Thursday 31 January 2019

Eastern Counties Timetable Case Found

Noticed by a regular contributor to this blog, is an old Eastern Counties Omnibus Company Limited timetable case which was found in Suffolk.

It is thought to be some fifty years old and currently resides within the Jolly Sailors Public House in Orford

My correspondent remembers the days when the company used to operate a service to Orford and Bawdsey Ferry many years ago now.

Many thanks for the photo


Wednesday 30 January 2019

Service Alterations Registered ~ 30th January 2019

A couple of entries of note in today's Notices and Proceedings Report

Coinciding with yesterday's post, Konectbus is to 'vary' the timetable of its 87 service between Halesworth and Norwich bus station from 2nd March 2019.

Acle-based Our Hire has also been granted consent for a special restricted licence for an operating centre with no further details provided.

The complete East of England Traffic Commissioner's Report will soon be available to view on the website


Loan arrival at Caister Road

Another addition to the Volvo B7TL ALX400 Fleet at Caister Road is ex Manchester 30948 YJ51RRV which has arrived on loan from Norwich.

30948 pictured above shortly after arrival from Norwich yesterday. Thanks to Will Drake for the photograph.


Tuesday 29 January 2019

Konectbus Service Withdrawals

In the last day or so Konectbus has published information on their website regarding some service withdrawals affecting rural areas and most of it is repeated below

The X88 in Southwold on 2nd November 2017
when Anglianbus used to operate it
The Mondays to Saturday daytime buses on the 87/88 routes between Bungay and Norwich are to run for the last time on Friday 1st March. Evening and Sunday buses operated for Norfolk County Council will continue until Sunday 31st March.

This means that there will be no through buses between Halesworth and Norwich although Konect will still be operating the Southwold to Bungay via Halesworth route during March. Norwich bound passengers will need to change buses to a First Norfolk & Suffolk service in Bungay.

Norfolk County Council contracts for the evening and Sunday buses, and with Suffolk County Council for buses between Halesworth and Southwold, are due to end on Sunday 31st March. Konectbus will also be withdrawing buses between Halesworth and Bungay from the same date and there are currently no details available of any new contracts that county councils will be awarding.

The 90 service provided by Anglianbus on the same day
Konectbus also intend to cease operating route 272 between Southwold and Bungay High School at the end of the spring term on 5th April and route 90 between Halesworth, Beccles and Southwold after operation on Saturday 20th April. These routes are subsidised by Suffolk County Council and presumably a replacement operator will be found.

Konectbus states on their website that 'The reason that we are withdrawing these routes is that they continue to run at a loss. We have sustained losses of several million pounds in our Beccles based operation in the last few years. This has been because of the loss of contracts to other companies, the decline in the rural bus market and high operating costs and poor reliability which we have been unable to address at a small operation that is remote from our main business. We have also suffered from direct competition from First bus, whom most users now seem to prefer. We hope that First will have the good grace to step in and provide the extra facilities such as Sunday buses and the through route to Halesworth that we have hitherto provided, and not just focus on the profitable sections of route in Bungay and Poringland.'


Sunday 27 January 2019

Our Bus News

New arrival here, Optare Solo SR YJ62FZV, has now had Our Bus fleet names applied but has yet to enter service. Affectionately known as Jasper, it is expected to see use on the newly won tendered 85 route between Claxton Green and Norwich Bus Station via Surlingham.

Yet another Optare Solo has been acquired and is expected soon. W441CWX is to arrive by low-loader and will donate its engine to CN05JYP. It will also be stripped for spare parts.

W441CWX was new to Crystals of Dartford and saw further use with Tellings - Golden Miller and Metrobus before passing to Classic Coaches of County Durham in June 2006. It was last taxed in March 2013.

My thanks to Sam Larke for the information and photo. The history of W441CWX was taken from the Metrobus Route and Fleet History website.


Saturday 26 January 2019

Returns to Service

First Volvo B7 66334 MV02VBZ in active service during early yesterday afternoon

Friday 25 January 2019

First Great Yarmouth Update

Dart 42955 in Gorleston High Street on 28th December last
The latest news from First's Caister Road depot is that Volvo B7 66334 MV02VBZ has been resurrected to active duty following a period of withdrawal.

Another single decker, Dart SLF 42955 WX06OMM, has also returned to service after the fitting of a new gearbox.

Finally two deckers, 37141 SN57HDA and 32063 W223XBD, are to receive new axles.

My thanks to First for the update.


