Friday 23 September 2016

Back To Plan A Part 1

At the end of my last post I promised a bus post would follow, and so it has, ironically due to a points failure at Saxmundham. Allow me to explain. After posting my promise I noticed that yet another test train was in the area, and this one was a must. Not only is 950001 a one off train but it was going down the Sizewell branch, which now has a train down it about as often as a politician has an attack of conscience. A plan of action to catch it at as many locations as possible was formed, Tim managed to find some free time to join me at Leiston and we were all set. I decided to see her first at Saxmundham.

950001 is not, as some think a converted 150, but was purpose built for the job it does. I've called it the Baby Banana, and I didn't have long to wait before it came in, not on the platform I expected.

I jumped back in the car and relocated to a country crossing on the Sizewell branch where Tim joined me. We waited, then waited some more. In the end I checked the diagram to see if it was still at Saxmundham only to discover it had turned round (metaphorically) and was already back at Woodbridge. It was not going to Sizewell after all. It later transpired that a set of points, presumably from mainline to branch, had failed and the Sizewell run will have to be rescheduled. So feeling very sorry for Tim who hadn't seen it at all it was back to Plan A, and I headed to Halesworth to start an extremely convoluted journey to Norwich.

It won't be long before Anglian's gas buses transfer to Plymouth, therefore I was pleased to see one of them, 103, on the X88. I am unwavering in my opinion that these are the best single deck buses ever built, but I doubt I'd have reached that opinion had they always been in the condition 103 was yesterday. I have never heard more rattles on a gas bus before, and at one point the driver had to secure the cab door with sticky tape, well a ten trip ticket holder to be precise, to keep it shut. The distinct impression I got was "oh well they're going so we don't give a damn now". It's like seeing a dying relative in hospital - you try to remember them as they used to be, not as they are now. Plymouth will have their work cut out to get them back up to scratch.

Anglian MAN Ecocity gas bus 103 WX62 HHE at Bungay
Bungay is quite an entertaining place these days, with Anglian, Borderbus and Simonds now serving the town. I had half hour there before catching the 580 to Yarmouth, and next up was the 581 to Beccles, operated by Simonds using one of their MCV bodied Vovo B7rle's.

Simonds MCV Volvo B7rle BT13 YWF
A few minutes later and a pleasant surprise. Last Friday I photographed Simonds latest double decker purchase at Diss, and yesterday I bagged their latest single decker purchase. BT63 UUR is an MCV bodied Volvo B8R formerly of Webberbus of Bridgwater. I say B8R as that was what the badge on the back said, however, it's listed as a B7rle so take your pick!

Simonds BT63 UUR at Bungay
Then my transport to Yarmouth arrived in the form of Borderbus 103, ADL E200 BB09 BUS. This was my first time on the route since Borderbus launched it in August, and it appears to be taking off really well. Other blogs have reported that Borderbus are using a double decker on the early morning journey, and speculated that it was in an attempt to lure students at Gorleston 6th form College on to the route. No luring required. That decker is needed as more than 50 students are using it to get to and from College. Not bad for a service that has only been running 6 weeks. I fully expect more journeys to be added to the timetable in due course, particularly a later journey in the afternoon. Anyway I suddenly realised I couldn't recall seeing a pic of a Borderbus vehicle at James Paget Hospital, so nipped out and put that right.

Borderbus 103 BB09 BUS at James Paget Hospital
Annoyed the destination screen didn't show on the photo, at Yarmouth I made sure it did.


In Part 2 coming soon more from Yarmouth, and I finally arrive in Norwich. Unfortunately I have been forced to cancel my trip on Sunday so not as much bus material next week as anticipated. Sure something will turn up though.


  1. Must admit felt a bit silly staring at an empty line 😄

  2. Dear Steve

    I would like to thank you for the great posts which you write, although I would like to pick up on one point which you raised in an earlier post/ comment. The comment picked up on the konectbus recent staff turnover.

    I would like you to know that between the months of July-September, to date, we have seen 9 staff members leave konectbus. With this turnover, it would equate to an annual staff turnover of 27% when you see that it takes approximately 130 staff members to run the company.

    I am sure you know, as with any business in the service industry, this turnover is not unusual. Below outlines the reasonings behind the turnover in the last 3 months:

    - 2 drivers are married, and after over 12 years continuous service for us between them, they have moved to work for a coach company. They believed that being able to work more sociable shifts would work better for them. Unfortunately we were unable to provide the same days off every week for them which they will enjoy now.

    - 2 other drivers have decided to move out of the local area, and would not like to travel up to 200 miles to work.

    - 1 driver has moved companies as they said that travelling 15 miles each way to our depot was not economically viable for them, and did not like the time it added to their commute every day. (Unfortunately we liked this driver, like all, and we were not going to not let him work for us because of the commute,as some of our drivers commute over 30 miles and are happy)

    - 2 drivers joined us earlier this year, and unfortunately, due to customer feedback, we have had to let them go. This was not for their reason, but as you can presume, there will be some personality traits which cannot be looked into before offering employment.

    - 1 driver retired in August. We wish them a happy and healthy retirement.

    - 1 driver has moved out of the industry and is working in another field.

    Yes we have had our fair share of workers leaving us, but I'm sure you will see that this is what happens in the industry, and it isn't what you suggested to be I. E. Because of company morale etc.


    Konectbus employee

    1. Now this is why I leave anonymous comments open, despite the idiots. I cannot thank you enough for clarifying the situation, although you might like to know my original info originated from a Konect driver!!

      This goes to any operator who feels I have grabbed the wrong end of the stick, and we all know that on occasions the stick has many ends. Do what the Konectbus employee has done and get in touch and I will ALWAYS acknowledge where an error has been made.

      Just yesterday I wrote to a Manager to clarify some reports I'd received, and it turned out the rumour mill had been working overtime again. However it's difficult to check out info with companies who aren't that willing to talk, and I have to go with my gut instinct.

      I am honoured and privileged that so many operators read my blog, and it would be nice to think this could be the start of a new more open line of communication with Konectbus. Once again thank you for taking the time and trouble to get in touch, and for your kind words.

    2. Unfortunately rumours occur everywhere in this industry, and I am far from surprised that a rumour like this would have started within the company. - Weekly I hear from somebody that "x is leaving". Over half the time that never transpires - unless they give 2 years notice..? Perhaps there are colleagues who are going to be leaving shortly, but I don't know of any at the moment who are planning to because of morale, just more personal reason.

      It could be said that we could have attained all 9 employees if morale was higher than now; and although 7/9 left for their own reasons, it would not be sensible to think that morale alone could have kept them (perhaps for some, they may have stayed longer, but their departures would have been inevitable in the forthcoming future).

      Good night,

  3. The Volvo Simmonds have purchased from the defunct Webberbus is a B7RLE as the B8RLE didn't start production until late 2014 in the UK. I don't know about the B8R but that's a coach chassis anyway.