Thursday 28 April 2016

34110 Interim Report

Colin Thorne contacted me last night with more on the restoration of former First Eastern Counties Volvo Olympian 34110 W437CWX

He visited Great Yeldham yesterday to fit six legal tyres on 34110 - the previous ones were a stop gap measure so that the originals could be returned to First

You may remember in Colin's previous report, earlier this month, that whilst moving the decker there was a massive bang at the front.
The front nearside road spring snapped and this can viewed in the photo above

Moving towards the rear of the vehicle, the next photo shows part of the chassis that's normally hiding behind the rear wheels.

Colin tells me 'The hole in the middle is meant to be there but the one on the right isn't! It's the same on both sides'.

He continues 'That is not the full story by any stretch, but it does at least add a visual side to the list previously supplied'.

,Again work in progress with much more to do. My thanks to Colin for his report and photos


Six At The Beach

I was somewhat surprised at seeing six coaches at Great Yarmouth's Beach Coach Station during yesterday afternoon

The number included two from National Holidays in the form of Setra NH13OWH and Mercedes Benz Tourismo NH15LDH (above)

A second Setra on site was that of BK11CRF (centre photo) from sister company Shearings Holidays

Others included Carriageways of Cambridge Mercedes Benz 0815 YJ59AXA and Van Hool T181AUA from Grays Travel Group of Elsecar

The final attendee (below) was Mercedes Benz Tourismo 97 BU16HBE from Alfa Travel. It is one of a batch of six new to the fleet this year. (94-99 BU16HBB-G)

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Service Alterations Registered ~ 27th April 2016

The latest Notices and Proceedings Report was issued by the East of England Traffic Commissioner earlier this morning and contains the following details of proposed changes to local bus services

Applications to Vary Existing Services
Anglianbus is to amend the timetable of its 61/61A/61B/61C services which will be effective from 5th June 2016
Sister company Konectbus is also changing the timetable of its 501 Thickthorn Park & Ride to Norwich Airport Park & Ride service from from 4th June 2016.

New Applications Granted
Kessingland Kabs, whose directors are Hayley Sutton, Fiona Smart, Carol Sutton and Michael Sutton, has been given approval to operate five vehicles from 5 Pinbush Close in Lowesoft. The Transport Manager is Stephen Fisher

The complete Notice & Proceedings Report, covering the whole of the Eastern Traffic Commissioner's Area, can be viewed HERE


Tuesday 26 April 2016

Another Trident Transfer

Hot on the heels of a Trident moving back to Anglian, is the news of another of the type transferring to First's Caister Road depot in Great Yarmouth

New to CentreWest (a subsidiary of London Regional Transport) in May 2002, Trident 33151 LR02LXK has transferred from First Norwich and still retains its Norwich Network White Line branding when seen in Gorleston High Street earlier today

It has been in use on the 1/1A services between Lowestoft and Martham, via Great Yarmouth, for most of today


Monday 25 April 2016

Monday Morning Mooch

After the school run this morning I nipped in to town to see what was about and initially the short answer was not much. Although just before I left there was a small surprise with a Solo!

With Shearings and National Holidays coaches beginning to use Marine Parade more for overnighting of their coaches I did a quick tour of the seafront - not expecting to see anything. A newish Skills coach was parked up on the road plus there was Shearings Setra BK10EJD waiting outside the Carlton Hotel to load (top).

With the aim of checking the Olympian situation in the rear yard of First's Caister Road depot, I turned down Salisbury Road. In front of me ready to move off from Great Yarmouth High School was Belle Coaches Volvo SIL9044 (centre).

Looking in the yard at First's depot I noted that three of the Olys were still present. They were 34108/11/4  registered W435/1/4CWX respectively. Keeping them company was Wright Renown 66169 W369EOW.

I then passed through Market Gates and found an Our Bus Optare Solo, MX58AAY, on the stand ready to return home (Incorrect apparently - see comment below) following its run to the East Norfolk Sixth Form College earlier this morning. The 27 seater was new to A1A Travel of  Birkenhead in September 2008. It passed to M&H Coaches of Trefant in June 2011 from where it was recently acquired by Our Bus.


