Friday 30 December 2016

Service Alterations Registered ~ 28th December 2016

We belatedly take a look at the most recent Notices and Proceedings Report published by the Eastern Traffic Commissioner on Wednesday

The only entries of relevance to our local area are those made by Acle based Our Hire. The operator has made five applications to vary existing services, with two affecting Norwich services and three the East Norfolk area. The latter concerns amendments to the routes, stopping places and timetables of the following services from 13th February 2017:-
*  292 Squires Road, Havergate to Roys Store in Stalham Road, Wroxham
*  293 Kings Head, Acle High Street to Roys Store in Stalham Road, Wroxham
*  294 Ormesby St Margaret to Norwich

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


Thursday 29 December 2016

2016 Review ~ Major Operators

The second part of our annual review concentrates on the main activities of the local major operators during 2016

The gasbuses begin their journey
The major highlight here was the departure of the twelve MAN EcoCity gasbuses to Plymouth Citybus in late October. Despite the rumour mill speculating on the move during the early summer months, Anglian remained noticeably quiet about it

Their transfer meant the return to service of the hitherto stored fleet of Scania OmniCitys, OmniLinks and Optare Solos. Shortages meant the drafting in of some Konectbus vehicles with Wright Eclipse Geminis LB02YXE/YWX/YWY appearing on routes
Konectbus LB02YWY on the 61
together with Optare Solo VX51RJZ. The two operators continued to play yo-yo with Optare Versas YG60KGU/V with the latter once more returning to Konectbus again only last week! Hedingham's Anglian liveried  Tridents V161MEV and T812RFG also helped out on occasions during the year

Operationally Anglianbus ceased the Norfolk County Council sponsored 85 Loddon to Norwich and the 86 Beccles to Norwich during February. It also ended the 61 between Wrentham and Southwold but extended it to replace the 7 between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth in the same month. Also going was the 60J between Lowestoft and the James Paget Hospital and the 86 Rackheath to Great Yarmouth Colleges contracts 

Scania AN61BUS on the 61 at Magdalen Square
At the end of July the operator cancelled the 90 service between Lowestoft and Southwold and the cessation of the 7 route between Great Yarmouth and Norwich with sister company Konectbus taking over. Anglian also extended the 61 to serve Great Yarmouth's Barrack Estate via Magdalen Estate. It also withdrew the 82 Beccles Town Service and the 80 Diss to Beccles route under short notice. 

Following resident and stakeholder requests, Anglian introduced a new 81 service linking Belton and Bradwell with Great Yarmouth following First's removal of its 7 route for most of the day. However, the above changes and alterations in timetables means the operator's daily fleet requirement has reduced to just 28 vehicles.

First Eastern Counties
The year began with the remaining ex Jersey Caetano bodied Darts leaving Lowestoft for Cornwall with EG52EGF only making it as far as Ipswich where repairs were undertaken. At the same time former First Bath Darts arrived in the Suffolk town to replace them.

W431CWX on  Bernard Matthews duty in January
Meanwhile, over at Great Yarmouth the first of the Olympians to leave Caister Road for scrapping saw W432CWX collected by Alpha Recovery in early January. This left W434/5CWX languishing in the rear yard awaiting the same fate but W431CWX returned to Bernard Matthews duties in the same month. It faltered on a few occasions and was finally withdrawn in early February with a twisted chassis. All three made their final journey in May following collection by Alpha Recovery.

March saw the operator selling its two Routemasters JJD480D and NML623E to Bus & Us of Briston in Norfolk and Dawson Rentals respectively - with the later being exported to Dublin.

