Yesterday, after a few weeks avoiding the new X1 Enviros because of interesting activity on the X1 shorts I thought it about time I saw how they were settling in. So as part of my loop yesterday I caught 33807 from Yarmouth to Lowestoft and to say I was surprised is an understatement. The rattling and general noise for a bus 3 months old was abysmal. But rather than jump to conclusions and start criticising First immediately I thought I'd spend today comparing E400's to get a better picture. So I did two round trips from Norwich to Dereham, one on Konect's 8 Service, the other on the X1. I also thought it prudent to travel in from Beccles today so I could sample a couple of the former X1 B9's.
So of course round the corner came ALX400 30900 to kick that idea into touch! But having said that apart from the well documented God awful seats she gave a pretty decent ride, was warm, smooth and very few rattles Not bad for a 15yo vehicle.
So at Norwich I boarded Konect's E400 608 SN61 CZY and settled down for the trip to Dereham, where I immediately caught 607 SN61 CZX back to Norwich. Both gave really impressive rides, were warm and comfortable, texting on my phone was easy, and were quiet - no intrusive heating noises and I was really impressed. Kudos to the driver on the way out who seemed to know First Norwich route 11 better than the First driver, and we pulled back and waited for the First bus to cut across us at a roundabout, turning right from the left hand lane. Quality!
|Konect Enviro400 608 SN61 CZY at a wet Dereham|
|Sister 607 SN61 CZX boarding for the return journey|
So after a lunchbreak I did the journey again, this time getting X1 E400 33814 YX63 LKC on the outward journey, and 33806 YX63 LJU on the return. Oh dear. I'm afraid to say yesterday on 33807 was not a one off. In the space of 3 months they are rattling like vehicles 50 times their age. The heaters/air chill are so noisy upstairs it's impossible to hold a decent conversation. The seats are already subsiding so I could feel the frame of the seat which I couldn't when new. Those vinyls on the top deck windows are really restrictive and I know many people have complained about them. The ride is so rough texting is a real challenge and that next stop announcer (who taught him the wrong way to pronounce Gorleston) is enough to have you tearing your hair out. Heaven help anyone who wants to snooze as there is zero chance. The only thing they win on is top speed, which is a bit faster it seems than the Konect ones.
|X1 Enviro 400 33814 YX63 LKC at a sunnier Dereham|
|Sister 33806 YX63 LJU in a hampering sun at Norwich Bus Station|
What I do know is it is not anything to do with the maintenance team at Kings Lynn. I did go back to Beccles on 37565 and it was embarrassingly less rattly, and also smoother and quieter than its replacements, which is a testament to the team at KL.
The X1 is a fantastic route, great value for money and should have the best vehicles for the job with no corners cut. It is my sad duty to conclude that these E400's are not up to the job and won't last the distance anything like as well as the B9's did.