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Service Revisions

Konect and Anglian changes commence 20th April.

Showbus 2014

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Sunday, 20 April 2014

The Norfolk Coaster

Today was the first day of many revised timetables across the Anglian and Konect network, but the main attraction was up on the North Norfolk coast. Konect's new service 22 operates between Cromer and Sheringham with some buses continuing onto Weybourne and the Muckleburgh Collection; a display of various military artefacts and vehicles. 

I boarded the 0940 service 2 from Norwich to Cromer, which now operates on Sundays thanks to the numerous tweaking of timetables which make it increasingly easier for the general public to travel. This particular service was being operated by 604 SN10CEX, and I must say I agree with Steve over on Steve's Bus & Train Page when he says that Konect's '10 reg Enviro400s are quiet, smooth and comfortable.  Coming the other way, I noted a Konectexpress 8 branded Enviro400 which I believe to be 605 SN61CZV. I'm told this is a regular Sunday working as the bus comes off the 2 on arrival in Norwich and then heads to Dereham on the 8. I also spied 504 YJ05PXE which I ended up riding back home after my day out.
50 R739XRV at Cromer with ops manager Steven Royal at the wheel and MD Julian Patterson enjoying the view up top.
Dead on time, I was greeted with the sight of recently acquired Northern Counties Palatine bodied Volvo Olympian 50 R739XRV, along with a friendly looking operations manager at the wheel. After photographing it from all possible angles from the outside, I boarded and was rather startled by the striking orange and blue leather seats of the interior (photo below).  I was rather excited as I had always wanted to ride a MK1 bodied Palatine after seeing plenty operating with FirstKernow on holiday last year. A couple things to note are that the fleet number is not displayed anywhere on the vehicle; I'm not sure why and neither was Steven! Also, the route number seems to be programmed on the left hand side, following in the footsteps of the old AnglianBus numbers.

The rather bright leather seats soak up the 'sun' in Sheringham
I was rather impressed with my first ride on this type of bus. Overall it was quiet and hugely comfortable but the leather seats probably helped with that. One thing I do like about old buses is their love of rocking side to side on the bumpy back roads; ending up with Konect helping out the council in their tree trimming duties as various foliage found it's way inside. Mr Royal did inform me that 50 had already been used by the company to assist in tree cutting, similar to that of Ipswich Buses 9 MRT9P which was seen out last year. Other details to note are that East Lancs Lolyne 725 W825NNJ left Konectbus yesterday bound for Hedingham, and ex-London Gemini 512 LB02YXA is expected out in service tomorrow.

There are high expectations for the 22 this summer, and today these expectations grew thanks to the new bus and service drawing a lot of attention from enthusiasts and the general public alike. A flickr gallery for the 22 will be created in due course.

On a final note, I wish all my readers a very happy Easter!!

Friday, 18 April 2014

Coventry Cruise

On Wednesday, I was fortunate enough to attend the O2 Academy in Birmingham to see my favourite band, Within Temptation. Naturally, it's quite a long way from Norwich so I stopped off in Coventry on the way there for an hour or so to photograph the local bus scene. I had done a small bit of research beforehand so I knew what to expect and where to expect it so successfully managed to add a hundred or so buses onto my archive.

The bus station is situated adjacent to the Coventry Transport Museum, and the somewhat famous Whittle Arches which span across the entrance. The bus station itself is large, and didn't seem to have anywhere suitable to photograph. Therefore I stood on the entrance, and with the sun gleaming down onto the vehicles as they passed, I felt it was a decent spot. 

Stagecoach Midlands 36942 SN63KFY sits under the Whittle Arches on Hales Street
There are quite a few operators in Coventry, including Travel de Courcey and Stagecoach Midlands, with smaller companies including Johnson's, Diamond, and County Links which is operated by Warwickshire County Council. The majority of the bus services however are operated by National Express Coventry, in close alliance with National Express West Midlands. The structure here reminds me of First's in Norfolk and Suffolk. If you go spotting in Norwich Bus Station, you might see a Lowestoft branded bus. In Coventry, although the majority of the services are operated by the sky blue and cream liveried 'Coventry' buses, you may see a red and white liveried National Express bus operating from Birmingham, with the 'West Midlands' branding.

West Midlands 4897 BX13JVU operating between two Coventry branded buses on Ironmonger Row
The average age of the fleet in Coventry seems to be rather young. The double deckers consist of 2011-2013 registered Enviro400s and some older ALX400s, with the odd 2005 Wright Eclipse-Gemini bodied Volvo dotted about. The majority of the single deckers come in the form of 13' reg Volvo B7RLE Wright Eclipse-Urban 2s. The only other types I saw in operation were 03' bendy Mercedes buses which were branded up and operated on service 4, and some rather old looking Mercedes-Benz O405Ns. 

