Monday 28 January 2019

Konect Abandon Suffolk Once And For All

It gives me no pleasure to say I really should be hanging out giant "I told you so" banners. In fact I'm angry, really angry. Angry at those prats who ridiculed me when I said Konect would be cutting more routes, and incandescent with fury with Go East, who have single handedly destroyed bus services in North and East Suffolk, and much of East Norfolk too. There cannot have been a similar example of such inept and uncaring management of a previously flourishing bus company in modern times. But the post mortum can wait - this is what Konect are getting rid of now.

The 88 will be scrapped between Norwich and Bungay from SATURDAY March 2nd. However, due to it being sponsored, the section between Bungay and Southwold will continue until March 31st. Passengers from Halesworth travelling to Norwich during March will need to change buses and pay again on First's X41. Konect have said they will be charging reduced fares so through passengers won't be penalised, which shows how much they charge now, and they wonder why patronage has fallen. After 1st April a new operator, I presume First, will take over the route. Also going are the 272 school service, and the 90, running between Halesworth/Southwold and Beccles, another sponsored service. My guess is Borderbus might be very interested in that one.

You can read the full announcement here, but I simply must reproduce the reasons Konect give for the pull out, blaming everyone, even the passengers, but themselves.

The reason that we are withdrawing these routes is that they continue to run at a loss. We have sustained losses of several million pounds in our Beccles based operation in the last few years. This has been because of the loss of contracts to other companies, the decline in the rural bus market and high operating costs and poor reliability which we have been unable to address at a small operation that is remote from our main business. We have also suffered from direct competition from First bus, whom most users now seem to prefer. We hope that First will have the good grace to step in and provide the extra facilities such as Sunday buses and the through route to Halesworth that we have hitherto provided, and not just focus on the profitable sections of route in Bungay and Poringland.

As yet First are to make official comment, although I know they have been looking for some time how they can source the extra resources needed to extend the X41 to fill the gap left by Konect.

I was reminded of the front cover of Buses Magazine a mere 4 years ago - how things have changed since then.

Go Ahead certainly did transform the independent. Into dust. Avada Kedavra, as Voldemort would have said.

I'll have more analysis of this announcement and possible repercussions for passengers in due course. Right now pity the customers on the 88, and especially those drivers at Beccles who have stuck it out until the bitter end. They deserved so much better, and I hope they find new jobs quickly.

Thursday 17 January 2019

Flirt-ing around at the Coast

As regular readers will have seen Greater Anglia are in the process of renewing their complete fleet of rolling stock,which is as it says is the complete lot!

   The first to arrive for testing and training are the 4 car sets designated Class 755/4 or "Ironmans" as some have dubbed them. These are bi-mode units which will utilise the 4x V8 diesels for non electric main line work to Cambridge etc, and will be followed by the 755/3 3 car bi mode which have 2x V8 engines.Both types will be able to run under the wires on the GEML but the 3 car will predominantly be for the Wherry/Bittern and East Suffolk Lines to replace the 1,2 and 3car units already in service.
755406 and possibly 405 at Crown Point last week,

There has been some overnight testing on the GEML between Diss and Norwich but your intrepid reporter learned that 755406 was to make it's first foray onto the branchlines to Yarmouth. So armed with thermals and camera I duly waited on P2 and was there when it arrived and felt quite chuffed (and cold) to see 
P2 looking rather shiny
I was joined by 2 other hardy souls or as we realised mad fools lol, the Community Rail Officer for Norfolk, Martin and a driver, Hayden who is itching to get his hands on the new stock.

The testing to Lowestoft is still not sorted as I believe the gauging for the swing bridges is being looked at, but rest assured your reporter will be there.

And finally...the video had to be taken and presented here as we find that these new machines have LOUD horns!!

Thursday 3 January 2019

Bits and Pieces

Hi, everyone, and a Happy New Year. I hope you have all recovered from the silly season, and ready for what could be quite a year. A few things to report, and some blog news.

First of all the long anticipated takeover of Galloway by Stephensons of Essex was completed on Jan 2nd. I am told this should not have any impact on Galloway's Suffolk bus services, but as usual time will tell.

Staying in Essex both Hedingham and Chambers have de-registered all their bus routes. These were immediately re-registered under Konect. I have not heard any reports of the Hedingham or Chambers names disappearing, so this maybe for insurance reasons. However legal lettering on the buses will have to change.

A couple of weeks ago Stagecoach announced they were pulling the plug on their USA operations. I wondered what Mick Capon, a long time sufferer sorry reader of the blog in North Carolina would make of it. I'm delighted that Mick has replied, and I reproduce his email here.

Hi Steve,

A belated Merry Christmas to you and a Happy New Year.

I tried, in vain, to add a comment on the topic of Stagecoach here in the US, but whatever profile I used it would not accept it. Strange that.

I'm not totally surprised by the withdrawal. The only Stagecoach presence I see here in Durham, NC, is the twice-daily Charlotte-Durham-Richmond-DC Megabus Van Hools passing through. They always seem well loaded, but the fares are ridiculously cheap. It's not difficult to get a $10 ticket from Durham to DC as opposed to the cheapest Amtrak fare of $59. Added to that the journey time is far quicker (5 hrs 30 by Megabus, 7 hrs plus by Amtrak), so unless the new owners continue this service it will be missed I'm sure.

Given some press reports I've seen, I cannot imagine First staying here either. They have, I think, a much large presence, especially in the school bus market. In fact, our local transit operator, Go Durham use First to operate their services, although the authority owns the buses and employ the drivers (operators). This is common practice here with neighboring city system Go Raleigh operated by Transdev.

Fares in Durham are still $1, the same as when we moved here in 2006! Seniors pay nothing and are never "Twearly!"  Timetables are constant also, usually starting at 5:00 a.m. and finishing at midnight or later, with only slightly reduced schedules on Sundays. Schedules are typically updated twice a year as new routes are added and existing routes routes are adjusted, usually following public consultation.

Nothing like "Go East Anglian" then!

I love the blog, Steve. You're a good egg for putting up with so much negativity from the trolls. One commentator, in particular, has so much to say that I'm surprised he doesn't start his own blog. Come to think of it, no, I'm not!

Illegitimi non carborundum.

Many thanks, Mick, and thanks for your kind words, which I included as it brings me nicely to the blog news.

Last night in the space of 40 minutes there were 18 troll comments posted on the blog. It is unfair on me to have to keep constantly checking comments in case some numpty wants me to do myself in, and it's unfair on you decent folks to have to read them before I get there myself. Therefore, I've decided that all comments will be moderated from now on. It won't affect anyone's ability to comment, but it will delay the comment's publication. Tim will be helping me with the moderation, so thanks to him for that. It was either that or stop comments altogether, which I didn't want to do, as the majority of comments make this blog. A shame a few idiots have to wreck it for everyone else, but that's the way of the world these days. So carry on with them, maybe don't take everything quite so seriously - it's a hobby after all, and we'll see what this year brings.

Sorry, having probs with formatting, never had this prob before, just read between the colours!