£5.3m investment in 19 ultra-hi spec new buses for First Eastern Counties Norwich-Peterborough Excel route

The buses – costing £279,000 each – will turn heads when they appear for the first time in service from 17 February.

At an official pre-service launch their striking red, maroon and gold brand, innovative and ultra-modern design and technical specifications, showed how First is taking bus travel to another level. 

The buses are destined for First Eastern Counties popular ‘Excel’ route established over 40 years ago to replace an axed rail route, providing an interurban link between Norwich, Kings Lynn and Peterborough serving the towns of Dereham, Swaffham, Wisbech and many villages and communities along the A47 corridor.

The service runs up to every 30 minutes Monday to Saturday and up to hourly on Sundays and has become both a lifeline and chosen mode of travel for commuters, students and people venturing out to visit the towns and villages along the length and breadth of the route. 

In partnership with leading businesses and manufacturers including; Scania and Alexander Dennis Ltd, Best Impressions, Lazzerini, McKenna Brothers and First Eastern Counties, these new buses will go into public service from 17th February 2020, at the same time as a completely overhauled timetable for the service will be introduced. 

This features an improved frequency and non-stop journeys between Dereham and Norwich, as well as faster connections between Norwich and Swaffham or Kings Lynn; both of the latter benefitting from an almost 20-minute time saving on these journeys when the new timetable is introduced.

Scania and Alexander Dennis Ltd agreed to produce a bespoke product that married up the chosen N250UD Euro VI diesel chassis with the eye-catch­ing and stylish E400City body in the first combination of these components ever produced.

All 19 buses are fitted with Euro VI engines which have the cleanest diesel technology available helping to improve air quality across the city and county.

Steve Wickers, Managing Director at First Eastern Counties said: “I am delighted to be introducing our latest investment of £5.3m in 19 brand new buses that will run on our very popular Excel service running between Norwich and Peterborough.

“It is exciting to see how technology, design and innovation can be used to transform bus travel and these new vehicles will certainly set a new benchmark in interurban bus travel in terms of comfort, access, connectivity and design, combined with the current highest environmental standards”. 

Key Facts;

  • Seating was chosen from Lazzerini, who adapted their Transito seat design with a bespoke headrest and cushion shape, trimmed in two tone Muirhead leather with contrasting stitching, again to a unique design.
  • The seat back console was originally designed for the manufacturer’s Practico seat which incorporates USB and wireless charging points, a wireless bell push and a phone-holder that was adapted to the Transito seat design.
  • A Mobitech desti­nation and next stop visual and audio equipment was selected from McKenna Brothers with full size rear displays being fitted in addition to incorpo­rating a brand-new design of 28” stretched TFT screen fitted in the front upper deck.
  • To oversee the interior and exterior design of the vehicle we worked with ‘Ray Stenning’s Best Impressions agency’ to shape the outline ideas that had already been formulated and develop this into a contemporary design suited to the shape and style of the buses.

About First Bus

FirstGroup is one of Britain’s largest bus operators with around a fifth of bus services outside London. A fleet of some 6,000 buses carries approximately 1.6 million passengers a day in a huge number of communities including eight of the 11 most densely populated towns and cities in the UK. It operates some US-style yellow school buses and has a fleet of coaches available for charter. It also operates the Air coach network in Ireland.

About First Eastern Counties

Its Norfolk and Suffolk operation is made up of businesses in Norwich, Ipswich, Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Kings Lynn. It operates a fleet of 250 buses across the area, employing 723 staff.

Find out more: www.firstgroup.com/Norfolk-Suffolk

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