Thursday 24 January 2019

Reynolds of Caister

Following the closure of Reynolds Coaches in early August last year, owner Charles Reynolds and Jeffrey Buckle decided to start up a new business to keep themselves busy and occupied.

Trading as Reynolds of Caister, two brand new Ford Transits were purchased to operate two Norfolk schools contracts beginning in September last year. They run from Potter Heigham to Ludham Primary and Broadland High schools.

Unfortunately Charles passed away in early October but a former driver has come out of retirement to drive the other minibus. I understand from Mr Buckle that the premises has now been let by agents Bycroft Commercial to an undisclosed buyer.

Mr Buckle also told me that two other vehicles were on the Ormesby Road site with two Ambassador Travel coaches parked behind the garage for schools work. Those present yesterday were Volvo FNZ7763 and Scania FJ09DXB both labelled up ready for their duties.

My thanks to Jeffrey Buckle for sparing the time to speak to me yesterday.


Wednesday 23 January 2019

Wednesday Sightings

A quick breeze through the usual haunts in Great Yarmouth this afternoon as it was too cold to hang around!

Outside the Sealife Centre on Marine Parade were two National Holidays Mercedes Benz Tourismos in the shape of NH15GDH and regular visitor NH15LDH. Parked opposite was Shearings Kassbohrer Setra 637 BT63GCX which carries an allover wrap advertising aROSA river touring holidays.

At Beach Coach Station was A.P.T. Travel's Irizar Century bodied Scania K114EB4 PT05APT. It was formerly registered YN05HAX


Service Alterations Registered ~ 23rd January 2019

Just the one item of local interest from today's Notices and Proceedings Report.

Melton Constable-based Bus and Us Limited is increasing the number of vehicles at its Vicarage Farm operating centre in Briston to seven. The licence is also being upgraded from Standard National to Standard International level

Also of interest is the surrender of operating licences by H C Chambers & Son Limited and Hedingham & District Omnibuses Limited on the 14th and 15th of January 2019 respectively. Konectbus took over the  registrations in late December although the Chambers and Hedingham fleet names will remain in use for the present.

The full East of England Traffic Commissioner's Report will soon be available to view on the website


Tuesday 22 January 2019

Jubilee Arrival

Another arrival to report for Rollesby based Jubilee Coaches is a former Spratt's Of Wreningham coach.

The newcomer is Van Hool bodied Scania L914B W27GES, which was new to the Wreningham operator in April 2000. Arriving last week it has recently been tested on a schools service.

Meanwhile, former Norfolk Coachways A475TBX has been withdrawn (not TIG1295 as previously reported) with its next journey expected to be a one way trip to the scrapyard. The Plaxton Paramount 3200 bodied Volvo B10M-61 was being robbed for spare parts and previously carried the registrations RIG5199 and YDE679.

My thanks to Kevan Portas for the information and photo


Sunday 20 January 2019

The Solo's Keep Coming

Another new arrival to report for Our Bus, South Burlingham.   

The latest being Optare Solo M920 SR B33F, YJ62FZV.

It was new to Brittania Parking in Bournemouth in 2012. It moved to East Anglia and was operated by Big Green Bus Company in Haverhill before its latest move to Norfolk.

Many Thanks to Sam Larke for use of the Photo.


Sunday Sightings from July 2002

Its always nice to sit and go through your photo collection and be reminded of the trips and days out you had when you had a bit more time on your hands! In July 2002 i was living in Caister and would often pop out in the car to visit the local operators depots on a Sunday morning to see what was around as the internet info was not quite as advanced as it is now so the only way to see any fleet updates was to physically go and see what was around.

Catfield was home to Neaves, a family run business that started as a coach company but had branched out into Buses over the years and 2002 the fleet was a good size with a mixture of Buses and Coaches for School Contracts and local services. The Bus Fleet was largely made up of East Lancs Greenway converted Leyland Nationals. JIL2197 was new in 1973 as BCD808L to London Country before conversion in 1994, it passed to Arriva Southern Counties and was re registered there, it later moved to Arriva Fox County before being purchased by Neaves in 2002.

THX139S was another Leyland National in the fleet, It was new to London Transport in 1978 as LS139 and was originally dual doored. It was purchased from Konectbus, it did run for a while in Konectbus colours before being painted allover Red.

Another Operator based in Catfield was Craske although they were classed as being at Sutton.Sadly another local operator that is no more. They had a fleet of around half a dozen coaches and NIL6567 is pictured above at their depot. It was repainted into allover white in 2003.