AO02RBX on Bernard Mathews duty
During April, former X1 Volvo B12M/Plaxton Paragons AO02RBX/Y moved back to Caister Road for use on Bernard Mathews contract work. Although WV02EUP deputised for the latter whilst it was under repair

Also in the same month, plans to alter some Great Yarmouth services in May were made public. These included the 9 between Market Gates and James Paget Hospital, a curtailed 2 between Barrack Estate and Market Gates and a new X11 between Belton,
The X11 also serves Beacon Park
Great Yarmouth and Norwich via Beacon Park. The X11 replaced the 7 in Bradwell through most of the day leading to some unrest in the village at the loss of the service (Anglianbus later stepped in with the 71 service and diverted its 61 to maintain through workings between Gorleston and Barrack Estate)

April also provided some variety of vehicles on local services with First Ipswich Alexander Dennis ADL Enviro200 YX09ADO appearing on some Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth routes. With

First Norwich LR02LXK in Gorleston
some of the Presidents moving to Norwich (for transfer away within the First Group) Great Yarmouth gained Tridents LK51UZE/T, LR02LXK for a short period starting in April with LT52WUX following in May. Further arrivals on loan in June included Ipswich heritage liveried Transbus AU53HJV and Wright Eclipse Gemini BD11CFX from Norwich. A surprise addition to the fleet was South Yorkshire's Trident X611HLT, which didn't stay too long prior to moving on!

Purple Line LR01LYD in Regent Road
June also saw some colourful visitors from First Norwich helping out with services. These included Yellow Line LT02ZCV, Purple Line LR01LYD and Red Line LT52WWV. Other First Norwich deckers on services included two new Pink Line Wright Streetdecks SK16GVX/Y

Former First Leeds BN12JYH
Talking of the summer months, First Norwich Gemini's BD11CFV/CDZ appeared in June on loan to cover the summer period. Specially converted open top Trident W905VLN arrived in the following month in its new Seasider livery for the seasonal 3 route - although it did have its moments!

The arrival of eight Volvo B9/Wright Eclipse Geminis from First Leeds in July helped to ease the situation with BF12KXU/V, BN12JYF/G/H/J/K/L quickly placed in service

In late July Konectbus began running a new 7 Monday to Saturday Norwich to Great Yarmouth route - replacing that provided by Anglianbus. Some services started and ended at Caister on Sea and the service ran via the Postwick Park and Ride facility using the Park & Ride liveried Alexander Dennis Enviro400s.

During late August Konectbus cancelled its 72 Norwich to Great Yarmouth Market Gates service.

Stagecoach East
YJ66ASZ at Sheringham Station  
Stagecoach East operates the Coasthopper service in the northern extremity of our area and, at the beginning of October, I observed some of the six new Optare Solo SRs on the route in the specially commissioned Best Impressions livery.

Previously employed Coasthopper branded Dennis Enviro200MMCs now see use away from the coast with some regularly appearing on the X29 route between Norwich and Fakenham.

And Finally ...
That's about it concerning our yearly reviews. All that remains is to wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017 as we head towards our seventh year of blogging.


Wednesday 28 December 2016

2016 Review ~ Independent Operators

With the new year imminent, every year around this time we look back on the highlights of the previous twelve months and we first look at the independent operators.

Ambassador Travel
March saw Ambassador purchasing two new Higer Touring bodied Scanias for tourist contract work; YN16UAG with Sunrise branding and Grand UK liveried YN16UAF

Ambassador Travel's new Higer Touring bodied Scania
On the debit side, Plaxton Paragon bodied Volvo B12Ms KIG1857 (FN52HRM) and KIG1857 (FN52HRM) were dispatched to PSV Recycling of Hadleigh with the latter subsequently being offered for sale on eBay by Durham based Snowden Coaches.

During the year three buses transferred within the Vistafield Group to sister company Semence with Optare Solos MX54KYB/C and Wright Axcess Floline S350SET heading west.

Operationally, Ambassador secured the tender for the 68 Rackheath to Great Yarmouth Colleges contract although they ceased the Wednesday only 577 Chedgrave to Great Yarmouth service from the end of August.

