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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Market Gates Closure

Part of a road in Great Yarmouth is closed today due to roadworks to fix a piece of subsidence. But as a through road, this effected Great Yarmouth Market Gates Bus Interchange, as it's now called on the bus stands. Until the road reopens, buses cannot serve Market Gates main stops.

Jamie was at the scene not too long ago, aiming to get a few photos for us!

Yesterday, when I passed the hole was just covered by a few cones and a sign, but seems to have spread! (C) Jamie Skinner

As you can see here, buses bound for Gorelston, Lowestoft and Southtown stopped at the Troll Cart, the usual stop for National Express Services and the 2/4 to Barrack Estate. There isn't really much room for the buses, so I feel the drivers are doing well!

AU58EDJ en-route to Lowestoft. Thanks Jamie S (C)
I've never seen Market Gates so quiet during the holidays! 

Jamie Skinner - Copyright

Caister-on-sea & Northgate Street bound Sanders 6, First 1/3/4/8 and Norwich bound First X1, Anglian7 and Konect 72 will depart from Howard Street Yarmouth Police Station. Thankfully, there's a few bus stops here, but will still get busy!

Thanks Jamie for the photos. Copyrighted to him. The road is scheduled to open on, or before, this weekend.

Stagecoach in Norfolk

Five months after being bought by the Stagecoach Group, Norfolk Green has now become Stagecoach Norfolk; as reported on the blog previously. The first few steps from 1st May were very slow, with no visual changes at all... until now!

The website's header image now makes it clear to viewers that the company is now Stagecoach in Norfolk.

The next stage I assume is the fleet repaint. The fleet will all be repainted into the corporate beachball identity as and when repaints are due. Other buses have also been transferred in from depots elsewhere in the country to try and speed up the process. For an up to date Fleets refer back to the 1st June. 

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Wembley ~ Photo Special

We'll break up our Radio One post with a special report from Wembley Stadium. Norwich had earned a place against Middlesbrough at the home of English football after seeing off local rivals Ipswich town 4-2 over two legs. Sanders Coaches are the official coach travel provider for the club, but the 40,000 strong crowd of supporters meant that hundres of other coaches were drafted in. There were reportedly over one hundred and twenty official coaches, all displaying "On hire to Sanders Coaches" in their windscreen but after observing photographs of the impressive line up outside the stadium, there seemed to be at least three hundred; numbers being made up by coaches privately hired by supporters groups from across the country.

Sanders 801 YJ07JNO infront of the infamous Wembley arch
After taking my position amongst the other spotters, of which there must have been about seventy, I sat back and watched in amazement at the sheer volume of vehicles appearing in the dedicated coach park. Let me show you a photograph I took from the concourse, more than four hours before kick off.

Reader Chris Mugglestone sent in this photo he took from the top of the stadium, which really shows the sheer
amount of coaches needed for the operation to run smoothly and successfully. Many thanks Chris.
Vehicles from Ambassador Travel, Spratts, Reynold's of Caister, Beestons, Simonds, Richards Coaches, Belle and Eastons were present, with smaller companies like Meadway Travel, Marett's Chariots, Dereham Coachways, Dolphin and Sunbeam all making an appearence. Even King's Ferry sent a few coaches, one of which, ironicly, was used as Ipswich's team coach last week. I thought about walking inbetween every single row of vehicles and noting each one, but I had completely forgot my notepad and pen, and I would probably still be writing registrations by the time the game was over!

One of the most publicised operators to provide transport to the match was First. Vehicles from Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth and King's Lynn all made the journey with the X1 Enviros having a series of special destination screens programmed in for the trip.

King's Lynn's 33803 YX63LJF and 33804 YX63LJJ  showing off their destination screens
The second of three special destination screens
In this shot, four Lowestoft based deckers in convoy, also show the special destination screen
Other deckers sent from first included the B9 Geminis, which used to operate the X1, although these just displayed "Private Hire".

As this is a 'Photo Special', here's a selection of interesting shots from the day.

One of Beestons' coaches was this double deck 523FN

Stafford Coaches CNZ3828
One of many minibuses which turned up was Dolphin's FX51BOV. A Mercedes 413CDI Sprinter
Diamond Limousines YN54LLE is an Optare Alero and has only sixteen seats
Many spotters took the time and effort to walk up and down each of these narrow aisles, noting down each and every vehicle
Rather fittingly, Dolphin sent this yellow and green themed coach which still carries the club logo after being used
 to shuttle the academy players and staff to matches
Sanders' latest edition to their coaching fleet is this rather beautiful Volvo B9R Plaxton Elite. I confess
 I decided to move a few cones so I get a less impeded photograph
Suffolk Norse sent a couple of their new Leopards. This one is YX14RZU and is coach number 106 on the day
On the other side of the fence was the Middlesbrough fans. Nice to see the co-driver giving me the thumbs up,
despite my yellow and green attire!
A pretty good day for coach and bus enthusiasts, followed by Norwich winning the game 2-0 and getting promoted back to the top tier of English football means I'm a very happy blogger at the moment. I must say a thanks to the FirstKing's Lynn drivers for the breif chat we had and for putting the special display back on the screens, and as a final note, Sheldon Rees has kindly allowed me to reproduce his photo of their third destination screen which was to be revealed only if Norwich emerged victorious.

