Saturday 29 December 2012

2012 ~ A Review

As the year draws to a close it is time to reflect on what has happened on the local bus scene during 2012

First Eastern Counties

The year began with First's Great Yarmouth Caister Road depot withdrawing Leyland Olympian 34333 H132FLX for the final time, following a temporary reprieve being employed on Bernard Matthews contacts in the lead up to Christmas. Soon after she was transferred to First Essex for further use!

Also in January, the Ipswich Evening Star carried a report that First was to withdraw its services from Bury St Edmunds and closing its depot there at the end of March

Coach wise, Volvo B10M/ Plaxton Premier 20126 P766XHS was taken out of service with gearbox failure during March. Sister 20102 N602APU arrived from Ipswich as replacement; only to be withdrawn herself in October. At around the same time remaining Premier 20115 N615APU also left First for a private buyer in Essex

Early June saw the reintroduction of of First's seasonal 3/3A service in the town - connecting holiday parks with the town centre and seafront. The routes provide regular work for the company's two Routemasters RMLs 2480 and 2623

However, the surprise of the year was the arrival of six Enviro 200s at Caister Road. Obtained from dealers Ensign, they were observed at the rear of the depot in early August. A further example arrived later in the month. After a repaint in the refreshed First Lowestoft livery the vehicles entered service from late October onwards.

First re-branded their Norwich services as First Norwich in August with all routes and vehicles being colour coded to simplify the network for passengers

During October additional X1 shorts were added between Great Yarmouth and Norwich, supplementing existing X1 Lowestoft to Peterborough services. As the Premiers had been withdrawn two Plaxton Paragons were transferred to Great Yarmouth from the First Midlands fleet

More recently, Lowestoft's B7TLs, utilised on the Lowestoft - Norwich route, have also begun to receive the First Lowestoft livery with the first appearing in December. Additionally, Norwich B9TL 36166 has been loaned to Lowestoft to help out whilst vehicles are away for repaints

Ambassador Travel

There were no significant changes to the Ambassador fleet other than two re-registrations. Volvo B12M/ Plaxton Paragons 196 and 197 received cherished registrations KIG1856 and KIG1857 respectively

Operationally, Ambassador secured three new tenders during March including the 577 Chedgrave - Great Yarmouth route, previously operated by AnglianBus

September saw the loss of the 731 Great Yarmouth to Rackheath route to Anglian although the Great Yarmouth operator regained the 878 Great Yarmouth Colleges to Alpington service


2012 was a very busy year for this Beccles-based operator which saw it become part of the large Go-Ahead group in late April

A month earlier AnglianBus secured a £624,000 grant from the Government's Green Bus Fund for the acquisition of 13 new gas powered  single deck buses for use throughout Norfolk and Suffolk. Six of the MAN EcoCity buses arrived in early December and were immediately put to work on the new 146 route between Lowestoft and 
Norwich. Unfortunately there has been some failures in service

Since becoming part of the Go-Ahead Group, AnglianBus has obtained a significant number of vehicles from within the group - including ten Scanias from Metrobus and four Denis Tridents from Brighton & Hove. Some Irizar bodied Scanias from City of Oxford have also been employed on a number of North Suffolk school contracts won by the company

Finally, the AnglianBus A47 Great Yarmouth to Norwich timetable was revised in September which includes the return of the X47 express services with journeys extended through to Gorleston's James Paget Hospital.


KonectBus began 2012 by introducing its five new Alexander Dennis Enviro 400s on it express service 8 linking Toftwood, Dereham and Norwich 

The Dereham based business, also part of the Go-Ahead group, started using bendy buses on its Costessey Park and Ride services during January

During the year a number of Optare Excels were taken out of service - some were cannibalised whilst others were transferred within the group

October saw the first arrivals of five new Enviro 400's for use on routes 3 and 6 operating between Norwich and Watton at thirty minute intervals

A month later the operator launched the Konect express 2 service linking Sheringham and Cromer with Norwich - directly competing with Sanders Coaches

Our Bus

Our Bus continued to operate its Great Yarmouth Seafront service during the summer months with its Mercedes Vario SF54OUY 

The only new vehicle acquired by the company was Plaxton Beaver SN53SKV which was noted in Great Yarmouth during November 

In January Our Bus also acquired the contract to run 292 service from Swift Taxis which serves Wroxham, Blofield, Lingwood, Reedham and Moulton

Reynolds Coaches

This Caister-on-Sea coach operator saw the arrival of five vehicles during 2012, the first in February for schools work in the shape of Mercedes Vario W600JSB

This was followed in March by another Toyota Coaster FJ54MOA, with two former Kent Top Travel vehicles arriving in early September - Volvos S200VHO and ICZ6697

The final newcomer was Dennis/ Plaxton AT51CVS which was reported at the Ormesby Road site in December

On the minus side Reynolds has advertised three of its Toyota Coasters for disposal on their website - BIG7558, BIG7756 and BIG 8781

Swift Taxis

Local company Swift Taxis went through a lean period during 2012 with the number of vehicles in the fleet being further reduced and services being lost or withdrawn

At the beginning of the year Swift advertised the disposal of the only double deck vehicle in the fleet. It took a number of months for a buyer to come forward with the Jonckheere Monaco bodied Volvo SE51DZV being finally acquired by Richards Coaches of Guist in Norfolk during September

Great Yarmouth old timer and former Caroline Seagull coach, G470LVG, was noted in Swift's Southtown yard during November with a VOR sign in its front windscreen. With its subsequent disappearance from there, and no reports of it seen elsewhere at any of the other Swift operating centres, it is thought that the vehicle may have been been disposed of

Another vehicle that has not seen use for some time is Dart FJ53VDL which has been sitting at the back of the Southown Road site for some weeks now with a broken rear window

From an operational point of view, Swift lost its 292 Wroxham service to Our Bus in January and ceased operating the 206 route between Great Yarmouth and Blofield on the 19th of this month; BMC Falcon BX55OFN doing the honours in running the last working


A huge thanks to all of you who have contributed to the blog with news and photos - please keep the reports coming in. I would be pleased to hear from new contributors too

Finally a happy new year to you all!

1 comment:

  1. BIG thanks to you and contributors for an excellent, interesting and informative site.
    Keep up the good work. Best wishes for the New Year.