As this Blog only started a couple of months ago there really isn't much to review, so this will be my own personal memories together with some of my favourite pics of the year.
2013 started with me, as well as a few dedicated others trying to convince the good people of Wickham Market to switch from First to Anglian's 164 service. We were succeeding too, but were hampered by the coldest winter in 50 years and Anglian's reluctance to give the service enough of a chance and make the necessary alterations to the service which would have made it nore attractive. However, the six months it ran gave me a few decent photo opportunities.
|Now departed Anglian 508 ALX400 X251NNO at a cold Wickham Market, the only decker to ever operate that route.|
|The only gas bus ever to operate the 164 - Anglian 607 now 107 AU62 DWN at a much warmer Wickham Market|
Wickham Market suffered a double whammy with First's decision to withdraw the 63 from Ipswich to Framlingham. Not only did it leave us without a bus link to Tesco but also the 64's overcrowded and no guaranteed decker back from Ipswich that I always used to catch. Anyway although taken in 2012 this was my favourite bus to operate the route.
|Making a rare appearance on the 64, Leyland Olympian 34610 K610LAE|
On the fleet front Ipswich finally got rid of their last Darts but replaced them with some really awful ex Basildon Scanias that have been nothing but trouble. Also gone are the batch of Scanias with the really comfortable seats bought new for the Superoute 88. A shame to see them go. It will be interesting to see if the remaining 11 former P&R B7's stay at Ipswich throughout 2014.
In July 2013 I was forced to move from Wickham Market and ended up in a village with no bus service - well nothing with a destination display or automatic doors anyway, which isn't that good for a bus enthusiast! But it did give me the opportunity to finally explore the bus networks of North East Suffolk and Norfolk and a whole new world was opened up. I discovered the X1, even getting to Rutland Water and back in a day from Beccles, and of course sampled my first gas buses, which I believe to be the nicest single deck buses ever built.
But my timing was impeccible as excitement was mounting for the delivery of the new E400's for the X1 and I was out there on their first day not only sampling them but taking many pics
|Taken from 33805 this unidentified E400 on first day of service approaches Easton|
Now we have the ex X1 B9's appearing on Yarmouth and Lowestoft routes which is meaning the demise of the much loved Olympians. It will be a real shame to see these workhorses finally retired, and the end of an era.
And so to my awards of the year - just a bit of fun and I don't expect anyone to agree with me, but feel free to add your own in the comments section.
ROUTE OF THE YEAR
I guess this is no contest and purely for the excitement and interest it created this year it has to be the X1. It could be another interesting year for this flagship route as Stagecoach muscle in on the area. Let's all hope the X1 remains intact in itrs entirety this time next year.
OPERATOR OF THE YEAR
A very difficult decision this - there are many reasons to give it to First - getting rid of the Darts from Ipswich, welcoming me into their depot for a chat, and giving Cameron his year's pass. But I'm giving it to Carters. Ok call the nurses I know but any company that gives me the opportunity to travel in service on a 1985 ex London Transport Leyland Olympian deep into the Suffolk countryside gets my vote. One of the journeys I'll remember with extreme fondness this year.
JOURNEY OF THE YEAR
Another really tough one as there are many contenders - my first ride on a gas bus, the above mentioned journey on Carters Olympian, the first journey on an X1 E400 to name but three. But my award goes to the journey I had out to Hemsby on the 3 operated by a Routemaster - the older one of the two. I had no idea it was such a long route and gives them a real work out. Not a rattle, a smooth comfortable journey and transported back to my youth. I'll be a regular on it next year. Thank you First
DUMB DECISION OF THE YEAR
Anglian's decision to axe the 164 after just 6 months, using the worst winter for 50 years to base their judgement on, just as loadings were getting bigger and the route really catching on. Had the route been marketed bertter from the start it could and should have been a great success and it was disappointing that it wasn't given a real chance - the excellent drivers on the route deserved that.
THE "I WAS THERE" MOMENT OF THE YEAR
No contest. I was at Market Gates in Yarmouth when Sam of Norwich Buses saw his first X1 Enviro 400. Never to be forgotten and so heart warming to see the next generation iof enthusiasts enjoying their hobby as much as I did at their age. Thanks, for that moment, Sam - I'm proud to know you.
BUS OF THE YEAR
Again a toughie. This year apart from the new buses in our area - the E400's and gas buses - I have been on a few old workhorses who have really stayed the distance well. I have also been on hybrids, which I'm sure will become more common this coming year. But my award goes to the Borismaster. This won't be the most popular decision I know but the designers have managed to capture Routemaster spirit with modern requirements and features and I loved the one that came to Ipswich. I really think it is the bus of the future and I'll be amazed if other parts of the country don't adopt it. Plus it means conductors are making a comeback and that has to be applauded.
TRAIN OF THE YEAR
This is the Bus AND Train page so I have to have a train of the year. For me no contest again - it's the new train for the Metropolitan Line on London Underground. Not much makes me go wow these days, but when I walked onto that train, and realised I could see and walk right through it as if there were no joins at all I was seriously impressed. Quiet, smooth and fast. I don't like change but these are excellent trains and I can't wait for them to be rolled out on the Circle and District Lines too. A pic I took below.
May I wish you all a Happy New Year. To my fellow bloggers a good year's blogging lies ahead, and I'm ;pleased to be getting to know you all. Who knows what we'll be talking about this time next year.
|Interior of new Metropolitan Line train with next to no divide between coaches|