The first thing hasn't even happened yet, but I'm pretty sure will in May, and that will be the Battle of Bungay. First's new X41 will start in competition with Anglian's 88/X88 and it should be pretty good viewing. First are going to be using Streetlites on the existing 40, and Volvo B9's on the X41. Both with leather seating, WiFi etc. The B9's will be painted up into Grey I mean Charcoal Line colours.
This has stung Anglian to the extent it is my understanding they have realised that hard seated Scanias with no WiFi are no match for the B9's, so will be using Konect E400's on the 88/X88, presumably the ex 8 ones with leather seats and WiFi!. Anglian have already slashed fares on the route and it will be interesting to see how First pitch their fares. However, First will have one distinct advantage - speed. No not Chris but journey time. Anglian have just increased journey times from Bungay by diverting the X88 through Broome and Ditchingham, ironically now making the X88 a longer journey time than the 88, and it is here I predict First to make rich pickings. Going straight down the main road to Norwich with no round the houses diversions I think will be very popular, and I imagine it will only be a matter of time before Anglian matches the fast service. All in all it could be quite a battle which I'll be watching closely while badgering First to extend to Halesworth!
It was the Mid Norfolk Railway's Bus Running Day on Sunday. I didn't go. Tim and I though will be locating ourselves at Kimberley Park on Saturday for MNR's Diesel Gala which should provide many videos with much clag.
Speaking of clag there have been two returnees to the Short Set this week, and about time! Large logo 37's 37403 and 37424 have been here before. 403 lasted one trip and 424 not much longer. Yesterday 424 paired up with 37423 and Grahame Bessey, who jinxed 403 last time by getting just about the only picture of her was at Lowestoft bright and early to grab a few photos. Although displaying 37558 on the side the loco is officially 424
|37424/558 at Lowestoft pic (c) Grahame Bessey|
|37403 "Isle of Mull" at Lowestoft. pic (c) Grahame Bessey|
I'm now going to have a moan, so if you don't like the thought of that stop reading. No one is forcing you or charging you to read so don't read it then slag me off.
It has been many years since I have been able to read a newspaper without getting a headache. So I very seldom read them, which makes me hopeless at celebrity gossip, but I'm also not exposed to the inaccuracies and dodgy "interpretations" the papers can sometimes publish. However occasionally I am pointed in the direction of an article someone may think I'll be interested in, and this happened today, when a regular contact sent me a link to an article in the Ipswich Star, which you can read by clicking here.
It is written by the Star's Transport Correspondent Paul Geater. Now I've never really taken much notice of this gentleman until he proudly proclaimed there were "scores" of buses at the Ipswich Bus Rally, something anyone who attended will vouch was certainly not the case. Now he has taken to the branch lines of East Anglia, and I have to say the article makes extraordinary reading. Mr Geater claims he tries to do this "at least once a year" yet reading the article you'd think it was his first time for decades.
Starting on a 170 from Ipswich to Cambridge he remarks "It’s not as fast as driving along the A14 and Cambridge station is a 20-minute walk from the city centre, but it’s certainly a better way of reaching the city than it used to be!" It's also EXACTLY the same as it was last year, or the last 17 years since the 170's were introduced at the turn of the century. You would have thought a regular traveller would know that, let alone a professional journalist.
The next leg of the journey was from Cambridge to Norwiich. The Norwich train was cancelled but this didn't seem to faze our intrepid passenger in the slightest. "On the day I travelled the train was cancelled because the GA diesel unit had broken down. Not a good start. However there are so many trains on this route with Cross Country services from Stansted to the Midlands and East Midlands services from Birmingham and Liverpool to Norwich that it made little difference." Ok first things first - East Midlands do NOT run services from Birmingham to Norwich. Cross Country operate the Stansted to Birmingham service via Ely but EMT only run Norwich - Liverpool services. So let's continue with this non-inconvenience of a cancellation;
"I had to change at Ely, but I actually arrived in Norwich 10 minutes earlier than I had expected. I had to stand for the 10-mile trip from Cambridge to Ely but that was no great hardship, and I had a seat for the attractive journey through Breckland."
Oh that's ok then Paul. I'm assuming you weren't in a wheelchair, or pregnant, or with a couple of toddlers or an elderly relative. I'm pretty sure anyone in that position would have found it a much greater hardship, as I'm sure they would have found changing platforms at Ely, which has one of the longest underpasses on the planet. It's also reassuring to know you weren't penalised time wise as getting to Norwich 10 mins earlier must have been a bonus (don't you check timetables before setting out?) but it's just as well you weren't travelling to Attleborough or Wymondham, or indeed Brandon and possibly Lakenheath as I'm sure your EMT train didn't make special stops at these stations so anyone travelling there would have been delayed the full hour. But never mind them eh!
The next trip was to Yarmouth via Berney Arms on a single car 153. He writes "But I’m afraid I’m not eulogising over the single-car units. There’s a reason some enthusiasts call them “Scuds.” Well I have researched this, and it seems the units are called Scuds because like the scud missile, whose accuracy wasn't exactly 100% , the 153's could turn up anywhere, so not sure what Mr Geater's interpretation of the word is. They have also been around for the best part of 25 years, the Eastern units making their debut on Mr Geater's home line, so why make it sound as though it's the first time you've been on one?
Then the coup de grace; "Highlight of the day was the trip from Norwich to Lowestoft along the most attractive line in East Anglia in a train made up of three beautifully restored 1970s-built coaches and top and tailed by a pair of ultra-modern Class 68 diesel locomotives."
Just one problem. Those coaches had gone by time the article was published, now replaced with old Anglian ones, and the 68's haven't been here nearly as long, or will remain nearly as long as the 37's, which I doubt Mr Geater has any idea about. He kept referring and comparing to when he was a teenager in the 60's, but if he does this trip every year why doesn't he compare to last year, or 5 years ago? Why no comment on the lack of through trains to London from Lowestoft and Bury. He declined Felixstowe as he couldn't bear the thought of another 153 yet that is the branch line at most risk currently due to the increase in freight traffic. Nothing about frequencies, or connections, or ticketing facilities on branch lines, or disabled access, or co-ordinated bus connections, or fares. But hey he got to Norwich earlier using two trains instead of one. Yes I will be applying for the job when Mr Geater retires. At least I try to get my facts right.
One to look forward to - thanks to Megabus I am nipping down to Plymouth in June to catch up with the former Anglian gas buses, to see them in their new home and remind myself how good they are! Just the one day, catching the overnight coach in both directions on consecutive nights, but it's cheap! Would have cost well over £100 on train, £80 in petrol, but Megabus Norwich - London - Plymouth return? £10.50! Cheers! Oh - just checked National Express for same days and times - £32.40!
Finally my thanks to all who have written over the last couple of weeks, including a couple of really surprising and touching ones. I made it clear I wasn't after the sympathy vote, but your emails and phone calls have made a great difference, and is why the blog still exists. Next post will be the Diesel Gala review.