Saturday, 24 September 2016

Fleet Update: Sanders Coaches

Further to our report at the weekend about Sanders' latest acquistions, I can now report two more arrivals also from GHA Coaches. DK09DZD and DK09DZH are Volvo B7RLE Wright Eclipse-Urbans and are currently at Full Circle being repainted into the company's bright livery. They are numbered 501 and 502 respectively.

914 in Norwich today
Fleet numbers for the other acquisitions have also been confirmed and are as follows:

217 MX58KZF
910 DA04GHA
914 FN09AMX
915 FN09APY

There are expected to be some withdrawals to make way for the new arrivals and I will bring you news of these as and when it reaches me.

Thanks to return2layerroad on flickr for the information.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Fleet Update: Stagecoach Norfolk

A couple of updates for you today, thanks to Steven Knight Media's excellent blog which can be seen by clicking here

First of all, the six new Optare Solo SRs for the Coasthopper service are expected to enter service on Monday the 3rd of October. The new buses are as follows:

photo: Stagecoach Norfolk
48031 - YJ66ARZ
48032 - YJ66ASO
48033 - YJ66ASU
48034 - YJ66ASV
48035 - YJ66ASX
48036 - YJ66ASZ

Also, 34701 PX05ENC and 47906 YJ09LBE have been repainted into Stagecoach's fleet livery.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

#VegOnTour: Part 3

a couple of the views from Cornwall's buses
Today started quite early as well. Upon arrival at my campsite in Cornwall I had a little scout around for some bus stops; and noticed that I was served by a couple of services meaning I could get to Newquay or Truro once an hour. This was handy as I wanted to visit both of those places at some point whilst I was there. I chose Newquay to start with and took service 90 from Summercourt into town, where I spent an hour or so observing the few buses which passed through. Getting slightly bored with the lack of activity I boarded a bus to Truro on service 86 and settled down upstairs to enjoy the view for the next hour and a half. Upon arrival in Truro I set about finding the best location to photograph the buses as they came in, in comparison to where the sun was, which turned out to be pretty straight forward; and after nearly murdering a girl by opening the bus station door straight into her face I was ready to spot.

Nothing different really appeared to start with, there was the regular Tridents, Volvo B7RLEs and a couple of Enviro400s for the University service to Falmouth; but then one of First’s ex-South Wales coaches came in. It was only when it pulled up to the stand that I noticed it was actually in service! 23316 530OHU was working the 18 service between Penzance and Truro, and upon arrival at the bus stand the passengers disembarked. Sat in the front row was a grandmother and her grandson; who came off with big grins on their faces. The child was praising the ride and was trying to drag his grandmother back on the coach for another one! This was enough to convince me I should have a go so I settled in the front seat for the ride and decided to go as far as Camborne. I got chatting with the driver, Lisa, who was very friendly, smiley and approachable and was always talking with and to other customers along the way who were in awe at the huge fancy green thing on their usual B7RLE operated route. She must have said “yeah, travelling in style today!” about fifteen times, but never got less enthusiastic about it. She explained to me she was a bit concerned when it turned up on her duty that morning as she hadn’t driven a coach for over five years; but after the first ten minutes or so she was right back into the swing of it and was enjoying the change. Lisa had spotted me taking a photograph of the coach as it came into Truro and so it was arranged for her to stop at a photogenic bus stop for me in Camborne so that I could get a nicer picture without other buses or buildings around. This was the result! Rather nice if I don't say so myself!

23316 used to be registered YN55PXG and was in operation with First's Welsh company, Greyhound.
56002 at Camborne depot
Nearing the bus station now, we stopped to pick up another passenger at the kerbside. Only this time the door wouldn't open. Lisa apologised to the lady waiting patiently outside before getting up out of her seat and going over to push the door open herself. This however didn't work either! After a couple more shoves and a small run up, it opened...only for it to snap shut again just as the lady began to step on! Luckily she managed to jump back out the way and began to giggle at the calamitous door, alongside other passengers who had been watching quietly from behind me. Eventually the door opened but by this point the whole coach were in hysterics at what Lisa had to do to simply let this lady on the coach! Door now working again and passenger safely boarded, we carried on our journey and shortly arrived at Camborne. For those of you who don't know, First Camborne's bus depot is situated at the bus station so Lisa arranged a hi-vis jacket to be lent to me so I could have a wonder around. In it I saw mini-coach 56002 YN53VBU, recently transferred from First Scotland East Ltd, along with some other coaches beside the usual array of buses. I thanked Lisa for her kind and excellent customer service and suggested she take a look at my blog in a couple of weeks to read the report I’m writing now so if you’re reading Lisa, would be nice to know if you are, then thanks again!

Once I'd got back to Newquay I decided to try and spot the new 56 branded buses en-route but unfortunately after spending forty minutes standing at a bus stop in Tregurrian, the bus which came past was another Olympian; the same type which I photographed in the same place several times last year.

Oh well, I’ll try again tomorrow!

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Fleet Update: Sanders Coaches

Thanks to return2layerroad on flickr for contacting me about the following and for his photographs which retain his copyright.

