Monday, 20 November 2017

Anglianbus: 1981-2017

Anglianbus started life as Anglian Coaches, in 1981. Formed by David and Christine Pursey, the company was based in a depot in Loddon and operated a small fleet of coaches on private hire and school contract work. Below, photographed in 1985 by John Law is a Bristol RE registered OWT775M outside John Lewis. Also pictured are three coaches at their depot in 1988, sporting a rather colourful mix of liveries!

 © John Law
lazyspottydog on Flickr
In January 1999, Anglian won their first tender with Norfolk County Countil and begun operating the 580 between Diss and Great Yarmouth. Photographed here in Great Yarmouth is T400CBC, a Mercedes-Benz O814D Plaxton Beaver 2 operating the 580 to Diss.

© Matthew Burton on Flickr
Following further contracts being won, the company soon out grew their Loddon depot and a brand new purpose built facility was created in Ellough just outside Beccles in Suffolk. This opened in October 2000 and by 2003, the company's first commercial route started; the 588 between Norwich and Halesworth. One year later in 2004, a smaller depot was opened nearer the city in Rackheath to allow growth on the Norwich city centre services. Since that time, the coach side of the business reduced and eventually disappeared as the bus side grew and grew. Anglian's success had caught the eye of international transport company The Go-Ahead Group, who bought the business in April 2012. At that time, Anglian had over one hundred vehicles to their name and was the biggest independent operator in the county. In December 2012, a fleet of six MAN EcoCity gas buses began to arrive and were instantly pressed into service on the 146 service between Norwich and Lowestoft. A further four were sent to work the 601 whilst the final three arrived in March 2013. They weren't to last long though as all thirteen buses (including one for spares that was withdrawn after an accident with a coach) were transferred to other Go-Ahead Subsidiary Plymouth Citybus in October last year. 

601 WX62HHP in Lowestoft
Go-Ahead also owned Dereham operator Konectbus and in 2013, they appointed Konect's Julian Patterson as Managing Director of Anglianbus too. This resulted in a full  renumbering scheme to fit both sets of vehicles together and many of the older members of the fleet were withdrawn. On July the 10th that year, a new livery was revealed, with 229 X229WRA the first to emerge from the paint shop. The colours were the same as Konectbus, but inverted, and coupled with a refreshed logo it was evident that the two companies were now managed as one.

229 in Beccles before the route renumbering took place
In September that year, the whole route network was revamped and renumbered to increase simplicity for customers and efficiency for the company. Routes were interlinked instead of standalone and this meant the PVR (peak vehicle requirement) reduced significantly and the second wave of withdrawals took place. Then, as service revisions came and went Anglianbus began to lose a number of their routes to Konectbus. First of all the city services turned blue as the sister company begun to operate the 50, 50A, 51, and 52, later followed by the 53 as well. More recently, the number 7 to Great Yarmouth was also transferred to Konectbus but was later pulled altogether. 

The downsizing accelerated recently and on their last day of service yesterday the company had 22 buses and just 7 routes.

On a more poignant note, it's strange to think that this company is now no more. I've made a final fleet list which I have uploaded at the bottom of the page, and when I first finished it and looked at it I couldn't help but think about all the memories I have because of Anglianbus. They are the reason I became a bus enthusiast in the first place; They operated my local route, so growing up I'd always see a yellow bus run past my house every few hours, it became the norm. Then, as my interest grew I remember I used to cycle to Beccles on a weekend with my best mate just to go and visit the depot and have a play on the buses parked in the yard. I'd sit in the cab and mimic our school bus driver whilst my friend would sit at the back of the bus being as annoying as possible. We'd then have fun trying to find the bus that took us to school the day before and then take a photo and get really excited if we found it. And then there's the time when Anglian sent buses on loan to Western Greyhound after almost their whole fleet was set alight. I managed to convince mum that our next family holiday should be in Cornwall. Whilst we were down there, I fell in love with the scenery and as a result I have been back every year since. I've made quite a few friends down there too; all because of Anglian. This is almost "like in films when a character dies, but they leave a letter for their lover which is read out by their voice over. It's a love letter to a bus company." So Thank You, Anglian Bus, for all you have done. I will miss you, and I will just have to try and adapt to life without you. Farewell, my friend.

