Friday, 18 October 2013

Special Report ~ Official X1 Launch

Freddie the frog posing round the back of the bus in Kings Lynn
This week saw the official launch of the 22 new Alexander Dennis Enviro400 buses on the X1. The route runs between Lowestoft and Peterborough, via Great Yarmouth, Norwich, Dereham, Swaffham, King's Lynn and Wisbech. The route had previously been operated by a fleet of B7 and B9 chassis Geminis, which have now been moved on elsewhere in the First Group.  

33811 outside Chapelfield, Norwich
Wednesday saw a launch in Lowestoft, and Norwich in the afternoon, the latter Sam and I were kindly invited by Chris Speed at First Norwich to attend. Unfortunately Sam couldn't attend due to school times but I accepted his offer and arrived outside a rather rainy Chapelfield. This didn't dampen the spirits of Team X1 and Freddie the frog who continued to hand out new timetables and goody bags whilst answering questions about the local bus services from members of the public. After a successful launch, I was invited to attend the remaining launches in King's Lynn and Peterborough the next day.

First representatives (from left to right): Chris Speed, Rosemary Parry, Mark Reynolds, Danny Beales and Richard Tucker

Thursday saw much better weather, with the sun inviting people outside a lot more people in Lynn showed an interest in the bus and this was probably the most successful launch of the four. KLFM came down for an interview with the team, as did Bus and Coach Weekly magazine. I was pleased to meet Andy from Andy's Bus Blog and Gerard Fletcher from the X1 Blog; though I was distracted from my duties of handing out leaflets for a while as I was too busy chatting to them! Gerard and I were then offered a ride on the bus being used for the launch to Peteborough which we accepted as you don't often get the chance to have your own private bus! I made use of the free wifi and it was interest chatting to Gerard about his X1 knowledge.

33811 on Long Causeway in Peterborough 
When we arrived in Peterborough, we had to manouvre into a pedestrial only zone, and with the help of X1 representative Rosemary Parry stopping traffic, driver Wayne Savory slowly reversed onto Long Causeway and parked up in the designated spot no less than 20 minutes in front of schedule. Peterborough was another successful launch, and within half an hour, a representative from a blind awareness society was on the phone to the local newspaper who then arrived with a somewhat large camera and prepp for an interview. RouteOne magazine were also present; at one point there about six different people all taking photographs of the bus with the team and this caused quite a few people to stop and ask what it was about. One particular member of the public expressed how that after seeing the bus ,she will now be visiting Norwich for the first time since 1966 just so she can ride on the new bus! Another man seemed unhappy with the buses until I took him inside. As soon as sat down on one of the luxurious seats he was instantly happy again; the buses prooving to be a hit not only in the East it seems. The enthusiastic team continued to issue free goody bags which contained a new timetable, leaflets about travel and a colouring in page for the kids. The Freddie the frog bags also had lip balm, a frisby, a pen and a bottle opener with an X1 bus shaped box full of jelly beans, thus being very easy to give away and draw an interest in the buses.

I would like to give a huge thanks to the whole X1 team and the other representatives from First who attended with a special mention to Chris Speed for inviting me in the first place.


  1. Your quite lucky with First. With Arriva the Shires I only manage to take to a driver every week and they ignore the odd email I sent once.

  2. It's all part of the "Better Journeys for Life" scheme that First launched last year. Part of the scheme is to be part of the community and part of that is to aid local interest groups whether that be enthusiasts or user groups :)

  3. I wish Arriva did something like that then. I think it's a good thing First do that to be honest.

  4. Oh Zac you're too modest!! Go to the X1 Blog to see Zac in all his suited glory!! Glad you had such a good day - and Sam - you'll be at the launch of the next generation of buses in 5 or 6 years time.


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