Thursday 30 November 2023

Sanders ~ Top Independent Bus Operator 2023

Sanders Coaches has been named as the Top Independent Bus Operator at the 2023 UK Bus Awards which took place in London on Tuesday last. The operator also received a Bronze award for “Enriching the Customer Experience” in recognition of the relaunch of its X55 service earlier this year and a Bronze award for overall UK Bus Operator of the Year.

Managing Director Charles Sanders said 'The family are extremely proud of all our staff, who have secured this prestigious award for the Company. There is a huge team of people working tirelessly behind the scenes, every one of them a vital cog in our organisation, it is not just the driver and bus that everyone so plainly sees. The mystery shopping by the judges that took place commented on our reliability, punctuality, driver customer service and the very high levels of customer satisfaction we achieve.'

Sanders Coaches Limited was formed in 1975 by Norman and Gladys Sanders and is fast approaching it’s 50th year. The business remains fully family owned with sons Charles and Paul at the helm. A total of more than 120 local people are employed at depots in Holt and North Walsham with a fleet of around 90 buses and executive coaches operated on a variety of local bus services and private hire contracts.

My thanks to Operations Manager Kieran Smith for his help with this article and many congratulations to the operator.


Wednesday 29 November 2023

First's 36177 Return To Norwich

Earlier today former First Norwich Volvo B9TL/ Wright Eclipse Gemini 36177 BD11 CGF paid a return visit to the city.

The decker, which was transferred to Caister Road on 7th November, was observed by Dan High on the 7 Great Yarmouth to Norwich service. It later returned on the 901 from Notre Dame High School to James Paget Hospital

Thanks for the photo Dan


Wet Wednesday Tour

Leaving my house for this week's Wednesday Tour I was immediately faced with sleet and light snowy weather.

As if to emphasise the time of year, my first sighting was of South Staffs Travel's Temsa HD12 coach GB23 KBZ offering 'Season's Greetings'!

On the opposite side of Marine Parade was liveried Mercedes-Benz Tourismo BU18 YTK from Pats Coaches of Wrexham.

Returning to the northbound carriageway there were another three coaches seen. They were Dovers Coaches' Neoplan Tourliner UK22 DOV, seen in February this year, and Caledonian Travel's Mercedes-Benz Tourismos NH18 MGH and NH69 HHH which are both former National Holiday vehicles. The latter also appeared in last week's Wednesday Tour.

Three coaches were parked on North Drive which included Nigel & Kims Tours' Irizar i6 LT23 NKT, Caledonian Travel's Mercedes-Benz Tourismo UMO 58 and Blakes Coaches Scania WIB 664. UMO 58 was formerly NH69 RHH when with National Holidays. All three have visited the town before.

Outside the New Beach Hotel on Marine Parade was Alfa Travel's Mercedes Benz Tourismo A135 BV22 WTR.


Service Alterations Registered ~ 29th November 2023

A few of items of local interest appear in today's East of England Traffic Commissioner's Notices and Proceedings Report.

Sanders Coaches is to amend the timetables of its 54 North Walsham to Norwich Bus Station and X55/55 North Walsham to Norwich Bus Station services from 2nd January 2024

High Suffolk Community Transport of Woodbridge is providing a new service and varying another in our local area. The new service is the 5 between Southolt in Suffolk to the Sainsbury store in Norwich. The route, which will run on the second Saturday of each month from 1st January 2024, operates via Kenton, Monk Soham, Worlingworth and Eye. From the same date the removal of its service 5 will mean that the 8 route between Redlingfield and the Sainsbury store in Norwich will now run on the 4th Wednesday of each month.

The full Notices and Proceedings Report can be viewed here.


Monday 27 November 2023

Voluntary Norfolk's Optare Solo

Parked on London Road North in Lowestoft earlier today was Voluntary Norfolk's Optare Solo SO55 BUS. The Norwich-based organisation has been set up to improve the health, wellbeing, connections, skills and employability of thousands of people in Norfolk each year. (Yes, I know, it's pictured in Suffolk!)

