The Random Thoughts of a Geek heading for Banbury
The Random Thoughts of a Geek heading for Banbury

Trains and Cost – Part 4: Bustitution



Blend of bus and substitution



bustitution (plural bustitutions)

  1. (rail transport) The temporary or permanent substitution of a rail (train, tram, etc) service with a bus service.

Usage notes

Bustitution can refer to either the permanent cessation of the rail service, or a temporary replacement bypassing a blockage during engineering works, etc.

It has given rise to a transitive verb, ‘to bustitute’, and an adjective, ‘bustituted’.

One of the least favourably things about travailing at the weekends, or bank holidays, or evenings, or any other time the UK Rail network goes tits up is the risk of being bustituted; or as TOCs like to call it “Rail Replacement Bus Service“. what you may ask is so wrong with being forced to pay through the nose for a train ticket, and then getting a ride on a much slower bus? and would you feel hard done by? well in this rant (yes this stands a chance of getting ranty) we shall compare Rail Replacement Bus Service Vs Train:

Train Vs Bustituted

Train Rail Replacement Bus Service

What they look like

FGW HSTThis is a British Rail Class 43 (HST) this is really a train, note that it doesn’t need to have that sort of thing written on it any where, the being on a the Railway is a bit of a hint. Rail Replacement BusSome Random Bus owned by First Group, showing the word “Railway” on the front board. still not a TRAIN!

How much does it cost?

Ah the Train, Not the subject of this; or three other blog posts. [1][2][3] or anything, but lets just reproduce ATOCs faviorate we are not making any money from being a TOC diagram:
Train Ticket Cost BreakdownSo lets for the sake of easy maths say our ticket for this journey is an Adult Off-Peak Day Return at £10.00 (Swindon to Bath Spa) a journey which takes 26 minutes.
Ah now this is an intresting question, you see that £10.00 ticket we got sold for the train, well its the same £10.00 ticket for a longer journey (now 1 hour 10 minutes). however (and this is where the rant may get ranty) there is a slightly different funding stream for the journey now:
  • You bought a Ticket
  • The TOC are being paid compensation by Network Rail for loss of access to the railway
  • The Bus company is paid by the DfT (Department for Transport) for laying on replacement buses / Coaches. [link]
  • Oh and the Investment / Subsidy from the UK Government for being a TOC.

And While the TOC are not using the railway, they wont be paying:

  • Track Access Fees to Network Rail (the 48p part of the pie chart)
  • For Fuel or Electricity to Power said rolling stock
  • Full Staffing costs (Stations will need less staff).

And I guess that with Rolling stock in the depot it allows for maintenance and cleaning to take place at a more relaxed pace.


At an approximate guess an 8 coach FGW HST has 460 seats, made up of 400 in standard class and 60 in first class [plan].And as any one who has ever caught the train out of London in rush hour knows there is ‘plenty’ of extra capacity for those who stand.(Approximate because coaches E, and F are not shown on the plan). Looking on Wikipedia, I dragged up First Group’s Greyhound service article; to find out how many seats may be on a Rail Replacement bus (Chose Greyhound as they are a Intercity service too). Original The coaches had 49 seats.So lets assume that the buses provided to replace the train will have about that number of seats.

On board services and facilities

  1. Seats
  2. Seats with backs to the direction of travail *
  3. Seats with Tables
  4. Toilets
  5. Lights (Allows you to read/ work on the service)
  6. Buffet Bar (like thing)
  7. Cycle and Large Luggage Compliance
  8. 230 V at seat
  1. Seats
  2. Toilet (some times)

Cycle and Large Luggage Compliance

Ah this one is our old friend the National Rail Conditions of Carriage (See Appendix 2 pg 21). it lays out what you can carry on a train. “If Rail Replacement buses are operating in place of trains during engineering work, you won’t be able to take your cycle on them”. [link] I guess that is OK then; I mean reduction of a service that you are now paying more for and all…

Journey Time

 26 minutes.  1 hour 10 minutes

While I fully agree that maintenance work does need to be carrierd out on the UKs ageing railway understructure, I don’t feel that the current level of compensation offered to consumers is acceptable; if I am travailing on an Intercity service (Swindon to Bath is an intercity service), I am paying for the convenience of a quick and reguler service, (I have already taken a convenience hit by not just jumping in a car/on a motor bike and going door to door using anti-social transport) so as compensation I would suggest:

  1. Vouchers to the value of the most expensive ticket on the leg of the journey I have had to sit on a bus/coach for (even if that is a Off-Peak First Class Anytime like ticket).
  2. A like for like replacement bus / coach, If the train was going to be a HST (Intercity 125, Virgin Voyager, Adalantie, etc). Then the Coach should be something like aVan Hool Astromega double decker coaches, Oxford Tube (an Intercity bus company owned and operated by Stagecoach) operates a fleet of them configured with 87 seats, free Wi-Fi internet, 240V mains power points, GPS tracking and air conditioning, they are also fully wheelchair accessible, and have space for most of the items allowed under section 2 of the NRCoC.
  3. For inner city Rail Replacement Bus service it may be more practical to replace smaller stations with a mix of Minibuses, Taxies, and buses from First’s Bus companys.

This Post and most of my Posts on this subject are aimed at my local franchise; First Great Western (Worst Late Western); however I fear that this could be transplanted and aimed at any TOC (it has been argued that it should be laid at ATOC, or DfT), however my ‘service provider’ is FGW not ATOC or DfT. A follow up of this; will be cleaned up and sent as a formal letter to Passenger Focus. At some point I will finish writing my post on how I feel about the National Rail Conditions of Carriage.

  • This is important to me; it makes me less likely to get travail sick!

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