Friday, 6 November 2015

X1 and X2 Expansion Revealed

I was told some weeks ago that the X1 and X2 were to undergo some major changes in December, and finally can talk about them as First have today put the forthcoming timetables on their website. Essentually both are to go to 15 min frequencies but with some new areas served, competitive fares and in the case of the X2 some much faster journeys.


The X1 returns to its former 15 min frequency between Norwich and Yarmouth. However the "shorts" will continue to James Paget Hospital via Middleton Rd, which until a week ago was served by Anglian's 61. Only two X1's an hour will operate between JPH and Lowestoft, again as before, but these will be evenly interspaced with the 1/1A to essentially maintain a 15 min service between Lowestoft and Yarmouth with both routes taking roughly the same journey time. On Sundays there will be a 30 min service with alternate journeys operating as 1A between Lowestoft and Yarmouth.


The biggest changes are seen on the X2, with the X22 returning to operate between Lowestoft and Norwich via Carlton Colville. Most X2's will now be fast services, omitting North Cove, and then running fast from Beccles/Gillingham to Norwich omitting Hales and Loddon. X2's will run half hourly, as will the X22, whch from what I can see will mirror BorderBus's 146 between Ribblesdale and East Anglia Transport Museum, before operating the route the X2 does now, with both X22's serving Loddon, and alternate journeys serving North Cove and Hales. Sundays will see an hourly X2 serving the whole route between 0840 and 1905.

Fares are reasonable without being dirt cheap. £5.50 for a Lowestoft -Norwich return is much  cheaper than the train and competitive with BorderBus, who in recent weeks have been making steady progress on the route.


I have to try and stay neutral here. Having said that I must congratulate First's Commercial team for putting together the new X1 timetable so quickly in order to maintain a service for Middleton Rd after it was so summarily abandoned by Anglian. I have observed crazy queues at Norwich for the X1, and the restored 15 min frequency is wholly justified. Just a shame it won't be Ollies and coaches on the "shorts" like it used to be! My personal prediction is this new X1 timetable could be the final nail in the coffin for Anglian's 7. I think their best bet is to restore the old A47's and give the villages a regular link to Yarmouth as well as Norwich again. A 30 min service on the 7 just won't compete with the X1.

I have mixed feelings about the X2 changes. BorderBus have proved that a fast service from Beccles to Norwich is desirable and I'm going to stand firm and consistent in my condemnation of operators just trying to poach passengers from competitors by copying - have I mentioned I don't like copying before? When BorderBus started a fast service from Beccles to Norwich it was unique, and now First want to muscle in on it. They are even sending two buses an hour on the 146 route around Carlton Colville. The only redeeming feature is that those buses are the stoppers, so shouldn't have any impact on the 146 custom, and in all honesty I can't see them lasting too long. I'm a little disappointed in First as, like the X1, demand in Norwich justifies the 15 min frequency, and to try and poach a few passengers in Carlton Colville off BorderBus seems a little unnecessary. On the plus side anything that reduces journey times from Lowestoft to Norwich is welcome, and let's face it the Loddon section is very tedious!

What would be even more welcome is to see effort put into feeder services from other areas so more people who don't actually live on the routes can connect with and use them.

The changes come into operation on Dec 7th, and full details and timetables can be accessed on First's website by clicking here.


  1. "I have to try and stay neutral here." Hmmm... :D *cough* I'll try and do the same, albeit for what I suspect are somewhat different reasons.

    With that in mind, my thoughts on the changes, in reverse order (apologies in advance for the essay):

    X2; I'm with you, am in two minds about it also. It does have a whiff of flooding the route about it, especially since I personally (though I may well be wrong and have just missed them) haven't seen queues for the X2 leaving Norwich reach anywhere near the extent that queues for the X1 do. That being said, speeding it up end to end may improve things, especially with it being cheaper (and slightly more central) than the train at both ends, but only time will tell on that.

    X1; I agree, a decent job has been done there, and very quickly too considering. Can't say I understand all the fuss over Middleton Road though, there's what, 3/4 stops along it's whole length? I'm old enough to remember from the EC 600/1 and it's always been slim pickings for buses along that road, traditionally anyway (there is a but coming...), as (traffic lights allowing) it's more of a quick way through Gorleston that isn't the inner relief road. Oh, considering the PVR has gone up a bit, if my maths is correct and I've correctly read the PDF, I presume Caister Road has some more deckers coming in? Considering the ongoing 'loan' of 30900 and the regular appearances of Routey lately it seems clear that they're running short, even with the presence of 32348...