T400CBC on loan to Western Greyhound, photographed out my Mother's car windscreen in St Austell
Anglian sponsoring the football club I founded in Woodton

me pretending to drive my school bus
Me at the beginning of my week long intensive course in my Father's car

See the final Anglianbus fleet list here
See the new Konectbus fleet list here
See the Anglianbus fleet list as of Saturday 18th November here

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Last Full Day of Anglianbus Operation: Photo Special

Today marked the last full day of operation by Go-Ahead's Anglianbus. Whilst the 87 will carry on tomorrow, it was lights out for the 61, 83, 84, 85, 88 and 90 as on Monday they will pass to Konectbus. This morning, I spent ninety miles of fuel and five hours of time razzing around the countryside attempting to get one last photo of each route for my collection and I am pleased to say the day went to plan with every bus relatively on time whilst passing through where I was expecting it to pass through.

My first stop was the 84 service from Harleston to Norwich. This was being operated by Optare Versa 307 AU11ESG and is photographed at 0800 in Shotesham by the church.

307 AU11ESG on the early morning 84 to Norwich

Next stop was the 0818 number 87 from Poringland to Norwich. Upon arrival I was rather disappointed to see a Konectbus (900 VX51RHZ) staring back at me in the face. But since researching my existing shots of the 87, I am pleased to say I already have plenty of decent pictures of yellow buses on the route. 

Konectbus 900 VX51RHZ on loan to Anglian in Poringland

Running ahead of schedule, I made my way towards Halesworth to photograph the 88. I stopped in Ilketshall St Lawrence and took a walk down the main road until I found two trees which would frame a yellow double-decker rather nicely. All I had to do now was hope and pray it was a double-decker on this particular run. With only four left now, the chances were almost fifty-fifty. Things seemed to be going my way though and sure enough, a decker appeared in the form of 551 AO57EZL. 

Anglianbus 551 AO57EZL among the Autumnal colours in Ilketshall St Lawrence

From there, it was time to head to the coast with the 61 next on my list. After a brief stop in a well known supermarket for brunch (some doughnuts), I parked the car and begun calculating my position. After settling on the side of a nearby roundabout I noticed a van going past wasn't in full sunlight and so I braved the traffic and crossed the road onto the roundabout itself. This was a much better shot and having practiced on a BorderBus operating the 146, I was rather pleased with my final shot of the 61. It ended up being 455, registered AN61LAN, and fully branded up for the service. 

455 AN61LAN in Pakefield heading towards Kessingland on the 61

Four down, three to go. Next up was a service I was yet to photograph; the 90. Last time I was out that way there were two routes, the 60H and the 60S. The two letters stood for Halesworth and Southwold respectively, but it has now been merged into just one route. Sam Larke had reported that Konectbus had took two Alexander Dennis Enviro200s on loan from Hedingham which had recently arrived from Thames Travel, and East Norfolk Bus Blog had reported that one of thses (297 SN10CCZ) had been used on the 90 during the week thanks to a photograph from Steve W. Sure enough, 297 emerged into sight with a handy piece of paper stuck in the windscreen displaying the route number. So I guess this bus is on loan to Anglianbus from Konectbus from Hedingham!

Hedingham 297 SN10CCZ is on loan to Konectbus, who has in turn loaned it to Anglian. Photographed on the 90

My penultimate photograph was focusing on the other Norwich to Harleston route, the 83. It wouldn't surprise me if this followed the 60H and 60S in the near future and merged with the 84, but we'll see. For this shot I took my position in Starston, just outside Harleston and photographed Optare Versa 308 AU11EPF crossing a little river.

308 AU11EPF in Starston

Finally, it was time for the 85. A route which had passed to Simonds for a brief spell before heading back to Anglian so I was familiar with the route and knew the best places to photograph it as I had been out that way before to document the change of operator. So again, I parked the car and climbed up onto the verge and bang on time was driver Ross guiding Optare M950SL Solo 959 AU08GLY through the trees towards Rockland St Mary.

959 AU08GLY whizzing through country roads towards Rockland St Mary

So there we have it! Seven routes will pass over to Konectbus on Monday. I'm told that the fleet names on the Anglian buses will be changing tomorrow and then a fleet refresh will begin to take place. What that may entail I do not know but make the most of the bright colours of Anglian's livery because I would imagine it won't be too long until they begin to turn blue.

Keep an eye out on the blog on Monday for a special report on the history of the company and a personal tribute from yours truly.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Anglianbus Rebrand under Konectbus

Anglianbus have announced on their website that as of Monday 20th November, they will be known as Konectbus. More to follow.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Industry News: Mellor Coachcraft purchase Treka Bus

Route One magazine are reporting an interesting development in the UK minibus manufacturing sector in the past few days, involving two of the country's largest minibus manufacturers.

