Tuesday 30 September 2014

Over The Border

Former Yarmouth B7RLE 66950 now in its new Ipswich colours
A well earned day off from work meant I could give the camera a work out so i decided to visit the all change town of Ipswich to update my collection with all the recent activity of both First and Ipswich Buses.

I decided to travel by train for a change as I usually drive and then use the Park & Ride site at Martlesham just off the A12, Instead I
Ipswich Enviro 200 YX63KGE on Park & Ride Duties at The Buttermarket
boarded the 08.30 service from Norwich bound for Suffolk's county town.

I arrived around 9.15 and then made my way to the Old Cattle Market area as the sun is spot on for photos for most of the morning, most services run past here, some going into the Bus station others stop adjacent to it.

Within a few minutes, My good friend Jim Long appeared to greet me (our Suffolk reporter!) and I also met David Warren for the first time, an excellent photographer and well worth having a look at his Flickr gallery.

Galloway's Optare Solo YJ14BGE
The First Ipswich repaints are gathering pace and plenty of the fleet now wear the new "Air Force Blue" fronts or whatever else it has noted as! Ex Yarmouth Volvo B7RLE's 66950 & 66957 both carry the new colours.Yarmouth's 30888 remains here on loan also and was noted today on the 66.

Carters ex London Trident LR52KWH
Ipswich Buses fleet has become very colourful since my last visit with two versions of a new livery in use, the main livery is Green, Purple and White with a few vehicles in the same style but the Purple is replaced with Sky Blue as you can see from the photo of Enviro200 YX63KGE which was operating the 800 Park & Ride service alongside the ex Nottingham Optare Versas.

Plenty of smaller operators also run into Ipswich including Galloway of Mendlesham who were using Optare Solo's including YJ14BGE which is an SR version with the newer style front. Carters operate services serving Colchester and Manningtree and recent arrival Trident LR52KWH was noted at the bus station awaiting her next duty.

Ex Stagecoach Dart Y262FJN branded for X3 services
Observing the operations today it did strike me that both First and IB are trying to improve both vehicles and customer services in a very competitive market and I have to say all vehicles were well presented in their new liveries, still plenty of vehicles to be refurbished I know but impressed with the results so far!

An enjoyable day was had, 300+ photos added to the collection and a couple of friendly faces along the way! (Next time Coffee is on me Jim!)


Saturday 27 September 2014

Darting Back in Time

43463 at Harford Park & Ride site
The Dennis Dart is slowly becoming a vehicle of the past, so in its honour we go back to 2005 and a trip to a damp wintery February in Norwich.

Our Photo special looks at the Pointer versions that ran in the city that year.

First photo is that of Park & Ride liveried 43463 R463CAH seen at Harford, these were operated out of Great Yarmouth depot at the time and after they finished here they were transferred to Lowestoft where only 43466 from the batch remains in
42458 shortly after arriving at FEC

Next up is 42458 R458CCV pictured at Castle Meadow, taken shortly after transferring from First Devon & Cornwall, she also had spells at Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft before moving to Essex.

The third photo is 42780 S680SNG which is one of a batch of ex Hong Kong Darts that arrived for use in 2005, some were branded for use on Costessy Park & Ride services, these moved onto Great Yarmouth
Ex Hong Kong version 42780 S680SNG
before transferring to First operations in the South West. 

Only two Darts remain in use with Eastern Counties, both operate from Lowestoft Depot,43466 (R466CAH) & 43481 (R481DPW). Both are expected to be withdrawn in November this year.

More photo specials are planned from my collection in due course, watch this space...


Reynolds Latest

BIG9854 pictured at Reynolds Garage today
Reynolds fleet update is continuing with BIG9854 Lady Penny being treated to a make-over, she now has new front and rear light clusters as well as the black swoop incorporated in the livery similar to the recent Plaxton Profile arrivals here.


Better Late Than Never!

Stagecoach LTZ1256 on Shuttle Duties
The annual Showbus event at Duxford took place last Sunday and unlike most blogs we are a bit late in posting a review due to work and other duties along the way!

