RANDOMTIMETABLEMONDAY – Where Are They Now?
Metrobus Bus Times, Great Western Railway Network Guide, and Rail Times by Middleton Press
Metrobus Bus Times – 23rd April 2016 Edition
This booklet has continued to flourish, despite many backstage changes with the company, and it’s grouping being split – outside London now managed with Brighton & Hove Buses, while inside London becomes part of Go Ahead London. This redefining of the management structure has resulted in changes in many ways, as well as the book itself. The map was one of the first to be changed, with the new look encompassing thinner lines used for the Network Map. Some B&H Bus services are also included.
However the content is still all there, and all as was. A comprehensive Index, list of ticketing pages over a full ten pages (now including Key, mTickets and the like – but no mention of the Southern Rail-controlled PAYG KeyGo card), two pages of attractions listed, town maps including “where to board your bus”, one summary timetable, and full traditional timetables for the Metrobus outside London network (except TfL services, which as stated above, come under Go Ahead London). The best bit about it is the use of blank space to mention things – everything from service changes to places to visit, free WiFi and ticket deals, or photos of attractions reached on the service. I do detest blank pages and generally wasted space across timetables of all sizes and sorts, and this is a good way to get round it. The book itself is 132 pages of A5 information, using every inch productively.
Last time I was out this way, copies could be had from Redhill and Reigate Bus Stations, as well as some information carousels in certain railway stations. Or ask the company
Great Western Railway (GWR) Network Guide – Winter 2015/Summer 2016 Editions
The timetable book has already become invaluable for just about anything you need to know about rail and travel in the West of England.
Following last Summer’s timetable that had been issued until the Autumn, a Supplement was promised. However they went one better, doing an entire new book in the new company branding.
The book has a lot of useful information – everything from histories of named trains to a list of major events, details of engineering work to a fold-out diagrammatic network map, and a calendar showing bank holidays. Seating plans are included, as are notes on things like station ticket office opening hours (long removed from the GTR network!). Details of heritage railways are included too, as are a table of bus-rail connections.
Some time back, I did email GWR with a few suggestions, not long before the person who did these got a new job elsewhere in the company. My suggestions were practical – asking for the covers to be laminated for one. That might seem like a minor point, but remember how heavily we wore out the Summer 2014 edition – that was just in the planning!!!!
I also mentioned it would be nice if the pocket Quick Guide (Monday-Friday end-to-end summaries of services between key points, which were not on the website), as with the Summary timetables W1A, C1A and C3A (which show principal stations only). Come the Winter 2015 edition, all these things were included, making the book even more useful! The different days and week sections were flashed on the outer page edge. The Winter Edition came to 396 pages (pictured) that was worth a fiver in anyone’s money.
Now, the new Summer 2016 one is ready, and on sale. Unlike the pocket timetables issued by GWR (West 1 is already 104 printed pages!), this includes leaf fall and seasonal building related stuff in the Autumn, saving the need for a supplement or reissue. All the features I mentioned last time are still there – aside from the cover lamination. (Mine has already had some Magic Tape applied to it!) .
512 pages of information – a record so far? The summer ones are usually bigger anyway, but that’s something of note for sure. It’s still portable, and has found room for the Didcot Parkway – Oxford summary (all the quick cards are Mon-Fri) to expand to seven days a week. Why not the rest I’m not sure, but sure that might happen in time. A couple of the CrossCountry trains only appear in the summaries (Reading-Oxford) thus missing the Banbury bit, but that is a minor grumble.
When added the Travelling With GWR guide (including the hours for off-peak), Ranger/Rover tickets, and the double-sided Network Map (which features a geographically accurate GWR route map one side, and a Network Rail network map on the other), it combines to create a somewhat of an almanac in rail out of Paddington, and as far out as across Wiltshire, Devon and Cornwall, and into Wales.
I feel the book is the highest quality operator timetable in the UK, at this moment in time. You can buy them from main stations, or call 03457 000 125 to purchase one for £5 plus a postage surcharge of around £2.65.
