It Is Something Special

Whilst, with Mrs fbb, you may think that the scenery on the Tarka line is mostly bushes – it certainly is at most stations – there are plenty of open vistas of our “green and pleasant land” to enjoy.
Its ambiance of a branch line from the past, showing only the modernity of sprinter DMUs …
… puts it in a league with a small but notable number of similar lines on Britain’s slick, hurried and technically superb railway system. The Whitby branch, the Mid-Wales line, Par to Newquay, Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh and several more have the same timeless quality.
So it is good to see the Tarka Line at the forefront of First Rail’s GWR publicity machine.
Only there isn’t one.
The first thing you spot at the Barnstaple terminus is a plethora of signs offering information. There is one on the door to the ticket office and caff.

Then near to the door through to the caff is a large information board …

… absolutely packed with information. fbb did not bother to try to read its as the print is ludicrously small.

Next to this helpful piece of information is another mobile board half hidden under a seat.

Was it current information? Was it important information? Possibly neither. It certainly wasn’t displayed with any enthusiasm to disseminate its information!

Then there were TWO information boards, one on each side of the booking office window.

But there’s more information …

… in a small but perfectly formed enquiry office with yet another information display within its portal.

Inside sat a GWR employee offering to give out information.
Up to this point, fbb noticed that there was NO information about the Tarka line.
Repeat NO information about the Tarka line which terminates at Barnstaple.
So fbb went in and asked he man in the non-information office. He was polite, understanding, but pathologically unhelpful. “They don’t produce leaflets any more,” he said, “They don’t think they are necessary“.
Neither was there any timetable display or departure lists anywhere on the station. “They don’t think they are necessary“.
The man did offer to print out a timetable, but half-heartedly.
And there was no information at Exeter St Davids. “They don’t think it is necessary“.
Whilst the enquiry office man was nominally loyal to his employers no information policy., he did offer fbb a departure list from Barnstaple which he had designed and printed at home.
But have no fear, dear reader, there were huge amounts of information in the booking hall aimed at visitors and tourists. There were two huge racks of information.

Similar racks will appear in tourist information offices and places of interest throughout the south west. Folk on holiday will collect attractive leaflets and may well visit the locations advertised and spend money there.

It is amazing how an attractive leaflet can encourage visitors to visit. Why, they might even enjoy themselves!
None of these leaflets is about the Tarka Line.
Don’t be silly, First GWR would never want people from all over the south west to ride on a train and enjoy themselves. That would never do. So there is no information” – “They don’t think it is necessary“.
It’s those pesky passengers again, getting in the way of running a successful (?) railway company.
But don’t be distressed, because …
… but only if you know what you want in the first place! 
Here’s how it goes.

Click on “Train times” and you get here.

And so to

No obvious timetable, but there’s more!

Travel advice
Useful information:
find out if our planned engineering works will affect your journey
cancelling or changing a ticket is possible for some ticket types in advance of travel
you may be able to get a refund or compensation for delays to your journey
Off-peak and Super Off-peak tickets are valid outside peak travel hours – learn more about our ticket types
if you need help, we’re available 24/7 on Twitter
you can also contact us on Facebook Messenger
download printable timetables from our train times page
find out about car parking and station facilities before you travel
Click on “train times” and …

… we’ve been here before!

If we know to scroll down the page rather than click on anything likely, we get this:-

followed by a long and barely logical clickable list of timetable leaflets which GWR does not print because – “They don’t think they are necessary“.  
Now we all know that the Barnstaple Line non-leaflet is D2.  Actually we don’t because there is no index!
But — tada — there it is!

Just what we want. So it is easy to see that the electronic system is so much easier, so much quicker, so much more convenient, than unfolding a printed leaflet!

The choice reminds fbb of a well known song by Bud Flanagan and Chesney Allen …

… which neatly covers the difference between incessant scrolling on your “device” and the simple act of unfolding a leaflet. Sing along if you wish …

Scrolling, just scrolling, 
In the cool of the evening air, 
I don’t envy folk without a mobile, 
For a printed note is phoney. 
Leaflets a load of baloney, 
When I’m scrolling, just scrolling, 
Wasting time is my greatest joy, 
Ev’ry time I start my scrolling, 
Then I know my luck is rolling, 
‘Cos I’m using an electronic toy.

Unfolding, just unfolding, 
In the cool of the evening air, 
A leaflet in my hand
keeps me going for miles 
And I don’t care for the net, 
It just makes me curse and fret.
When I’m unfolding, just unfolding, 
Easier than going on line. 
So I don’t need to turn to planners, 
Grappling with tech bad manners, 
So I’m unfolding and doing just fine.

The Puzzle Pictures were various views of Manchester Central Station, now G Mex Exhibition Centre

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