Angies Tours
During the Spring, Philip Overy trading as Angies Tours disposed of Jonkcheere bodied Scania BLZ7773 to MC Tractors of Ramsey for scrapping

Belle Coaches
Belle's newcomer RX62GDU
There was an influx of minibuses during the year, including Mercedes Benz Sprinters RX62GDU and WU09HBK plus Plaxton bodied Vario SF13FPA

Another Vario left the Suffolk fleet in the form of SJI9076 (AE05MZN). Others departing included Setra NJI9245 to Paynes of Offord Cluny and Caetano bodied Toyota Coaster BV08VBK.

This busy operator returned Alexander Dennis Enviro200 MX12DYO off loan in January following the arrival of similar BB11BUS (ex YX11CSV). Another of the type, YX09HZH, arrived from Ensign during September.

Demonstrator YJ65EPU at BorderBus.  Photo: Tim Miller
Not to be outdone, the double deck fleet also expanded with the arrival of LJ03MJU in June, the first of a trio of  Wright Eclipse Gemini bodied Volvos. The others were ex London General LF52ZPB/C also via Ensign

In the same month, BorderBus was trialling Optare's new MetroDecker YJ65EPU which stayed a fortnight. Another demonstrator arrived three months later in the shape of Wright Streetdeck SL15ZGP

In partnership with Simmonds, BorderBus introduced a new Waveney Line service with the latter providing the 580 Bungay/Beccles to Great Yarmouth section from mid August. An interesting development was the use of a decker on the first service of the day from September. Also taken on was the Beccles Town service from Anglian.

Craske's ORY640 leaves
Craske Coaches
This Catfield operator disposed of their Plaxton Paramont bodied DAF SB ORY640 in late June. It had been owned by the operator since August 2010.

Marret's Chariots
Aylmerton based Marret's Chariots took delivery of a new Mercedes BenZ Tourismo in January bearing the registration BG65VXU.

Our Bus
Our Hire, trading as Our Bus, registered a number of vehicles on eBay as being available for disposal during the year. They included  DAF N482CEG and Alexander bodied Volvo B10BLE VAG608R which was later by destroyed fire.

One of Our Bus intakes during 2016 was this Optare
 Solo MX58AAY
Newcomers were Optare Solos MX58AAY and CN54HFD. The former, with CN05JYP, were noted in July specially labelled up for the seasonal 300 Shoreliner service running between Vauxhall Holiday Park and the Great Yarmouth Seafront.

Three new routes were registered to operate from August. They were 85A Rockland to Loddon, 86 Beccles to Poringland (ex Anglian operated) and the 271 Hemsby Beach to Great Yarmouth. However, the BL1 Roys of Wroxham to Stalham and the 290 Wroxham to Horning routes were abandoned in August and September respectively.

Reynolds of Caister
Dennis Javelin  BIG6773 disposed of
Reynolds purchased a new Mercedes Benz Tourismo GR16REY during the summer and named it Lady Grace Esme in honour of Charles Reynolds' mother who passed away in February this year. More Plaxton bodied coaches arrived during the summer - Dennis Javelin YD05DFY in June and AT55CZH/J during August.

Dennis Javelin BIG8773 was advertised as being available for disposal in September and later in the month Grahame noted it on trade plates ready to leave the Ormesby Road depot.

Following the loss of most of their schools contracts, this Earsham based operator sold six of their vehicles at auction during July resulting in the closure of the business at the end of the month.

The operator officially ceased its Fridays only 561 Southwold to Norwich service from early January; although its last run was in the previous December

Sanders Coaches
Wright Gemini LJ53NHN
This Holt based business acquired a number of buses and coaches during the period under review. These included a trio of ex London DAF Wright Geminis LJ53NHN/P/ and a couple of VDL/Berkhoff coaches YJ12CHK/X.