As of 1 November, Woodall Nicholson Holdings - the owners of Rochdale-based manufacturer Mellor Coachcraft - has completed the purchase of Villmount Group, the owners of rival manufacturer Treka Bus, who are based in Brighouse, West Yorkshire.

North Lincolnshire Council LJ14BHZ, a Treka 16-bodied Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 513CDi, seen laying over at Scunthorpe bus station on 18 August 2016. The Treka 16 is Treka Bus' most successful design, having proven popular with several local councils.

It has been confirmed that both Mellor and Treka Bus will continue to trade separately with their existing management teams as Woodall Nicholson subsidiaries. Mellor's products include the successful Strata LF service bus and Orion E electric minibus, while Treka Bus are well-known for their high-floor access bus bodywork, including the Treka 16. Mellor and Treka Bus designs will continue to be manufactured separately at their respective sites in Greater Manchester and Yorkshire.

Nottinghamshire County Council SC65HFR, a Mellor Orion-bodied Fiat Ducato service minibus, as seen at Worksop bus station on 30 August 2016 operating scheduled community transport service 108 to Worksop Sainsbury's.

This is the second major expansion for Mellor Coachcraft in the past few years. In July 2014, they completed the purchase of Scarborough-based minibus manufacturer Bluebird Vehicles, who had entered administration.

Bluebird's portfolio included the successful Volkswagen Transporter-based Tucana minibus, which, with over 650 built since 2005, is one of the most successful modern day minibus designs. Implementations include the large numbers ordered for London Dial-a-Ride services on behalf of Transport for London, and community transport services on behalf of Travel South Yorkshire by Sheffield Community Transport.

First Glasgow 54302 (YX10AXP) is a Bluebird Tucana-bodied Volkswagen Transporter service minibus seen awaiting departure from East Kilbride bus station on 3 June 2017 with an M1 service to Hairmyres. The vehicle is one of a handful of minibuses with First Glasgow painted in the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport's orange MyBus livery for contracted scheduled community transport operations.

Where are they now? LF52ZPC, LJ03MJU & YT13YUK

Hi all. We've received a couple of news submissions via email in the past couple of days that I thought might be of interest to you all, so here's another bonus update this evening.

Former Anglianbus Scania K270UB/ADL Enviro300NG demonstrator YT13YUK (999) has now found a permanent home with Reading Buses, having been re-registered to BU52GAS to reflect the vehicle's gas-powered green credentials and given their fleet number 435. The bus is painted in their spare silver livery and joins a large fleet of native gas-powered Scania E300s.

Anglianbus' former gas Scania E300 demonstrator YT13YUK (now BU52GAS) seen with its new owner Reading Buses (top) and during its time with Anglianbus (bottom). Both photos © Zak Nelson

Additionally, former BorderBus Volvo B7TL/Wright Eclipse Geminis LF52ZPC (new to London General) and LJ03MJU (new to Arriva London) are now both operating with Ellie Rose Travel up in Hull. These had both been replaced at BorderBus by the arrival of the Scania OmniCities recently.

Ex-BorderBus B7TL Gemini LJ03MJU seen up north in the colours of its new owner Ellie Rose Travel of Hull. Photo © Dan Elgey

Fleet update: First Norwich/Great Yarmouth

Following up on my post from the other day regarding Norwich's three new Tridents, as reported by the East Norfolk Bus Blog, it has now emerged that these three vehicles (being T-plate Euro 2s) will not be able to operate with First Norwich due to a emissions limit in force in Norwich city centre.

As a result, the three loanees from Southampton (32801 - T801LLC, 32809 - T809LLC and 32849 - T849LLC) have all transferred to Great Yarmouth where they will remain on loan from Southampton until Christmas. They will still operate the Bernard Matthews contract from here; the Norwich low-emission zone simply meant that they couldn't be used on city services at other times, hence their departure.

Going the other way from Great Yarmouth to Norwich for the time being are a pair of slightly newer Dennis Trident/Plaxton Presidents, 32212 (LT52WTV) and 32214 (LT52WTX). These are both painted in standard Barbie livery. This arrangement is again expected to last until Christmas.

Sunday, 29 October 2017


A week ago on Saturday (21 October), despite the inclement weather conditions of the approaching Storm Brian, I decided to follow Sheffield Wednesday on their travels again, this time following them away to Derby County.

My first move of the day was the 09:57 Supertram Purple route service from Leighton Road, worked by tram 106, alighting fifteen minutes later at Sheffield station. From there it was straight down to platform 5 to board the 10:29 East Midlands Trains service to London St Pancras, operated today by five-car Meridian unit 222022. Unlike my prior trip to Bolton, no such trouble with boarding trains today, the extra capacity meaning I had a seat (forward-facing and at a window and a table, no less) for the half an hour journey south.