Friday 22 April 2016

Ex Anglian Bus Returns

V161MEV at Gordon Road, Lowestoft in November 2011
Anglianbus updated the fleetlist on its website yesterday which reflects a slight increase in the numbers active from 36 to 37 vehicles

The reason for the increase is the return of Alexander ALX400 bodied Dennis Trident V161MEV to the Beccles operator from sister company Hedingham. The Trident moved to the Essex operator in February 2014 where it was renumbered from 700 to 740 - it still retains its Anglian colour scheme

My thanks go to Syd Eade for the use of his photo


Tuesday 19 April 2016

Pretty In Pink & More

Following much coverage in social media about some new pink things arriving at First Norwich, I thought I would pop along to the official launch today to see what all the fuss was about

The line up for the official photo for the Eastern Daily Press - but I beat the official photographer to it!!
The view out of the top deck front window
Lined up outside The Forum were five of the nine new buses destined to run on the new Pink Line service 11/12 linking the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital with Sprowston and Wroxham via Norwich City Centre

The £1.8 million investment comprises buses fitted with leather seats, CCTV and Wi-Fi providing customers with free internet access. In addition to dedicated space for wheelchair users, there is extra space for pushchairs.
Leather seating on the top deck
For the record the five deckers on display were 35193 SK16GVR, 35194 SK16GVT, 35195 SK16GVU, 31597 SK16GVW and 31598 SK16GVX and will be in service starting tomorrow

The engine bay on 35194 which illustrates how small the Mercedes engine is
Overall the Wright Streetdecks look very impressive with their new branding and comparatively quiet engines (the engine looks so small compared to the old Olympians!) One of the drivers said they performed very well on their trip to Bath for Rail Replacement Work - time will tell as to how they perform in service!

To stop you overdosing on pink, I did observe other activity in the city and, immediately after leaving the party, I saw an ex Ambassador Solo on the 10A Norwich to East Harling service operated by Semmence. MX54KYB has passed from the former to the latter within the Vistafield Group and was carrying Semmence legal lettering when seen

In the short period I was in St Stephen's Street, I observed Stagecoach Norfolk Dennis Trident / ALX400 17605 LV52HHP making its way to Fakenham in Norfolk Green colours whilst Alexander Dennis Enviro300 27644 GX10HBZ was heading to the Bus Station on the return journey in Stagecoach livery

Also in St Stephen's Street was Borderbus decker 206 X652LLX. The Plaxton President bodied Volvo B7TL had just arrived on the 146 service. Whilst still carrying the Sir John Leman School destination, I understand new blinds are to be fitted in the near future

There was more to come as I was lucky to see two of the former Norwich Park and Ride Dennis Tridents now in use with Norwich School, PN03UMD and PN03ULT were both in Norwich School blue.


Another Yarmouth Loanee

Further to our report a couple of weeks ago regarding Coach arrivals at Yarmouth, 20500 is yet to appear here due to Mechanical problems to join sister 20501. Therefore another former Yarmouth vehicle has returned to fill the gap in the shape of 20514 WU02EUP.
It has undergone and extensive Internal & External refurbishment at First's Rotherham Depot and wears a striking livery advertising Bus & Coach hire. I was lucky enough to see her on the forecourt at Caister Road this morning about to hit the road.

Finally Enviro 200 44519 YX09ADO has now returned to Lowestoft after working the weekend in Yarmouth.


Saturday 16 April 2016

Ex First Ipswich Loanee

Arriving at Great Yarmouth's Caister Road depot from Lowestoft on Thursday was ex Ipswich ADL Enviro 200 on loan. 44519 YX09ADO still retains the First Ipswich colour scheme and, whilst it has been observed many times in service, it has eluded my camera

It was seen again today in Gorleston High Street and luckily I had my mobile phone with me and got the above photo. Considering the weather at the time the result isn't too bad (with the help of some software!)


Wednesday 13 April 2016

Service Alterations Registered ~ 13th April 2016

As another fortnight swiftly passes by, as does the publication of another Notices and Proceedings Report. Today's report, issued by the East of England Traffic Commissioner, contains the following details of proposed changes to local bus services. Changes already registered by First Eastern Counties have previously been reported and can be view HERE

New Application Received
An application has been lodged by Don't Travel Empty Limited for a two vehicle operating centre at Laundry Loke in North Walsham. The company directors are James Trevor Howells and Anthony Allan Marett of Chippenham in Wiltshire with Jamie Charles Culling named as Transport Manager 

Licences Surrendered
With effect from 29th March 2016, Norse Commercial Services Limited, whose registered address is given as 280 Fifers Lane in Norwich, has surrendered their licence with all registered bus services ceasing with immediate effect.