Wright Cadet YJ03PKY
Other arrivals at Sanders were former Leyland of Fishwick DAF/Wrights YJ60GDX and YJ64FWF. The demise of GHA Coaches also saw Volvo B7RLEs DK09DKD/H, Optare Versa MX58KZF and Volvo B7Rs FN09AMX/PY and DA04GHA arrive in North Norfolk

Optare Solo MX09AOU was acquired in February and took fleet number 203, replacing the previous 203, Wright Cadet YJ03PKY, which went to Mullanys of Watford. Amongst others leaving the fleet were another Wright Cadet HE51BUS and Dennis Javelin/ Plaxton Premiere's P33/55TCC

Smith's Coaches
At the beginning of the year Smith's acquired Volvo B12M from Jonathan Joplin of Tivettshall, trading as Peelings Coaches. The Blofield operator subsequently re-registered it as L8SLT

Two unidentified Dennis Javelin bodied Axial coaches were advertised as being available for disposal on the Route One database during September

Suffolk Norse
Swift Taxis' Dennis Javelin SJI8127
is the last to leave the fleet
Suffolk Norse registered a new 108 route between Lowestoft and the James Paget Hospital (via north Suffolk villages) replacing Anglian's 60J service from late March. It is to surrender its 115/115A Kiurkley to Lowestoft Bus station from February next year

Swift Taxis
Swift Taxis dispensed with its last full sized coach during February. The departure of Neoplan bodied Dennis Javelin SJI8127 brought an end of an era although the business still owns a small fleet of minibuses

Up Next

That completes our look at the independent operators' activities during the year. Coming up next we will look at the big players in our area


Monday 26 December 2016

Boxing Day Bus & Coach

Christmas was spent with my daughter on the south coast at Worthing and Boxing Day gave the excuse to walk off the calories consumed over Christmas

As we walked along Brighton Road into town, the first bus seen was Stagecoach South's YN64XSJ, a Scania N230UD/Alexander Dennis Enviro400, heading for Brighton on the Coastliner 700 route.

The return was via Marine Parade where National Holidays' Mercedes Benz Tourismo NH16CEH was laying over after a short run from Brighton - no doubt its occupants were taking a leisurely stroll as part of their tinsel and turkey tour!


Saturday 24 December 2016

Thanks & Seasons Greetings

2016 has again been a busy year for the blog with some significant milestones achieved. This summer saw our one millionth visitor plus achieving our highest ever monthly total of some 34,000 views being clocked up! This activity is no doubt due to the many reports received during this past year and I would like to thank all of you who have contributed

Special mention must be made for the many tireless contributions from my partner in crime Grahame Bessey, who has really helped me out when times have been difficult. Thanks very much Grahame and it's much appreciated. Another special mentions goes Tim Miller who has helped considerably with photos and reports

My thanks also go to Jamie Skinner, Colin Thorne, Colin White, Neil Chilvers, Tim Major, Syd Eade, Joe Leathers Watson, Chris Speed, Des Speed, Sheldon Rees, the late James Long, Rob Collins, SteveW, Kevan Portas, Robert Kelly, Tom Baker, Andy Dyer, Howard Smith, George Holland, David Warren, Steve Hewitt, Ross Newman, Graham Richardson, Jason Beverley, Paul Emery, Richard Woods, Simon Taylor, Ryan Durrant, Nicky Pursey, Zak Nelson, Zeus Wearn, Marcin Zarkowski and Sam Larke for their support too. My apologies to the many I may have left out but their help is appreciated much the same!

Due to current family commitments, the regular yearly reviews have been held over with the 2016 reports appearing shortly after the Christmas break

Finally, eastnorfolkbus would like to wish all of its readers, supporters and contributors a very merry Christmas and a happy new year. Hopefully 2017 could be an interesting year too and we will endeavour to continue our high standard of reporting into our seventh year!