Middleton Press Rail Times – Summer 2016 Edition – (major changes to format)
The Rail Times by Middleton Press was changed for Summer 2016. Following ongoing issues and errors with the data used, the decision was taken by Middleton Press to use the European Rail Timetable data (i.e. abbreviated) for main routes (fits the East Coast Main Line onto three pages, as an example). The book is now called “Britain’s Rail Times for Principal Stations on Main Lines and Rural Routes”. The book itself is less than 9mm thick, and now only £9.99. A separate all lines diagram is being prepared in time for the Winter edition.
The bit in bold italics is taken from my email to the publisher…
I liked the presentation, the matt art paper used, and the size. I like the fact you get Thameslink and the ECML on one page, even if I then have to look up another table for onward services to Dundee (the town where we both grew up!). I like the fact that it’s a nice design, and seems to have been thought out well.
However I was kind of hoping that the content and interior was to be an expanded version of the UK section of the ERT, perhaps expanded to cover a tiny bit of information for nine out of ten lines, at least.
The content itself is a bit patchy – while you can fit times for Ramsgate, Dover, Canterbury West, Dover, Ashford, Hastings, Eastbourne, Uckfield, East Grinstead, Littlehampton, Bognor Regis, Seaford branch, Brighton-Portsmouth, Brighton-Southampton, Reading and Windsor, all on a double page is very admirable, and I do like it. But I would expect something similar for the other side of the Thames? Hertford East and North branches do not appear. Welwyn Garden City (the world’s second garden city) and Hatfield (home of a university) don’t get a look in. None of the stopping trains to Cambridge are shown at all. There are two separate tables for London-Cambridge (aka Cambridge Express), and London-Kings Lynn. Now these could be merged into one – why? Well every second Cam/Ex train extends to Kings Lynn – and in a couple of years, all of them. See other notes re no mention of stoppers.
Don’t get me wrong, I have some very fond memories of Brighton – as it was coming down for an appointment there that was the time when I fell in love with the lady who is now my wife! (Does one of the schedulers live down there?)
As a customer (rather than a compiler myself) any network guide is only going to be useful – or indeed bought again – if it includes the trains I use, or can use. I don’t expect the full old timetable again, that ship has sailed I understand. But even if you could so put some of those 6 or 8 to a page tables with end-to-end times and running times, I would be absolutely delighted. Watford is mentioned five times – WCML, West Coast, Sleepers, and West London Line – as opposed to anything local – which does seem to misbalance when you see the rest of Herts (and parts of Essex and Bucks) are much more sparse. As a result the table showing the once-an-hour East Croydon-MK through trains is perhaps of use if you’d add the full service on the West London Line (London Overground) services too, even if just in a micro end-to-end format with running times and trains.
Perhaps even a table or page to include the once-a-week workings and what I generally call dead mileage killers in the world of buses, but I believe generally get called Parliamentary Trains or those that exist to keep driver knowledge – like Paddington to Gerrards Cross, the one CrossCountry train that follows the outer branch of the Fife Circle? This would create a balance between visitors, train buffs, and those who wish to plan.
I understand, that in a European timetable, the amount of space for UK Times is limited. But for a UK wide timetable, you could work to a clean slate, and look to improve the range of content for the next one? Even if it meant adding “exclusive” extra pages? I would pay more for a comprehensive timetable, and even if it was only an inch or so each, it would be very welcome. I would be happy to help when it comes to picking out stations and the like.
Don’t get me wrong, I really like the idea, and want to support it. But, if I cannot use it for most of my journeys… do you get the drift?
I’d still be happy with a book up to thumbnail size with extra pages, and I would be happy to pay up to and including the “old” price.
Regarding the Introduction, could you look at reading the information you had before – like the train operator contact pages (which I found very useful in the old one), as well as things like Metro maps?
After that initial email, we had a telephone call with the publishers, and they’ve indicated they had to do something or nothing, in a short space of time. (Been there done that!). They are seeking to expand the coverage in time for the next issue from December 2016. Which is good to hear!
But a commendable start – and with a few more tables, will become even more useful!
And before you ask, no, I’ve no plans to do a traditional style NRT, other than perhaps to print the pages for routes as and when I need them. We do have most printed timetables from long distance TOCs and most in the Midlands and South, with a few expected in the next few days. If there are any train operator timetables from these parts that you cannot obtain, just let me know and I will see what we have in stock. (We get these for adding to the next wave of loose leaf timetables).