My thanks to Syd Eade for the photo which was taken on a rather wet morning!


Friday 24 November 2023

Norwich On Thursday

On Thursday we made one of those rare journeys to Norwich by bus and, whilst the better half started some Christmas Shopping with her sister, I had the luxury of almost a couple of hours to myself observing bus activity in the city.

Arriving at Norwich bus station on First's X1 from the coast, I took my first photo of the day of an Ambassador Travel Caetano Levante III bodied Scania K410EB6 in the form of 307 BV72 XGL. It was laying over prior to heading to Heathrow Airport on the 727

My raison d'etre for visiting was to get some photos of some of the Wrightbus StreetDeck Electroliners and the first was BK73 AFV on Theatre Street destined for the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital on the 21 route.

I then changed my location to Castle Meadow where I spent the remainder of my time and was quick to get a photo of Marrett's Chariots' 405 YK16 STZ, an Indcar bodied Mercedes-Benz 1023L. A second member of the fleet, Volvo B12M/ Jonckheere 506 SIL 6705, was also seen stopping there.

Norwich Pride Bus Wright Eclipse Urban bodied Volvo B7RLE 69543 BF12 KWG was observed on the Sprowston 11 service, normally a Pink Line working.

There are not many dateless registrations in the First Eastern Counties fleet so it was good to see Volvo B9TL / Wright Eclipse Gemini  37532 MXZ 3342 on the Blue Line to Bowthorpe. It was new to First Glasgow as SF08 SMX in August 2008

Some contract workings by Completely Coach Travel and Angies Tours were viewed, as shown by the latter's impressive Volvo B11RT/ Plaxton Interdeck P31 PJO. It was new to City of Oxford in March 2015.

A number of tourist related vehicles were captured on film including Young's Coaches Volvo B12B Van Hool Astromega K3 YCC, new to Berry's of Taunton as WA59 EAW.

At least three of the tourers identified in our Wednesday Tour of Great Yarmouth (Wednesday Tour Dozen - 22nd November 2023) paid a visit during the period I was on Castle Meadow


Thursday 23 November 2023

Unusual Visitor

Seen parked in Lowestoft Bus Station earlier today was First Cornwall Mercedes-Benz Tourismo 24276 BF21 EOL, on a holiday journey to Gunton Hall in the town as shown on the sticker in the windscreen.

Howard Smith apologises for the photo but it was the best he could get due to the position the coach was parked in. Thanks Howard


Coach Services' Developments

Contributor jdraves1 provides information on the latest developments at Thetford-based Coach Services.

The operator currently has an ADL Demonstrator E400 MMC YY73 TGZ on loan which has been employed on the 86 service to Bury St Edmunds. My thanks to Kevin Smith for the photo

Another new bus has arrived in the shape of CS73 BUS, another Enviro 400 MMC, which as already been branded for 90 Thetford to Norwich route

My thanks to jdraves1 for his help with this post.


Wrong Route Wednesday

Regular contributor Dan High has sent some pictures taken of vehicles in Norwich's Castle Meadow yesterday.

His first shows Coach Services' recent arrival Volvo B8RLE/ MCV Evora BV73 MKX on an East Harling service complete with new branding - although it relates to a different route!

The second features former London General LX58 CWN. Number 648 is an Optare (East Lancs) Olympus bodied Dennis Trident - one of several recently acquired by Go East Anglia.

The last offering is of Sanders Coaches' Volvo B8RLE/ MCV Evora 531 BV23 NUU. It is one of a pair acquired earlier this year for use on 6A/X6 services between Cromer/ North Walsham and Great Yarmouth. It is arriving on the X55 from Mundesley.

I'm grateful to Dan for the photos.


Wednesday 22 November 2023

Wednesday Tour Dozen

Today's Wednesday Tour revealed twelve coaches in the vicinity of Great Yarmouth seafront and the town's Beach Coach Station. Five of them were parked within 200 yards of each other on the west side of Marine Parade!

