Journey Delayed : Now Concluded

There is something special about Portsmouth Arms. The station is, of cours, named after a pub.
Both pub and station stand fairly isolated on the A377.
Once upon a time the station looked quite sweet …
… but now bus shelter and platform are all that is provided.
There are, these days, plenty of notices and posters, but whether any of them are any use to man or beast is debatable as we shall see in due course. The station has just two trains a day in each direction Monday to Saturday; sort of in the morning peak …

… and an evenng call.

… and similar in the other direction. But on Sundays there are FOUR trains each way, presumably aimed at walkers and explorers. There is a small car park, but it is rarely full with park and ride customers!
Readers who are technology enthusiasts might choose to experiment by searching for a train journey from Portsmouth Arms to Berney Arms. fbb tried but gave up!
We still have Umberleigh to enjoy …

… which is also small in stature but like the whole line once had two tracks with platform faces,

Now green plants and a green station sign are available to enjoy.

And finally, Cjhapelton.

With apologies to the denizens of Chapelton, this is, once again, a tiny place. The station is down there …

… and there is nothing much on the road that passes “there”! But there is a builders yard …

… and a stop for bus service 325. 

Looks promnising on the map …

… but really usn’t/

So the train is a better bet! There was a station house – seen below on the far (disused) of the former two platforms.

Now it is just the usual.

Once again, we are forced to wonder how this quaint wandering branchline with very few stations actually serving any great population … 

… how has it survived? 
That is due to enthusiastic support from the local “community” and from the wider visiting “community”. Both communities have been well supported by Devon County Council which has always been pro-rail.
Unfortunately, the strength of the line is very much in the hands if First Rail’s Great Westen Business.
Something of their inescapable enthusiasm can be gleaned for the fbb’s experience on their trip.
The trains were clean and ran to time, but the information on them was parlous in the extreme.
Here are the on-board departure screens for the fbb’s 1019 from Exeter St DAvids
This must have been some kind of express journey because NONE of the request stops was shown. 
Thinking it might have been a mistake, fbb looked closely at the return journey from Barnstaple.

The 1232 had request stoops at Umberleigh, Lapford, Morchard Road and Yeoford. NONE appeared on the screens.

There MAY have been announcements – indeed there were SOME announcements – but on two different trains and from two different “customer service staff” they were utterly inaudible. 
fbb may be old and decrepit, but he can hear remarkably well (Pardon?). He did not hear any of the request stop station names uttered in a squeaky hissing tone.
Perhaps those who wished to alight were personally corralled by the man/woman; but if so, fbb saw no evidence.
fbb supposes that First Rail’s policy is to keep these destinations a secret; then when nobody travels to/from request stops because they don’t know what stops there and when, the stations can be closed and those pesky passengers got rid of for ever.
fbb also wondered why there were no racks of timetable leaflets on the train, long since promoted as a tourist attraction in its of right.
When he got to Barnstaple, he found out why.
More Tomorrow! But For Now …

Way back in 2019, Stagecoach at Chesterfield introduced their Hope Valley Explorer.

Roger French took a ride …

… whilst fbb gathered evidence from his chums in Sheffield. Mostly it was good; minibuses with a recorded commentary. From time to time a vehicle was replaced and you got no commentary!
The fares were badly explained leading to some Sheffield folk paying too much.
The service ran in 2022 but there is no evidence of its re-appearance this year on the Stagecoach Chesterfield web site.
A particular treat was the run up and down Winnats Pass at Castleton.

So no Hope Valley Explorer in 2023 – but, as Monty Python’s John Cleese might have said …
And now for something completely different.
Odd snippets have, however, been appearing for this.

Details are on the Stagecoach web site for Chesterfield – if you are determined to find them – but fbb will reveal all tomorrow.

Puzzle Picture
Which station is this (actually was this)?

This is what it looked like in its heyday …

… nd this in the 1980s.

And today?

 Next Topless blog : Friday 23rd June 
Generated by Feedzy