By bus again to Blaenau - 21st January

92042

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Isn't that the second time that has happened in recent years? I fear (impossibly) expensive work on the horizon...

(What is it about small coach operators insisting on putting "International" in their name? :D)
Perhaps this particular coach operator crosses the border into England! :lol:
 

Y Ddraig Coch

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The tunnel was only re opened after extensive repairs in 2017 and now a rock fall in the tunnel again?

https://www.networkrail.co.uk/feeds/conwy-valley-line-reopens-following-recent-storm-damage/



T

he Conwy Valley line reopened to passengers on, Monday 13 November, after Network Rail engineers carried out extensive repairs following recent storm damage.


The line closed on Friday 20 October following damage reported in the Blaenau Ffestiniog tunnel, the longest of its kind in the UK. This October saw more than average rain fall in Blaenau Ffestiniog, causing more water to enter the tunnel than usual and damaging a structural pillar inside.

Due to the extremely hard rock, natural features and natural water courses through the tunnel walls, Network Rail tunnel and mining specialists were drafted in for the repair work.

Network Rail engineers and contract partners AMCO installed scaffolding within the tunnel to hold an estimated 28 tonnes of rock whilst the damaged pillar was dismantled and rebuilt.

Essential repair work was also necessary on other parts of the line, near Glan Conwy and the Bertheos and Roman Bridge Tunnels.

Our engineers worked 24/7 to repair the Blaenau Ffestiniog tunnel after damage caused by recent storms.



The Conwy Valley line is a vital link for local people and important for economic growth in the area, so we worked hard to reopen the railway as soon as it was safe to do so.



We worked closely with Arriva Trains Wales to keep passengers moving with rail replacement buses during the closure, and I would like to thank passengers for their patience while this essential repair work took place.
 
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krus_aragon

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Isn't that the second time that has happened in recent years? I fear (impossibly) expensive work on the horizon...

(What is it about small coach operators insisting on putting "International" in their name? :D)
They do actually do international coach tours. In my youth, I associated their name more with coach tours than local bus services.
 

Llanigraham

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Because of a rock-fall in Ffestiniog tunnel, that well-known quasi-TOC Llew Jones International is again doing the honours between Betws-y-coed and Blaenau Ffestiniog.

https://tfwrail.wales/travel-updates

The fact that the tunnel had to be closed because there has been (another) rockfall is correct. I am sure that Network Rail will be working hard to sort this out.
The coach company in question does run coach tours abroad, therefore they ARE international.
 
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PHILIPE

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I don't think it did run considering that the line is estimated to be closed until 26th. Don't believe everything you see in RTT, it is not 100% accurate.
 

Welshman

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Revised train/bus timetable now on the TfW website:-

www.journeycheck.com/tfwrail/attachments/Conwy%20Valley%20Jan%202018.pdf?webMessageId=1143410

It doesn't seem a very efficient bus timetable, though, with two vehicles being required to provide an infrequent service over a comparitively short distance, and therefore requiring dead running or long stays in Blaenau for the drivers!
Also, the 1504 bus from Blaenau misses its connection in Betws by 10 minutes!
Perhaps in reality they'll "bend" it somewhat!
 

Welshman

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By bus yet again to Blaenau-

I've just had another opportunity to sample the rail-replacement services between Llandudno & Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Whereas last time they were supplied by Llew Jones, on what I assume was a "one-engine in steam" principle [if you can use such a phrase of a luxury touring coach], now, Arriva seems to have a pvr of no less than 4! In anticipation of greater crowds, they are operating two services per departure - one a semi-fast, calling only at Llandudno Junction, Llanrwst North, Betws-y-coed and Blaenau; and one "all stops" - the only difference between the two seeming to be the driver of the semi-fast is spared the exacting task of steering his/her full-sized vehicle through the back roads of Llanrwst.

