Monday, 23 January 2017

Cuts Cut The Mustard** (1)

East Anglia's Expected Action
Some months back, a correspondent sent fbb details of the Company Accounts for GoAhead's group of companies in East Anglia. The numbers were not good - very bad in fact. The four operations were losing money in eye-watering amounts.

fbb did not write about these rather dry but unsustainable business matters but waited for developments. As Christmas 2016 approached, rumours were rife that heads would roll and services were for the chop.

There are now signs that things are happening, negative for the passenger but (hopefully) positive for "the bottom line"..

But first; some background. Norwich is the county town.
It has a strange mixture of the ancient (above) and modernity as below at the University of East Anglia.
Take the A47 eastwards and you will eventually fall off into the North Sea at Great Yarmouth. The road lacks excitement!
The occasional sharp bend relieves the monotony.
But you are soon back to the straight and fairly narrow.
As an indication of the flatness of the area, this road in Great Yarmouth is called ...
... Fullers Hill! Locals often wander along to watch the engines of ill-maintained cars boiling with the strain of the climb!

Great Yarmouth has two piers. Britannia has all the subtlety we come to expect from an English seaside resort.
In its day it was one of four venues in the town offering Summer Shows of high quality (?) ...
... but now it barely reaches the sea!
Wellington Pier certainly never gets its piles wet.
Between Norwich and Great Yarmouth, First bus used to run its X1, part of a very long through service from Peterborough to Lowestoft.
Four hours and twenty minutes of omnibological delight. Or maybe not.

Here, fbb must interject with a confession. His visits to East Anglia have been rare. Three trips to Bungay to deliver the pages for the Great Britain Bus Timetable allowed no time for exploration. A couple of family holidays in Sheringham which your chubby blogger can hardly remember. One memory, however, is clear ...
... walking over this footbridge whilst some rebuilding work was going on to repair the slipway. Father had volunteered for the Post WW2 "Z" reserve and was honing his artillery skills whilst mother and kiddies were in a B & B. He was "retrained" or "refreshed" at Weybourne just along the coast.
Little fbb played on the beach whist mother sat in a sea-front shelter, both watching shellbursts as dad (and others) took pot-shots at a canvas bag towed by a plane.
The target  was much further behind the plane in practice but dad claimed that they didn't get near to live ammo. Probably a good thing for the pilot's longevity.

There was also a week in a rented bungalow at Mundesley.
So fbb will refrain from writing about anything too historical because he "knows nothing", Manuel style.

The X1 began in 2004 and was part of a network of "express" services branded "Excel".
It developed into something rather special with swish double deckers in First's blue and gold interurban livery.
Two more recent happenings are relevant to this short series of blogs.

Newcomer Anglian Bus started their own Norwich to Great Yarmouth service A47 ...
... and First split their through service X1 at Norwich. Someone can, perhaps, tell fbb whether the service split was in response to the competition from Anglian.

But from these hesitant beginnings, fbb will bring the tale bang up to date in tomorrow's blog.
** P.S. Colmans Mustard is based in Norwich.

 Next anglian bog : Tuesday 24th January 


  1. It's not often that you see a photo of the UEA Ziggurats on a transport related blog. Once upon a very long time ago, I was sitting in one of those rooms studying very hard and occasionally going out to ride on a Gardner 5LW powered bus or even a 4LK engined vehicle. The Ziggurats were built with the proceeds of the sales of Colemans Mustard.

  2. The X1 service split was not because of the Anglian A47, these were counteracted by 'short' X1's Gt. Yarmouth to Norwich only. Operated on domestic driving regulations. The full service drivers operated under EU regulations.
    The split came about because of
    1) 77 weeks worth of roadworks on the A47 at Postwick.
    2) The service was becoming very unreliable to keep to time over the whole route. The Lowestoft to Norwich section was experiencing vastly increased numbers of passengers commuting in either direction. These passengers were entitled to have a reliable bus service. There is now a 15 minute frequency between Great Yarmouth/Gorleston and Norwich.

  3. Very naughty fbb, that's a photo of an X4 at Cambridge Drummer Street Bus Station, in this day and age of "fake news" I can't even trust this humble blog ;)

  4. Oh Mea Culpa : but the text immediately preceding the picture does read "a network of services branded Excel." The X4 was part of that network! Not fake news, just a matter of interpretation.

  5. Than you for clarifying, Snap2day

  6. Re Anglian accounts; in what state are the other Go-Ahead brands in the area, i.e. Konectbus and Hedgingham? Would some changes like forming a Go Southcoast be of benefit?