Friday 31 May 2019

Bedford Updates

John Wakefield has been in contact to tell me that Eastons have recently sold their Bedford SB3 coach 399ETB to A D Rain's Coaches of Brinkworth in Wiltshire. The 41 seater was new to Robinson of Great Harwood in April 1958.

Meanwhile, Bedford SBG SPW999 is back on the market at a much increased price. Its new eBay listing can be viewed HERE. Our original report on the SBG was posted some three years ago now - see Long Lost Bedford SBG Now on eBay - 21st May 2016

My thanks to John for the information and to David Beardmore for the photo of 399ETB


Thursday 30 May 2019

FirstGroup Plans Sale Of UK Bus Division

The FirstGroup, one of the largest British transport companies, is set to turn its back on the UK by separating its bus division and possibly withdrawing from UK rail operations, following pressure from major shareholders.

The Aberdeen-based group has announced it will concentrate on activities in the United States even though it plans to sell off the famous Greyhound coach line which made a £98 million pretax loss.

The company says that its main market would be North America, where its school bus operations (First Student and First Transit) provided 60% of operating profits.

The activist investor Coast Capital, the largest single shareholder with a 10% holding, has been pushing for a separation of the US and UK businesses and to replace the board, having declared First’s strategy as “extraordinarily destructive of capital”.

First Bus says on its website
'Please be assured that as this process unfolds, we will continue to operate our services as usual, working closely with our local authority partners and demonstrating our commitment to our customers through the service we offer them.'


SLG Places Order For 29 Coaches

The Specialist Leisure Group (SLG) has placed an order for 29 Mercedes-Benz Tourismos as part of its continuous vehicle renewal programme.

Due for delivery in October and November this year, nineteen coaches will join the Shearings Holidays fleet and ten will be for National Holidays. They will be similar to those ordered last year and feature USB charging points and free WiFi allowing customers to take advantage of SLG's new free onboard entertainment system.

Further details can be found on the Coach & Bus Week website


Wednesday 29 May 2019

Service Alterations Registered ~ 29th May 2019

A couple of items of local interest appear in today's Notices and Proceedings Report published by the East of England Traffic Commissioner. Whilst not directly affecting current services they concern operator licencing.

Firstly the licence held by Reynolds Coaches Limited at Ormesby Road in Caister-on-Sea has been surrendered with effect from 21st May 2019. Emma Reynolds and Jeffrey Buckle are named as the directors with the latter currently holding a licence for the current Reynolds of Caister operation.

The second entry concerns the revocation of a licence for Tilly's Bus Company Limited of High Street in Southwold with services running under this licence revoked with immediate effect.

The full report will shortly be available to view on the government website


Tuesday 28 May 2019

First Enviro400 Visits ADL

Upon joining First, former Alexander Dennis Enviro400 demonstrator SN60CAA was the pride of the fleet.

A certain young man in the cab of 33423!
It was acquired from the Ensign dealership in June 2013 but was originally in the Connex fleet on Jersey where it was registered J57156.

Following the return after a repaint at Full Circle in July, it gained fleet number 33423 and was based at Caister Road for use on the whole X1 route between Lowestoft and Peterborough.

Lately it has been used on local duties and has been looking a bit tired, both inside and out. So today its on its way to ADL for an internal refurbishment. Let's hope the damaged offside panels are also subsequently replaced.

My thanks to First for the information and looking forward to seeing it back in use (as I am sure a certain Eastbourne based fan will be !!)  


Monday 27 May 2019

Beach Coach Station Quintet

There was just the five coaches at Beach Coach Station in Great Yarmouth during yesterday lunchtime.

Two of them were on charter work for National Holidays. The two were Johnson Brothers Tours Mercedes Benz Tourismo 5JBT and Ross Travel Group's Volvo B11R /Jonckheere SHV BF63HDZ

Another operator that regularly visits the town on short breaks is Gee-Vee Travel and its Bova Futura GT03GVT was present.

The remaining coaches were Coopers Tours Scania /Irizar YN15EHZ and RB Travel's TH68RBT a Mobipeople Explorer bodied Scania which was exhibited at EuroBus Expo 2018 at Birmingham in November last year


Saturday 25 May 2019

First 30886 Returns

Former First Lowestoft Alexander ALX400 bodied Volvo B7TL 30886 W741DWX has returned to active duties following the fitting of a reconditioned replacement engine.