The first photo shows Caledonian Travel's Mercedes-Benz Tourismo NH69 HHH outside the Royal Hotel. It was new to National Holidays.

Further to the south was another Tourismo, Llandudno-based Hughes Bros AP68 ALP in Just Go! Holidays livery.

Behind that was a third Tourismo in the form of branded Chiltern Travel BF68 ZGB

Bringing up the rear of the quintet was Lehane Travel's LIW 1932, a MAN 18.360 with a Beulas Cygnus body, plus regular visitor Caledonian Travel's BV22WUM (not pictured)

Outside the New Beach Hotel were KM Travel's Yutong YD19 HHM and Alfa Travel's Tourismo 123 BV20 HNG.

Meanwhile, on North Drive, next to the Arc Cinema, was another Caledonian Travel Tourismo, UMO 58, and National Holiday's branded VDL YD17 WXW. The latter was from M&D Travel of Stockton-on-Tees

The third vehicle there was DJ19 DJT, a Volvo 9900 bodied Volvo B11RT from the Neath based fleet of DJ Thomas

Outside the Prom Hotel on Marine Parade was Skills Irizar i6s YS22 JGY

The sole occupant at Beach Coach Station was Alfa Travel's Tourismo 126 BV20 HNK.


Service Alterations Registered ~ 22nd November 2023

Some items of interest appeared in today's East of England Traffic Commissioner's Notices and Proceedings Report.

BorderBus is amending the timetables of its 146 Southwold to Kessingland and 146 Kessingland to St Stephens Street, Norwich services from 2nd January 2024.

The operating licence held by the late David McMaster of Wood Dalling in Norwich was terminated on 13th November 2023 with all services surrendered with immediate effect.

The full Notices and Proceedings Report can be viewed here soon.


Friday 17 November 2023

Ambassador Solo Scrapped

Jamie Skinner has brought to my attention that an Ambassador Travel bus has been sent for scrap at a nearby scrap metal and vehicle recyclers. It featured in an advertisement on the G&A Car Spares Facebook page

Optare Solo M850 601 MX54 KYA has been moved from its James Watt Close, Gapton Hall Estate premises to the G&A Car Spares site at Vanguard Road on the same estate in Great Yarmouth. The bus, which was reported on Bus Times as last working in February last year, had recently been taken out of service to provide spares for similar members in the fleet.

The photo shows MX54 KYA in Gorleston's Baker Street on the short lived 607 route between the Morrison's store and Lowestoft Bus Station in February 2014.

My thanks to Jamie for the heads up.


Thursday 16 November 2023

Service Alterations Registered ~ 15th November 2023

A couple of items of interest featured in yesterday's East of England Traffic Commissioner's Notices and Proceedings Report.

Beccles-based BorderBus is to amend the stopping places and timetable of its 522/522A Beccles Old Market to Aldeburgh Fort Green service from 2nd January 2024

First Eastern Counties has registered changes to its operating centres in Norwich. The operator is decreasing the number of vehicles at its Roundtree Way premises to 77 whilst increasing the authorisation at its Vulcan Road South site to 80. The operating centre at Bishop Bridge Road has been removed to be replaced with one at Reepham Road for ten vehicles

The latest Notices and Proceedings Report is available to view here


Wednesday 15 November 2023

Another Electroliner Delivery

Another Wrightbus StreetDeck Electroliner appears to have been delivered to First Eastern Counties with 36532 BF73 AEW being observed in Norwich's Castle Meadow earlier today.

My thanks to Dan High for his photo.


Wednesday Tour

Today's Wednesday Tour comprised the sighting of seven coaches, all roadside parked, with a nil return from Beach Coach Station.

A Wheelers Coaches' MCV eVoTor bodied Volvo B11R was the first encountered with the North Baddesley-based BJ69 WTL parked opposite the Wellington Pier on Marine Parade.

Further along the road was Delta Coaches' Scania K360IB4 / Higer Touring YN18 AVG in livery.

