Wednesday 4 December 2019

Scania E400 Citis for Excel

After more than a year since I was told (and asked not to publish), First Eastern Counties have finally revealed that the new buses for their flagship Norwich - Peterborough XL route are to be E400 Citis built on a Scania chassis, the first time this combination has been put together, hence the secrecy, and not MMC bodies as was widely speculated. 

In an announcement on their website, First proudly boast that all buses will have coach style seats, free WiFi (with hopefully more data allowance than the current ridiculously small amount), USB charging at all seats, seat back phone docks with wireless charging, and bus stopping buttons at every seat. They hint at other features which are still to be revealed. You can read the full announcement here.

I have no pics as present, although a few are doing the rounds on Facebook, but can say the livery is similar to the new red livery being rolled out around the country. What distinguishing extras the excels will have is to be seen. I just hope the Scania chassis proves to be sturdier than the ADL chassis. I've been on a couple of 2yo Citis in London recently and the body noise was horrific - even a driver said it gave him migraines. So when First say "build quality, ergonomics and style are all integral to the Alexander Dennis bodywork" you'll have to excuse me for sitting firmly on the fence for a few months! 

There will no doubt questions as to what's happening to the current fleet on the XL. As far as I know they will be transferred to Lowestoft for use on the X2, with the current X2 Volvo B9's going to Norwich for the Orange Line, amongst others which should see the end for the final Presidents there. 

The new buses are scheduled for entry into service "Spring 2020", which could mean anything between February and May, I guess. The obvious direct contrast will be the new Optare Metrodeckers being built for Greenline 702, which will enter service at roughly the same time. I want to be pleasantly surprised. Time will tell.


  1. The Scania chassis should provide a smoother ride as, at least I believe, you can specify different shock absorbers that aren't available on the classic ADL chassis.

    I'll have to plan a visit to the area to try them out when they launch!

  2. Good news, perhaps for a change in this era of uncertainty, though as you always (and rightly) say the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Hopefully Eastern Counties are lining up for a decent future.

    Meanwhile on the other side of the wall, by all accounts First are to wind down and withdraw from services in Essex on the usual reason of them "being uneconomic for some time despite our best efforts" (though don't laugh too loudly) and in the absence of any buyer interest. We will have to wait and see what happens, again. Though Essex passengers will breathe a sigh of relief at "anyone but First". And it might even allow some more fleet improvement for the less prestigious Eastern Counties routes too!

    1. First are also axing the 75B as well as the 97 & 98. It leaves First Bus with a lot of spare garage capacity

      Hedingham have the opposite problem their Clacton Garage is full they even station a couple of buses in their small Engineering base so they need more garage space

    2. It'd certainly make sense for Worst to sell out in Essex to Go-Ahead, and the less overlap perhaps the less competition issues, but I suspect they are still miles apart on valuation. Is Colchester depot leased or freehold? So, rather sadly, I see Worst in Essex clinging on for a while yet, going nowhere. The Essex fleet is pretty much crap, and something will need to happen, even if it is a Northampton mark II.

    3. The depot should serve the bus network, and not the other way around. Worst in Essex ar8e about face, again?

      I think real congratulations are due to the EC management for having successfully negotiated both the First investment margins and, I hope, chosen well. It is no mean feat, especially in the current climate to meet the expectations of both passengers and to keep the First accountants happy. We can complain as much as we like, but they have to do both. They are on top of their game.

      The achievement looks even more extraordinary when compared to the dismal failures at their neighbours. Worst in Essex services X30, 100, 71, 27 and 28 which should be the backbone of a network (if they had one deserving of the title), as well as the urban services in Colchester and Chelmsford, are on the brink of collapse; whilst they fiddle while Rome burns, trying to improve the dismal margins. First can hardly be blamed for transferring any decent fleet out to where it earns a decent return. Worst deserve, and get, the junk. The passengers don't deserve such shoddy treatment. But Worst in Essex have failed for a decade, and would fail for another one if allowed to.

      There is no shortage of passengers, but failure on every other account. No wonder staff, management and passengers are deserting the sinking ship, as fast as they can. Purchasers too may be myopic, but they aren't stupid. They can see what is going on (and what isn't) with their own eyes. Why buy what you can pick up for free if you wait? Cowboys Worst are terrified, if not in a blind panic. Completely clueless. They have not just lost the plot, but any prospect of recovery. Northampton, Mark II.

    4. Forgot the Essex 70, another key route on the brink of collapse (as well as the 100).

  3. "...the first time this combination has been put together...". With diesel propulsion possibly, but there's rather a lot of gas powered examples running around Nottingham.

  4. The further disruption to train service in Suffolk using the new bi-mode trains was put down to signalling but it appear now it was a near fatal accident caused by the failure of the onboard computer equipment

    On Saturday, November 24 at around 7.53pm one of Greater Anglia's new class 755 train was approaching the Norwich Road automatic barrier level crossing at Thorpe End, on its journey between Norwich and Sheringham

    The barriers were lowered into position with the train travelling around 45mph and around 200m away.

    However, the barriers then lifted, the warning lights went out and traffic proceeded over the crossing - with the train still fast approaching.

    he driver sounded its horn and slammed on its brakes, but could not stop - missing a passing car by just a quarter of a second.

    There is no way that a properly designed system should allow this to happen with a single system failure

    At the moment emergency measures have been put in place including 20mph speed limits at crossing

  5. The Cancellations are still continuing with no coherent, story from Greater Anglia as to what the problem is. Typically the cancellations and delays are blamed on signalling problems and train breakdowns. It seem to indicate they have not a clue at to what the problem is and there seems to be no end to the ongoing issues