W741DWX was back on the road yesterday and was employed on the 8 in Gorleston High Street
Now based at Great Yarmouth, it was taken out of service at Lowestoft in February following engine failure. It was subsequently towed to Caister Road in late April prior to entering the workshops for repair.

W741DWX was new to First West Yorkshire in July 2000 and joined the First Eastern Counties fleet in April 2008.

My thanks to First for the update


Friday 24 May 2019

Friday Round Up ~ 24th May 2019

Yay its Friday once more!! Time for our regular weekly look at the coaches in Great Yarmouth today.

First up its Scania K410EB6/ Higer Touring YN66WSK. It was chartered by the Opal Group and is seen outside the Hotel Victoria on Kings Road.

On Marine Parade was Shearings Holidays' Mercedes Benz Tourismo BU18YSR getting ready to load its passengers for is return journey

Then a surprise was in store at the north end of Marine Parade where an Ulsterbus Tours Volvo was parked. GXI421 is a Volvo B11RT / Volvo 9700 coach which was new in November 2018.

Nine coaches were at Beach Coach Station where another surprise awaited me in the form of one of Alfa Travel's ten new Mercedes Benz Tourismos. This was BV19YFF wearing fleet number 111

Another of the fleet BU13ZTV was keeping company with National Holidays' Kassbohrer Setra NH13RWH.

Others present included Happy Al's Irizar AA16ALS, Gee-Vee Travels' VDL GT18GVT and Wolverhampton Coach Tours VDL YD17WYK. The remainder were two Van  Hool TX15 Alicrons - Harry Crawfords' HCC551 and G-Line Holidays' YJ17CYE


Bernies On The Broads

Derbyshire resident Tony Wilson was beside the River Bure in Wroxham and Hoveton yesterday when he caught sight of some of First's Bernard Matthews workings crossing the bridge.

The first was ex London Transport Trident 33055 LN51GKO with the other being former East Yorkshire Plaxton bodied Volvo B12BT YX59FUO - the latter on short term loan from Ensign.

My thanks to Tony for the great photos who said he had trouble getting the swans to co-operate!


Thursday 23 May 2019

Where Are They Now? ~ T809LLC

First Plaxton President bodied Trident 32809 T809LLC first saw use in Great Yarmouth in early November 2017 after transfer from Norwich. It was needed to help cope with an increase in Bernard Matthews contract work in the lead up to Christmas. It was withdrawn the following February prior to returning to the city for use as a driver trainer during April 2018.

T809LLC arriving at the James Paget Hospital in November 2017
It subsequently moved back to Great Yarmouth six months later, again to assist with the increased demand for buses for Bernard Matthews work nearing Christmas. It then returned to Norwich for more driver training duties in January this year; although it was was immediately pressed into revenue earning service. Final withdrawal came in February after engine failure.

A year later and the Trident leaves Market Gates heading for the James Paget Hospital on the 8
Yesterday it was towed to Bawburgh, west of Norwich, for use at the Bawburgh School located in Hockering Lane in the village.

My thanks to First for the information


Wednesday 22 May 2019

Service Alterations Registered ~ 22nd May 2019

The East of England Traffic Commissioner published his latest Notices and Proceedings Report earlier this morning

Whilst there was nothing of note locally the full report can be viewed soon on the government website


Monday 20 May 2019

Latest First Norwich Arrival ~ Updated

After a couple of teasing posts on Facebook's First Eastern Counties Bus Blog, I am pleased to provide details of the vehicle recently loaned from Ensign for a short period of time.

Since my original post, Mark Doggett has provided further photos and information regarding the events leading up to the acquisition of the newcomer

Originally the vehicle being hired from the Purfleet dealership was to be Trident SN51SYH which was collected on the Saturday but unfortunately failed en-route to Norwich.

It returned to Ensign and was replaced by former East Yorkshire YX59FUO, a Volvo B12BT / Volvo 9700 Prestige tri-axle coach. It was new to Finglands of Rusholme, Manchester in January 2010.

The Volvo had arrived at the Purfleet dealer during March this year and First have a requirement of approximately four weeks for an additional vehicle for use it on Bernard Matthews contract.