Anyway, my transport for the day was First Eastern Counties ALX400 32479 which as you all know is now wearing the Red ECOC livery from the late 1980's. First Business Manager Chris Speed was at the wheel and
Lincolnshire Bristol VR JVL619H
we were joined for the trip by Clive Nixon who runs the Ipswich Bus Blog.

First thing to report was no rain, the odd black cloud did appear but thankfully no wet stuff!.

First provided quite a selection of vehicles on the day with Eastern Counties sending along Six vehicles from each of their depots including two Excel liveried Enviro 400's 33813/33818 as well as
New Hybrid Enviro400 UK14OXF
33423,36180, 32479 and freshly refurbished B7RLE 66957 from Ipswich.

Second Production version of the LN WFM801K
For me the most impressive vehicle was Richard Belton's 1969 Lincolnshire Bristol VR JVL619H which looked like it had just emerged from ECW at Lowestoft ready for her
first day in service!, a real credit to him
and the hours and money put into the
project really shows what can be achieved.

The modern buses on show included
one of the first production versions of
Alexander Dennis new Enviro 400 Gyrodrive Mechanical Hybrid vehicles UK14OXF which operates for Brookesbus, it is one of 14 used for services at Oxford Brookes University.
Eastern National Bristol RE SVW274K

Crosville liveried Leyland National WFM801K was only the second production LN built, it was originally registered as UFM801K but a Ford Capri bearing the same mark was noted and it was promptly changed
to WFM! It is now owned by Julian Patterson.

Another impressive Bristol on show was RE SVW274K which was latterly owned by Viv Carter it is now with BBC Suffolk's Luke Deal who has restored it to NBC Green livery

Final picture is that of Showbus veteran the former ECOC Bristol Lodekka JAH552D, now in Stagecoach livery and used for corporate use and private hires.

Overall an enjoyable day was had, nice to meet up with plenty of old faces as well as meeting some new enthusiasts along the way and also fellow bloggers from the area.

Many thanks to Chris Speed for inviting myself and Clive along on VA479 and well done to First for the turn out of vehicles from local Depots.


Wednesday 24 September 2014

Swift Departure

491JVX is a newcomer to the Our Bus fleet
Another Swift Taxis' coach has left the fleet

491JVX, a Plaxton Premiere bodied Volvo B10M, has been sold to nearby operator Our Bus of South Burlingham

The coach is a 50 seater and was formerly registered M124UWY when new to Wallace Arnold way back in March 1995.

Swift acquired 491JVX from National Holidays and gave it fleet number 116 and the name Swift Quail

Joe Leathers-Watson observed the coach with its new owner at South Burlingham this morning returning to the depot. He informs me that that it only has the "Our Bus" logo on the front with the sides and rear remaining in plain white.

My thanks to Joe for the report and photo

Belle Quartet For Disposal

Today's Route One Magazine contains details of four Belle Coaches vehicles available for sale

Belle Coaches BE10LLE at Beach Coach Station on 28th May 2014
The quartet have been identified from the photos and are believed to be

1992 Setra 215HD K2JTB
1995 Scania K113 LIL9455
1997 Volvo B10M NJI9241
2001 Setra 315 GT-HD NUI9245

Further details can be viewed in the current issue which can be viewed HERE

Also in the same issue are details of the availability of Swift Coaches Autosan BV57MTJ

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Where Are They Now? ~ P658UFB

Ex First P658UFB now in Express Motors fleet livery
Photo: North West Wales Bus
Laine Tisdall emailed me to say he was browsing through Flickr one evening and came across a  photo of a former Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft-based First decker with a new owner

Volvo Olympian/ Northern Counties Palantine 34158 P658UFB was transferred to First Potteries from Eastern Counties in August 2012.

The Olympian has been sold on for further service with Express Motors of Penygroes in NorthWales

My thanks to Laine for the information.

Monday 22 September 2014


D926NDA on Magdalen Way in Gorleston 
Earlier this morning I received a tweet from Jamie Skinner who took a photo of an unusual visitor to Gorleston

He obviously wasn't dreaming as his photo proves. It shows Anglian Ruskin University's MCW Metrobus D926NDA running along Magdalen Way

The decker, previously National Express West Midlands 2926, is travelling around the East of England visiting schools and colleges where it will be offering advice and guidance about Higher Education to pupils.

