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.


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