My thanks to Mark Doggett for his excellent photos and to Grahame for passing them on. I am also grateful to our contact at First Norwich for the original photos


Sunday 19 May 2019

First Supporting Local Charity Day

First kindly added their support for a local charity Day in the Suffolk town of Halesworth today by sending two of their Heritage liveried fleet to the event supporting the Blaze'ing Star Charity.

Flying Banana liveried Dart 42943 WA56OAS from Great Yarmouth and Eastern Counties liveried 42926 SN05EAE from Lowestoft were both on hand for the visitors to have a look around.

The Facebook Page for Details about the Charity can be visited here

Many Thanks to Sam Wickham for the Photos.


Saturday 18 May 2019

First Great Yarmouth Latest

EU05AUN leaving Market Gates during August 2015
The latest news from First's Caister Road depot is the fitting of a new engine to Dennis Dart SLF 42921 EU05AUN.

Other work being carried out includes MOTs for Great Yarmouth's ALX400 bodied Volvo B7TL 32213 LT52WTW and Lowestoft's Gemini 37563 AU58ECA.

Meanwhile, in Norwich former Great Yarmouth Wright Eclipse bodied Volvo B7 66344 MV02VCX has returned to active service.

My thanks to First for the information.


Friday 17 May 2019

Friday Round Up

Yes it's Friday again! Time for another round up where we take a look at the coaches currently in Great Yarmouth.

Unfortunately as I arrived on Marine Parade Shearings Mercedes Benz Tourismo 841 BJ16KXR was just leaving the Carlton Hotel so I was unable to get a picture. However, I was in the right place at the right time to photo the operator's second Tourismo 131 BU18YSH.

Also seen in the background is National Holidays' Kassbohrer Setra NH14HBH whilst further south, outside the Nelson Hotel, was ALS Travel's Jonckheere Mistral bodied Volvo B10M-62 T223AGR

T223AGR has a bit of history in that it was new to Durham City of Brandon as T7DCC in May 1999. It was re-registered T223 AGR upon sale to a dealer in April 2005, passing to UK Coaches (Atlantis Travel), of Countesthorpe in Leicestershire in the same month. It was re-registered by them as A8UKC in May 2005 and subsequently acquired by ALS In January 2014. In the following April it reverted to T223AGR.

Continuing north along Marine Parade I was surprised to see a coach parked up outside the Marine House Hotel opposite the Hollywood Cinema. It was Rover European's VH TX16 Alicron FH17DRH

At Beach Coach Station were four coaches parked in pairs - the first were two Mercedes Benz Tourismos from the Alfa Travel fleet - BU13ZTZ and BN17JCZ.

The remaining twosome were Wolverhapton's Coach and Tours Travel WT18CTT and Gee-Vee Travel's Bova Futura GT11GVT - the latter formerly registered YJ11 ANV.


Wednesday 15 May 2019

Sanders Sale

Click on this photo for a larger version
I was contacted earlier today by Nick (@sji1616) via twitter regarding an advertisement placed in Bus & Coach Buyer by Sanders Coaches who are selling a significant number of vehicles from their fleet

On offer are two Plaxton bodied Volvo B12Ms from 2005; two 2002 Dennis Javelins; two Scania OmniCitys from 2003; a 2009 Optare Versa and four DAF SB120/ Paxton Centros from 2007. The last foursome are available for spares or repair.

Prospective buyers are asked to contact Paul Sanders at Sanders Coaches

My thanks to Nick for alerting me to this


Service Alterations Registered ~ 15th May 2019

Today's Notices and Proceedings Report published by the East of England Traffic Commissioner contains just the one item of local interest.

Ourhire, trading as Our Bus, is to amend the timetable of its Acle Area Flexibus/ 71A/ 72A and 73A services from 2nd June 2019.

The full East of England Traffic Commissioner's report is available to view on the website.


Tuesday 14 May 2019

Mid Norfolk Railway ~ Vintage Bus & Coach Day

Five privately preserved Eastern Coach Works bodied Bristols at the Bus Day in Dereham Station yard
Sunday witnessed a very successful Vintage Bus & Coach Day at the Mid Norfolk Railway with a record number of vehicles attending and passengers too.

In addition to the ex Eastern Counties vehicles there was also a strong presence of former Ipswich Buses with open top Leyland Atlantean MRT9P proving to be a very popular attraction. The Roe bodied decker was new to Ipswich in 1976 but caught fire in the 1980's and reentered service as an open top bus. It has only recently been acquired for preservation.

