National Express : Norwich to London Victoria Coach Station

Tonight I’m offering some variety to my usual Greater Anglia stories about my trips from Norwich to London and back. Indeed, I haven’t bothered even writing those up recently unless something has annoyed me. I’m not really a coach person, not least because people like Liam will make an Inbetweeners reference. Anyway, the cheapest rail ticket to get from Norwich to London were £15 today and I’m not made of money, so I looked for alternatives. I discovered that National Express have got rid of booking fees for those with an account (I like this, as booking fees annoy me), and they were offering this journey for just £4.60. I think that’s a bargain, so I bought it.

Gone are the days when customers needed to print out National Express tickets, it’s possible now just to show the driver your phone with the ticket on it (or print it out if you want). And I have some words about the driver today. He was simply brilliant and was just one of those personable and warm people that could lift the journey of a customer. Someone wanted to board without a ticket and they didn’t have time to buy it. He suggested they buy a ticket online from Thetford to London when onboard the coach so that they didn’t have to wait a few hours for the next service. He didn’t have to do that, but he made someone’s day much easier and National Express got some money for the trip that they might have lost. The driver engaged with enthusiasm and, as might be evident, I thought he was a shining role model of customer service. I did post on Twitter about the friendly driver and National Express have at least liked what I put, so I’m pleased they’re aware of the whole situation (specifically their friendly driver rather than me being happy, which I imagine isn’t at the top of their corporate list of worries).

Then I had to choose a seat after boarding. This is tricky, the two with the most legroom are at the back. But, they’re near the toilets. That’s a convenience for me in some ways (no pun intended), but also a danger if the toilets don’t smell too fresh. Fortunately, the gamble paid off today, all was pleasant and lovely. The bus set off on time and the air conditioning worked. The power sockets didn’t, but I was content as the coach wasn’t too hot and everything was clean. The service runs from Great Yarmouth to London (NX491) and it was relatively empty throughout, maybe 15 people on board at its busiest.

I liked the emergency exit seats where I was located, they reminded me that I might be on an aircraft in a couple of months. Now, that’s a nice thought for me.

This is the best photo I could get after arriving into Victoria Coach station. We arrived pretty much on time and I could hear the driver was still being friendly. I remember a Megabus a few years ago where the driver spent most of his time in London shouting at other road users and I’m surprised he didn’t give himself a heart attack or similar with the level of anger he had. The driver today seemed calm, even when confronted by idiotic other drivers, including one in Thetford who seemed perplexed on how to deal with an oncoming bus on a narrow road.

It would be hard to fault a service that only cost £4.60 and achieved its aim of getting the customer to their destination. But, National Express did this with style, with a clean coach, easy to book service and a driver who was simply a decent guy doing a job he gave the impression that he loved. This was an impeccably run coach service, and I’m very impressed at National Express. How very lovely.