I left on the 1308 semi-fast departure from Llandudno, with 10 on board. The 1308 stopper was behind when we left, carrying a whole bus of fresh - air, and arrived in Blaenau 15 minutes behind us in a similar state - whether any passengers had graced its seats in the interim, I don't know.

Returning to the same bus for the 1457 departure, I was surprised to be directed to yet another Arriva bus in the corner. According to its driver, this had arrived at 1138, giving him just under 3 hours and 20 minutes to wait - ideal if you wanted to complete your reading of "War and Peace" before returning it to the library tomorrow. My suspicions were wrong - they were not bending the timetable. There was no hidden recovery time. The 0836 arrives just as two buses leave on the 0835 departure - similarly the 1138 arrival meets the 1135 departures just leaving the bus station. The stopper faithfully followed us again with no-one on board, and arrived just behind us in Llandudno similarly loaded.

Ironically, the returning stopper could have had some custom, but it appears that apart from being on the TfW website, the new timetable is not published at bus stops. We were due to leave Betws at 1515, and pulled-away from the stop at 1520, only to be stopped again by a running young lady complaining we were not due to depart until 1525. The driver informed her of the new time but failed to warn her we were the limited-stop, It turned-out she wanted the centre of Llanrwst, got alarmed when we didn't deviate, and was not happy about having to walk back from Llanrwst North!

All in all, an interesting journey, but I dread to think of the expense to TfW for maintaining it - hire of 4 buses; drivers' wages to sit around in Blaenau; 10 on our bus going out and 6 and a large dog on the return! Plus the fact the ticket machine at Llandudno was out of order and the booking-clerk could not issue tickets either. She advised those offering money to pay on the train - not possible on a rr bus when the drivers had neither machines nor inclination to check tickets. She just shrugged and said "have a free journey" which I suspect we all did.
 
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Bletchleyite

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With 4 buses they could easily operate a reliable hourly clockface service. Are they scared somebody might use it or something?

I wonder have they considered operating the stopping bus up the other side of the river, which would have it nearer the places the stations nominally serve?
 

30907

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The TfW timetable applies for holiday periods only, which may explain why it isnt shown at bus stops. I presume they will revert to the single all-stops service in the interim (as in the online timetable, see RTT).
The turnrounds in LLD are tight if the same bus is used, so however you do it, 2 vehicles are required.
@Bletchleyite I suspect the local bus company might object to the competition and the DfT might object to the stations not being served.
While sundry forum members might think it was a stealthy prelude to closure :)
 

Bletchleyite

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@Bletchleyite I suspect the local bus company might object to the competition and the DfT might object to the stations not being served.
The only local bus route serving the route is a tendered service intended to fill in the gaps on the rail service, so I can't see that they would care. The X1 is long gone, it died when the owner of Express Motors was convicted of fraud.

The stations aren't being served, it's stopping on the main A road.
 

30907

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The only local bus route serving the route is a tendered service intended to fill in the gaps on the rail service, so I can't see that they would care. The X1 is long gone, it died when the owner of Express Motors was convicted of fraud.

The stations aren't being served, it's stopping on the main A road.
That may be true for the X19 south of Betws y Coed, but we are discussing serving the villages in the lower part of the valley.

The 19 is reasonably frequent with a last journey from LLD at 22.50 to boot.
The A470 is about 50m from each of the stations concerned.
 

Parallel

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I've used the rail replacement bus a few weeks ago between Betws Y Coed and Llandudno. The driver was telling people without tickets that they must buy them from the station before they board - To my knowledge, there are no ticketing facilities at Betws Y Coed! The bus was nearly full, only about 5 empty seats. It must've been semi fast as we only stopped at North Llanwrst, The Junction and Llandudno.
 

krus_aragon

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I saw the ~4pm pair of buses depart from Llandudno last Friday. They were well loaded on that occasion: at least one and a half buses' worth of passengers between them.

I was a bit surprised to see such a healthy loading going south at that time of the afternoon.
 
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