word's definition that states a passenger has no alternative than to travel by bus or train. In an age were new terms and redefined words are all the rage, it seems genuinely sad that a very specific word that is by its very nature bespoke to public transport is being lost. For me, passenger will always be king. Or Queen.

Monday - Iconic HST
When Great Western Railway's HSTs bowed out of service on 19 May, there was rightly a great send-off from London Paddington. I was genuinely sad to see what would be the very final departures from this central London location and I was grateful to those who recorded the occasion and who subsequently uploaded their videos to YouTube with such haste. Save a sprinkling with CrossCountry and some with EMT, the East Coast Main Line is where it's at for some final HST photos, videos and travels over the summer.
     LNER MD David Horne was quoted in the trade press saying that the High Speed Train is 'probably the most iconic train operating in Britain right now'. Surely this is a contender for Understatement of the Year Award? The HST has always been rightly popular, granted more so during its latter years and especially since the IEP deal was signed, and like those bastions of the road with similar status - Daimler's Fleetline, Bristol's Lodekka, SC, RE etc etc, their replacements will certainly not last as long or be as popular. You seldom hear anyone waxing lyrical of the Alexander ALX400-bodied Dennis Trident!
     The only balance I can offer is from two of my friends who absolutely detest the HST. Their reasoning is, to them, perfectly sound. The HST replaced the Class 55 'Deltic' and that is unforgivable. With the HST being so iconic, perhaps there will be those who will vow never to travel by Class 80x? They'll struggle to reach London, though!

Tuesday - LEYTR Completed
The latest edition of the Lincolnshire & East Yorkshire Transport Review was put to bed today. I'm particularly pleased with how the photo feature has turned out and I hope you'll enjoy the centre spread, which evokes times past though in a very up-to-date way. The very latest information concerning Rail Rovers, Rangers and Round Robins is included, along with news of the award of the East Midlands franchise to Abellio and what internal documents show concerning how services will be linked up from December 2021. East Yorkshire plans on closing yet another of its depots, Grimsby and Mablethorpe are once again linked directly by bus and we have the latest details of rail fleet acquisitions, repaints and refurbishments - including details of the first Azuma to enter service with LNER and the first train to depart Gainsborough Central on a weekday for 26 years. The latest edition carries two articles: a look at replacement bus services for withdrawn rail routes and analysis of the May timetable change within the East Riding and Hull. And of course we have over three pages devoted to fleet changes for all local bus and coach operators in our area. If you'd like to receive a sample copy of a past edition for free, please email: transport.reviewNOT THIS@gmail.com (remembering to remove the words in italics) or to subscribe directly, please click here.

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