Monday, 17 December 2018

Belated First Caister Road Report

Some of you may have noticed I have been conspicuous by my absence! My PC finally gave up the ghost after soldiering on for a couple of weeks. It just didn't want to play on Thursday morning so I took it off to see our friends at CDS KAS at Oulton Broad. Within 48 hours they had saved my data, wiped the disk clean and reinstalled the software ready for collection on Friday afternoon. Great service and advice.

Now on to main part of the post which comprises a delayed report from First Caister Road. On Thursday I was informed that work had been completed on ALX400 30886 W741DWX and was finally back on the road at Lowestoft. It was observed on Friday when it was seen reversing off the stand at the bus station to work the 99 to Southwold.

Two Great Yarmouth vehicles have also returned to use - ALX400 30959 YJ51RCO and Dart 42919 EU05AUL. Meanwhile, Scania L94UB 65673 SN51UYG was undergoing inspection.

My thanks to First for the update


Saturday, 15 December 2018

Norwich Christmas Routemaster

Social media users may have recently seen advertised a free bus service which is to operate around Norwich city centre next week. Awayadays, who operate a London Routemaster bus and Norwich’s City Sightseeing tours, will be providing a service free of charge in order to raise money for Big C – Norfolk and Waveney’s local cancer charity.

The half-hour circular route starts at Castle Meadow, and calls at St Stephens Street, City Hall and Norwich Rail Station on its rounds. Doing the honours will be Routemaster RM2151, which has only recently returned to Norfolk following a partial rebuild after it was hit by a car on the A47 in May, causing extensive damage to the rear end of the bus.

Journeys depart Castle Meadow at 10.30 and every hour until 15.30, and the bus will run daily from Thursday 20th to Monday 24th December. Donations will be gratefully accepted for the Big C charity.

For blog readers, I am pleased to be able to exclusively reveal that on selected dates (to be confirmed) we will also be running privately owned former-Eastern Counties VR190 VPW85S as a relief bus. This 1977 Bristol VR has only recently been acquired by new owners, who are excited for it to carry passengers for the first time in over six years.

More information about the free bus rides can be found at

Many thanks to Sam Larke for putting the post together and supplying all the information.


Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Spratts Coaches To Close

Another long established Norfolk coach operator is to close at the end of the year. Spratts Coaches of Wreningham is to cease operating at the end of December with all current 11 coaches expecting to be sold.

Two of the Spratts fleet seen at Great Yarmouth's Beach Coach Station earlier this year
This is the third Norfolk operator to go in the last six months following the closure of Richard's Coaches of Guist in November and Reynolds Coaches during August this year. Whilst I had heard that Richard's had closed, I could find no official confirmation and I also understood that Spratts might continue until the end of the school year - obviously that decision has been brought forward.

Another Spratts visitor to Beach Coach Station in August last year
The company was established in the late 1950s by the late Colin Spratt who originally began as a taxi operator. At one time the fleet totalled some 30 vehicles and was one of the first privately owned coach companies in the county to adapt a coach to take disabled passengers. The current owner has decided to retire and there was nobody in the family wanting to take over the business.

All existing staff have found jobs elsewhere with three local companies agreeing to take on Spratts' existing work commitments.


Jubilee Double

Whilst on my way to the local Tesco this morning, two Jubilee Coaches were awaiting their passengers from Lynn Grove Academy to join them on an outing.

MAN/ Neoplan L555JCR was the first to arrive at Beccles Road with Dennis Javelin / Plaxton L333JCR joining shortly after.


Service Alterations Registered ~ 12th December 2018

This morning's East of England Traffic Commissioner's Notices & Proceedings Report contains a couple of items of interest.

The former Transport Manager of Reynolds Coaches, Jeffrey John Buckle, has submitted an application to use the same Ormesby Road premises for the use of five vehicles.

Carlton Colville based Britannia Bus has registered a new X89 Northampton to Towcester service commencing on 7th January 2019.

The full Notices and Proceedings Report will soon be available to view on the website


Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Another Solo for Our Bus

Noted yesterday whilst out and about for work was another Optare Solo addition to the growing fleet of Our Bus, South Burlingham.

X313CBT has been aquired from Goodwins of Manchester, it is an M920/B33F Model and was new to Durham County Council as a 17 seater. It carried cherished registration WEZ9165 whilst with Goodwins also.

Thanks to Sam Larke for the photo (It was dark when i saw it yesterday morning at the depot!)


Sunday, 9 December 2018

Revisited Kings Lynn 2003

Been a while since we dipped into the photo collection, so i decided to go deep this time and found some shots taken in the very early days of the Digital camera. I visited Kings Lynn on a very cold and damp January in 2003 and returned with a very mixed bag of photos.

First up is Wright Urban Ranger bodied Mercedes OH1416 N133GRF which was on loan to Norfolk Green from Choice Travel, Willenhall, seen above operating the 505 service to Spalding.

Next up is another loanee at the time, Optare Solo MW52PZC which came from Mistral Rentals, it was working the X98 service to Cromer and Sheringham.

A new arrival with Eastern Counties was 502 N412ENW one of a pair of Scania L113CRL that came from First West Yorkshire, they only had a short stay with FEC before moving on within the group.

Eagle eyed readers may recognise the next vehicle above, it is former Flying Banana Mercedes P681HND which had moved up the A47 to Kings Lynn from Great Yarmouth, it carried fleet number 868 and was treated to the Barbie 2 livery prior to its move.

