Tuesday 26 August 2014

Midweek Round Up 26/8/14

Enough has happened in the last couple of days to warrant an extra round up, so here goes.


I'm afraid I am the bearer of bad news. Really depressing news. At the moment First have a jewel in their crown, not just a jewel but a diamond equivilent to the Koh-i-Noor diamond in the Royal crown. It is widely acknowledged by bloggers and enthusiasts more experienced (older) than me that Enviro 400 33423 is the most photogenic bus around, arguably the most photogenic individual bus ever in this area. You can't look at a blog without seeing another pic of it, and I am no exception to that. I have seen people about to board an Anglian gas bus 7 at Yarmouth see 33423 come in behind and run to get on it. It is a head turner in a way I've never seen a bus turn heads before. It brings a smile to my face every single time I see it. It looks staggeringly beautiful with those tinted windows. That makes it unique. It has a unique interior with those brown and mustard leather seats, and really cute LED interior lighting. It is a one off, totally individual and judging by the fact it is always spotless very popular at Yarmouth depot too.

So now the decision has been taken to repaint 33423 into X1 livery. To rob it of its individuality and paint it like 24 others. Correction 26 others as apparently 2 of the former X1 Geminis are getting the same treatment. The question that is screaming out is in the name of all that's holy WHY?????

Right now 33423 is only operating on the Lowestoft - Norwich part of the route, and even with the two Geminis repainted there will still be buses not X1 branded on the route so it can't be so every bus on the route is branded. Is it because it's going to be transferred to Kings Lynn again? Who knows but the way Yarmouth are being robbed of buses at the moment anything is possible. Is it because it gets more attention than the X1 E400's? No idea but whatever the reason to me it is just unfathomable, and this decision has been met with total dismay from everyone I have spoken to. I believe everything possible should be done to try and persuade First to change their minds on this - you just see how many pics get taken of 33423 at ShowBus next month - and why is 33423 going to ShowBus and not one of the X1 E400's? Because 33423 is unique that's why and they know it.  Paint another Gemini by all means but not, please not your Crown Jewel. It's the equivilent of painting the Flying Scotsman into Greater Anglia livery!

There is now a Facebook page for everyone to register your opinion on this. Visit it please and give it a like and show First that we care. Click here.

Cameron Robinson's superb pic of 33423 at Hemsby a few weeks ago
Greater Anglia

As you will know if you have seen the news today it has not been a good day on the railways. Overhead power line problems at Huntingdon last night crippled the ECML, and as I type at 1600 today there are still ongoing probs there. Over here once again overunning engineering works at Ipswich has caused utter chaos. Mainline services did not run between Stowmarket and Colchester until 1030, with minimal road replacement. Services between Ipswich and Felixstowe/Woodbridge are suspended for the rest of the day. Ipswich/Cambridge services are starting/terminating at Stowmarket and services from London that normally terminate at Ipswich are terminating at Colchester. Yet again the 1810 from London to Norwich has been cancelled. Incidentally the reason the 1810 is so often a casualty is because the set on that service only does one trip up and one trip back - the 0624 from Norwich and 1810 back. So if there is a unit shortage that is the one to go as it affects the fewest number of services.

But the reason I posted this today is because I saw on the lunchtime news that the member of Parliament for Clacton, the Honourable Douglas Carswell MP (Con) was getting his knickers in a twist saying GA should be stripped of their franchise because of this morning's choas, thus proving his horrifying ignorance of how the railways work. Greater Anglia pay Network Rail to use the tracks, like Megabus would pay whoever maintains the M6 Toll Road to drive on it. To strip GA of their franchise because of overunning engineering works would be like taking away Megabus's operating licence because the road was shut. You cannot run trains on a track that is shut. Simple. Mr Carswell you have the perfect name for someone who is breathtakingly ignorant of public transport, and as a public figure commenting on it you have made a laughing stock of yourself.

Must Read

I was alerted today via an old friend to an article in today's Guardian about a report by the think tank IPPR about how public transport outside London can be improved, by cities outside London adopting a similar model to TfL, introducing more regulation for bus services. It also gives some interesting figures, for example since deregulation in 1986 bus fares have risen no less than 36% above inflation. It is a fascinating report and well worth the read for those of you who are interested in public transport above and beyond photography or number collecting. The report can be found by clicking here and then downloading the full report by clicking the link on the right hand side of the page.

Norwich Bus Rally

Despite being unable to make Norwich Bus Rally myself I have had reports from those who did make it, and it seems to have been a great day for all concerned. Syd Eade has kindly sent some pics to me, most notably of his own vehicle, Leyland PD2 PBJ 2F and it gives me pleasure to post them on here. Thanks, Syd, and hope to see you at the EATM end of season Gala on 7th Sept

Looking good - and so's the bus!! From left Richard Alger, Daniel Peart and Syd Eade in front of their baby!

