Tuesday 28 May 2019

The X Files - A New Brand (1)

The use of the route letter "X" can have varied interpretations, but in many cases it means very little, perhaps just a short section of limited stop running. The historic meaning of "Express" (i.e. fast with very few stops) seems to have faded.

What is "X", for example, about Lothian Country's recently introduced X17?
In fact the bus only serves limited stops along the A8 from Haymarket in Edinburgh itself to Gogarburn.

X17 Stopping Pattern
to Fauldhouse
Regent Road then all recognised stops to Haymarket Station, then only at Murrayfield, Edinburgh Zoo, Kirk Loan, Drum Brae South, Maybury, Gogarburn A8, then all recognised stops to Fauldhouse.
to Edinburgh
all recognised stops to Gogarburn A8, then only at Maybury, Drum Brae South, Station Road, Edinburgh Zoo, Haymarket Station, then all recognised stops to Regent Road.
Gogar is where the A8 meets the A720 Edinburgh ring road - so X17 is limited stops withing the Edinburgh "built-up" area leaving the all stops services to Lothian "city" buses.
So ever so slightly "X" is what it means.

Bearing this in mind, fbb was intrigued to spot this picture in one of the trade magazines.
It accompanied an article explaining that go Ahead North East was introducing a new brand (one of many in the company's recent history) called "X-lines". Scrolling down the current list of timetables fbb came across two with a tag showing the new branding.
Were these services new?

Not exactly. Back in 2016, for example, the X6 and X7 were branded "Wear Xpress" ...
... with a puce and gold livery.
Note that the X6 continued southbound to and from Hartlepool.
There was also an X5, also branded Wear Xpress ...
... running every 30 minutes all the way from Hartlepool to Sunderland ...
... but via an indirect route between Peterlee and Sunderland.

This has now lost its "X"ness and has become a plain and un-branded 55 ...
... but still running every 30 minutes.
The route on the approach to Sunderland looks slightly different through the fbb spectacles of ignorance, but the running times are comparable, which suggests that there was never anything "Xpress" about the X5!

So the new X6/X7 carries the new X-lines branding ...
... and no longer runs to Hartlepool.
Running times are similar to the previous manifestation.
The leaflet is bold, brash and beautiful ...
... and there is a detailed map inside.
The X6/X7 have huge lengths of non-stop running, making it an obvious candidate for an X-file.

For those unfamiliar with the geography of the north-east, Dalton Park  ...
... is, joy of retail therapy joys, an "Outlet Shopping Village" built on the site of Murton Colliery.

More from the X-files tomorrow.

Meanwhile Back in Edinburgh
Long-standing readers may remember a picture in a previous fbb blog of a new coach (at the Blackpool rally) in green and cream, presented by Lothian Transport and labelled "Green Arrow". fbb speculated that some genuine express services were in the offing.
And the offness has now been revealed.
Of course they cannot be "X" services as there are already plenty of those, so we now have, from Bathgate, ...
... and a new attack, this time on First's busy 38, from Linlithgow.
More frustration for First.

And a final thought. Back in the far off days of the opening of the M1, United Counties solved the "X that's faster than X" problem by numbering its services via the motorway as MX1 etc.

 Next X-files blog : Wednesday 29th May 


  1. Andrew Kleissner28 May 2019 at 07:15

    Here in Cardiff, New Adventure Travel's X services are Cross-city (get it?)

  2. In North Somerset, the X that's faster than the X1 is the X1x

  3. Yet again I think FBB is over-thinking the subject. So long as the locals know what X means that's good enough.

    I can think of local examples where X with a single figure meant "express", whereas X with two figures really meant by-passing a town en-route which is served by other services, to the X replacing the leading number on "copy-cat" routes to differentiate the new comer from the incumbent.

    I can think of one route which has been variously 241, X41, X4, X4/X5, 265, D1 over the years, and that's only going back to late NBC years.

    Strangely enough the public seem to have managed the changes....

    1. I would dispute that as people always got confused between the X4 and 265 and the change to D1 caused plenty of confusion. Also people expected the X4 to be Express but it really wasnt. Just like the X39 really isn't but claims it is as it bypasses Keynsham.

  4. Xelabus in Eastleigh, Hants uses X for all their normal bus routes (non school or contract).

  5. Dorset Council and Go South Coast use X for all their cross-country (ie inter-urban) routes. They tend to be main road routes. Plain numbers are used for town and village services around estates or lanes and thus slower.