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Thursday, 3 September 2015

A First Look at Konect's New Park & Ride Buses

Konectbus have been showing off their new Park & Ride buses this week, at various locations. This morning, 624 SN65OAC was parked at Harford Park & Ride along with Anglian's very own David Jordan who was giving out the new timetables and answering any questions from the public.

Old and new: the last remaining old Park & Ride liveried bus passing 624 at Harford this morning.
This was the first time I had seen one of the new buses up close and personal and I must say I am very impressed. The livery looks fantastic in the flesh, and the look is completed by the smart and relevant vinyls. Inside, the buses have moquette seating with leather headrests and wood effect flooring, like on the Straight 8, but instead of USB charging points, they feature visual and audio next stop announcements.

Downstairs, there is plenty of room for wheelchairs and buggies
Upstairs is light and airy
and features a next stop screen which can be seen to the right.
One feature I had not been aware of from the beginning was that the bus hosts two destination screens on the front of the vehicle. On the right hand side of the screen is a smaller, more expensive display which can incooperate different colours into the destination. I was told today that no decisions have been made as to what colours each display will be yet, as Konectbus are keen for them to look as neat as possible, but for now the colour of the route number will replace the colour of the bus on each route.

624 displaying the new Harford Park & Ride display, complete with blue route number
The display on the rear of the vehicle can also accomodate the different colours, however the screen on the nearside door cannot.

Remember the new services commence on Monday, with a fleet of 18 brand new buses complimented by a selection of refurbished vehicles.

For a full list of the new buses, click here.

It may also be of note that when I went to the City, the buses operating Harford were 500 YJ05PXA and 602 SN10CFF alongside the last remaining Harford branded bus 601 SN10CFE. Upon my return, 601 had been replaced by 510 LB02YWX and 500 had been replaced by ex-Thickthorn 502 YJ05PXC.

Depot Vist ~ Anglianbus

With the news of two of Anglian's StreetLites being repainted white recently, I ventured to the depot this afternoon in the hope of being able to photograph them. Upon arrival, I was greeted with the site of 352 MX60BWJ sitting pretty in the workshop on the rolling road with a host of mechanics around her. After waiting for a good five minutes, I managed to grab the attention of a man who had come out of the office. I was initially told to 'get off the site, coz I don't want anybody on here', but not wanting my trip to be wasted, I asked what I should do to gain permission to take photos. This was to talk to Anglian's new depot manager, Allistair Strong. So I walked round to reception and asked if he was available and after about a minute's wait, I was greeted with a firm handshake by a smart, cheery chap who introduced himself as the new depot manager. After a brief chat about the StreetLites, he then explained that he'd be more than happy for me to photograph any buses I like here, and escorted me round to where the StreetLites were parked.

352 MX60BWJ looking fabulous in white, ready to be collected by Mistral
and sister 350 MX60BWH has also been repainted
For those who were unaware, the five year lease on these buses has now ran out and Anglian has decided not to renew it, therefore the batch of four are to be sent back to the dealer where they will no doubt be sold or leased out again to another company.

350 and 352 are the only ones to be painted, whilst 351 MX60BWK and 353 MX60GXA were also present on my visit, still wearing their AnglianBus livery. All are due to be at Mistral by the end of the month.

Talking of white buses, I noted long term loanee 214 YW14FHS, an Alexander Dennis Enviro200 working the 60 this afternoon.

A big thanks must go to Allistair Strong for taking time out of what must be a busy schedule to allow me to photograph the buses.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Megabus Service Withdrawn

August 31st saw the last day of service for Megabus' service M37 between Great Yarmouth and Birmingham. The route operated via Norwich, Cambridge and on to Cardiff but due to low patronage on the Eastern side of the route, the decision was taken to cancel that half of the service meaning the route now only operates between Birmingham and Cardiff.

I happened to be travelling along the A11 on the 31st, and overtook Freestone's Scania K380EB4 Irizar, registered YN08JBX heading towards Cambridge for the last time. I couldn't resist this last photo opportunity so pulled over in a layby near Thetford to get one last shot of the service.

YN08JBX overtaking a caravan on a very wet A11

The recent passenger numbers have been so low that Freestones have been operating a Ford Transit minibus between Great Yarmouth and Norwich to save fuel. LC60XMV was photographed on Wednesday morning at Norwich Bus Station.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Buses replacing Trains ~ September 2015