Registration of New Services
First Eastern Counties has registered four new services numbered 2, 3, 9 and X11 in the Great Yarmouth area and details can be viewed HERE
Beccles & Bungay Area Community Transport has registered six 'Connecting Communities' services in the Waveney District Council area commencing in mid June

Applications to Vary Existing Services
First Eastern Counties has applied for variations for services 1/1A/B, 4, 5, 6/6B/7, 8/8A/8B, 99, X1 and X2  in the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft areas. These can be viewed HERE

Cancellations of Existing Services
First Eastern Counties has also cancelled parts of services numbered 1, 2, and 3 in the Great Yarmouth area and further details can be seen HERE

The complete Notice & Proceedings Report covering the whole of the Eastern Traffic Commisioner's Area can be viewed HERE


Tuesday 12 April 2016

Another Lowestoft Arrival

Grahame contacted me earlier this morning to say that ALX400 bodied Volvo B7TL 30902 W757DWX had arrived in Lowestoft from First Essex.

The decker was towed there from Ipswich and is a permanent transfer. It was immediately put to work on the 99 service between Lowestoft and Kessingland

My thanks to Grahame for the details and the photo


Monday 11 April 2016

Olympian Progress

Since former First Volvo Olympian 34110 W437CWX was rescued for preservation in November last year, Colin Thorne has been busy and provides details about progress so far

'437 has been awaiting the refitting of her fuel pump so that she can move under her own power and get off the blocks the tow truck left her on. Well I was originally led to believe that only the fuel pump was missing......

It turned out there was a fair bit more than that missing! I ended up having to source some brand new injector pipes, a fuel filter housing and some other bits & pieces. Once all that was fitted, along with brand new batteries, it was found that the fuel pump was trying to push too much fuel through and she'd only attempt to run on brake cleaner.

W437CWX moves under its own power at Great Yeldham for the first time in preservation
The engineers I've employed to do the job did a bit of a research and concluded there was an electrical issue of some kind (the fuel pump is electronically controlled) - they had a diagnostic tool plugged in and found error codes on items such as the cruise control. Given that 437 is a bus with no such feature, it is suspected that the engine ECU (electronic control unit) is from a coach. Thankfully I had already sourced a spare engine ECU and when that was tried we had more success.

She's still in bits under the boot lid; the exhaust is disconnected, some of the rocker covers are off and she has two seperate fuel leaks, one on the primer pump and one around the fuel pump........but she is now moving under her own steam and is finally off those blocks. However, there's still work to do under the engine cover before that box can be ticked off the long list.

Given that she now moves, its finally been possible to get her up in the air inside the workshop and really get the full sense of whats going on with the chassis, etc. Whilst moving her inside there was a massive bang at the front - turns out the front nearside road spring (looks like a leaf spring) has snapped. So that's another job to add to the list.

Anyway, once up in the air it was found that the chassis will need welding in two places (possibly a third place as well but that depends whats left once its cleaned up), and two of the outriggers will also need work - one possibly requiring total replacement. Once the welding is completed the whole chassis will be cleaned up and painted to help protect it from further corrosion.

Both front brakes are near as damn it metal on metal so will need to be replaced and the nearside rear brake chamber is also knackered.

The main fuel tank needs its strap replacing but more importantly it is leaking fuel from a pipe that links it to the secondary fuel tank. The offside rear levelling valve has also snapped so she sits at angle when the air is built up.

So there's still a fair amount to do mechanically. On top of that, the top deck nearside window needs to come back out so that the replacement front dome can be fitted - in fact all of the windows both sides on both decks will need to come out at some point so that the body corrosion can be dealt with. To that end all of the pasenger seating has been removed (apart from a few that have been glued in with windscreen bonding!) and securely stored as leaving it all in situ with the windows out would have lead to it all being covered in dust. Much of it needed dumping anyway due to damp damage (don't forget I got a spare set out of sister 436 thanks to the generosity of First Eastern Counties).

