Boldly Going Forward: The RedRocket Express’ Maiden Voyage

First day of service on the RedRocket Express

There was no Spock or Captain Kirk lookalikes at Sackville Street, but the RedRocket Express’ maiden voyage began today. The new express route from Manchester to Blackpool departed from Blackpool Coach Station at 0715, with the first journey from Manchester leaving at 0900.

Most journeys will operate seven days a week with an extra southbound weekday journey, and a late departure [at 2000] on Fridays and Saturdays from Blackpool Coach Station.

What’s more, the RedRocket Express’ service number is X70 – also the same number used by Ribble Motor Services for a motorway express version of the X60 route.

Bispham, we have a problem…

As expected on the first day of any new service will be teething troubles. Thankfully, Classic Bus North West’s launch on a slightly less busy time would allow the service to bed in and consolidate itself in the summer season. Apart from the fact one journey (the 1330 from Manchester, Sackville Street at Stand TA) ran late, there was one Mercedes Citaro short. Instead, our craft along the M61 Constellation (sorry, motorway) on the 1330 journey to Blackpool was an Alexander Royale bodied Volvo Olympian.

Classic Bus North West Volvo Olympian, Alexander bodywork P269 PSX, Sackville Street, Manchester
‘Cracking bus, Gromit…’ – P269 PSX, Volvo Olympian, seen loading on the 1330 Manchester to Blackpool.

Timetable Information

Besides the website, Transport for Greater Manchester have yet to update the timetable display at TA stand. A friendly driver, via a fellow bus enthusiast, gave me a copy of the RedRocket Express timetable. It is a clear yet colourful leaflet – very Blackpool. Times are displayed in an easy to read format and in larger print than most bus, rail and coach timetables.

As well as the standard single, return and period return fares, there is also a special £30 fare for passengers going to Pleasure Beach Blackpool. As well as return travel, this special fare includes a wristband so you can enjoy the rides and waltz through the entrance outside Noah’s Ark with your ticket.

Classic Bus North West Volvo Olympian, Alexander bodywork P269 PSX, Sackville Street, Manchester (rear view)
P269 PSX heading towards Blackpool.

And of course, the best of luck to Classic Bus North West in their new venture.

S.V., 04 October 2013.

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6 thoughts on “Boldly Going Forward: The RedRocket Express’ Maiden Voyage

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  1. Teething problems leading to the appearance of an ex Lothian Olympian, I’d call that a result, better view from the top-deck of a bus and I’ve always thought Royales performed better on long distance motorway runs than on stopping services.

    I wonder how busy the trips were today or will be in the future

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    1. Hi Andrew,

      From an enthusiast point of view (and in my heart too), a Bus Win, though I wonder if any passengers would be peeved to see an Alexander Royale bodied Volvo Olympian instead of a Mercedes Citaro. Some might have baulked at the step entrance and standard bus seats, but it wasn’t far removed from the specification of its predecessors.

      We shall see as to whether it becomes a success, though today’s weather might have put off a few potential passengers. Had I not needed to go home, I would have happily paid a tenner for a return journey on the Volvo Olympian.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

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  2. http://blackpooltram.blogspot.co.uk/
    Alan Robson’s 4th October entry tells the story from the other end of the route.It would appear that minimal changes have been made to the buses following their expulsion from London by Boris. The absence of destination indicators arises because TfL (London) as opposed to TfL (Lancashire) insists on traditional blinds as manufactured by McKenna’s in Middleton
    http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/local-news/conservative-mayor-london-boris-johnson-6128808.

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    1. Hi Robert,

      Thanks for posting the link on Boris turning to Middleton for his indicator blinds. How I would love to see the GMT style 3 piece displays back on our double deckers!

      Warmly,

      Stuart.

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  3. Wow – bet you weren’t expecting that to turn up! Some of the timings are a bit ambitious and with just 15 mins layover at either end things could get messy in the event of a snarl-up. Though I suppose that’s just a fact of life!

    I travelled on one of the Citaros (there and back) on Saturday. The journeys weren’t packed but there were a reassuring number of people for the first weekend of operation.

    One thing I will say is that I was disappointed that, contrary to what the leaflet said, there were no electric windows, “chauffeur driven” rather stretches the meaning of that term and there was no wifi. Despite this, I still consider it a bargain price, plus the return ticket is valid on Classic Bus services 12 and 22 in Blackpool, down to St. Anne’s and up to Cleveleys.

    May the service grow and prosper, and may any teething problems be ironed out in due time

    Like

    1. Hi Mark,

      The timings cannot be any less ambitious than some of the rivals. As far back as 2002, I had the joy of boarding a Western National bus from Paignton to Totnes, a simple five mile journey. FirstGroup’s publicity stated 20 minutes, when the journey took 50 minutes, being the summer season when I boarded!

      Glad to see there was encouraging passenger numbers on your journey, but you are right in that they could tone down the hyperbole on their publicity. Then again, I doubt as if they would have sorted the WiFi out just yet.

      Great to find how the return ticket also covers the seafront 12 and the 22. THAT part should be pushed even more, considering how much you need to pay for the tram or bus fares once in Blackpool, if you’ve transferred from train to bus or tram. I look forward to boarding the RedRocket Express sometime in the near future.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

      Like

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