Recent legislative changes now mean that schools and colleges are responsible for delivering information about careers and further study directly to their students, rather than using external careers advisors.

Today it will be at East Norfolk Sixth Form College during the third week of a six week tour around the region

It was also present at yesterday's Showbus event at Duxford

Sunday 21 September 2014

Presidents Leave

The new arrivals in Norwich with 32202 in front of  32201
Following the end of seasonal route 3, I can confirm that both Volvo B7TL /Plaxton Presidents 32201 LT52WTF and 32202 LT52WTG left Caister Road this morning for permanent residence in Norwich

There they join similar former Great Yarmouth deckers 32200, 32203 and 32211 which transferred to the city earlier this year

Saturday 20 September 2014

Showbus Time Again

Well its that time of year again when all us "Anoraks" visit Duxford for the annual Showbus event, it returns to Cambridgeshire after a year away at Long Marston.

I decided to have a look back through my collection and share some photos from past Showbus events, as you will gather both Danny Beales and Chris Speed are good friends of mine and so i have been lucky enough to travel with First to the event on numerous occasions. 

I think the first Showbus for me was 2001 and the entrant from Great Yarmouth was Dart G457KNG which wore the Blue & Yellow Blue Bus livery, driven by Des Speed. The following year saw the arrival of the fleet of Plaxton Paragon Coaches for the X94 and so 209 AO02RDU was chosen to be entered and myself and Chris spent the Saturday night at Caister Road cleaning and polishing her for the big day and we were rewarded by winning the award for Best Transbus/Plaxton vehicle at the show!

A Youthful Chris Speed and the prize for best Transbus vehicle 2002

Great Yarmouth Depot has always entered a vehicle for Duxford and in the past various types have been chosen to make the trip, 2006 saw Routemaster NML623E in Flying Banana livery, 2007 a newly repainted Volvo B10M 20119 N619APU, 2009 it was X1 Gemini 37572 AU58ECW and 2010 saw newly arrived Plaxton President 32212 LT52WTV on show, just a few of the numerous entrants
2006 saw NML623E make the trip from Caister Road
from Caister Road!

This year will see a mini invasion from First Eastern Counties with 3 Enviro 400's, 66957 in the new Ipswich livery and heritage liveried 32479 (my steed for the day!) and a Norwich based vehicle is also expected.

Over 400 vehicles are expected at the Imperial War Museum site and its always a good social event where lots of familiar faces meet up
Newly repainted 20119 in the 2007 sunshine
and have a chat.

So here's to a good day out and fingers crossed the Duxford downpours stay away and the sun will shine on us all!

I know Roy is unable to attend so i will be supplying a report on the days events in his absence and sharing the odd photo along the way so come and say hello, always nice to put faces to names.


Friday 19 September 2014

Service Alterations Registered ~ 17th September 2014

Border Bus BB62BUS on the 146 route on 9th August last
The Eastern Area Traffic Commissioner's latest Notices and Proceedings Report was published on the Gov.UK website on Wednesday

It contains only one item of interest regarding local services and that relates to the Border Bus 146 route. The service, between Southwold and Norwich, will see its timetable amended with effect from 3rd November 2014

The complete report can be viewed HERE

Thursday 18 September 2014

Agatha Christie Festival

Leyland Tiger AHL694 turns at the Clocktower on The Strand in Torquay
This week sees the Torbay area hosting the International Agatha Christie Festival

This years programme includes world leading crime authors and exhibitions, as well as talks and readings by special guests, including Agatha Christie’s grandson.

A full programme of events such as vintage bus rides, murder mystery dinners and visits to some of the places in the area which the author loved and which inspired her writing.

