Friday, 27 December 2013

2013 ~ A Review

As the year draws to a close it is time to reflect on what has happened on the local bus scene over the last twelve months

First Eastern Counties

During February, First announced a £76million order for new vehicles which included twenty two Enviro400s to replace the Wright Eclipse Geminis then employed on the X1 service between Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth, Norwich, Kings Lynn and Peterborough.

A month later, four First Essex ADL Pointer 2 Darts made their trip north to Caister Road to become part of the Great Yarmouth allocation. They were joined in May by the first arrivals of a sudden influx of former Connex Jersey Caetano Nimbuses. They were to total twenty one with all of them being branded and prepped at Caister Road. Six were for First Worcester, four for First Clacton, four for First Lowestoft and seven for First Great Yarmouth

First Essex 43857 EG52FGE and First Eastern Counties 43862
EG52FGK Caetano Nimbuses with withdrawn Dart 43446
P446NEX at Caister Road depot in late May 
Later in that month, a further eleven second-hand hand vehicles were acquired from Ensignbus (dealer) many again being prepped for service whilst at Caister Road. Two of the deckers were to become part of the Great Yarmouth fleet, Volvo B9TL FJ08FYN and Enviro400 SN60CAA - the latter was quickly sent to Kings Lynn to provide cover whilst the Geminis were being repainted in the refreshed livery prior to reallocation

The entry of the Nimbuses into service from mid May saw the P and R registered Darts quickly ousted from service with many of the latter often seen languishing in the rear yard prior to collection for scrapping by Alpha Recovery of Westlade (dealers)

The end of the month saw the resumption of seasonal route 3, linking the holiday parks with the town centre and seafront areas; providing awelcome return of the two Routemasters JJD480D and NML623E

First Enviro400 33808 YX63LJO passes Gorleston Parish Church
on 17th December heading for Lowestoft on the X1
Delivery of the new Enviro400s to Kings Lynn started in late September with many beginning to enter service shortly after. This led to the gradual redistribution of the old guard following repaints; Volvo B7s 37156-60  went to First Potteries, Geminis 37563-9 to First Lowestoft and 37570-9 to First Great Yarmouth - with many of the latter appearing on the X1 shorts!

October saw some of the Alexander Royale bodied Volvo Olympians standing down from service - only to be subsequently resurrected. Examples were seen at the rear of Caister Road with notices saying 'Vehicle on reserve - no parts to be removed'. It is believed that they are to be retained after active service for driver training use

The end of December sees changes in Lowestoft town services with many services running for the last time; the 104 serving the Fortress Estate is to be covered by a diverted 103 whilst the 107 is to be operated by Suffolk Norse

Ambassador Travel

The only activity to report on this Great Yarmouth operator is the acquisition of  Dennis Javelin F339HWF from Our Bus, which quickly transferred to sister company Semence of Wymondham

Anglianbus
MAN City Smart Demonstrator WX12EKO on trial in January

A further four of the MAN EcoCity Gasbuses appeared in service at the beginning of the year, but it wasn't until early March before the remaining three began earning their keep

Also in January, Anglian employed MAN City Smart Demonstrator WX12EKO on trial which was often observed on 581 Beccles service around lunchtime. Two wheel forward StreetLites MX12JXV and MX12DYM were also in use as demonstrators during March and September respectively

In late April it was announced that Anglian's Managing Director Andrew Pursey would be leaving the company at the end of July. He would be replaced by Konect's Julian Patterson with Philip Eden as operations manager.

The integration of Anglian and Konect fleets into a common fleet numbering scheme began in June. This resulted in a number of Anglian's vehicles being withdrawn with three vehicles immediately going to Ensignbus (dealer) The trio were Dennis Javelin CSK282 and Scania Omnicity's YN03WRF/G. Ensignbus received further four vehicles from Anglian during August which included Volvo Olympian HIL7618

Former Konectbus Dennis Trident W821NNJ now with Anglian
She is seen in Lowestoft on the 60 service on 20th December
 
Further reshuffles took place during the same month with newer Optares going to Konect in return for Excels -one of them being the first to be repainted into Anglians new colour scheme complete with new logos.

Other developments during August included the transfer of a Solo to Chambers and the gain of Dennis Trident W821NNJ, still in Konect livery, with Anglianbus fleetnames later applied. These departures, together with the withdrawal of four Alexander ALX400 bodied Dennis Tridents, has substantially reduced the size of Anglian's fleet compared to that at the begiining of the year.

