Monday, 22 December 2014

2014 Review ~ Part Two

The second part of our 2014 review follows which concentrates on the two major operators in the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft area

I was fortunate in being able to visit the Ellough, Beccles premises of Anglian in June and the Caister Road depot of First Eastern Counties during September - the latter being one of my personal highlights of the year

Optrare Versa AU11ESG departs Market Gates
Anglian was subjected to many transfers to and from the fleet during the period under review

Four Optare Versas (YJ60KGU/V plus AU11EPF and AU11ESG) were transferred to sister company Konect during September

However, the most intense activity concerned the comings and goings of the Trident deckers in the fleet. February saw the movement of V161MEV and W721NNT to Headingham Buses, Ex Brighton T811RFG was taken out of service in April to be sent to Headingham in
Demonstrator YT13YUK on loan to Anglian
November. T811 was replaced by Konect's
similar W825NNJ. A further Anglian liveried example, T813RFG, was withdrawn the following month with Konect again supplying W822NNJ and W823NNJ.

Also in February, Alexander Dennis Enviro 300 bodied Scania gas powered demonstrator YT13YUK was taken on loan. It later made the national press as the 'poo bus' being fuelled by biomethane gas produced from recycled sewage and food waste

Optare Solo AO57EXA on fire at Filby
However, the most dramatic report, including photos, was that of Optare Solo AO57EXA catching fire at Filby. Needless to say the vehicle was subsequently withdrawn

Timetable changes occurred in February and September with the former including the diverting of some of Anglian's 60 services via Lound, thereby restoring the bus link previously provided by Ambassador

First Eastern Counties
The most significant development at Caster
The new order - the first StreetLite at Caister Road 
Road was the arrival of six new Wright StreetLites 47501-6 (SN64CPU/V/X/Y/Z/RF) which entered revenue earning service in November. They were the first new buses for Great Yarmouth for a number of years with a similar number arriving for use in Norwich

Their arrival saw the beginning of a cascade of buses to Lowestoft with Caetano bodies Darts 43860-3 E52FGF/J/K/FFK and former First Essex Dart 42921 EU05AUN. Their arrival saw the transfer of 45118/9 ST09JPT and RT09JPT to Norwich

Operationally, its flagship X1 route was split into two in late July over concerns that roadworks on the A47 at Postwick might cause excessive disruption to the service. It was initially thought that this would be a retrograde step but apparently passenger numbers have continued to increase on both parts of the route. The X1 is to be divided even further next month when the route will be split into another four parts  

Four Olympians line up in December 
On the Volvo Olympian front the numbers in service at the beginning of the year were at an all time low with 34109  W436CWX taken out of service for repair. At the time both Northern Counties variants 34186/7 S686/7AAE were continuing in use on schools and contract work. The remaining active examples saw periods in and out of service as parts were being robbed from others stored at the back of the depot. Spring saw the numbers increase with the return to service of 34111 W431CWX and 34114 W434CWX.

Olympian 34187 ready for its last departure in October
As many of you will know, they appear quite regularly on Bernard Matthews duties and my photo of some of them in then quintet heading for the factory in early December led to a line up of Bernard Matthews vehicles at the depot for the next day's duties - including all active Olympians

Unfortunately not all have them have made it to the year's end as 34187 S687AAE left in October for scrapping after yielding its gearbox to 34186. Lowestoft's 34155 P655UFB was also collected by Alpha Recovery, although sister 34156 P656UFB was donated to Norfolk Fire Service.

Another vehicle making her last journey was Volvo N609APU 
Another long term resident at the rear of the depot was driver trainer 20109 N609APU which was also collected by Alpha during early August

The shortage of driver trainers was overcome by movement of two of Great Yarmouth's Volvo B10BLE's to Sheffield for conversion for such use. 60807 S658RNA returned to Norwich in August duly converted with its new livery - 60808 S659RNA is currently receiving the same treatment

This reduced the numbers of B10BLE's at Caister Road but the three (60813/4 and 66126) became four in August, with the arrival of First Yorkshire 60622 R385WKW, officially on loan to First Ipswich, and was immediately pressed into service. It moved back to the Suffolk town in December in return for the now quieter ALX400 bodied Volvo B7TL W743DWX 

32058 W218XBD was the first ALX400 arrival from Leicester
Other transfers were from First Leicester. The arrivals of First London Enviro400s meant the release of seven ALX400 bodied Volvo B7TLs to Great Yarmouth. The first arrived in late February and the last in early June. They were 32058/9/61-5 (W218/9/21XBD and W422-5SRP) with Gemini 32629 KP54KAX arriving from Leicester shortly after

Volvo B7/Presidents 32201/2 (LT52WTF/G) moved to Norwich in late September joining former Great Yarmouth 32200/3 (LT52WTE/J) which transferred to the city earlier in the year

Any excuse to add a pic of 33423 to the blog
Repaints also formed many of the reports on the blog. After its use on X1 services in January celebrity 33423 SN60CAA moved to Great Yarmouth and was sent to Full Circle for a repaint. It returned in early February and straight away attracted the attention of photographers. However, First reported later in the year that it was to be repainted in the blue/gold Excel X1 livery which clearly upset some enthusiasts! Gemini 37578 AU58EDJ has been subsequently subjected to the same treatment.

With Ipswich repaints already under way, Norwich jumped on the bandwagon in September with 33163 LR02LXZ being the first to return in its new livery. There was some confusion though over what size and colour the Norwich fleet name would be in! 

Phew! 2014 has been an exceptionally busy year indeed which is reflected in the 472 posts (so far!) - the highest ever annual total. This activity is no doubt due to the many reports received during this past year and I would like to thank all of you who have contributed

Special mention must be made for the tireless contributions from Grahame Bessey, Syd Eade, Tim Miller and Jamie Skinner

My thanks also go to James Race, Neil Chilvers, Tim Major, Joe Leathers Watson, Danny Beales, Chris Speed, James Long, Lee Howes, Rob Collins, SteveW, Terry Wilkins, Zak Nelson, Mike Sayer, Harry Stanley, Sam Larke for their support too. My apologies if I have left anyone out!

And Finally....
Finally, eastnorfolkbus would like to wish all of its readers, supporters and contributors a very merry Christmas and a happy new year. It looks as though 2015 could be an interesting year too


  1. Glad to be part of a bumper year and looking forward to the next one ! You have done us proud and also meeting some right nice people too! Have a great Christmas and see you on the other side

  2. Thanks for that Tim. Yes how could I forget the many new friends I met during 2014? Really a great pleasure to meet you all this year and its great to put faces to the names at last