Finally another classic Norfolk Green vehicle, TIL1178 was a Leyland Tiger new to Burtons of Brixham as F279HOD, it stayed with Norfolk Green until 2006 before being purchased by Emblings of Guyhirn where it was refurbished and made and appearance at Showbus in 2007.


Friday, 7 December 2018

Days of B7L's Are Numbered

Firstly my apologies for the incorrect information published under this header yesterday. I incorrectly assumed the term referred to the double deckers but I was wrong as it referred to the single deckers! There may, however, still be a shake down of some of the double deckers with requirements reducing due to the slow down in Bernard Matthews contract work.

66334 MV02VBZ leaves Market Gates with a Belton service in January 2015
So. to put the record straight, the days for the three Volvo B7L's at Caister Road are numbered and it is initially believed that 66334 MV02VBZ will hang on a little longer with 66341 MV02VCT and  66344 MV02VCX soon leaving the local fleet. The trio were transferred in from Norwich during January 2015.

A diverted Belton service on Beccles Road with 66341 MV02VCT in charge on 5th April 2016
The two 06 plated Darts from Wales were initially sent to replace them but both went on loan elsewhere but have now returned and are being observed on Great Yarmouth routes. Similar Barbie liveried B7Ls should also leave the Norwich fleet around Christmas time.

Heading for Bradwell on 20th March 2015 was 66344 MV02VCX
Again apologies for the misleading information and for any embarrassment caused to my contact at First who gave me the correct information which I misinterpreted!


Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Wet Wednesday

A wet and gloomy day in Great Yarmouth with four coaches observed this morning in the vicinity of the Sea Life Centre on the town's Marine Parade.

Three of them were from the Shearings Holidays fleet which were represented by Mercedes Benz Tourismos 159 BU18YTO, 149 BU18YTD and 905 BN17JSU

The last in the quartet was National Holidays' Kassbohrer Setra NH11KTH


Service Alterations Registered ~ 5th December 2018

This morning's East of England Traffic Commissioner's Notices & Proceedings Report again contains some changes by First Eastern Counties and Konectbus.

First is to amend the route and timetable of its 40/40A/X41/41/41A services between Hillside Road West in Bungay and St Stephen's Street in Norwich. The changes, to take effect from 6th January 2019, will provide an improved service from Bungay with a fast bus every 20 mins. The full timetable is on their website HERE

First is also changing the timetable of its 11/12 route between the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital and Sprowston/Wroxham from the same date; when there will also be timetable alterations on the 28/29/X29 from Norwich St Stephen's Street to Fakenham Oak Street.

Konectbus has informed the Commissioner that it is to cease using the operating centre at the former Anglianbus base at Ellough in Beccles. It is additionally establishing new operating centres in Clacton, Sudbury, Kelvedon and Sible Headingham

The full Notices and Proceedings Report will soon be available to view on the website


Monday, 3 December 2018

Where Are They Now ~ T812RFG?

T812RFG was an East Lancs Lolyne bodied Dennis Trident which was new to Brighton & Hove in May 1999. It was received by Anglianbus in 2012 still in Brighton colours as Tim Miller's photo shows but subsequently repainted at Beccles based Car & Commercials in August that year.

Its last stint with Anglianbus was in 2016 when it moved to Beccles during February that year. It was withdrawn in August of the same year, only to return to service in October following the transfer of the gas buses to Plymouth Citybus.

A month later T812RFG was transferred to another Go Ahead subsidiary, Hedingham & District who operated it primarily from their Clacton depot. Robert Appleton sent a photo of it operating in Essex, still in Anglian livery, in July this year - see Ex Anglian Deckers in Exile - 21st July 2018.
T812RFG in Gorleston High Street on the 61 service to the Barrack Estate on 27th July 2016

However, Ross Newman's monthly Ensign Happenings report states that both T812RFG and similar ex Konectbus W824NNJ had arrived at Ensign from Hedingham during November. They didn't stay very long before being disposed of to MC Tractors of Ramsey, Huntingdon for scrap later in the month.


Sunday, 2 December 2018

Rail Replacement Sunday

Rail Replacement bus services were in place today whilst further engineering work takes places on the railway. We bring you photos of some of the coaches involved at both Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Stations

Regular contributor Simon Bartram was at Lowestoft and recorded Belle Coaches' Kassbohrer Setra 43 OJI4756 boarding for the 10:05 departure to Beccles and Ipswich

Also in use was Sunbeam Coaches Volvo M27SUN which was captured passing Oulton Broad North signalbox around 10 am with a service to Norwich.

On standby at Lowestoft was Sunbeam's Volvo B10M / VanHool Alizee JCZ5174 and another Belle Coaches' Kassbohrer Setra in the shape of 37 MIL3503.

Meanwhile, over at Great Yarmouth Station three coaches were on the front forecourt with Smiths Coaches Jonckheere Mistral bodied Volvo B12M FP51EUN providing the next Norwich service

Behind was Marett's Chariots Volvo B12M MX03ACZ on standby. It was formerly with Shearings.

In a better photo position was Wrights Coaches Berkhof Axial bodied Scania K114 R25PTS; originally with Craskes of Catfield and previously registered YN06NZV.


Saturday, 1 December 2018

Saturday National Holiday

I don't normally drive along Great Yarmouth's seafront on a Saturday afternoon but did so earlier today.

In addition to a few independents I found a couple of National Holidays's Tourismos parked up close to the Sea Life Centre.

For the record they were NH15GDH and NH17JFH.