Wednesday 21 December 2016

Service Alterations Registered ~ 21st December 2016

This week's Notices and Proceedings Report, published by the Eastern Traffic Commissioner earlier today, contains details of alterations to local services provided by Our Hire

Trading as Our Bus, the operator is to vary the route, stopping places and timetables of the following routes from 13th February 2017:-
⧫  71a, 72a, 73a Acle Area Flexibus
⧫  83 Beccles Old Market to Norwich (with start and finish point also changed)
⧫  294 Ormesby St Margaret to Norwich
Our Hire is also to cease two services in the area; the 737 Halvergate to St Stephen's Street, Norwich route from 2nd February 2017 and the Rockland Post Office to Loddon Church Plain journey from 12th February 2017

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


Friday 16 December 2016

New Simonds Arrival

I was contacted by Simonds driver Marcin Zarkowski this morning advising me that a new member of the fleet would be employed on their 581 Waveney Line service this afternoon at Beccles

Unfortunately I was unable to get there on time as my wife had a doctors appointment at almost exactly the same time! Isnt that just typical. After some thought, I contacted a resident of the parish to see if he was available to step in at the last minute and take some pics.

Although he was in Lowestoft at the time, he made his way back to take some pictures of the newcomer. It was BT63UUX, a Volvo B7RLE / MCV B44F new to Webberbus back in December 2013. It is one of a number former Webberbus vehicles acquired Simonds

My thanks to Marcin for the information and to Tim Miller for going out of his way to get the photographs. Much appreciated


Wednesday 14 December 2016

Enviro 400 on the X2

Howard Smith has been in touch this evening to tell me that he had earlier travelled home from Lowestoft to Ashburnham Way at Carlton Colville on a First Enviro 400

The 16:00 X2 to Norwich, from the bus station, was worked by 33815 YX63LKD and it returned from the city on the 17:35 X22 this evening

My thanks to Howard for the information  and the photo


Service Alterations Registered ~ 14th December 2016

Suffolk Norse Iveco MX53VHC operates the 115 service
along Gordon Road in Lowestoft on 26th January 2015
This morning saw the publication of the latest Notices and Proceedings Report published by the Eastern Traffic Commissioner with only one item relating to changes in our local area

Suffolk Norse is to cancel its 115/115A service between Kirkley and Lowestoft Bus Station from the 10th February 2017, The service, which operates four times daily on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only, is primarily operated by a minibus

The full Notices and Proceedings Report, covering all of the Eastern Traffic Commissioner's area, can be viewed HERE


Tuesday 13 December 2016

Gapton Bus Service ~ Local User Group Responds

Following our coverage of an article appearing in last week's Great Yarmouth Mercury about a bus service to Gapton Retail Park, I have received a response from Steve Hewitt of the East Norfolk Transport User Association

The Association has written to the newspaper regarding the subject and a copy is reproduced below:-

'I write in response to the article on the front of last week’s GYM regarding First's reluctance to run a bus to and from Gapton Hall.

This an old chestnut for us in ENTUA. With the continued growth of this area we cant understand why one operator will not take a chance and divert one of their many Southtown Road operated services via Gapton especially with the growing number of large retailers now opening premises on this site.

I hear what Iain Rankine is saying when he speaks of the problem with the traffic and particularly with the lack of infrastructure for buses in that area.We have debated this issue with Iain many times and ENTUA feels the with traffic situation on Southtown Road is just as problematic with queues happening along that stretch at numerous times of the day this is not a wholehearted reason not to consider a services. Also I am certain that once people became aware of the bus service it could end becoming quite a lucrative route!

At our annual public open meeting held in August, Daniel Yellop mentioned that some money is ready to be spent improving bus information in a corridor from Caister to James Paget Hospital. Surely some money could also be found to build some lay byes close to Gapton Hall or does the County Council want Gapton Hall to continue being the only retail park in Norfolk not served by public transport?'

Thanks for the sight of the Association's response Steve. If you want to lend your voice to the cause you can leave a comment on the message board on their website or alternatively you could write to

18 Wensum Way,
Great Yarmouth,
Norfolk. NR31 9NY


Monday 12 December 2016

In The News ...

