Tuesday 21 October 2014

Anniversary Post: Interview With Philip Eden Part One

Last week I sent an email to Anglian. Some of you may have seen it as I originally published it as an open letter, however after a rethink I took it down to give Anglian the right of reply privately. Reply they did, and in a way I totally unexpected - an invite to go to the depot at Ellough and discuss the issues I had raised in my email. Due to logistics and my lack of personal transport it was even arranged for me to be picked up from my flat to be taken there.

And so bang on 1030 this morning, Dave Jordan, Commercial Officer at Anglian drew up in a company vehicle to take me to the depot. Sadly not a gas bus so my dream pic of a gas bus outside my flat was not to happen! Now unlike most bloggers this was my first time to Anglian's depot, and my initial surprise was the size of it. Quite frankly it's huge, and despite recent reports half of it has not been sold. Some has been resurfaced with potholes filled in. But it could easily accommodate 500 buses size wise if not facilities wise.

And then the time came to meet Philip Eden, Operations Manager at Anglian. A big man with a big smile and firm handshake we quickly got down to business, with Dave Jordan staying with us.

The first thing Mr Eden did was give me a brief precis of his time at Anglian, decisions he felt  he had to make in order to reshape and redirect the company. The fleet has been reduced from 91 to 50, including those transferred to Konect, and the compnay is now in a period of consolidation, while still fine tuning timetables etc to ensure smooth running.

Basically there are three stages that needed to be addressed. Two have been achieved and the third is about to begin in earnest. First of all the operations had to be sorted. This saw the route re-numbering and linking of routes last year, new timetables, new driver diagrams etc. The next challenge was vehicle reliability, which wasn't good. Vehicle reliability is now at an all time high and it must be said I have never had an Anglian journey lost or disrupted due to mechanical breakdown. The third stage is exterior appearance and cosmetic improvements. As Mr Eden said it's pointless having a sparkling, pristine vehicle if it's breaking down all the time, and it's hard to argue with that. Vehicles have been rebranded, and soon the matter of scratches, scrapes, gaffer tape around bumpers etc will be attacked.

Syd Eade sent me this great pic of Optare Excel 229 X229WRA in Beccles yesterday.  Cheers, Syd.  pic (c) Syd Eade
And so on to specifics in my email. I mentioned that the Scanias in particular have pretty uncomfotable seats. Although sympathetic there's going to be no change there. The 7/61 is regarded as the Golden Goose and will get the premium vehicles. The 07/58 reg Scanias I singled out are ex demonstrators and have bog standard Scania seats. These will remain.

The heating on Scania Omni City decker (ok?) 551 is being fixed so it will not be a fridge all winter again. I really hope so!

The cleaning regime at Anglian has been overhauled, and so there shouldn't be a problem there, although the specific incident I mentioned in the email wasn't mentioned. To be honest cleanliness isn't a huge problem, which makes things stick out more when they do occur.

Now one of the major points I made was destination screens, or rather 3 vehicles with broken or defective ones. Streetlite 353 is soon to be fixed, however Scania decker 552 will need to be repaired by Scania, as the fault lies deep in the bowels of the system. The solo only showing 6 Beccles wasn't really discussed. However the reason why they have been running around like that for so long was discussed, and a pretty decent explanation was provided. It transpired that the older Scania Omnicitys have all had to go to Scania for some urgent structual repairs. All Omnicitys built at that time will need this work done, but it is time consuming, and has meant that Anglian have been rather short of vehicles. Now the Scanias are returning - 462 was back on the road for the first time today minus any fleetnames - there will be the spare capacity to take the vehicles with defective screens off the road and have them repaired. Fair enough.

We then moved onto future plans, involving both routes and fleet. In the next post I'll reveal what was said, what is actually coming to Anglian early next year (NOT Volvo Geminis), adaptation for existing vehicles and how a phoenix has risen from the ashes.

The last remainng Anglian ex Brighton & Hove Trident 712 at Halesworth earlier in the year,

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