Thursday 3 August 2017

A Piece Of Konect Humble Pie

A spot of Short Set chasing today,of which more later, but this time I did it by bus, leaving the car at Wangford and catching the 146 into Norwich. Have to say BB60 BUS is in pretty good nick for its type (E200) and age, even though the unusually strong wind threatened to low in the doors at one point. On arrival at Norwich I caught the 5, operated by Konect to Thorpe, and very soon realised i was going to have to eat some words. The 65 plate E400 was immaculate. Clean, quiet, WiFi worked well, and above all not a single rattle. In fact a joy to travel on. Since I'm the first to criticise E400's in rough conditions I had to mention this.

Konect 636 SN65 OAV in St Stephen's St
 After I had completed my Short Set photography and enjyoed an excellent lunch at the Town House in Thorpe I caught another Konect E400 back into the City, this time older 606 SN61 CZW. Again, for its age the condition was remarkable. Yes the blind box door rattled but that was about it. So, not for the only time in this post, well done Konect. Keeping E400's in that condition takes some doing so congratulations to the engineering team. 

I had gone to Thorpe to try and capture the Class 37 Short Set in new locations, especially while the blue and grey (faded white) coaches are still on it. Thorpe provided a couple of locations, the first being the footbridge over the railway to Thorpe lakes. A short wait and the familar rumble was heard, and 37419 appeared.

37419 with the set, having just passed Whitlingham Jct
Here is the full video.

I then moved a couple of hundred yards up the line where there is a gate crossing to Thorpe Sailing Club. Crossing to the Club side I waited and thanks to the strong wind heard the set accelerate from Crown Point  Another good angle and shot of the set ensued, with a smoking 37405 leading the way.

37405 with the blue/grey set
Here is the full video with the 37 pleasingly drowning out the crossing alarm.

Now back to Konect. It is normally very difficult for those under 21 to get a bus driving job for insurance reasons. So when I was chatting to a couple of Konect drivers in St Stephen's St another driver came up who I thought I vaguely recognised. A smiling, jovial young man who was clearly content with life. It was only as he departed to take over his bus I got a glimpse of his name badge. I had known this particular person was driving for Konect but truly didn't realise it was him.

Kieran Smith spent a period of time running the very successful Norwich Buses Blog, and it's fair to say we didn't get on. I mean seriously didn't get on. No one was really at fault, he was obsessed with his blog and I know I was obsessed with mine - so much so it nearly cost me very dear. I don't know how much I've changed since then but seeing Kieran today was like meeting someone for the first time. He has come out of his shell, is clearly living his dream driving for Konect, and any history between us is precisely that. Kieran had already supported me by email over the troubles I had with my anonymous abuser, which I was extremely touched by, but to see this outgoing, joking, happy person was something else. Kieran it was great to meet you, and I'll be over next week to assess your driving skills! But more than that huge credit needs to go to Steve Royal at Konect for giving Kieran the chance at an age the vast majority of companies wouldn't. I could hear the gratitude in his voice, and see the sparkle in his eyes. Top marks, Konect, top marks.


  1. Well said Steve!

  2. Andrew Kleissner4 August 2017 at 12:37

    Yes, a truly lovely post.

    And could Konect please send some engineers to my neck of the woods to tighten up our E400s!

  3. Andrew Kleissner5 August 2017 at 12:56

    Hallo again. I managed a ride on the EnsignBus demonstrator this morning, I'm sure it's the same as "yours". I wasn't quite as impressed as you though. Yes, the right is good, better than the E400MMC anyway on our awful roads. And the driver reckoned that it was a "good" bus. But it wasn't entirely rattle-free and in fact emitted a few creaks and groans from down under! The seats weren't bad (good cushions but a bit narrow in the back support for me) but the doors opened and shut very slowly. I don't know how long this bus is, it definitely felt BIG inside and even a bit "empty"! I didn't go upstairs but I got the impression that the lower deck has higher headroom than normal,which of course would decrease the available height upstairs. I also found the engine noise a bit obtrusive, possibly more like a Borismaster although this (presumably) isn't a hybrid. So, yes, it was good - but not, in my opinion, as good as you've said!

    1. Ok honesty time - all my decker assessments are conducted upstairs! After all if god had meant us to stay downstairs he wouldn't have provided a top deck!

      Having said that I did stay downstairs a fair bit on that particular trip but near the front. It didn't seem noisy and n rattles to speak of. However, having spoken to First about the one they had you'd think they were different buses and I'm not completely convinced any two vehicles are identical. For example First confirmed theirs had a proper bell whereas the Borderbus one didn't. An interesting one but I still think they are better than any other new decker in production in the UK.

    2. Andrew Kleissner5 August 2017 at 15:18

      Fair comment. And this one didn't have a proper bell either!

  4. Suffolk Local Transport Plan 2011 to 2031

    Does this plan have any real value. It seems to be just a tick box excercise. They are required to produce on so do so. Most of what is in the documnt is very vague and non commital. One sectionm does nail it down a bit with it giving Short , Medium & Long timescales. THe document has never been upissued though. Given the document covers 20 years it is not unreasonable to assume that short term is under 7 years , Medium under 14 years and long term 20 years so all the short term projects should have been completed by now and a start made on the medium term ones but that does not seem to be the case. Many of the project as well seem to have no budget so how they can included them with a timescale is a mystery

    How can they have a document covering 20 years that is never updated. Mind you in the previous one they missed nearly all the targets in it and hjust replaced it with the new plan

  5. In my experience Local Transport Plans should always have the caveats "Baldrick" and "Cunning"!

  6. Total Transport: a more cost effective approach to commissioning local transport services?

    An interesting concept of bringing all forms of bus tranport under one organisation, A lot of challanges though and a lot of vested interest would resist it. It to me though makes sense as it could make more efficent use of a fleet and bring down costs

  7. Bus Services Act 2017

    Some interesting ideas in it. Would the Franchising model work for the EAst of England. It could potentially reduces costs. THe issue I see is SCC really has no interest in public bus services so would not support it

    Bus services nee new sources of finance. I can see two potential ways of doing this it would need new legislation though. A small levey could be made on parking spaces with the money raised to improve local bus service another source could be to require Concessionary pass holders to pay a small far on services that would be otherwise loss making and would be potentially withdrawn. A fare as small as £0.25 a jouney would save many services. A risk is SCC might see that as a way of cutting concessionary pass reimbursment so that would need to be ring fenced

  8. Battery Powered Trains

    It appears that a number of short co commuter lines in South Wales that were going to be electrified may instead use battery powered trains

    In theroy it should work and be a lot cheaper. The question is the battery technology up to it. would assume the batteries would be fast char