Anglianbus introduced their new bus network from the beginning of September involving new service numbers and new routes including a more direct Great Yarmouth to Norwich express service 7 omitting the village of Acle. Sister company Konect introduced a new service 52 linking Acle to Cringleford via Norwich

Further changes were announced in November; one change was the extension of the 7 to serve Gorleston and Lowestoft with the inclusion of an Acle stop. Konect would cease their Acle service as a result. The new timetable comes into use in early January

Borderbus

A new bus company has been established by former Anglianbus Managing Director Andrew Pursey. Trading as Borderbus, and registered at Bungay, the operator has secured three former Metroline Volvo B7TL / Plaxton Presidents for use on schools work

Two of the trio were subsequently observed at Lambert Coaches Beccles yard in white and blue livery and receiving Sir John Leman High School and Sixth Form Centre branding

Eurosun

There is little to report on this Lowestoft business other than the operational fleet has been reduced after two their coaches gained the dreaded VOR sign. One of them is former Caroline Seagull K2HWT

Marret's Chariots


In February Aylmerton- based Marret's Chariots were advertising the availability of three of their coaches for disposal; Volvo B10Ms VIL9195 and R6APT plus Mercedes Vario 927NOF

However, in August it was reported that three former Shearings Van Hool Alizee bodied Volvo B12Ms had been acquired - MX03ACJ/Y/Z. One of them was quickly re-advertised for sale!

Nightingales

Nightingales of Beccles ceased operating two Lowestoft town routes from the end of July - the hourly 108 service to Oulton Broad and the twice daily 115 to Kirkley both from the bus station. The operator said that it wanted to concentrate on mainly schools and contract work

Our Bus

Mercedes SF54OUY a regular performer on the seafront service 
South Burlingham operator Our Bus acquired two coaches from Spratts of Wreningham at the beginning of the year - Scania PIL4724 and Volvo PIL4725. 

Two of the fleet were advertised for sale on ebay during August with Dennis Javelin F339HWF being purchased by Ambassador Travel before quickly moving Semence of Wymondham

Our Bus reintroduced its Great Yarmouth Seafront service in July with Merecedes Vario SF54OUY being a regular performer with sister Vario SN53KZH deputising for her on occasion

Reynolds Coaches

Dennis Javelins CHZ4794 and CHZ4796 advertised for sale
during February
There were many comings and goings in the Caister fleet during the year with the first coaches advertised for sale being Toyota BIG8781 and Denis Javelins CHZ4794/6. More were up for disposal during August with Toyota BIG7756 and Denis Javelin BIG9836 subsequently being sold

The first of the incomers was a 29 seater Mercedes/ Plaxton Cheetah in August, later registered BIG8790. September witnessed the arrival of two former Ministry of Defence coaches - Dennis Javelins AW02ASU and X208UAO. The former joined Bova BIG6620 on the disposal list during October

Sanders Coaches

Sanders OmniCity YN03UVM still in Anglian livery during July 
A lot of activity in this fleet too with three Scania OmniCitys being obtained from Anglian in the form of YN03UVM/R/T with the first later appearing in a promotional livery for Sheringham after being in Anglian livery for some months.

In May, Route One magazine reported two new additions to the fleet in the form of Mercedes Varios/ Plaxton Cheetahs YN13AVX/Y

Other noteable arrivals included a trio of Wright Cadet bodied DAFs from Fishwick of Leyland (X821-3NWK), three Scania/ Wright Solars (YN05GXX, YN06NXR/S) from Reading Transport in June, DAF S468GUB from Arriva Yorkshire and Scania OmniCity decker ex-demonstrator YR10BBO from Ensign of Purfleet

Many vehicles were scrapped by Sanders- among them were DAFs M806RCP, F224YHG, J201BVO and Mercedes N68MDW. DAF/ Northern Counties Palantine P335ROO also left the fleet

Swift Taxis

Another lean year for this Great Yarmouth operator which saw three coaches leaving the fleet

The first was former Caroline Seagull Dennis Javelin G470LVG which was acquired for preservation in January being currently stored in the East Norfolk area

TransBus Dart FJ53VDL at Swift's Morton Peto Road
yard at Gapton Hall Estate on 16th August 2011
The next to go was Caetano Nimbus bodied TransBus Dart FJ53VDL which left on the back of a recovery trailer heading for Shropshire. After an engine rebuild and extensive repairs, she re-entered service with Shropshire Bus & Coach. After a short period of use, it was aquired by a Leeds based operator

The last vehicle to move on to pastures new was BMC Probus BX54VUM which subsequently found its way to Bradford coach hire company Skyways Travel

Operationally another service was withdrawn; the Southtown to Martham 302 route from 5th September

Conclusion

Phew!! 2013 was an exceptionally  busy year - let's hope 2014 holds as much interest for us all

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