Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Day 17 Seaton to Weymouth

8th April 2016

The Seaton Electric Tramway
I was a bit uncertain about the validity of the mode of transport for the first journey of the day, but in the end I couldn't resist the novelty.

The Seaton Electric Tramway is a narrow-gauge line built  on the trackbed of the former Seaton branch railway line and operated by scaled-down replicas of historic trams!   It turned out to be rather more of a fairground ride than a transport link, but it did follow the nearest route to the "edge" and so legitimately formed part of the project.

As the only fare appeared to be a Day Ticket and as I had some time to spare before the onward bus connection I actually made an extra round trip over the line, although this hasn't been counted as part of the day's run.

Pleasant views from the top deck
The day proper started at Seaton at 1120 with a tram ride up the Axe Valley to the Colyton terminus and then back to Colyford. Being the school holidays the trams were busy and some driver training was also being carried out, bringing extra trams on to the line.The first part of the route follows the river very closely and is quite scenic (at least once the enormous Tesco in Seaton has been passed!)  
The system is certainly unique, even more so as it was relocated from its previous site in Eastbourne in 1970!

Lyme Regis

The driver of Axe Valley"Mini" Travel's ex-London double-decker had a clear view of me waiting at the bus stop, and I gave a clear hand signal, but he still managed to pull up several metres past the stop. Perhaps it was the brakes or perhaps it was because he was running ten minutes late and didn't want to stop at all.  Bus reliability has certainly got worse since arriving in south Devon and there was a further delay in Lyme Regis when the X53 to Weymouth arrived simultaneously with the bus that was supposed to be half-an-hour behind it. According to the driver there had been a mechanical problem with the bus. Not only that but the ticket machine wasn't working. Fortunately he was happy to take bus pass holders, to whom he didn't need to issue a ticket, but other passengers were directed to the X51 behind (even though this was going to Dorchester rather than Weymouth!).
The two buses ran in convoy as far as Bridport, where we were still 30 minutes late. It was only on
Chesil Beach from the top deck of the X53
arrival at Weymouth bus garage when the bus (which was due to run through to Poole) was changed over for a fully-functioning model.  The X53 is a marathon service from Exeter to Poole, taking over four hours for the through ride. It does, however, offer some spectacular views from the top deck especially as it nears Weymouth, with views of Chesil Beach and Portland Bill in the distance.

Unusually, after checking into my hotel I was able to continue the trip - with an out-and-back run as far towards Portland Bill as the bus service allows. This service is a bit of a flagship for First buses locally, running every 12 minutes with new buses fitted with wi-fi and "next stop" announcements, supplemented by real time information at bus stops. Unusually for a service outside London it runs from 0500 until 0050 every day and throughout the night at weekends (although, bizarrely the timetable treats the service up to 0300 as part of the previous day's service).

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