In close proximity was Caledonian Travel's Mercedes-Benz Tourismo BV22 WPN

The fourth sighting was that of BC18 DMB outside the New Beach Hotel. It was an Irizar i6 integral from the East Anstey-based Blakes Coaches fleet.

Two Alfa Travel Mercedes-Benz Tourismos were resting on North Drive in the form of BU16 HBE and BV20 HNH - both regular visitors to the resort.

Our final observation was that of Westbury's Nigel & Kim's Tours' Irizar i6 integral LT23 NKT.


Sunday 12 November 2023

BorderBus New Evora

So far unreported here is the purchase of a brand new Volvo B8RLE /MCV Evora single decker by BorderBus. Registered as BB73 BUS, it entered service with the Suffolk independent as their 113 during late October.

My thanks to Kevin Smith for the use of his photo which shows the bus in St Stephen's Street in Norwich about to work the 146 route to Kessingland.


Saturday 11 November 2023

Coach Services' Newcomer

Regular contributor jdraves1 provides information on of one of the latest arrivals at Coach Services of Thetford. It is a Volvo B8RLE/ MCV Evora with the registration of BV73 MKX which he photographed earlier today

Thanks for the information and photo.


Remembrance Bus

With the Remembrance weekend upon us, I am taken back to an email I received from former Jubilee Coaches driver Kevan Portas who forwarded a couple of pictures of a bus observed in Blackpool a couple of months ago

It was of Stagecoach Merseyside and South Lancashire's 15301 YN67 YKU, a Scania N250UD ADL Enviro 400 MMC, carrying Remembrance branding. Thanks for those.

This is quite poignant time for Kevan as he always attended the local service in St George’s Park each year in tribute to his father. The latter was involved in the D Day landings (2nd Battalion Yorks and Lancs) and got badly wounded by shrapnel, spending 4 years in hospital. He was maimed and disfigured for life and was only 21 at the time.

From the poem 'For The Fallen' by Laurence Binyon.... We will remember them

Thursday 9 November 2023

J&M Preservations Latest Acquisition

J&M Preservations has announced the addition of a third vehicle for its fleet. It is an ex-Halton Transport East Lancs Coachbuilders Dennis Dart Myllennium no 40 DK03 TNL

With the remaining paperwork completed earlier today, it put up a bit of a fight to prevent its removal from its long term resting place, dragged through a muddy yard to be with the other members of the fleet.

No 40 is a very long term restoration project to get roadworthy once more. From the first photo it can be seen it has a major crack in windscreen with many other jobs needing to be taken care of.

Many thanks to Mason Lee for the photos and for the information and we wish the team all the best in getting it back on the road


Wednesday 8 November 2023

Wet Wednesday Tour

Wet weather greeted today's Wednesday tour to view long stay coaches in the Great Yarmouth holiday area.

Unusually four coaches were gathered in the vicinity of the Wellington Pier / SeaLife Centre area with the first being Neoplan Tourliner PL19 GFK from Hampshire-based Bryant Travel.

Next in line was Caledonian Travel's Mercedes-Benz Tourismo BV22 WUM. The former Elcock Reisen coach is now becoming a regular visitor to the resort

Further north was Dovers of Hetton-le-Hole's Mercedes-Benz Tourismo BA19 OVW with National Holidays branding.

On the opposite side of the road, outside the SeaLife Centre, was liveried VDL Futura FHD2 BC19 BBC from the Weymouth-based Bluebird Coaches.

Parked on its own next to the New Beach Hotel was Skills of Nottingham's Irizar i6s YS22 JFY

However, nearby on North Drive were two Alfa Travel Mercedes-Benz Tourismos waiting their turn to take onboard customers outside the hotel. Both 126 BV20 HNK and A133 BV22 WTO were decorated inside for their 'Tinsel and Turkey' venture.

Immediately behind the twosome was Amport & District's Irizar i6s YP23 NCO

No coaches were observed at Beach Coach Station.