© Sheldon Rees

Monday, 25 May 2015

Radio One's Big Weekend Photo Special ~ Part One

So whilst 'normal' teenagers were out getting drunk selfies with their favourite artists, I drove to the outskirts of the city and cycled the rest of the way in an attempt to beat the extra traffic in order to take photos of all the buses. 

Quite a few short-time movements took place over the weekend to assist Norwich's fleet which on it's own would struggle to deal with the shear amount of visitors to the city. Ipswich sent ALX400s 32655 AU05MUY 32656 AU05MVA and 32479 AU53HJV, whilst Lowestoft loaned Gemini 37571 AU58ECV and ALX400 30889 W744DWX. Great Yarmouth also gave a helping hand in the form of 37574 AU58ECY, 37575 AU58ECZ and 37576 AU58EDC. In return, Norwich sent a few of their deckers to the coast. After I breif chat with Chris Speed who was overseeing the operation, I learned that this was due to the '58 reg Geminis having larger fuel tanks and a slightly faster top speed than Norwich's second generation versions and those attributes will come in handy when transporting thousands of Norwich City fans to Wembley on Monday.

When I first arrived at the bus station, I was greeted with the sight of two of Ipswich's ALX400s, trying to be boarded by a line of flourescently dressed youngsters and party goers. The buses in question were ex-Lowestoft based 32655 and 32656, both of which are Volvo B7TLs. After serving a couple of years working the X2 between Norwich and the Lowie, they were transferred to Ipswich and repainted as part of a massive fleet overhaul which only recently finished. 

32655 exiting the bus station onto Queen's Road on First's Blue Line 26 service which took festival-goers right to the party.
32656 was crammed so full that the driver couldn't physically fit anymore passengers on board.
Ipswich's third ALX400 is a Transbus version but still sits on a Volvo B7TL chassis. 32479 was selected to be painted into an Eastern Counties heritage livery and is usually seen operating the 66 between Martlesham Heath and Ipswich Rail Station. So I was quite pleased that I only waited nine or ten minutes before I took this shot of her operating one of the relief journeys on the 26.
See what I mean about the long queue?!

Lowestoft's 30889 showing off a special destination screen specifically for the Big Weekend.
After an hour or so, I decided to get back on my bike and head down the Earlham Park, where the Big Weekend was being hosted to see if I was missing out on anything bus related. After a brief but hard cycle ride, I arrived and was pointed in the direction of the buses by the helpful stewards. I parked my bike and immediately walked over to the bus stop to photograph one of Konect's special park and ride services. The Yellow route ran from County Hall whilst the Blue route operated from Costessey Park & Ride.

503 YJ05PXD dropping passengers off from County Hall
I'm so glad this driver is still around! I'd heard a rumour he'd left but alas. He he is driving 803 BL57OXM back to Costessey Park & Ride, after stopping for his trademark pose.

Enviro400 604 SN10CEX also made an appearence on the Yellow route.

From my observations, the bendy Citaros were being used on the Blue route, just as they would operate on the 604 to Costessey Park & Ride if it were a normal day, whereas anything seemed to be being used on the Yellow route, from Geminis to plain Enviros, and even the odd one or two branded for route's 3 and 6.

3 and 6 branded 613 SN62AVY makes an appearence on the prodominantly Citaro operated Blue route.
After spending an hour or so hanging around the entrance to Earlham Park, my tummy decided I should head back to the city as it was now nearly three o'clock and I still hadn't had any lunch. Due to my obsession with the Eurovision Song Contest, I was unable to observe the night happenings, but contributor Dan High has sent in a selection of photographs which I shall be bringing you in Part Two over the next couple of days.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

First's 3 Recommences

Evening ladies and gents, I'm back!

Today saw the reintroduction of FirstGreat Yarmouth's summer route 3! With a frequency of one bus an hour until July (which increases to every thirty minutes until August before going back to hourly), the service connects Great Yarmouth train station and Hemsby beach via Vauxhall Holiday Park, Market Gates, HollyWood Cinema, Seashore Haven, Caister-on-Sea, Scratby, and Newport. Previously, this route has seen the likes of anything from Darts (now withdrawn or in Essex) & Postwick Park & Ride liveried Volvo B7s (now at Ipswich) to Presidents, Routemasters, ALX400s and even the beloved Enviro400 33423 SN60CAA. 

