Thursday, 12 October 2017

What Has Happened To Our Hobby?

Last week I mentioned there was little news to report at present and I'd discuss why that was. It's not going to make pleasant reading, but then the truth sometimes hurts.

There is, to be frank, not much news because there is far less going on. Let's start with buses and what's around. When I started blogging there were a multitude of different buses to spot and/or ride on. Let's take Great Yarmouth as a focal point. First's fleet comprised of Plaxton Darts, Wright Renown Volvos, President Volvo B7tl's, B12 coaches and 2 types of Olympian. Then Anglian had the gas buses, Optare Versas and Excels, Scania Omnicities and Omnilinks, original Streetlites, Loylne Tridents and ALX400 Tridents. Sanders would use anything on the 6, from DAFs to B7rle's. There were Summer Routemasters, coach operated weekly services, and the Gemini B9's on the X1. It was a good place to be, and everyone was interested in the news, particularly involving the Olympians, whose days were already numbered. Now Anglian have all but gone completely, the Ollies, Renowns, Routemasters, older Darts and B12 coaches have gone. First's fleet now comprises of ALX400 B7's, a couple of Presidents, ex Leeds B9's, short Darts and plastic Streetlites. Nothing there to whet the appetite. Sanders only use B7rle's, and all those weekly services have gone. I haven't been to Yarmouth once this Summer for buses.

Ipswich is no better. Where you used to be able to see Floline Scanias, Renown Volvos, Olympians of many types thanks to First, Carters and Ipswich Buses, B6's, step entrance Darts, Volvo Citibuses from Colchester, now it's all ALX400's, B7rle's, E200's and Scania Omnicities. Like Yarmouth there are no buses of character left. DDA and moulded plastic saw to that.

Added to that is the loss of so many routes and services and you have far fewer buses on the road anyway. I haven't done exact research but I'm willing to bet there are at least 50% fewer buses on the roads of Norfolk and Suffolk than there were 5 years ago. That means less news, which means fewer posts. The time was you could go to Norwich and know you would see something interesting. No longer. Where other parts of the country are getting gas double deckers, or electric buses, or business class interiors, or community seating areas, or 94 seater Aussie monsters, here we get overexcited at the prospect of an 8yo ex London Scania coming back from repaint. Hardly inspiring stuff.

For the next year at least the trains are relatively interesting. We are lucky to have the short set still clagging around for at least another 15 months. Then we have class 153/156/170 diesel units and Class 317/321/360/387 electric units, not forgetting the Class 90 hauled Intercity sets. Add freights, test trains, rail head treatment trains and charters, not to mention Flying Scotsman coming to the area in a couple of weeks, and railways are far more interesting than roads at present. But it won't last.

By 2019 Greater Anglia will have replaced their entire fleet with two types of new train After the initial novelty has worn off interest will wane considerably, but at least they will be brand new trains, not 8yo cast offs. But it means there will be less to write about on the railways too. Long live test trains, charters and freight that isn't Class 66 hauled!

This has also taken its toll on the amount of blogs in the area. There used to be loads. Now there are basically two. Last week Zak Nelson decided enough was enough and closed Norwich Bus Page after reaching an impressive 1 million views. My best wishes for the future, Zak, and stay in touch. Sam Larke tried to restart Norwich Buses Blog over the Summer but a combination of no news and working the Holt shuttle put paid to that. Clive has had an awful year which has seen Ipswich Bus Blog silent, not that anything has been missed. It's myself and East Norfolk Bus Blog left, and even Roy is struggling to find news.

So my apologies for the reduction in posts, but there truly is less to write about than there was even a year ago. You will find more and more posts devoted to other regions and that is really a shame. East Anglia needs a mighty kick in the pants to get it going again. Trouble is no one can afford the boots strong enough to deliver it.


  1. Andrew Kleissner12 October 2017 at 23:12

    Com to Cardiff - much more interesting! My local Cardiff Bus service 57/58 is usually provided by Euro V Citaros or E400MMCs. However Omnicities turn up quite frequently; occasionally we get Euro VI Citaros, E200s (plain and MMC) and – just once – I have been on an E300, a Scania Olympus and, today, an ancient Dart SLF. That's most of the fleet I think except Scania articulateds. And then there are other operators such as New Adventure Travel, Newport Buses and some coming in from the country!

  2. The X1 blog is still going also:

    Was quiet for a while, but he should have more to write about with more demonstrators and then the full fleet replacement.

    1. Yes good point, although Gerard, probably wisely, dedicates his blog to the single route.

  3. Great article and highlighta two things .....East Anglia is way behind in implementing innovative bus and tram projects , and the bland FirstBus whose corpoate image can be seen in towns and cities across the country inspires little excitement or interest

  4. What companies could introduce electric buses to their fleets in Norfolk - case study?

    Anglian probably would have done if they weren't bought out by Go Ahead. But I'm sure we all see why big companies put new bus types in big cities to begin with. This then would be the same for Konect.

    I believe First would have a similar approach.

    Stagecoach...same as above, HOWEVER I believe they would be more inclined to bring them to Norfolk before other big operators.

    Border bus and Lynx are too new to do this for now (my opinion).

    Sanders....They could, and they should, but I highly doubt they would.

    Even so, I live in Manchester, and the buses are E400s MMCs Gemini 2's ....all plastic rubbish...

  5. Andrew Kleissner13 October 2017 at 20:42

    Speaking dispassionately, doesn't it make sense for operators to have standardised fleets as much as possible? Surely it must simplify maintenance and driver training and cut down on the number of spares needing to be stocked?

  6. Well the annual September round of cuts has been and gone so it will go quiet for a bit. Beestons & Ipswich buses may be next for further cuts next year. Well with Beestons it would be pulling out of bus work. They don't have much left and are struggling to operate the couple of routes they have left reliable . Over 80% of them run outside of the traffic commissioners guidelines. It also requires high levels of dead running and stand time