Sanders have increased their fleet again with three more coaches and another bus. The coaches are registered FN09AMX, FN09APY and DA04GHA (ex-FJ04ESN). All are Volvo B7R Plaxton Profiles and used to operate with GHA Coaches. Also from GHA is Optare Versa MX58KZF which is also photographed below already in fleet livery at the depot today.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Fleet Update: First UPDATED

66976 also wearing Yellow Line livery
Quite a few bits and bobs to report today, we'll start with the Blue Line repaints. 36170 BD11CFP returned yesterday and was at Vulcan Road today being prepared for service. This leaves just 36176 BD11CGE and 36174 BD11CFY to be repainted, the former of which is currently at Simon Morris receiving treatment. Volvo B7RLE Wright Eclipse-Urban 66982 KX05MHL now wears the Yellow Line livery after being repainted out of the Turquoise colour. Sister 66980 KX05MHJ, also Turquoise, is now at Simon Morris being repainted into the Yellow Line.

Now the Blue Line repaints are coming to an end, it's time to move on to the next colour. To replace the two aforementioned Turquoise Line single deckers, two more double deckers will be repainted into Turquoise Line livery. These will be Volvo B9TL Wright Eclipse-Gemini 2s 36171 BD11CFU and 36173 BD11CFX. When these are complete they will enter service with the new Network Norwich route branding.

37569 enters Beccles
Onto Lowestoft. Richard Woods contacted me last week telling me he'd sighted Rotherham Volvo B10BLE Wright Renown 60621 R784WKW on the X2. This is the fourth loan bus in the Suffolk Town, which joins sisters 60618 R781WKW, 60622 R785WKW and 66112 R912BOU. They are covering Lowestoft's Volvo B9s which are away being refurbished to have leather seats inside for the X2. Upstairs, one row of seats are being removed to create extra legroom for passengers. The buses currently away are 37564 AU58ECC, 37565 AU58ECD, 37566 AU58ECE, and 37569 AU58ECN.

The news doesn't end there though, as due to the capacity needed on the X2, Norwich have sent 32213 LT52WTW and 32214 LT52WTX on loan to Lowestoft and have received 66112 in return. They will receive another B10BLE tomorrow. When I know which one I will update this post.

Thanks to Richard, 60818 is the second loan B10BLE.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Fleet Update: Simonds

Further on to my earlier posts last week, Simonds have also taken delivery of another MCV eVolution, in the form of ex-Webberbus BT63UUR.

It is photographed below on Castle Meadow in Norwich by Dan High, who retains copyright for the picture.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

#VegOnTour: Part 2

69212 near Mount Pleasant Park & Ride
Day 2 started bright and early. I woke about 0700 in Southampton and shortly after, I was back on the road. My plan for the day was to photograph FirstWessex’s 501 route in Weymouth, or more specifically the open top Olympian 39920 L650SEU; which would be my first Olympian in the new livery. The 501 operates between Weymouth and Portland Bill, and the open toppers which run it during the summer attract many a tourist/enthusiast.

I parked just outside the town at Mount Pleasant Park & Ride, which officially closed a few years ago but still sees use due to the fact that there is a regular bus stop just a few minutes walk away from the site. Using my new Firstbus staff pass I boarded 69212 MX06VPN and was shortly in Weymouth ready to board/photograph the open topper. 

Me being me, I wanted to be prepared so I tweeted FirstDorset asking them what buses would be operating the service today. I swiftly got a reply which stated this “Hi there, unfortunately I don't have access to that information, it's also confidential.” My mouth dropped open whilst in my mind I wanted to write “Confidential?! As soon as it turns up I’ll be photographing them and putting them and putting it on twitter, how can it be confidential!” but instead I wrote "confidential?! Bit strange; no other first bus area I've been in have come up with that before! Never mind. Thanks."

37582 HX08DHK was one of three Jurassic Coaster
buses I photographed outside the garage in Weymouth
Not to worry though, I would soon find out for myself if one of the buses would be 39920, so not to be phased I decided to use the time left before the bus to fill my stomach with a bacon bap from a nearby stall and then waited in anticipation for 0940. Which came….and went. At about 0950 I spotted a “customer assistant” donning a hi-vis jacket with a First logo on so I approached him asking if he knew how late the 501 was running. His reply was “it isn’t running late because it’s not running at all due to industrial action sir.” I was shocked; I explained that I had come all the way from Norwich and that the only reason I was here was to specifically photograph that particular bus! He listened well and then suggested I make my way over the depot which turned out to be just around the corner and explain my predicament there, So I did.

Yes! Finally!
Upon arrival a helpful cleaner pointed out I had in fact gone to the back of the depot rather than the front so redirected me to reception. I tried again there, having seen 39920 in the garage stuck between a lot of other buses, I explained my situation to a man in reception who seemed to have sympathy for me. He proceeded to hand me a hi-vis jacket before escorting me over to said bus, and then he made my day by moving all the other buses around it before taking it outside in the sun for me to photograph! After saying thank you, a lot, and shaking his hand, I could leave Weymouth a happy spotter but I still couldn’t resist tweeting First back asking why they didn’t tell me the 501 wasn’t running in reply to my original tweet…

SN64CTU working the 21A to St Maurice
My second stop of the day was a few hours further west; Plymouth. Having visited a couple of times I was keen to catch up as I hadn’t had a proper session there since First sold their operations to Stagecoach. I parked at Bretonside Coach Station and paid for an hour which I spent photographing brand new Enviro400s and slightly older Enviro200s with Stagecoach, and also Plymouth Citybus’ fleet of Volvo B7RLEs, Dennis Darts and multi coloured “Flash” branded buses. Special mention goes to SN64CTU, currently on demo to the Go-Ahead owned company. I’ll have to make another visit next year once Anglian’s gas buses are in service!

If you'd like to see the rest of my photos taken in Weymouth, click here to go over to our gallery page and the scroll down and click on Weymouth. Photos taken in Plymouth are in the process of being uploaded.

Check back soon for #VegOnTour: Part 3!