Colin tells me has spent some £2,150 on parts and labour so far. The shopping list includes:-
  • A new road spring is estimated to at £900 plus costs to fit it 
  • Front brakes will likely be around £75 and £80 for rear ones, if drums are not ok then they will be £200 and £250 respectively
  • Welding in two areas is an unknown cost at the moment but that plus under sealing the chassis will not see much change out of £1,000 
  • Of course the engine work is not yet complete so more labour there - thought to be another £650 
  • Bodywork needs repair - new panels at the rear costing between £200 to £300 each 
  • Tyres have to be replaced £165 each - the previous ones have been returned to First
He says 'the engine sounds really really sweet which is pleasing given that I bought her without hearing her run. That's pretty much where I am with it at the moment, and I'm financially commited to other things until August so we're back on hold until then........'

My thanks to Colin and Jamie Skinner for their help in compiling this post. Photos supplied by Colin Thorne


Thursday 7 April 2016

First Great Yarmouth & Lowestoft Changes

I normally wait for the fortnightly Traffic Commissioner's Notices & Proceedings Report to post changes to services proposed in our local area. However, today VOSA has details of changes to services planned by First Eastern Counties in the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft areas. The changes are effective from May 29th 2016

Service 1/1A/1B
Route, stopping places and timetable are amended. The 1/1A will now run as a faster service between Martham and Yarmouth via the main road and omitting parts of Caister (see routed 4). The 1B will operate in the summer months only between Beach Road, Hemsby and Great Yarmouth - partially replacing the 3

Service 2
This service will now operate between Market Gates and Barrack Estate only. Frequencies of up to every 10 mins Mondays to Saturdays and hourly on Sundays. The remaining section of the route will be served by new Service 9.

Service 3
This seasonal summer service is cancelled between Hemsby and Great Yarmouth and is being replaced by a new route starting from Vauxhall Holiday Park and operating via Seashore Holiday Park and Great Yarmouth Rail Station.

Service 4
The route, stopping places and timetable of this service is amended and will now only serve the Caister - Market Gates section, The Barrack Estate portion is served by a more frequent service 2 as already mentioned. It will also be re-routed in Caister to serve the sections of the route formerly part of the 1/1A

Service 5
This Burgh Castle service has timetable changes but no alterations to route.

Service 6/6B/7
The route and frequency of the 6 remains unchanged although the 6B is a peak journey which continues on  to Belton after serving Bradwell. The major change is to the 7, which will now only operate evenings and Sundays.

Service 8/8A/8B
The route, stopping places and timetable are amended plus it will no longer serve the Cliff Park Estate thereby providing faster journeys between JPH and Great Yarmouth.

Service 9
This is a new service replacing the 2 between Market Gates and JPH. It will also operate via Cliff Park and Shrublands Estate.

Service X11
A new service X11 will replace the X1 shorts that terminate at JPH and will operate between Norwich - Great Yarmouth - Gorleston - JPH and Belton! It runs half hourly from Belton via the new link road to the JPH thereby providing the village with a direct service to the JPH and Norwich. There are also timetable changes to the X1 to link in with the X11.

In Lowestoft there are timetable alterations to the X2 which will hopefully eliminate the convoy running with the X22, Most notably the 99 is going to extend one its buses hourly from Kessingland to Southwold. Initially this is for this summers only and is subject to change depending on patronage.

Many thanks to Chris Speed and SteveW for assisting in the compilation of this post


Our Bus On eBay Again

DAF N482CEG on a school run in May 2014
Photo courtesy of Joe Leathers Watson
NGF_14 tweeted me earlier today to tell me that an Our Bus coach is available for sale on eBay

The vehicle concerned is Plaxton Premiere bodied DAF 3000 N482CEG and is priced at £4,500

It also made an appearance on eBay in an auction during August 2013 and clearly she found no buyer then

N482CEG has been with Our Bus since September 2009 when they purchased it from Peelings Coaches then carrying the cherished plate of JJZ9131

However, the coach was new to Bibby of Ingleton, Yorkshire in March 1996 as N48FWU and later carried the registrations BIB3994 and ODO798

My thanks to NGF_14 for drawing my attention to the sale


Tuesday 5 April 2016

Church Lane Diverts

Today also sees diversions in force due to the carrying out of resurfacing work in Gorleston's Church Lane