6013 BJ03ESU about to enter the bus station by Coventry Transport Museum
The O405N mentioned earlier is a type of bus that I had never heard of or seen before, and I think they look double their age thanks to the square shaped styling. There's a good sized batch operating in and around the area and I reveled in the opportunity to photograph as many as I can. One or two are still wearing the companies older livery, but the newer paintjob (see below) still doesn't distract me from how old the vehicle looks.

O405N bodied 1571 S571VUK looks right at home in front of a tudor backdrop on Ironmonger Row

 I ended up so indulged in documenting the activity, that if I had left any later my spot at the front of the queue to the gig down the road in Birmingham would have gone! So I had to say goodbye to Coventry for the cause of seeing my favourite band; the only cause that comes before bus spotting! I shall leave you with a selection of other shots featuring the National Express' older livery, and the other operators in the city.

Dennis Trident Alexander ALX400 4398 BV52OBN sporting the older version of National Express Coventry's livery
2160 BX13JSZ, part of a large fleet of this type with route branding. This one, for the 9 and 9A to the Hospital
Stagecoach Midlands operate lots of Enviro200s in the city, like 36212 KX60LHU
Diamond was represented by this 'Signature' liveried hybrid Optare Versa featuring WiFi and leather seats
Johnsons operate three services into Coventry, this Optare Tempo has just arrived from nearby Berkswell

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Fleet Update ~ Anglianbus

Anglianbus have reported over on their enthusiast page that on loan gas powered Scania K270UB Enviro300 999 YT13YUK was returned to Alexander Dennis on the 2nd of this month.

999 working the 61 from Kessingland to Great Yarmouth, despite her destination screen saying otherwise!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Neaves Out, Sanders In

Yesterday saw Sanders Coaches officially take over Neaves Coaches. They have purchased all assets and contracts of the Catfield coach hire company including five of their vehicles.

Today I noted 202 YJ03PKX with her roller blinds displaying "Sorry not in service" on the 36, and spied Optare M850 Solo 205 MX07NTL (see above) with a piece of paper displaying 32 in the windscreen.

Four of the five vehicles Sanders have acquired have been confirmed as:


Thanks to my contact at Sanders Coaches for the information included in this post.

Our Flickr galleries will be updated accordingly to accommodate the new services in due course.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Fleet Update ~ FirstNorwich / FirstIpswich

Now some 'bloggers' may not like publishing information before it's confirmed, however in this instance I believe that this is worth posting. It's not as if it's a rumour anyway as First have informed me that this is what they are trying to do. As well as the brand new door forward Wright Streetlites coming in September, and Norwich's 66332 MV02VBX being repainted, they are now trying to get hold of a batch of 10-30 four year old single deckers to help update the fleet in Norwich and Ipswich. No more details are known as of yet, but I will keep you updated as soon as you know.

First back in Kessingland

On VOSAs bus registration report dated 4th April 2014, it states that First will reinstate their old 99 service between Lowestoft and Kessingland. This will compete directly with Anglian's service 61 as far as Kessingland. It will be operated out of the Lowestoft depot, with two or three extra buses expected to come in to operate the service.

    • Registration Accepted
    • Starting Point: Lowestoft Bus Station
    • Finish Point: Lowestoft Bus Station
    • Via: Kessingland
    • Service Number: 99
    • Service Type: Normal Stopping
    • Effective Date: 25-MAY-2014
    • Other Details: Monday to Saturday - Hourly on Sundays/Public Holidays

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Streetlites for First

As previously reported in December, First Eastern Counties have ordered a total of twelve single deck Wright Streetlites. They have now confirmed to me that these will be the larger 'door forward' version, rather than like Anglian's 'wheel forward' buses. There are six bound for Norwich and those are still thought to be replacing the Optare Solos, whilst the other six are expected to go to Great Yarmouth. Thanks to Grahame Richardson's FirstGroup New Livery Database, we can reveal the buses on order will be numbered 47501 - 47512.

Changes Afoot

Although this isn't directly related to the hobby of bus spotting, I believe it to be relevant and of interest. It was bought to public attention today that the European Parliament are considering proposals to 'standardise' all EU member state's registration plates. This, of course, includes the United Kingdom. To read the full article, click here.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Increase In Satisfaction For Bus Passengers In Norfolk

Lucy Wright, PR Executive for First Eastern Counties has got in touch with an interesting article following this years Bus Passengers Survey. She Writes:

"The results of a national bus passenger survey published by independent watchdog, Passenger Focus, have revealed that First's customers in Norfolk have seen an increase in satisfaction.
First Eastern Counties' Norwich operations manager Lee Howes, General Manager Hugo Forster and
Business Manager Chris Speed.

89% of First's customers in Norfolk said that they were 'very satisfied' or 'fairly satisfied' with the service in the county - a 2% increase since 2011.

Passenger Focus' National Bus Survey is considered the bus industry's definitive gauge of passenger satisfaction. The survey was carried out between 8 September and 1 December 2013.