Former Eastern Counties FLF6G JPW456D was making its first public appearance in the UK after spending 32 years in Belgium as a catering vehicle. New in August 1966, it is currently in the ownership of Julian Patterson.

Another interesting vehicle attending was ECW bodied VRT VPW85S. Ordered by Waveney District Council prior to takeover by Eastern Counties, it was subsequently retained by Bristol Commercial Vehicles for roller break testing prior to entering service with Counties in September 1997. It is now owned by the VR190 Preservation Group.

Marshall bodied Bristol RESL TCD490J made an appearance in its Southdown livery. It was new to the operator in October 1970.

Thetford based Coach Services sent along their ex Trent Barton Alexander (Belfast) bodied Volvo B10M-60 M51PRA. New in January 1995, Coach Services acquired it from Green Triangle of Atherton, Greater Manchester in October 2008.

The final photo shows privately preserved Eastern Counties RL516 EPW516K at Hardingham Station linking up with the Mid Norfolk Railway's Metro-Cammell Class 101 DMU L836.

My thanks to 'Reg Vardy' for providing the photos from the very successful event.


New Look For First Ipswich

Today has seen a new livery revealed for First Ipswich Operations, the new scheme will replace the existing Grey fronted colours currently seen round the Suffolk Town and surrounding areas.

Enviro 44517 YX09ACY pictured at Foundation Street in the new livery.
The new name of "Ipswich Reds" will become the new branding for the town's fleet with Enviro 44517 YX09ACY being the first to be repainted after its return from Lowestoft.

Many thanks to First for the Photograph.


Monday 13 May 2019

50s Seaside Celebration ~ Sunday Pics

Sunday was day two of the '50s Seaside Celebration' event held at the East Anglia Transport Museum at Carlton Colville.

Simon Bartram has again sent me photos of some of the buses involved in the second day of the event and the first shows Great Yarmouth Corporation Pennine bodied AEC Reliance 85 AEX85B. The 1964 built bus is shown at Gordon Road in Lowestoft.

Next up is another AEC, this time a Park Royal bodied Regent V which was DH478 in the Maidstone & District fleet. It was one of a batch of fourteen highbridge deckers new to the operator in June and July 1956. It spent most of of time running with Hastings 34 and 'Happy Harold' inside the museum grounds. However, it did run to Lowestoft Railway Station as part of a procession of buses ferrying visitors from there to the museum following the arrival of the Hastings unit. Incidentally ‘Happy Harold' returned to Hastings today.

Our final photo shows a return visit from former London Transport Routemaster RM613 WLT613. It was new to LT's Aldenham Garage in December 1960.

My thanks to Simon for the photos


Sunday 12 May 2019

Sunday On The Beach

Four coaches were basking in the sun at Great Yarmouth's Beach Coach Station early this afternoon with two of them being employed on National Holidays duties.

National Holidays Mercedes Tourismo NH16BEH was noted beside similar National Holidays branded 5JBT which was being chartered from Johnson Brothers Tours of Hodthorpe.

The third touring coach was Shearings Holidays Mercedes Benz Tourismo 852 BF16XPB, whose driver was named Roy!

The sole 'local' representative was Peelings Coaches Volvo B12B B12FAH which was delivered new  to Country Lion of Northampton as W1CLN in July 2007.


50s Seaside Celebration ~ Saturday Pics

This weekend saw the '50s Seaside Celebration' being held at the East Anglia Transport Museum at Carlton Colville. Here are some photos from the first day of the event.

First Eastern Counties, who were supporting the event, had already arranged the return of First Great Yarmouth Dart 42956 WX06OMO on Friday and replaced it at First Lowestoft with the loan of open top Trident 32905 W905VLN. So it was too good an opportunity to miss for it to be used on Saturday's free park and ride service.

Noted in the parking area at the museum was 'Larry Lodekka' otherwise known as former Eastern Counties ECW bodied Bristol FL6G 557BNG. Beside it was ex London Country AEC Regent III KXW234

The final photo shows two former Lowestoft Corporation buses on old Eastern Counties territory at Gordon Road opposite the bus station. 1947 built AEC Regent 21 GBJ192 is in front of AEC Swift 4 YRT898H.

My thanks to Simon Bartram for providing the photos