StreetLite 47504 SN64CPY leads President 32213 LT52WTW up the hill at Shrublands Way
The road is normally used by quite a number of First's routes which have been diverted from Church Lane to Church Road and then on to Beccles Road before regaining their usual routes via Shrublands Way

MV02VCT on Beccles Road returning with the 7 from Belton to Market Gates - despite what it says as its destination!
The routes affected are the 2 and 8 to the James Paget Hospital, the X1 to Lowestoft plus the 6 and 7 routes to Bradwell and Belton respectively

The X1 was also affected with Envir400 YX63LKM seen here heading to Great Yarmouth along Shrublands Way
The work commenced yesterday morning and delays mean that it is expected to be completed on Wednesday evening


New Norwich Streetdecks out on loan

Most of you regular readers will be well aware of the pending arrival of a batch of new Streetdecks for First Norwich to operate the Pink Line service. 9 new vehicles are expected, 7 with Pink Fronts and 2 with standard First Olympia livery. 3 arrived late last week at Roundtree Way and were then quickly diverted down to the South West to operate a large Rail Replacement service between Bath and Bristol. 15 new Streetdecks from First Leicester are also on duty prior to starting their lives in the East Midlands.
35194 SK16GVT seen at Bristol Temple Meads Station.  Photo courtesy of Tim Hall.
35193/35194 & 35196 are currently working from Bath with the Rail Contract due to run until the 10th of April. 35198 & 35199 are being delivered as i type this with the rest either at Heysham Docks or still at the factory in Ballymena, Northern Ireland.

Full list of Registrations as follows,

35193 SK16GVR
35194 SK16GVT
35195 SK16GVU
35196 SK16GVV
35197 SK16GVW
35198 SK16GVX
35199 SK16GVY
35200 SK16GVZ
35201 SK16GWA

35200/35201 are in standard First Livery.

First Leicester 35172 SK16GUE seen leaving Bristol Station.  Photo Tim Hall

Sunday 3 April 2016

Coaches back at Caister Road

Two former X1 Coaches have arrived back at Caister Road for use on a new Bernard Matthews contract being operated from Yarmouth. 20500 AO02RBX & 20501 AO02RBY have moved down from Norwich after recently arriving back in Norfolk after a spell in Essex.


Sunny Saturday in Lowestoft

A Nice sunny start to the weekend so it was off to Lowestoft to catch up with the latest arrivals as i had not been for a while. A certain grey fronted Enviro was the main reason for my visit and it was not long before i was rewarded as it appeared in Gordon Road working the 105 service from Oulton.
44519 YX09ADO has come from Ipswich on loan to cover for pending repaints of the ex South West Darts that are now in Lowestoft. Sisters 44517/8 are now at Norwich being prepared for the start of the new Charcoal Line service 40 between Poringland & Norwich which starts on April 4th.
One of the arrivals from Bath, 42914 WX05RVZ has already gained the new livery and quickly gained its Lowestoft fleet names on arrival, seen above working the 101 service in the town.
My favourite photo of the day is fomer Beeline Gemini 37274 LK58EDF seen about to enter Gordon Road, a different location for a photo and when you get it right and the sun shines you can see why!
Last photo is Yarmouth based ALX400 32061 W221XBD arriving at the Bus Station on the 1 from Martham, all in all a good morning was had and everything required is now in the can!


Friday 1 April 2016

Galloway Group To Be Acquired

Galloways coaches often appear during the summer season - this is
 Tourismo BF60OGA at Beach Coach Station in June 2013
The Galloway Travel Group yesterday announced that its business operations are to be acquired by Eastern Transport Holdings Limited on 30th November 2016

The announcement follows a period of close communication and discussion between the directors of the holding company and the retiring directors of the Galloway Group. The latter provides a wide range of adult and school tours, coach hire and National Express services

YJ13GXG on rail replacement duty at Great Yarmouth in November 2015
Eastern Transport Holdings, which shares a common ownership with operator Stephensons of Essex, is to work with the Galloway Group to gain in depth knowledge of the operation before its acquisition at the end of November 2016

The Group will continue as a stand alone business and operate from its existing head office at Mendlesham

My thanks to Reg Vardy for making me aware of this by forwarding the press release