I simply don't know where to begin, as the plans and vision for First Ipswich knocked me for six. It will be impossible to go into too much detail, but these are the main points I was told this morning. I must emphasise that some of these are still in the formative stage, in the melting pot so to speak so are subject to change. However, I think it important to show the positivity and forward thinking taking place within First, especially as I have been a pretty strong critic over the last few months.
1. The refurbishment of the Ipswich fleet will take place at a rate of 4 vehicles a week at First Yorkshire's Rotherham depot. Two First Yorkshire Volvo B10's will be coming down on loan to cover. When the B7 deckers are refurbished First Yorkshire will send down 2 of their B7's to cover. The Ipswich B7tl's - rated by the engineers at Rotherham who were down yesterday as the best B7's in the country for their age - will be the only vehicles younger than an 05 reg to remain at Ipswich. Vehicles to be painted into a unique livery for Ipswich, which will also have its own branding and name, still to be finalised.
2. 69532 and 69533 will be transferred to Clacton. the reason being as they have only just been refurbished it would seem pointless to refurbish them again. All Scanias to be scrapped/transferred out of Ipswich, and there is talk of E200's from Clacton replacing them as they don't have the capacity Clacton requires. 69006/11 planned to transfer from Norwich and rejoin their sisters at Ipswich but if they do will transfer via Rotherhan and will arrive at Ipswich already refurbished and painted
3. Routes 53 and 66 to have route branding again - 3 vehicles for route 53. I suggest they may be E200's which are far better suited to town work than long distance rural routes. One vehicle to be painted into an Ipswich heritage livery - final decision still to be made but 4 liveries being discussed including Eastern Counties, NBC Red, and Superoute.
4. This really is still in the planning stage but First want to expand their routes again to link up with other First networks, as Ipswich is an island so to speak, not connecting to any other First Network.This could see services to Colchester, Diss/Noriwch and even dare I say it Lowestoft restored. There is also talk of restoring routes to areas abandoned in recent years.
5. £480,000 to be spent by owners of land occupied by Ipswich depot (not First) to increase capacity to 80 vehicles - currently the Ipswich fleet is 47 vehicles, and enable deckers of any height due to low roof in fuel bay being removed.
All this will mean that Ipswich will have in 4 months undoubtedly the best fleet within First group in the East of England. I have pleaded in recent months for innovation and forward thinking and today I heard it. I think a great deal of credit goes to Chris Speed. Chris, we have yet to meet but I think we should put that right. I think the ideas and plans for the future add up to not just improvements but a revolution and in these days of cutbacks and disappearing services it is truly a breath of fresh air.
Please remember that a lot of the above is subject to change and alteration and still to be finalised. Many thanks to Barry Spurling for being so forthcoming and welcoming. You will soon have a fleet to be proud of - how about 33423 as the cherry on top when depot mprovements have been completed - God I'd like a pic of her at Wickham Market! It has been a real pleasure to write a positve and exciting post about First. I have a feeling it will be the first of many of the coming months, and that makes me a very happy blogger.
|Ex P&R Volvo B7rle 69433 AU58 FFW unusually on the 66 to Martlesham|