Pay Attention At The Back
We now know that:-
Fastrack A runs from Dartford via Joyce Green to Bluewater (ORANGE)
Fastrack B runs from Joyce Green via Dartford and Bluewater to Gravesend (GREEN)
To these we must add Fastrack AW which runs from Dartford via Joyce Green to Gravesend. This is not on the above diagram but it has one of its own, confusingly also shown in orange. (click on the map for an enlargement.)
When Roger French visited a couple of years ago he was very enthusiastic, as was the boss of GoCoach whom he met on the day and whom shared soe details of how things were going.
GoCoach’s AW is shown as running 24 hours a day and seven days a week and Rog commented that timetables were on display at every stop of its limited stop route.
Frequency is every half hour, augmented to every 15 minutes at shift change times. Buses only stop at the time points shown above.
When Rog visited he observed several buses in a dedicated Amazon livery …
… ably assisted by GoCoach yellow painted beauties until all the new intake had been “done”.
These newcomers were second hand from London Transport and white on blue blinds were “de rigueur”.
There was a flat fare of £2.50 and the local mafia averred that Amazon employees travelled free.
So it was a massive investment by Amazon and a massive commitment from GoCoach at a time when drivers were beginning to be in short supply. It was also a poke in the eye for Arriva and Fastrack for surely it would snaffle, not only Amazonians, but also classic passengers seeking a faster (and cheaper?) ride.
So why couldn’t fbb find the GoCoach timetable?
An on-line article, written less than a year after Roger’s enthusiastic visit, explains all.
Kent bus company Go-Coach are to cease operating the AZ bus with Arriva set to pick up some of the slack from next month. The service has run 24/7 since commencing in August 2021 paid for by Amazon.
Single fares began at £2.50 upon launch but were raised to £3.30 a couple of months after services began. It also appears the service – which are also usable by the general public – has struggled to gain passengers. Slow speeds, traffic congestion and high fares havn’t helped. Buses frequently become stuck around the Dartford crossing.
Arriva – which operates Fastrack services – are to divert their Fastrack A route to serve the site, which will lessen the “Fast” element of that service somewhat.
Arriva also states that they will operate a dedicated AZ service beside the Fastrack diversion but give no details. In fact, Arriva’s general lack of publicity is a sorry state of affairs. Their website gives little knowledge to the public of just how and where they will mitigate Go Coach dropping operations.
Bit we do now have the Arriva AZ times, still running seven days a week with roughly the same schedule every day.
A bit of a come-down, is it not?
So, very little AZ and a reduced frequency on the A and B is not a ringing endorsement of Kent’s “award winning” and “prestigious” Fasttrack.
We may return to the AV in due course, but it ceases to be a major consideration.
Starting from Dartford, however, we have Fastrack B providing a local town service to Temple Hill and Joyce Green, now DARK BLUE
on this map.
Route B travels round the easterly part of the estate and finishes at a lavish turning circle roughly where various former routes called at Joyce Green Hospital.
Later, green LT “Country” buses begat Kentish Bus …
… which ultimately became Arriva. Here is a Fastrack B at the terminus …
… from where a footbridge leads across the new A206 …
… to where the hospital isn’t.
Meanwhile route A runs round the western edge of the estate and briefly touches lips with route B before joining the bus only busway …
… which also crosses the new big road.
Apart from a jiggle for the Amazon bus station, buses have their busway (called thr Kent Fastway) …
… all the way to the Dartford Tunnel/Bridge (over the tunnel approach and under the bridge).
Here we see the busway from the west (Amazon) side (note the barriers to prevent unauthorised use) …
… and then looking back from the east where the busway joins the A206.
Fastrack is then running on the conventional A206. This road turns sharp right to join the “old” Lonn Road.
Straight on is Greenhithe station where A from Dartford to Bluewater meets up with B from Bluewater to Gravesend.
At the top of Greenhithe station approach there is a bus/rail interchange between Fastrack and local trains run by South Eastern.
But we can now join route B on its somewhat wiggly route to Gravesend. More fairly Slowtrack from now on.
But there is a bit more bus only infrastructure to enjoy plus the ingress to Ingress to investigate before moving on.
Meanwhile : Poacher’s Cottage Plus!
Well, fbb did say he was considering an extension, part of his desire to make models just a tad different from their “bought in” format.
When he was still attending the now-defunct model railway club meeting at Buffers model shop, your ardent blogger built a row of four low relief premises from two Airfix/Dapol thatched cottages.
They looked quite sweet on the club layout and fbb added some detail, including a re-thatching in progress on the left hand single deck cottage, just poking into shot below.
The left-over kit’s bits fits the bill and formed the basis of the bodged extension.
But there is a BIG problem wth the Poacher’s Cottage model. Can you remember fbb’s irritation with most models of thatch? There is a design catch, a plan to hatch – and reality to match!
Next Variety blog : Saturday 1st July