Wednesday 29 January 2020

First's £5.3m Investment

Giles Fearnley pays tribute to team's hard work
Today I was fortunate in being invited along to the press launch of First's new £5.3 million excel fleet and how smart they look too (both inside and outside!). The fleet comprises 19 Alexander Dennis E400 Cities on a Scania chassis - a first time for this combination.

Representatives of the various manufacturers and media were were there in attendance including Ray Stenning of Best Impressions who was responsible for the design work. I also met up with fellow blogger Gerard Fletcher of the well known XL Blog

The event began at First's Davey House premises in Norwich where those assembled were given an explanation of how the concept developed which didn't set out to be innovative but it now certainly is. Managing director Steve Wickers introduced David Jordan (Marketing Manager) and Paul Martin (Commercial Manager) to provide details of how the project developed and identified the many features of the new vehicles.

We then had a short presentation by Giles Fearnley, the managing director of First Bus prior to exiting on to Castle Meadow to await the arrival of two of the new fleet. Upon their arrival we then sampled one of the buses for ourselves (36913 YN89XZT) on a run to the Mid Norfolk Railway at Dereham for a lunch break

On arrival we were encouraged to view and take photos of both vehicles and received a souvenir booklet, which featured the history of the route, to mark the launch of the buses into service from Monday 17th February 2020

The interiors also look quite impressive with
the Lazzerini leather seating being very comfortable with plenty of leg room complete with wood effect flooring

Many additions incorporated into the design include coach style seating with USB charging points, phone charging docks and bell pushes at every seat. A thoughtful touch was the retractable hook for coats and/or shopping bags!

A welcome point for me was the interior lighting appeared to be more subdued with the red and burgundy colour scheme fitting in well.

After lunch there was time for more photos - as if we didn't have enough already! My last photo shows representatives of the design, manufacturing and fitting teams including representatives of Best Impressions and Lazzerini with Giles Fearnley and Steve Wickers.

The registrations and fleet numbers are as follows:-
Finally I would like to thank the friendly staff at First Eastern Counties for their hospitality and particularly Chris Limbach for the invitation to attend. My thanks also to Gerard Fletcher for the company and it was good to meet up at last!

The buses are certainly eye catching and no doubt there will be more photos on line once they enter revenue earning service.


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