Along the A149 to Stalham where Eastern Counties had an outstation at the time for their 54 service, it was normally home to between 3 and 5 vehicles. 2002 saw the arrival of new Plaxton Paragon Coaches for the Excel X94 service which displaced the existing fleet of Coaches to City work in Norwich. 32 (P732NVG) Is pictured above having the day off at Stalham alongside Scania 566 (S566TPW) still with its Excel Branding applied. The outstation was closed after a Fire destroyed vehicles on the site.

Finally a quick visit to Caister Road was always a must, this Sunday saw Dart 421 K741JAH laying over whilst on duty for the summer 3 service. It was a recent repaint into the short lived Barbie 2 livery. Note the Vauxhall Astra GTE parked near the office which belonged to Controller Brian Fields at the time, a classic!


Saturday 19 January 2019

Last 730

The last 730 service between Great Yarmouth and Cantley was worked earlier today by Our Bus Optare Solo YJ59NNL

Optare Solo YJ59NNL awaits time for the final 13:26 departure for Cantley this afternoon
For those interested, this operator's fleet list can be viewed HERE on the blog and it includes details of the recent acquisition. My thanks to Our Bus for the information.


Friday 18 January 2019

Reynolds Retrace ~ PN06UBK

PN06UBK in January 2011 when named Lady Gillian
Originally reported to me by Will Drake, is the sale of another Reynolds coach to an Essex operator and is confirmed in this months issue of Buses magazine.

However, so far unmentioned on the blog is the sale of Beulas Cygnus bodied MAN PN06UBK to Lodge of High Easter. New to the Holmeswood Group, it was acquired by Reynolds in 2009 and was later the subject of an article in the local press when it was named Lady Abigail after a little girl who had a fascination for coaches in the Caister fleet.

My belated thanks to Will for the information


Thursday 17 January 2019

Our Bus Obs

With the 730 service between Great Yarmouth and Cantley due to end this coming Saturday I thought I would make an effort to record the the penultimate day's working.

Our Bus Optare Solo CN54HFD on the return 13:26 to Cantley yesterday
Click on map for larger image
The 730 comprises an outward and return run on Wednesdays and Saturdays only and is operated by Our Bus. Parts of the service only run if the service is pre-booked the day previously.

The outbound version of the route is shown here and was taken from the Traveline website. The final run of the 730 is this coming Saturday

 A few minutes later another Our Bus service turned up with route 74 displayed. This is a Wednesday only outward and return service between Little Plumstead and Great Yarmouth Market Gates. It runs via Blofield, Brundall, Strumpshaw, Lingwood, Beighton and Acle.

Ford Transit AV08YHZ on the 74 service yesterday lunchtime
Also in service with First was Volvo B7 66344 MV02VCX on the 8 between James Paget Hospital and Caister. There is also the possibility that similar 66334 MV02VBZ may also return to service.


Wednesday 16 January 2019

Service Alterations Registered ~ 16th January 2019

Hard on the heels of yesterday's posting, today's East of England Traffic Commissioner's Notices & Proceedings Report includes the granting of new applications for two operating centres in the Beccles area for Konectbus.

They comprise a centre at Ellough Park Raceway at Benacre Road in Ellough and at Anglianbus & Coach at Sandpit Lane also in Ellough. The authorisation at both centres is nine vehicles.

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


Tuesday 15 January 2019

Konectbus Developments

As most of you will know by now, Konectbus have absorbed the operations of the other Go Ahead subsidiaries in East Anglia. They had already subsumed Anglianbus operations in November 2017.

Anglianbus workshops in June 2014
The service registrations changed in late December and Konectbus discs have apparently been carried since that time. However, the Chambers and Hedingham fleetnames will remain in use for the present time. 

The Anglianbus Ellough site on a Sunday visit during July 2010
In addition, the withdrawn vehicles have been removed from the Sandy Lane premises in Beccles, some to a another site off Benacre Road and some to Alpha Recovery of Weetslade in Cramlington for scrap. The new site is not accessible by the public and vehicles are being operated from there with the PVR being six.

My thanks to Stephen Wright for the information.


Sunday 13 January 2019

Sunday Solo Sighting

A rare Sunday trip into Norwich City Centre for shopping today and, as expected, not a lot going on bus wise

However, it was pleasing to see that a former Swift Taxis Optare Solo was still active with Simonds on the Sunday only 11:30 121 Eaton Circular. On its return to Norwich Bus Station it then worked the 12:00 to Long Stratton.

When with Great Yarmouth-based Swift it was registered YK55ENL but now carries the SIJ82 plate.