Welcome to the September 2015 Engineering Works Summary affecting services into Norwich. A diverse amount of buses/coaches may operate.
  • SAT (12th) and SUN (13th) - Train Track maintenance is being undertaken between Brundall and Lowestoft. As a result, train lines are closed. Buses operate from Lowestoft / Oulton Broad North to Norwich and Acle to Reedham/Cantley. 
  • SUN (13th) - Train Lines are closed between Ely and Thetford. However, buses are in operation between Ely/Thetford and Norwich to Peterborough.
  • SUN (13th and 20th) - The 22:02 AbellioGreaterAnglia Ipswich to Lowestoft train terminates at Beccles. A bus operates to Lowestoft.
  • SAT (19th) and SUN (20th) - Track maintenance is being undertaken between Brundall and Lowestoft. Buses operate from Lowestoft and Oulton Broad North to Norwich. They also operate between Acle and Reedham/Cantley. 
  • SUN (20th) - Train Lines are closed between Ely and Thetford. Buses are in operation between Ely/Thetford and Norwich to Peterborough.
  • SAT (26th) and SUN (27th) - Train Track maintenance is being undertaken between Brundall and Lowestoft. As a result, train lines are closed. Buses operate from Lowestoft / Oulton Broad North to Norwich and Acle to Reedham/Cantley. 
  • MON (21st) to WED (23rd) - 23:30 Liverpool Street to Norwich train terminates at Ipswich. A bus operates to Norwich, calling at Stowmarket, Diss and Norwich. 
  • SUN (27th) - The 22:02 Ipswich to Lowestoft train terminates at Beccles. A bus operates to Lowestoft.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Fleet Update ~ Sanders Services and FirstGreat Yarmouth

The latest addition to the Sanders fleet comes in the form of this Scania Omnicity. Thanks to Sanders for photo permission - remains copyrighted to them. YS03ZHM previously belonged to Nottingham Transport.

Finally, I saw FirstGreatYarmouth Dart 42921 EU05AUL today. It's wearing a new rear advert for Yarmouth college. Thanks to Jamie Skinner for making me aware aswell 

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Old Buckenham Bus Rally 2015

Today hosted the Eastern Transport Collection's Old Buckenham Bus Rally and fellow blogger Harry and I ventured out on board ex-Great Yarmouth Transport 85 WEX685M, an AEC Swift currently owned by Chris Speed and Danny Beales. After a last wash and polish, we departed First's Caister Road depot in Great Yarmouth just after 10am. Chris was at the wheel, with a handful of other enthusiasts and friends alike sitting comforatbly onboard.

The line up at Old Buckenham this year included approximately 30 vehicles.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by a hoard of enthusiasts, all scrambling to get their first pictures of the recently restored vehicle. Unfortunately for us, FirstGreat Yarmouth's 32059 (59) W219XBD had already arrived and was therefore right in the middle of some other buses, but the organisers soon had a shuffle around to allow us to photograph both 85 and 59 together.

As you can see from the photo, also present was FirstIpswich's 32479 (VA479) AU53HJV which was positioned next to privately owned LG587 WAH587S to complete the line up.

This year's free shuttle to Attleborough operated an extended timetable and departed the airfield every twenty minutes, sometimes two buses at a time.

Lowestoft Coorperation 12 PBJ2F departs the airfield on a free shuttle

Double Trouble! Two buses head out at the same time on the last shuttle of the day.
Three buses crossing the railway tracks all at once
After a trip out to Attleborough on the 1225 shuttle, Harry and I decided to walk from the rally to Old Buckenham green, just down the road in order to photograph the buses in greener surroundings, without other buses and enthusiasts getting in the way. The twenty minute gander there enabled us to photograph some of the buses winding their way through the thin back roads which resulted in some rather pleasing, old-fashioned shots.

LG587 rounding a bend
The main reason for our wander was that we had learnt that 59 and 85 were due to operate the 1505 shuttle together, in convoy and we wanted to photograph them both at once. After taking a test shot of two other buses operating the previous shuttle, we'd found the spot which would give us the best chance of reaching our goal; only to be thwarted by a blue Peugeot sitting in between them when they went past.

Rather annoyed with fate, we decided to start heading back to the the airfield with the hope of having a second chance as they returned. This time we were successful, photographing them both as they made their way back up the single track lane to the rally.

By this point, the sun had gone in and the weather had begun to turn so the organisers decided to finish up slightly early and present the prizes from the day; and on 85's first outing since being owned by Chris and Danny, she won the Best Vehicle prize.

Chris Speed and Danny Beales show off their trophy in front of their vehicle
When I took that photo, I assumed it would be the last one I would take today. But it wasn't to be! Fate apologised for it's earlier trick by giving me a third chance to photograph both 59 and 85 together, this time on the Acle Straight as we were held up briefly due to a "Police Incident" on the way home.

I don't think we'll ever get the chance to take a photo like this again!
A big thanks to Danny and Chris for taking their pride and joy to the event, and allowing Harry and I to travel onboard, and a mention to Grahame and Des; it was nice to briefly catch up!

Thursday, 20 August 2015

ALL Park & Ride Vehicles and Fleet Numbers Confirmed

Thanks to Konectbus, we can now reveal all the details concerning the new Park & Ride buses which are due for delivery before September the 7th. These are as follows:

622 SN65OAA
623 SN65OAB
624 SN65OAC
625 SN65OAD
626 SN65OAE
627 SN65OAG
628 SN65OAH
629 SN65OAJ
630 SN65OAL
631 SN65OAM
632 SN65OAO
633 SN65OAP
634 SN65OAS
635 SN65OAU
636 SN65OAV
637 SN65OAW
638 SN65OAX
639 SN65OAY

Bendy bus 800 BD57WDA is also listed as in the new two tone green livery.