This afternoon I observed a vintage bus service at The Strand provided by AHL694, a Leyland Tiger PS1/1 single-decker with Barnaby bodywork - operated by Agatha Christie Bus Tours

The bus was new to J Bullock and Sons in 1947. Three years later, Bullock merged with the West Riding Automobile Co and the bus passed to West Riding. It now operates tours to Greenway, Agatha Christie's holiday home run by the National Trust

Teignmouth Trip

Country Bus Solo V112DCF in Wellington Street Teignmouth yesterday
Wednesday meant a short trip to nearby Teignmouth, where my father was born

A wander along the seafront was followed by a tour of the central area shops

It was during the latter when I came across Devon's largest independent bus company Country Bus

The company has been operating local bus services since 1993 
Stagecoach Southwest 18074 WA04CSY on service 11 to Dawlish Warren
and runs eleven subsidised services for Devon County Council and twelve commercial services along with many school buses

The majority of Country Bus services run out of Newton Abbot, although there are services based in Exeter, Teignmouth, Totnes and Brixham.

Yesterday I captured one of their Optare Solos on Wellington Street having completed its route. V112DCF has been with the company for a few years now but was first registered by Reading Buses in January 2000

Later, I observed Stagecoach Southwest Transbus Trident WA04CSY leaving from the same stop on a service to Dawlish Warren

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Ambassador Travels!

Ambassador Travel's KIG7202 - an unexpected sighting
Yesterday finished with an early evening stroll around Torquay We found ourselves wandering along the back streets on our way back to our holiday accommodation

Walking along Abbey Road I thought I recognised the registration of a white liveried coach parked on the forecourt of the Ashley Court Hotel

On closer inspection, I found it to be KIG7202 of Great Yarmouth - based Ambassador Travel! Formerly with National Express branding, it is now in all over white as was formerly registered FD54DGV

An unexpected sighting to say the least

Paignton Visit

Former Southport Corporation Leyland Titan FFY403 on a sightseeing tour
Yesterday I paid a visit to Paignton to take some pictures of the incoming Cathedrals Express hauled by steam locomotive Nunney Castle and to observe the local bus scene.

We left the car outside the guest house and decided to 'work off' the cooked breakfast by walking there along the coast road and footpath. It took in excess of half an hour to get to the station
Local Link Optare Solo at Paignton Bus Station awaiting its next working
after consuming a cappuccino on the pier

As we were entering Torbay Road to access the commercial area, Leyland Titan PD2/3 FFY403 turned in front of us. It was built for Southport Corporation in 1948 and subsequently converted to an open top. In 2013 it was acquired by Riviera Sightseeing Tours of Torquay who was operating it on the one hour and thirty minute tour around the 
Stagecoach Optare Solo WA59CRZ works the Foxhole service
English Riviera

After a short visit to the Dartmouth Steam Railway to witness ex GWR steam loco 4277 Hercules running around it's train, I visited the neighbouring bus station. I immediately espied an independent Local Link Optare Solo YN53ELU laying over among the numerous Stagecoach buses. One of the latter was another Optare Solo 47695 WA59CRZ, 
Volvo Olympian M832HVC on a Rail River Link service
employed on the FOX service to Foxhole.

Also seen was Rail River Link Alexander Royale bodied Volvo Olympian M832HVC operating a service. The bus has previously seen use in Cambridge as a demonstrator and more recently
 with Finglands and East Yorkshire
Motor Services

Finally, I observed the bottom half of ex Portsmouth Corporation Leyland PD2 LRV992 peeping out of a building on the site. The open topper was painted in Devon General colours

I then retraced my steps in time to get some photos of the steam train arriving prior to heading back to Torquay by bus

Reynolds Latest

The Second Plaxton Profile aquired by Reynolds has had its lettering added and is now in service, AW53GAX is named Lady Kristina,noted this morning at the garage in Caister awaiting a school run.

Sister AW53GAU is named Lady Jodie.

Other changes to note are that BIG9854 Lady Penny has had new light clusters fitted front and rear giving her a new look.


