Thursday, 24 December 2015

2015 Review ~ Major Operators

Around this time every year we look back on activity over the past twelve months. Again it has been a busy year and here is a brief summary of the highlights of the major operators in the area during 2015

Anglianbus

Go-Ahead subsidiary Anglianbus  began 2015 with a long term loan of ADL Enviro200 YW14FHS which lasted until October.

YNPZF in use at one of the EATM running days
Other arrivals included East Lancs bodied Scania OmniDekkas - the first, YN55PZF, arrived in March and was immediately put to work on the 88/88A Norwich - Bungay - Halesworth route

Two 2010 built Optare Versas returned to the fleet from sister company Konectbus with new Anglianbus logos being applied to YJ60KGU/V during September

The company carried out extensive service revisions in November as some of the routes were operating at a loss and no longer viable. Following consultation with stakeholders and customers Anglian subsequently amended its planed 80 and 81/81A services

Optare Excel X229WRA on the 81 service 
The introduction of these new timetables resulted in a number of fleet withdrawals with Optare Excels W216PRB and X229WRA being the first to go. These were followed by Optare Solos YN04LWP, MX53EDO and MX53EDP. Two ex Metrobus Scania Omnicities YN05HFJ and YN05HFG were also axed.

Earlier in the year one of the operator's Gas Buses was withdrawn from service after it received a rear end shunt. As a result of the incident the chassis of  WX62HGG was twisted and beyond repair with the vehicle being subsequently written off

WX62HGG at Norwich Bus Station in December 2012
Meanwhile, Anglian repainted its four Streetlites back into white livery prior to handing them back to their owners following the end of their lease; although at least one still appears to be hanging around!

Finally Anglian closed its Rackheath Depot in April but increased the capacity of its Beccles Business Park site to accommodate 80 vehicles

First Eastern Counties

January saw the start of a major refurbishment programme for the Volvo/ALX400 deckers based at Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. This involved ex Leicester examples at the former (32058/9/61-5) plus 30888 with 30886/9-901 at the latter. Subsequently two vehicles emerged in in special heritage liveries - 32058 W218XBD in Great Yarmouth blue and cream and 30888 W743DWX (now a Lowestoft bus) in Lowestoft cream and maroon

Whilst they were away, Rotherham provided 'paint spares' in the form of Renowns with 66112 R912BOU and 62143 R589SBA being noted in Lowestoft with 60618 R781WKW and 60621 R784WKW being observed at Great Yarmouth. Two other Renowns joined the Great Yarmouth fleet from Essex during November with 66168/9 W368/9EOW assisting in releasing deckers for Bernard Matthews' duties

The year also saw the start of  the migration of Great Yarmouth's Jersey Darts to Lowestoft with 43859/64 EG52FHD/FGA transferring in January. Later in the year they began to be cascaded to First Devon and Cornwall. Lowestoft began replacing them with low floor Darts from First Bath with 42943 WA56OAS  being the first to arrive in September. Meanwhile, the Suffolk town's sole surviving Plaxton Pointer bodied Dart SLF 43466 R466CAH continued in service until November

Other arrivals in the year included three deckers for Caister Road arriving from First Slough in the form of Volvo B9s 37274/5 LK58EDF/J and B7 32348 LK53LZL - the last mentioned causing a stir in the local social media by returning from Full Circle with the wrong fleet number!

First Norwich repatriated Dart 42921 EU05AUN to Caister Road complete with a version of the Olympia livery applied. Sister 42920 EU05AUM received similar treatment during October

Talking of Olympians, the numbers active at the end of the year were at an all time low with just 34111 W431CWX in use on Bernard Matthews contracts. Hopes of it appearing in normal service have been dashed with the removal of its ticket machine. At various times in the year five of the Olympians saw service including 34108/9/11/4 W435/6/1/4CWX and 34186 S686AEE - although they were predominantly employed on Bernard Matthews contract duties

Olympians 34113 and 34109 await the arrival of the
scrapman in Caister Road depot in early November
During the year inroads were made in removing some of the Olympians from the rear of Caister Road with 34186, 34109 and 34113 among those being taken for scrap by Alpha Recovery. On a happy note, the blog's campaign to get 34110 W437CWX preserved was successful with Colin Thorne saving it for preservation at Yeldham Transport Collection in early November

Routemaster RML2480 JJD480D was surprisingly active in service for a few days in October being used on the service 7 to Belton and the 8 to the James Paget Hospital

Operationally, First altered some of its Lowestoft service during August following the reduction in Central Government funding and low patronage. However, the X2 frequency increased with three Geminis transferring from Great Yarmouth to Suffolk in the form of 37575-7 to assist with the service. At the same time Great Yarmouth increased its X1 service to every 15 minutes throughout most of the day

Konectbus

Konectbus, another Go-Ahead subsidiary, began operating two new routes to Great Yarmouth in early May with their buses being rewgularly observed in Great Yarmouth for the first time (transfers to the Anglian fleet excepted!). The routes were the 71 operating between Wroxham and Market Gates and the 72 from Norwich to Market Gates via Blofield, South Walsham and Acle

Early September saw Konect providing all Norwich Park and Ride services with the operator investing more than £3 million in 18 new Alexander Dennis Enviro400s to provide the services

Stagecoach Norfolk Green

Stagecoach Norfolk Green became part of the Stagecoach East at the beginning of May with the Norfolk Green branding being gradually replaced by the the Stagecoach corporate livery.

In September, Norfolk County Council announced that they had reached an agreement with Stagecoach to operate the Coasthopper route serving the North Norfolk Coast as a commercial service all year round . This was after Lynx had secured a tender to operate the service with County Council funding

Stagecoach Megabus

Megabus extended their M37 Norwich to Cardiff route to Great Yarmouth during the early summer which commenced at Beach Coach Station. The service was short lived as Megabus withdrew it from 1st September

During its operation, a left hand drive coach worked the route in late June with blog contributor Steve Gowler on hand to record Van Hool Altano KX14HSU on the service

Up Next

That completes our look at the major operators activities during the year. Coming up next we will look at the independent operators

Roy

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