Our Bus Update

Thanks to Sam Larke we have been kindly sent some new photos of recent Optare Solo arrival X313CBT which has now had a bit of a repaint and tidy up following its arrival from Go Goodwins.

Also January 21st sees Our Bus begin operation of the former Konectbus 85 Service between Surlingham and Norwich. Sam has sent a photo of Solo CN54HFD with its destination screen programmed ready for the new service.

Many Thanks to Sam for the update.


Saturday 12 January 2019

Afternoon 'Appenings

Yesterday afternoon on a visit to Gorleston High Street I noted that reprieved Scania L94UB 65673 SN51UYB was in use on the 8 route between Caister and the James Paget Hospital.

Scania SN51UYB heads for the James Paget Hospital in yesterday's fading light
Following the return of 32809 T809LLC to Norwich yesterday it was immediately pressed into service on the Pink Line 11/12 route but failed around lunchtime and is currently at Vulcan Road.

My thanks to First for the information.


Friday 11 January 2019

Latest From Caister Road

Dart WX05RVV in Lowestoft in May 2018
The latest news from First Great Yarmouth's Caister Road depot is that Plaxton President bodied Dennis Trident 32809 T809LLC has returned to Norwich after having a number faults fixed.

Regarding the Dart SLFs, First Lowestoft's 42911 WX05RVV has had a replacement engine fitted; whilst Welsh exile 42955 WX06OMM requires a new gearbox.

Both former First Borders's Volvo B9TLs are in the news - 37142 SN57HDC has a new gearbox whilst sister 37141 SN57HDA is in need of a new axle.

My thanks to First for the information.


Wednesday 9 January 2019

Service Alterations Registered ~ 9th January 2019

Today's East of England Traffic Commissioner's Notices & Proceedings Report contains a number of changes to services operated by Our Hire which trades as Our Bus

Firstly Our Bus is to provide a new Monday to Saturday 85 route between Norwich Bus Station and Claxton. The hourly service is to commence from 21st January 2019. The Acle based operator is also to amend the route of its Beighton to East Norfolk Sixth form 73A group of services from 20th January 2019. This effectively means the end of the Wednesday and Saturday only 730 between Cantley and Great Yarmouth from the same date.

Optare Solo MX58AAY with the 730 Great Yarmouth - Cantley on Saturday 11th March 2017
The operator is also cancelling four other services including the 292 Tuesday only Cantley to Wroxham, the 293 Monday only Scratby to Wroxham and the 294 Friday only Scratby to Norwich routes. The fourth service to go is the Wednesday only 74/X74 Little Plumstead to Great Yarmouth. All changes are effective from 20th January 2019.

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


Tuesday 8 January 2019

Semmence Catches A Spratt!

Another of the Spratts of Wrenningham fleet has found a new owner. Beulas bodied Iveco Eurorider L600KAT has been acquired by Wymondham based Semmence Coaches.

The Iveco was previously with Top Kat Travel of Bedwas in South Wales and is pictured here at Great Yarmouth's Beach Coach Station in November 2011. It was new to Neild of Thrapston as R202VJF in April 1998.

My thanks to Joe Wilson-Smith for the information


Saturday 5 January 2019

First Withdrawals 2

Following on from Grahame's earlier post, I have a photo of both 61148 MV02VBU and 65678 YP02ABN at First Norwich before their trip to Great Yarmouth's Caister Road depot for storage and expected disposal. The photo has been kindly supplied by Alex Key.

On a positive note, ex First Essex Scania L94UB 65673 SN51UYB, which was withdrawn on 29th December, has returned to active service.

My thanks to First for the information.


First Withdrawls

A few bits to report from First. Recent withdrawls see 61148 (MV02VBU), 66341(MV02VCT) and 66334 (MV02VBZ) taken out of service by Saturday Evening. Leaving 66344 being the last of the type in use as this typed, It is expected become a Driver Trainer in the near future with the others being scrapped.

                    66341 & 66344 Pictured outside Caister Road during their working careers!

      61148 pictured in Castle Meadow, Norwich. It is now parked up awaiting its fate at Caister Road.

Another withdrawl to report is Scania 65678 (YP02ABN) which returned briefly to FEC in December from Essex. It was originally a Scania Demonstrator and is pictured above in use with Ipswich Buses in 2002, it also spent a while with FEC in the same capacity being used at Bury St Edmunds again in 2002 before moving to First Essex at Colchester. It is now also stored at Caister Road.