Tuesday 16 September 2014

Caister Road Depot ~ Special Report

The operations centre showing buses allocated - note 32202 tab hanging vertical
Following an invitation from First Great Yarmouth's Operation Manager Danny Beales, Colin White from Eastern Transport Collection and myself were, on Thursday last, privileged to have a tour of Caister Road depot

Both Colin and myself travelled from Gorleston on ex Leicester ALX400 32064 to the north end of Northgate Street for a short stroll to the depot

NML623E in the special Routemaster bay
Upon arrival and receiving our 'hi-vis' tops Danny explained that the front of the depot had recently benefited from a £4,500 repaint/ makeover and what a difference it makes too as can be seen from the blog header above

Our first stop was the busy operations centre with a board showing the vehicles available for service. It was noticeable that one of tab
Norwich decker at Caister Road for its MOT
was hanging vertical and Danny explained it was currently unavailable as one of the safety rails had been vandalised and required replacing before it could return to service

We then continued the tour of the office area which including a learning centre, an interview facility and the all important drivers restroom which included a recently recovered snooker
The final one of the four former First Essex Darts to receive the rear advert
table. Caister Road currently employs 105 drivers

Exiting into the depot itself we were pleasantly surprised by the activities carried out on the north side of the building which I had hitherto assumed was just the supporting wall. How wrong I

Hidden away was the Seat Bay where a gentleman was busy repairing a seat that had been vandalised
Olympian 34110 out of use - what future does it have?
by a knife. It's the only place in First Eastern Counties where all the seat types are reupholstered

Then there was the tyre shop, where the tyres are retreaded, and the well stocked parts store with all individual items automatically restocked using a computer system

After observing the canteen area we saw the staff toilet/shower facility was currently being revamped, Also noted were some of the recycling activities carried out. In the cleaning facility the main item on display was chewing gum remover

The last bay on the north side is a specially
dedicated Routemaster area where the two buses
will be stored during periods of inactivity to protect them from damage etc: NML623E being the only one resident at the time of our visit

It was then out into the garage area proper. Great Yarmouth is the major facility for garage work and MOTs with buses being sent here from Lowestoft, Norwich and Kings Lynn for attention

As if to prove the point, Norwich's Dennis Trident/Plaxton President 33238 LT52WVG and 20515 WV02EUR were both present for an MOT

There are two separate areas for repairs; one for large operations such as engine and gearbox replacements whilst the other is for smaller scale repairs such as window replacements

Over the pits at the time of our visit were 34114 W434CWX, 43864 EU52FGA and 37579 AU58EDK. Also undergoing inspection was Olympian 34108 W435CWX

Parked up opposite the pits was Dart SLF 42920 EU05AUM  which had just received a rear wrap around advert for Great Yarmouth College - all four ex First Essex Darts have now had the same treatment

Plaque dedicated to those losing their lives
The garage roof and lighting has
recently been refurbished although there is still evidence of damage to
a girder from an air attack during World War Two. Additionally a plaque has been affixed to one of the pillars dedicated to the 49 persons who lost their lives during the attack

We then proceeded to the rear yard where the four Olympians were stationed - for the record they were 34110 W437CWX, 34112 W432CWX,  34113 W433CWX and 34187 S687AEE. The first mentioned is the last Olympian built whilst 34187 was withdrawn with gearbox problems and looks unlikely to enter service again

Upon re-entering the garage we passed a board displaying old bus numbers with key hooks  beneath where the drivers use to obtain their keys prior to starting up their buses

All too quickly the tour had come to an end and Danny presented us with some souvenirs to remind us of our visit including a ticket roll from Great Yarmouth Corporation Transport

Many thanks for the tour Danny and for showing us that there was plenty going on behind the scenes to enable First to keep the wheels turning.

X1 Repaints Begin

37578 at Caister Road shortly after gaining the new First livery
The first of two former X1 Geminis to regain the route branded livery will be 37578 AU58EDJ which will leave Caister Road tomorrow.

It will return in the Blue livery worn by the existing fleet of Enviro 400's on the route.

Genini 37579 is expected to be the other with Enviro 33423 also due to be repainted .

Thanks to First for the information

Monday 15 September 2014

Sunday Evening At The Strand

Stagecoach Gold liveried YN63BXC about to leave for Totnes
Another evening stroll in Torquay last night - ending up at The Strand

Surprisingly, at that time, there were a small number of Stagecoach South West buses hanging around for their next duty.

The most prominent was Stagecoach Gold liveried 15930 YN63BXC. The Scania N230UD/ADL Enviro 400 was about to work the Totnes services
A Galloway's coach provides the filling for the sandwich!