Arriving at Derby at 11:04, that gave almost four hours before kick-off to kill. After passing through the ticket barriers and leaving the station, I took a couple of photos outside the station front before heading off for a walk through Derby city centre.

Kinchbus 909 (BX64WHW) is one of eight Mercedes-Benz O295N Citaro 2s branded for the SkyLink service between Derby and Leicester via East Midlands Airport and Loughborough, seen here waiting time outside Derby railway station.

Wandering across Derby city centre, I eventually stumbled across the Intu Derby shopping centre, and went inside in the hope of finding food. Making my way to the food court, I was thankful to find a KFC ahead of me - my personal favourite fast food establishment. (KFC, then McDonald's, and we don't talk about Burger King). I bought myself the standard Popcorn Chicken Snack Box and Pepsi and sat for half an hour in the warm of the food court while thinking of my next moves.

I headed out of the shopping centre and found Derby bus station right ahead of me. I've been here once before, and I seemed to remember it's very awkward for getting photos here, with traffic coming from all kinds of different annoying angles; I wasn't wrong, and while I got my bearings, I headed down along Morledge to get some photos of buses that didn't serve the bus station.

Yourbus (formerly known as Dunn-Line etc. and still registered as Dunn Motor Traction Ltd.) have had a turbulent history, but now appear to be consolidating and finding greater success, with their presence having grown noticeably in the three years since my last visit to Derby. Some buses now carry route branding, such as 3030 (BK13XYG), a Mercedes-Benz O530N Citaro branded for service Y3 (albeit on top of the old all-claret livery which is now being phased out), seen on Morledge in Derby city centre. The Y3 runs between Derby and Cotmanhay via Spondon and Ilkeston.
Notts+Derby as ever maintain a considerable presence in Derby, running the routes Wellglade evidently deem unworthy of the glitz and glamour of Trentbarton operation. 794 (YN06CYO) is one of a number of ex-TM Travel VDL SB120/Plaxton Centros with the company, seen leaving Derby bus station with a 73 service to Weston-on-Trent.
Arriva Midlands operate a number of routes in the Derby area under the "Arriva connecting Derby" brand, with a large percentage of their fleet now painted in the new corporate livery. Services 1 and 1a are a shared operation between Yourbus and Arriva, one of a number of such arrangements between the two companies in the city. Volvo B9TL/Wright Eclipse Gemini 4218 (FJ58KXS) is seen leaving Derby bus station, with a Yourbus Citaro 2 on service 1 following behind.

I do like Derby bus station as a bus station from a passenger standpoint, but from an enthusiast standpoint trying to take photos, it is one of the most awkward I've been to. It isn't helped immediately by it being a reversing-stand bus station with multiple entrances and exits, but even at the main exit onto Morledge, buses are going around at so many different angles and there is so much street furniture all over the place that it is very hard to get photos. Eventually, I settled for standing on a traffic island on the bus station side of Morledge, before crossing over onto the other side of the bus station exit road, next to the Intu Derby multi-storey car park.

Showing off Yourbus' new livery (which seems very Lothian-inspired, perhaps? It is very smart, either way) is one of their newest vehicles, ADL Enviro200 1404 (SN66WLL), seen rounding the bus station arriving in on a service 1a from the Boulton Lane estate.

Trentbarton's flagship brand is their Red Arrow express service between Derby and Nottingham city centres. In 2015 they introduced nine Volvo B11RT/Plaxton Elites onto the service, with 88 (YX65ZHU) seen here departing for Nottingham Victoria bus station.

Trentbarton have recently introduced a refreshed look for their Ilkeston Flyer services between Derby and Ilkeston, using Volvo B7RLE/Wright Eclipse Urbans displaced from other services by new arrivals. Showing off the new look is 723 (FJ58KKS).

Arriva aren't ones to miss out on the Derby route-branding party, and they have a number of buses branded for several routes. One particularly smart brand I think is this one for service F1 ("the Fast One") between Derby city centre and Alvaston via Pride Park stadium. A low-key branding, buses for the route carry Arriva's Max livery with silver panelling on the front and route descriptors above the side windows. Showing off the brand here is VDL SB200/Wright Pulsar 2 3745 (YJ59BVG).

A unique bus in the Arriva Derby fleet is this single Wright StreetDeck, 4600 (FJ64ETZ). It was purchased for Arriva's Sapphire-spec service 38 between Derby city centre and Sinfin.