The survey also noted on improvements in punctuality, the cleanliness and appearance of the buses and drivers' attitudes. 

Managing Director of First Eastern Counties, David Squire, said: "We are thrilled with our score which reflects the hard work and commitment of all my colleagues. We've got excellent teams in place at our depots who are improving our services and helping to encourage more people to travel with First." Laurie Egan, Norfolk County Council's Travel Network Manager added; "We work very closely with bus operators in Norfolk and these are encouraging results which show that initiatives like our Quality Bus Partnership is helping them deliver higher quality, more reliable services which passengers want."

First Eastern Counties' Norwich operations manager Lee Howes, General Manager Hugo Forster and
Business Manager Chris Speed celebrate with the help of a special destination screen.

First Eastern Counties operates out of three locations in Norfolk - Norwich, Great Yarmouth and King's Lynn. A restructure took place in 2013 which gave greater autonomy to the local teams, which is helping the company deliver better services for customers and contributing to the improved Passenger Focus score.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Fleet Update ~ Anglianbus / Konectbus

Anglianbus Scania N230UD OmniLinks 550 AO57EZM and 552 AO57HCD have had their 588 route branding removed, although they both retain the route destinations as they are still used on the direct replacement; service 88. 550s rear advert wrap for Bussey's has also been removed.

553 AO57HCC has returned to service following repairs after an accident last week and was working the 88 today.

550 lacking her Bussey's wrap and 588 route branding
On the Konectbus front,  951 AU07KMK has re-entered service after having her vinyls applied. She was working the 50As today, and something worth noting is that rather than remove the advert frame, Konect applied the rear fleetname above it. Especially odd due to the fact that 'konectbus' is actually shorter than the width of the frame and would therefore fit inside it quite easily.

Friday, 4 April 2014

NBP Exclusive: Fleet Update ~ FirstNorwich

First's Chris Speed has confirmed to me that Volvo B7L Wright Eclipse 66332 MV02VBX will be the first bus in the Norwich fleet to wear the new livery. She will retain her 'spare' Norwich Network branding and is due back within the fortnight. 

Their Twitter page has also stated that there are "more announcements coming soon!"

So, exciting times ahead it seems. We'll endeavour to keep you updated as soon as it happens.

66332 operating the Turquoise Line service 13 to Attleborough last year.

Rare Spots ~ March '14

The third post in our new series, features buses from Konectbus and First. Remember if you see and photograph any buses you consider to be an odd allocation, please do contact me at zak.nbp@gmail.com so your images can be used.

First up (if you'll pardon the pun), is FirstGreat Yarmouth's 33423 SN60CAA. I was waiting outside East Norfolk Sixth Form College in Gorleston observing the early morning workings when I noticed 33423 turn up on the 1A. She is usually only operated on the X1 shorts and so I boarded her to JPH to take a photograph.

33423 has also operated the 881 college service before being repainted.
The second First bus to make it onto the rare spots post is 60807 S658RNA. This Great Yarmouth based Wright Renown is one of six to operate in the town. Although a Renown on the X1 short was a regular occurrence before the new Enviro400s were delivered, they now see most of their service on the town routes 2, 5, 6 and 7. Currently, First operate a batch of nine Geminis with many seeing regular service on the route along with two Plaxton Paragon coaches and 33423, as seen above.

The third and final First bus to feature is Norwich's own 36180 BD11CDZ. This is an interesting bus and seems to be the bus of choice when other depots in the Eastern Counties network need a spare. 36180 saw a spell of regular service on the full X1 route last year on more than one occasion and has been spotted working an early morning relief X1 from Acle more recently. During March though, Lowestoft's service X2 was subject to severe delays due to a tragic helicopter crash in a field next to the regular route. This road and surrounding roads were shut for the majority of the day and people struggled to get where they were going. To help out, Norwich kindly sent 36180 out to help which ran a relief service to and from Loddon throughout the day.

Konectbus operate two 'express' services. The 2 operates between Norwich and Sheringham whilst the 8 runs every half an hour between the city and the market town of Dereham. To operate the latter, Konect have five 61 reg' Enviro400s branded for the service. Although it has been known for single deckers to appear on the route, I was rather surprised when I was waiting in Dereham for my bus when Optare Tempo 409 YJ57EGY arrived at the Market Place. The main cause of my surprise was because Norwich City FC were playing at home just a few hours later, so surely maximum capacity was needed?! Even-so, I boarded a very cramped 409 and distracted myself from the crowd by listening to my music (which was quiet enough not to be heard by other passengers...a pet hate of mine).

Now. A bus spotter should always venture out during the early morning at least once during the year, as there are many one off college and school services that can create some rather interesting workings. Konectbus operate a service 13B to Easton College that departs the bus station at 0825, which is usually operated by an Enviro400. Despite this, I managed to photograph this Citaro bodied MB O350G on the last day of the month.

I hope you've enjoyed looking through my rare working photographs, and remember to submit yours for the April 'episode'!