Trident 32809 (T809LLC) is expected to head back to Norwich from Yarmouth to return to Driver Training duties.


Friday 4 January 2019

Where Are They Now? ~ YN03WRL

Many of you will be aware that Ensign provides a dealership in addition to bus services in the Essex area. Ross Newman regularly provides reports to many enthusiast groups and the disposal list for December caught my eye.

Scania OmniCity YN03WRL in Gorleston High Street on 16th October 2012
Included in the report was the arrival of ex Anglianbus Scania OmniCity YN03WRL from Brighton based Southern Transit which was then sold to Valero Energy of Pembroke Dock. The Scania was new to Metrobus in August 2003 and subsequently moved to Anglian in September 2012 operating as 450 in the Suffolk based fleet.

As the photo shows, for a short time WRL operated with Anglian in London Red before a repaint in yellow and blue, which it retained for a while when with the Sussex based company. Imagine my surprise seeing it in Anglian livery in use on rail replacement heading for London on the A23!


Service Alterations Registered ~ 2nd January 2019

A belated post concerning the latest Notices & Proceedings Report published by the East of England Traffic Commissioner on Wednesday

Whilst, not affecting any of our local services, both Hedingham and Chambers have de-registered their bus routes which have immediately been re-registered by Konectbus.

Locally, BorderBus is to amend the timetable of both sections of its 146 route (Southwold - Kessingland and Kessingland - Norwich) from 16th January 2019.

The full Report is available to view on the website


Thursday 3 January 2019

Ex Shearings Setra Revisits

A former Shearings owned Kassbohrer Setra visited the area towards the year end and was noted in Lowestoft on 31st December by our regular correspondent Simon Bartram.

BF10VCZ retains its previous owner's blue livery and is seen here at Lowestoft station prior to picking up its passengers following a couple of hours in the Suffolk town. The coach is now owned by Davey Travel of Brigend and was being chartered by David Urquhart Travel. It was based at Great Yarmouth's Waverley Hotel during its New Year short break

I last saw it on 25th March 2018 when still with Shearings which was then reported on the blog bereft of fleet names. My thanks to Simon for the photo.


Wednesday 2 January 2019

Sanders Coaches Latest

The Sanders Bus Enthusiasts Facebook Group has published the latest fleet list for the operator. Since the last update Optare Solo MX09NTL (205), Scania OmniLink YNO3UVM (313) and Volvo B10M CHZ4795 are among those that have left the company.

Spratts Coaches WH11CHR seen at Great Yarmouth's Beach Coach Station in August 2017
As already reported former Lochs & Glens Volvo B13Rs BT14DLX and BT14DLZ have arrived as 919 and 920 respectively. Also due today is Van Hool T915 WH11CHR from Spratts Coaches

The updated listing can be viewed in the Fleetlist part our website.


Tuesday 1 January 2019

First Great Yarmouth Latest

With a reduction in production at Bernard Matthews the requirement for buses to fulfil the contract has declined. Whilst no official word has come from First, it is thought that this means the future of the three Volvo B7s at Caister Road must be in doubt - although 66344 MV02VCX was active on the 6 between Market Gates and Bradwell during yesterday afternoon.

The future also seems bleak for the two ex First Essex Wright Solar bodied Scania 94UBs and it is also expected that Trident 32809 T809LLC will return to driver training duties at Norwich.

In the workshops, between Christmas and New Year, were Enviro400 33822 YX63LKM with multiple issues, Gemini 37578 AU58EDJ with suspension faults and President 32212 LT52WTV was being fitted with a new axle.

My thinks to First Great Yarmouth for the workshop report.


New Team Coach

Norfolk based Marett's Chariots supplies V.I.P transport for Norwich City Football Club's first team and academy for the 2018/19 season.

As part of its continued commitment, the operator announced on twitter this morning that it is to take delivery of a new Mercedes Benz Tourismo. Assuming the registration of BF68ZGN, the coach is to be fitted with tables and servery and receive a new livery.

Photo: Marett's Chariots


Belle Sales

As we enter our ninth year we continue to bring you news updates on our blog and today there are quite a few posts to entertain you as we begin the new year.

 Suffolk based Belle Coaches are currently advertising the availability of three of their coaches for sale on their website.

One of the trio for sale is Plaxton Cheetah BE10BEL
They comprise 49 seat Mercedes Benz Tourismo BC09BEL, 53 seat Scania Omni Express BC11BEL and 29 seat Plaxton Cheatah BE10LLE. It is not known if the special registration plates are included in the sale