Unfortunately, I had other 'duties' to attend today, so I wasn't able to take any photos. However, unknown to me, fellow admin Zak was in Great Yarmouth today and he's informed me that he managed to photograph both buses which operated the route on it's first day back.

FirstNorwich 36178 BD11CDX is on loan to Yarmouth at the moment, due to Radio 1 Big Weekend duties 

a nearside shot of 37577 AU58EDF on her way back to Vauxhall Holiday Park from Hemsby
Keep an eye on the blog for part one of our special Big Weekend post.

Fleet Update ~ Sanders Coaches

Whilst spotting for part one of our upcoming Big Weekend Special, I noted a Sanders decker approaching the bus station which looked suspiciously shiny. Upon closer inspection I noticed it's a new acquisition. YN06JWC is a Scania N94UD East Lancs OmniDekka, similar to those recently acquired by Anglian but Sander's addition comes from Reading Buses. I was unable to see the fleet number, as you'll be able to see from the only photo I managed to get!

the registration is just visible through the plants. I was on the other side of the road photographing 26s leaving the bus station.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Radio One's Big Weekend ~ Buses Preview

As all us spotters who haven't got tickets gather our equipment for a big day out today, I thought I'd let you know what we might be in store for us today. Whether you are heading to Norwich further east to the coast you're in for a treat as buses have been drafted in and transferred elsewhere to accomodate the extra services for the weekend, followed by the trip to Wembley on Monday.

Norwich have gained four Volvo B9TL Wright Eclipse-Geminis; one from Lowestoft; 37571 AU58ECV, and three from Great Yarmouth: 37574 AU58ECY, 37575 AU58ECZ and 37576 AU58EDC. Going the other way are Gemini 2s 36170 BD11CFP, 36177 BD11CGF, 36179 BD11CDY and 36180 BD11CDZ. It is thought that the main reason for the transfer is the Wembley trip on Monday as the coastal Geminis have a higher top speed and can accomadate tachographs when needed.

Similar scenes to this, taken back in 2012, may be seen over the weekend. Norwich's 36166 BD11CFK on loan to Lowestoft
If you're heading up to Yarmouth, be on the look out for an increased amount of Olympians in service to cover for their buses which have been sent to Norwich, it  may be one of the last chances you get to see them all in one day!

Friday, 22 May 2015

Maretts Chariots Nominated for Award

Norfolk based Maretts Chariots has scooped two nominations at 2015s RouteOne Operator Excellence Awards. Anthony Maretts, Director of Operations has been nominated for the Manager of the Year for a small or medium operator (up to 150 vehicles) whilst the company as a whole is hoping to clinch Medium Coach Operator of the Year.

Whilst speaking to Fountain Partnership, Anthony Marett commented "It is an honour to even be contemplated for an award like this, the RouteOne Operator Excellence Awards are the most prestigious in the field in the UK"

The annual event will take place at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel and is scheduled to coincide with the PSV Industry Show on the 30th September.

Now in it's eleventh year, this event is specifically designed to reward the coach operator. The awards are structured into sixteen categories with ten operator awards, and five further awards given to those individuals working in the industry.

The judging panel consists of five established figures in the industry; Steve Dewhurst, Chris Heaps, Tony Kennan, and Peter Nash whilst the panel is chaired by former RouteOne Editor Mike Morgan.

The night is predicted to be a sell-out event

My thanks to Fountain Partnership for making us aware of the nomination, and good luck to Marett's Chariots, whose website can be viewed here.

On The Ball City

As mentioned before, First are sending a number of their X1 Enviro400s down to Wembley on Monday to help transport Norwich City supporters to the capital and Sheldon Rees has kindly allowed me to reproduce his photographs of some specially programmed destinations as a finishing touch for the occasion.

#OTBC - On the ball city! A nice touch on the side destination

Wembley is the proud name to take up the main display on the front of the vehicle
Sheldon revealed a third destination will also make an appearence, but you'll have to wait until Monday to find out what it says! Thanks to Sheldon for the use of his images, which remain copyright to him.

Also a quick reminder about our free downloadable calendar for 2016. We're asking you guys to send us your best shots of local buses from each month this year to feature on a .pdf calendar for you to download towards the end of the year. Please email your contributions to harry.nbp@gmail.com.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Blue Line turns Pink

Dan High got in contact with me yesterday with a photograph of Pink Line branded Volvo B7TL Plaxton President 32103 LT02ZCN on castle meadow working the Blue Line service to the UEA. Dan informs me that it replaced a non-branded President 33248 LT52WVA which suffered damage to the nearside windscreen panel after a minor accident during the day.

© Dan High