And, here we are again, at London Liverpool Street with a rail service back to Norwich. Or, in this case, a service to Ipswich and a bus took me the rest of the way. I was placed to note that the toilets are back open at London Liverpool Street, all newly remodelled and still free of charge.
The trains are announced much earlier than they used to be, half an hour before the departure time in this case. I was one of the first couple of people to board, as is evident in the above photo.
The carriages were from the Stansted Express service, the 745/1 FLIRT cars, which I think are the same (with one caveat below) as the standard services from Norwich to London Liverpool Street. But, I don’t know my trains well enough to say (write) that with any certainty.
One difference is evident inside, there are no tables at any of the seats and there is some extra space for cases. I don’t know why there are no tables, it’s a bloody nuisance, and I imagine it’s another one of Jamie Burles’s good ideas. There are though power sockets and everything worked as it should, with the train being clean and well presented.
Another shot of the carriages. The service ran to schedule and the conductor seemed friendly enough in his announcements, although they kept breaking up. He said when we were near to Ipswich that the bus replacement service would depart from Platform 1, which entirely confused me. He changed this when we pulling into Ipswich to say that the bus service was now operating from outside the front of the station and this did make more sense. He’d probably had a long day. There were only two of us in the end carriage and although the other carriages were a little busier, it was still a relatively quiet service.
I’ve moaned, indeed moaned quite a lot sometimes, about how bus replacement services can be really badly managed. Although at least there were staff around, unlike the little incident that Nathan and I had with Deutsche Bahn last year. This was really rather good, there were staff making clear announcements that customers going to Stowmarket and Diss needed to get a certain bus, with those going to Norwich needing another. All very clear. The service was operated by Wrights Coaches, who I haven’t heard of, and everything seemed professional with them.
I think there’s a vague plan to try and get buses fitted with seatbelts when they’re used on bus replacement services, but there’s no such requirement at the moment. Ideally, perhaps, there would be. But, the bus was clean and not over-filled, it was all comfortable enough.
And back safely into Norwich, four minutes ahead of schedule. The fare was the usual £10 (I say usual, it isn’t always that price, but it’s the price that I’m prepared to pay, so it’s become my usual) which I think is pretty decent value for money. The bus section of the journey is always a faff, but it was handled as well as it could have been, and full marks to Greater Anglia. Although they need tables on their trains, as I like them.