By this point, the winds were beginning to pick up from the approaching Storm Brian, so I moved over closer to the car park wall in an attempt to seek shelter. This turned out to be a mistake...

Dodging panels being ripped off the roof of the Intu Derby car park by the high winds from Storm Brian was NOT in today's remit!

Spooked by the near miss, and with warnings the winds would only pick up through the day, I decided to make my way indoors. I still had an hour to kill before I would have to set off to the football match, though, so as I took shelter inside the bus station, I wondered where I could go next. Then I had a brainwave - if the outside of Intu Derby car park is trying to kill me... why don't I go inside it?

I eventually found the way into the car park and climbed the stairs up to the fourth floor, heading out to the east side of the car park to try and photograph buses coming in over the Holmes Bridge. The narrow-mesh safety fencing was too small to poke the camera lens through, so it was a difficult job, especially with the wind blowing through and pushing my camera about as I tried to rest it against the fence, but some photos did come out acceptably.

99 (YJ16DAA) is an Optare MetroCity V1080MC demonstrator on long-term loan with Trentbarton and painted in their i4 branding to supplement the similar but altogether rarer Optare Tempo SRs that frequent this service.
One of the old guard of Scania K94IB/Irizar i4s which previously operated the Red Arrow service until late 2015, 75 (FJ10OXR), has been maintained in Red Arrow livery to act as an additional spare vehicle. It is seen arriving in from Nottingham as an Elite departs in the opposite direction in the bottom left.

With time running out until I would have to leave, I moved over to the north-east corner of the car park to catch some photos of buses travelling along Morledge below me. The wider gaps in the fencing here made this somewhat easier.
DD3 (R843MFR) is a Volvo Olympian/East Lancs Pyoneer operated by Hawkes Coaches, seen passing through Derby city centre light after operating a contract transporting football supporters to Derby County's Pride Park stadium.

Thankyou, both road surface and registration plate, for letting me know that that is indeed a bus... Notts+Derby Optare Solo 442 (R26BUS) turns into Derby bus station with an 11 service from Shipley View via Ilkeston. 

My final shot of the day as I say goodbye to Derby bus station. Of course, I couldn't come here without covering one of the new arrivals since my last visit - Trentbarton the Mickleover-branded ADL Enviro200 MMC 103 (YX66WLN) is seen in the foreground leaving the bus station as the traffic lights turn green.

Now it was finally time to head to the match. The walk from the bus station to Pride Park stadium took around 20 minutes and was not a particularly enjoyable one, especially with the bitterly cold strong winds, walking through a bland industrial estate before arriving at the stadium. It's one that I've visited three times before already, making it one of my most visited football grounds.

I made it into the ground with plenty of time before kick-off, and rather wished I hadn't. I have never seen such a tragic Americanised display of overzealousness before a football match - flags and cards with an irritating public announcer riling everybody up, culminating in the setting off of dozens of confetti cannons in the stands as the teams walked out, which only proceeded to make a mess of the pitch, covering it in white confetti for the entire game. The strong winds from Storm Brian only served to exacerbate the problem by creating swirling clouds of confetti which meandered across the pitch for the entire 90 minutes.

The restricted view was quickly of no worry to me anyway, since in typical Wednesday fashion we conceded a penalty, had a red card and went 1-0 down within two minutes of kick-off. Another goal late on meant that in the end it ended in a 2-0 defeat for the Owls.

What on earth is this mess?

After the game, I headed for a walk through Derby city centre instead of heading straight back for a train. Fading light meant I couldn't get many more photos, but something I did notice was this interesting prop in the car park of the Alexandria Hotel pub. Further research indicates it is the cab of now-otherwise-scrapped diesel locomotive 37411.

Not a bad item of furniture to have in your beer garden.

Eventually I made my way back to Derby railway station, jumping on the 18:25 East Midlands Trains service to Sheffield from platform 1, operated by 222009. Again there was no problem finding a seat, a big change from my Bolton visit. Arriving back into Sheffield at 18:58, I found that the weather up north had changed drastically; the strong, blustery winds being replaced by driving rain. Thankfully I had only two minutes to wait up at the tram stop for my Purple route tram back to Leighton Road, once again worked by tram 106.

Despite the miserable result and difficult weather conditions, overall a very enjoyable day out. I always like travelling to Trentbartonland, as I think they are an unparallelled operator when it comes to innovative and interesting new route branding designs.

P.S. re: the name - any other Arctic Monkeys fans here? I suppose I ought to be, hailing from Sheffield... see ya later, innovator.