Recently two local weekly newspapers included items of interest to local bus users and enthusiasts

Friday's Great Yarmouth Mercury carried a front page story saying that First would not be introducing bus services to the recent retail developments situated to the west of the town - citing the idea as being unrealistic. Whilst it is constantly looking at ways to develop the local bus network, a service to Gapton Retail Park can not be provided due to the lack of adequate footways and the volume of traffic at the Gapton Hall roundabout. The Tesco store at Cobholm is also difficult to serve with roads being too narrow and the lack of current available areas for a bus stop.

The Great Yarmouth Mercury's use of a photo of a 1995 Dennis Dart shows the lack of  an up to date photo library!!
The North Norfolk News recently published a report that Sanders Coaches has begun a search for a new headquarter's base following a lack of space at its current site; which could force them to move from the town. Operations at the Hempstead Road site has seen the business increase its fleet based there from 14 to 55 buses since moving there in 1991. Attempts to expand have been frustrated by plans to locate a mix use development on a neighbouring site which has approval for more than 200 homes. Sanders employs more than 60 staff at the site and Holt Town Council is concerned the company might move from the area joining three other businesses recently leaving the town

In the latter case there appears to be the need for a more closer working relationship between the operator and the district council to reach a satisfactory conclusion for both sides. As regards the Great Yarmouth issue, more expensive road improvements are required to accommodate busses before any operators will introduce a service. Difficult to achieve in this time of austerity with council budgets being cut!


Saturday 10 December 2016

Solo Resurrected

Anglianbus updated their fleet list yesterday revealing the return to service of another bus - Optare Solo 961 (AU58AKN)

It is seen here at an Anglianbus Ellough depot visit during June 2014 and its reinstatement brings the size of the active fleet up to 29


Friday 9 December 2016

Service Alterations Registered ~ 7th December 2016

This morning saw the publication of the latest Notices and Proceedings Report published by the Eastern Traffic Commissioner. The following refers to changes in our local area:-

Applications to Vary Existing Services
Anglianbus is to amend the route, timetable and stopping places of two services; the 87/88 between Halesworth and Norwich plus the 88A/88B/BH272 Halesworth to Southwold route. Both will come into effect from 8th January 2017
Konectbus is to amend the timetable of its Old Catton to Hoveton's Broadland High School 53C service from 8th January 2017
Southwold Town Council is to temporary suspend the Southwold Shuttle between Southwold Caravan Site in Ferry Road to the Kings Head Public House from 23rd December 2016 until 1st February 2017 to allow for vehicle repair

Cancellation of Existing Services
National Express is to cease its 481 service between Felixstowe and London Victoria Coach Station from 23rd January 2017

The complete Notices and Proceedings Report, covering all of the Eastern Traffic Commissioner's area, can be viewed HERE


Tuesday 6 December 2016

Coleshill Saturday

A couple of days spent in the West Midlands for a family wedding. On Saturday afternoon we arrived in Coleshill on our way to our first night's b&b and was fortunate in observing two National Express West Midlands deckers passing along the High Street

The first is of Alexander ALX400 Dennis Trident Y758TOH, which was new to the company in June 2001 receiving fleet number 4161

The 70 route operates between Birmingham City Centre and Chelmsley Wood via Ward End (Fox & Goose Public House), Castle Bromwich, Water Orton and Coleshill. The Fox & Goose I remember really well as it was the regular watering hole for my brother in law!

As I was returning to the car, ALX400 bodied Transbus Trident 4445 (BJ03EUT), painted in the latest two tone red livery, arrived. I'm not sure if it was the rush to get the photo, or the excitement of seeing the new livery, that there was some camera shake resulting in a slightly blurred image! My apologies


Monday 5 December 2016

Where Are They Now ~ P109WJO

In May 2014, I reported the disposal of Swift Taxis' Dennis Javelin P109WJO to 3D Travel of Cleator Moor in Cumbria. Up until now I had been unable to trace the former Great Yarmouth based vehicle in the colours of its new owner until I tracked one down on the Map Group Publications website

I am grateful to Andy Dyer at Map Group Publications for his permission to use the photo which retains his copyright