Leyland PD2 PBJ 2F looking stunning in the sun. Oh for a time machine to see them in their glory days!

Two great looking vehicles, one about to be ruined, showing a destination neither will be seen at!
Blog News

It was my pleasure today to speak with Phil Magill who is in charge of contracts and everything to do with buses at Suffolk County Council. I was calling regarding an issue regarding Suffolk Links, and it was only after a bit I realised his importance and he realised was talking to Suffolk's most beligerent blogger! Anyway a really good chat about everything ensued and I asked for an official interview. Although due to the way Council information is released - ie through the publicity department he was unable to grant me an interview, he has kindly offered to do a Q & A email interview so he can clear his answers in advance. We have not put a time on when I send the questions so if anyone has a question you would like me to ask Mr Magill then email me at by the end of the week and I will add them to my list.


  1. Oh dear Steve. Expecting politicians to talk sense? Really. Like First listening to their customers. But good news, the politicians have moved to take more control over National Rail. Everything will be all right then. The politicians ruined the nationalised railways, why did anyone think they would do any different with the privatised railway? (I'll just blame FEx for your lapse of conentration, they send us all mad). But actually, I wouldn't have liked working in the outside yesterday for peanuts, either.

    1. At least Notwork Rail had the decency to publicly absolve GA of blame and accept responsibility tonight. To be fair Ben Gummer said heads should roll at NR and didn't blame GA either. But you're right.

    2. I'm actually not sure I like this "heads will roll" approach. For two reasons. Firstly, 30 years ago or so the politicians decided they didn't like management by people who had "grown up" in the industry. Whatever industry. They cost too much and took too long. Perhaps there was a reason for that? They knew what they were doing, and concentrated on doing it right. We got this idea that "management was management" and you brought in the brightest and best. Except you didn't because why would the private sector let their best people go, and why would they want to come? And as with kids, the "brightest and best" are too often, when it comes to the crunch, motivated by the fear of failure. And nothing causes failure like the fear of failure. Try it yourself. Still they took the money that was on offer, went for the quick fix to please their paymasters, and the middle management soon learned to tell the bosses what they wanted to hear. And because of that everyone in the chain of command was happy. So successful it's been aped throughout business. Especially by the banks and what used to be called public services (the NHS, for instance). The second idea imported from America is this "fire the boss". Now I'm a great fan of America, but you can't just import their culture. I was once told, and to me it has a grain of truth, that one difference between Europe and America is that in the latter staff do as they are told, whereas in Europe everyone thinks about it, and more or less does their own thing. So power is more diffused. So in America it's easier to point the finger at the boss when things go awry and, like nappies, you change them regularly (and probably for the same reason); try the same thing in Europe, and nothing changes. Maybe I'm talking the proverbial cr*p too, but I'm not so sure.

      I'm not seen it, and can't think of a good reason to visit GY, but on 33423 we need a little bit of sparkle in our lives to lighten the corporate blandness. It makes people's day. Perhaps FEC's self-styled Creative Director can step up to the plate and see that? I'm not optimistic.

      I've not read Suffolk's statutory Transport Plan, but here's a few things to throw in the pot: how about a toolkit for Parish Councils to help improve public transport in rural areas; what about planning charges for small new developments, and commercial uses, and pooled contributions to provide seedbed funding for new and improved services; and what are the level of service they aim to achieve and how are they looking at improving them? Instead of excuses. We know the problems ad naseam.

  2. Cost. Rules. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I'll let you work out which (non-)answer goes with which question!

  3. Steve! if 33423 is as bootiful as you state she is,she will look good in any livery surely,no so long ago everybody was hailing the X1 livery as extremely good,what has changed,has the novelty warn off,or are the E400's not as good,perhaps they should have tinted windows and brown & yellow seating,would that help?? personally i would like to see her at Ipswich for a short spell as i can't from the photo of her and 32479 see any difference in height,so come mister First lets be having YOU...LOL..

    1. With respect, Jim i couldn't disagree more. The liac compliments the black windows far better than the dark blue of the X1 livery will, and there are 24 other E400's in the X1 livery, and yes the novelty has worn off. In her current colours she is the only E400 in norfolk and Suffolk in that livery and makes her in this area unique. I saw 33424 in Basildon last week - pic tomorrow - and it just didn't have the same wow factor. Looking basically the same as 24 other buses won'[t give it the wow factor anymore.

      I'm sure an exchange with VA479 could be arranged - that would look good in Yarmouth for a bit. Don't hold your breath though.