Norwich Park & Ride Special Part 3 - Postwick

Postwick Park & Ride is currently operated by Norse Eastern Ltd with a fleet of red and purple 2003 registered Plaxton Presidents. The reason for the two colours is that the route operates through the city centre to Sprowston Park & Ride, which we'll cover in Part 4. 

7160 PN03ULR is one of three red Presidents which operate the route. She is seen here entering the site.
Although Postwick and Sprowston are linked by the service, they are both registered seperately. Buses display the route number 606 whilst operating from Sprowston and number 605 whilst operating from Postwick.

7158 PN03ULL is painted in Sprowston's purple livery but is a common site at Postwick due to the linked routes.

The site is situated on the junction between the A47 and the A1042. The journey to the city centre takes approximately fifteen minutes, and buses run at a frequency of every quarter of an hour. It is the smallest of all the sites, with just 552 spaces. The first bus leaves at 0700 whilst the last one back to the site leaves the city centre at 1830. As with the other sites, there are also recycling facilities, covered bicycle parking and designated disabled spaces.

7171 PN03UMJ negiotiates the road works which currently plague the area.
As you can see from the above photo, it is not unusual for a standard liveried bus to find it's way onto the route. Norse operate three plain white buses alongside the three red ones for Postwick and three Purple buses for Sprowston, which will be the focus of Part 4.

Current Routes:
Part 1 - Harford
Part 2 - Thickthorn
Part 3 - Postwick
Part 4 - Sprowston
Part 5 - Airport
Part 6 - Costessey

New Routes:
Part 7 - Harford to Sprowston
Part 8 - Thickthorn to Airport
Part 9 - Postwick
Part 10 - Costessey

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Fleet Update ~ Konectbus

The first two of Konect's new Enviro400s for the Park & Ride service have arrived safely at their depot in Dereham. SN65OAC and SN65OAB were photographed by Darren Dodman today and he has kindly given us permission to reproduce the image for you here:

© Darren Dodman
© Darren Dodman
© Darren Dodman
As can be seen, the buses feature wood-effect flooring and leather headrests, just like those delivered earlier in the month for the service 8. They also feature audio and visual next stop announcements.

Thanks Darren!

Konect's New Enviro400s

On Tuesday the 11th of August, Konectbus pressed five brand new Alexander Dennis Enviro400s into service on their express branded route 8 which operates from Toftwood to Norwich via Dereham. Unfortunately, I was away from home so I couldn't see them on their first day of service, but I was out and about the next day so I took the opportunity to go into the city and catch one to Dereham.

My trip started at the end of the route, at Riverside in Norwich as I had just purchased some Norwich City tickets for the recent away trip to Sunderland. I was yet to see one of the new buses in the flesh and so it was with great excitement that I saw 619 SK15HKC approaching me dead on time.

After a brief chat with the friendly driver, I was granted permission to take some interior shots, as the bus was completely empty. The vehicles feature leather headrests and traditional moquette seating in favour of the more modern leather versions due to customer feedback surveys expressing that they were more comfortable, as in the summer months, the leather can become hot and sticky. The buses also have some rather swanky looking wood-effect flooring, free WiFi, and most notably USB charging points.

After the brief excitement of being on a brand new bus for the first time since First's X1 buses entered service, I set about taking my seat at the front of the bus and settling in for the ride. I made use of the USB charging points by plugging in my iPhone and camera, before testing out the WiFi. Unfortunately, it seems the manufacturers still haven't quite mastered the technique as I am still yet to ride a bus where the WiFi works 100%. In this instance, I couldn't log on at all which was quite disappointing seeing as the WiFi at home had also been off for 24 hours due to a 'problem in my area' (according to BT anyway).

Anyway, it's main purpose is ferrying passengers from A to B so I won't dwell too much on the non-existent WiFi. As an Enviro400, it felt like just another bus to me. If I didn't know it was a brand new bus, I dont think I would have noticed. I heard no comments from other passengers like I did with First's X1 buses either but thats probably because the seats aren't as luxurious.

An old number 8 bus found it's way onto the 4 and is seen infront of one of the new ones.
Anyway, enough with the negativity. There is nothing wrong with the vehicles themselves and it's probably unfair to compare them to others of a higher specification. From the outside, they look absolutely fantastic. The new livery stands out and is much brighter than the older one (as can be seen from the photo above). Konect have opted to rebrand the route as the Straight 8, which is a popular decision as it used to be called this before the new express branding started in 2011. 

The inside is also very smart and I was impressed with how clean they were, even though they'd only been in service for a day. My trip was made by the drivers though who were all very friendly and asked lots of questions about the hobby and who answered my questions about buses and the company.

Also noted that day was 8 branded 608 SN61CZY on Costessey Park & Ride duties, however now all the old 8 branded buses now carry branding for the 2 and 2A.

In summary, the new buses are as follows:

617 SK15HKA
618 SK15HKB
619 SK15HKC
620 SK15HKD
621 SK15HKE