Also noted at The Strand at the same time were Alexander Dennis Pointer Darts 34871 WA06HNE and 34874 WA06HNH awaiting their next duties

Earlier, similar 35243 WA56NNG was observed on the 32 route to Torbay Hospital and ADL bodied Scania 13784 WA61KLF was heading for Brixham on the 12

Finally, noted at the Rainbow Hotel Car Park were three coaches overnighting. One was Galloway's Volvo B13R BX12CWC on a Newmarket Holidays outing to the Torquay area

Sunday 14 September 2014

Sunday in Dawlish

Dennis Trident 18329 MX05WHZ in Dawlish
Following a full breakfast at the guest house, it was off to see my wife's long lost relatives in Dawlish

However, before leaving I was emailed by Des Speed to let me now that he was also staying nearby and that the Torbay Express was steaming into the area

So we made it in good time to see A4 Bittern passing through Dawlish southbound but in 'full dull'

Time for a cuppa afterwards followed by some bus observations and I got a pic of  Stagecoach Southwest trident/ALX400 18329 MX05WHZ arriving on Station Road using the iPad

Saturday 13 September 2014

Evening in Torquay

Stagecoach Southwest Enviro400 YN63BXA not in service
A couple of sightings to report from Torquay tonight where Stagecoach Southwest operates most of the services

After making our way to the seafront, we crossed the main road and observed Stagecoach Southwest Gold liveried Scania N230UD Enviro400 15932 YN63BXA heading towards us running out of service

There are two videos
Dart 34873 WA06NNG at The Strand
on YouTube of 15932 in service late last year, including one of her inaugural run

After a meal, we decided to work the calories off by walking around the yacht marina where another Stagecoach Devon bus was stationery opposite Debenhams awaiting its next duty.

It was Dart 34873 WA06HNG which was parked up at The Strand beside the quayside and there are also two videos of this single decker in action on YouTube as well

First Vehicle Transfers

We can confirm that next weekend Volvo B7TL's 32201 & 32202 will move from Great Yarmouth to Norwich. This is due to an increase in PVR for Norwich and also coincides with a drop in vehicles required for the 3 service in Yarmouth. They will join 32200/32203 which moved to Norwich earlier this year.

Thanks to First for the continued support and Information provided.

Saturday in Sheringham

Mayflower about to change tracks for the haul back to Holt
A Trip with my children to Sheringham today meant i had to sneak the camera along just in case! After a couple of hours at the Splash Swimming Pool we ventured into the town for a bite to eat and firstly stumbled upon British Railways Steam Loco "Mayflower" just arriving into the station and looking stunning in the September sunshine.

The local bus scene in North Norfolk is a three way operation with Sanders, Norfolk Green and Konectbus all running into the town, but today saw a few visiting coaches and a couple of more unusual types were noted.
Theobalds Neoplan Starliner L15TBC at the Station

The first was Theobolds of Luton L15TBC (ex YN05AUU) , one of my personal favourites the Neoplan Starliner. Another Starliner was also in the town in the shape of 6844WF belonging to Woods Coaches of Leicester.

Another more unusual type noted was MAN, Noge bodied MX10DDU of Impact Coaches, London.

To be honest you cannot beat a day out in North Norfolk and for the transport enthusiast Sheringham certainly ticks all the right boxes!

Impact Coaches MX10DDU surrounded by Rolling Stack

Wednesday 10 September 2014

First Norwich Repaints Commence

33163 in Castle Meadow back in 2010
We can exclusively reveal that the first vehicle in Norwich to gain the new Norwich Network livery will be Plaxton President 33163. It left Norwich for Rotherham today and will return with new Purple Line branding which means a full purple front in similar style to the new livery being applied to the Ipswich fleet.

The Norwich Fleet will be repainted in the new style with vehicles gaining different colour fronts for the routes they operate although some will gain standard new livery for use on any route in the network.
Last Versa Goes

Anglianbus has reported the transfer of the last of the five Optare Versa's to sister GoAhead subsidiary Konectbus

AU11EPE, bearing fleet number 309, was reported on Anglian's website as having departed to the Dereham based operator yesterday

The others left the fleet earlier this month