    Anglian 7; I don't know if it's nail in the coffin time quite yet, although I do wonder what's next for it. Mariner's Compass is really random seeing as the 7 is not running along Gorleston Cliffs (which was my first thought when Mariner's Compass popped up with regard to the changes there), Park Road must be killing the suspension on Anglian's vehicles (it certainly does on First's lot), Lowestoft Road... yes I see the thinking there, although (here comes the but from earlier) having spent how long 'training' sixth formers from ENSFC to go down to the roundabout to get a bus from there (in either direction) they've now pretty much abandoned them, which is just... I don't know, I really don't. With all that in mind, and the main differentiators between the X1 and the 7 being that one serves Thorpe St Andrew and the other doesn't, and the latter runs less frequently for fewer hours each day and for fewer days each week than the former, well, my personal prediction is that there will be another change - and probably sooner rather than later. Serving the villages though, well... with Konect's 52/72 serving Brundall and Blofield, and Konect's 53/71 coming in from the Wroxham Martham and Hemsby way, well, there's not a great deal of room left for a regular Anglian operated village bus, if you follow my train of thought there.

  2. Excellent essay, Tinker! I don't think the PVR for the X1 has risen greatly due to the JPH terminators. However, the second of the ex Green Line Geminis is due back imminently which will give one more. The Routey is out (never when I'm there) mainly due to Bernie demands which will only last another month or so.

    The 71/72 only operate a couple of times a day so there is room to/from Yarmouth. It was only a thought as I see no future for the 7 in its current form. However, since Anglian changes its mind on things on an almost hourly basis don't be surprised to see the 61 extend to Yarmouth again in the coming weeks. As for Mariners Compass what makes it more bizarre is that the 7 operates in the opposite direction to the 8, so the intended passengers will be on the wrong side of the road........

  3. You're too kind Steve!

    Yes, the PVR hasn't gone up a lot, about 1 or 2 as I read it from the timetable (by the looks of it the Lowestoft-Norwich runs will have a bit more time than they do at the moment), but with Caister Road's current demands it's all looking very tight (and what's going to happen when Bernie demands go up again, as it will happen).

    As for the 71/72, well, yes, there aren't many journeys on either, and I agree with regards to the 71 and that the 7 in it's current form is going to suffer. The 72 though, if the villages are going to be served, personally I see it being an extension of the Konect 52 (with more journeys becoming 72) rather than a return of the A47'd Anglian 7. North of Yarmouth has been 'Konectified' already, so it's not the biggest leap to think they'll do the same west of Yarmouth (with the 61 extending to Yarmouth again to 'fill the gap', so to speak)... or am I going mad? :D

    As for Mariner's Compass - really?? Ha, well, there we go. If the 7 ran along Gorleston Cliffs/Yallop Avenue, returning to Lowestoft Road via Bridge Road if they didn't want to do the whole cliff top to Avondale Road, then that issue wouldn't exist (serving the JPH after Mariner's Compass Lowestoft bound, vice versa Yarmouth bound) but maybe that's just me.

  4. A common issue with the X2 service from Norwich is punctuality, with buses regularly turning up late or not at all, certainly during the evening rush hour from 4pm onwards. One of the notable areas where the service is let down is at the Loddon and Hales junctions where Norwich bound buses can wait a considerable amount of time to get across the road. Hopefully with the introduction of the fast X2's, which will omit these two villages, a more punctual service will be provided. I will wait and see.

  5. As I read the fares are cheaper on Borderbus and that has my vote as turn up on time and all drivers are friendly and it is a great service

    1. I think you'll find a lot of people agree with you there, Bradley.

  6. I agree with your opinion on the Anglian A47, it should be brought back. It was a good well used service back in the day the fact that it picked up the extra passengers through Brundall & Blofield was Anglians saving grace on the Norwich to Yarmouth competition. The Konect 72 leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to frequency the only good thing is it also serves South Walsham. Perhaps the 7s could be the old X47 and run more 7As as the old A47 alongside the 72. Wishfull thinking I know!

  7. Cutting out Loddon may save 5 minutes, but that doesn't exactly help the many who live/work in Loddon/Chedgrave and rely on the X2. As it stands the return to a half hourly service to/from Loddon fills me with dread that I'll again frequently end up waiting over an hour for a bus, as was the case before the old shortlived Anglian 146 triggered First to improve the X2 with the current every 20 minutes service. Loddon should not take the blame for punctuality - the Anglian 146 never had such problems. More of a problem is that those X2 buses are always breaking down and the regular RTCs on the A146 causing long delays. Also, if they reduced the number of stops on Bracondale to one, it would help - the amount of times it has to stop at all three going into Norwich is crazy, considering the short distance between them.