Thursday, 3 October 2013

Fleet Update ~ First

I was invited into Caister Road yesterday to have a look around the garage and to attend a meeting with Mark Reynolds and Danny Beales, depot management. The first thing to mention is that the summer hertiage service 3 from Vauxhall Holiday Park to Hemsby is now finished for the season. First express that this year was one of the most successful seasons with the Routemasters proving very reliable and popular along the route.

We all knew that the arrival of the X1 Geminis in the fleet would cause a major reshuffle within the Eastern Counties fleet. Today I will take you through the current plan of action at Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, that of course is subject to change. With permission from First.


The main thing that will happen in Lowestoft is the arrival of nine ex-X1 Geminis to the fleet to work on the X2. This means that the two Olympians 34155 P655UFB and 34156 P656UFB will be withdrawn for disposal, and the current X2 ALX400s will be sent to work in Colchester, not Ipswich as originally thought. Current long term loan to Ipswich from Lowestoft 30887 W742DWX is now likely to remain a permanent member of the fleet in Ipswich, as they have acquired a school tender in Leiston which it is used for at the moment.

It was also thought that the W reg ALX400s would be split with some being transferred to Great Yarmouth. This however has changed and all are now planned to stay with Lowestoft. 

It has also been reported that the ex-X1 Geminis would enter service before they had been repainted however First assure me that they do not want that to happen and ALL should be repainted and vinyld before entering service, the first of which is 37568 AU58ECJ that may be on the road as early as next week.

Six of the nine Geminis will see X2 branding (37563-37568), similar to that of the current buses but with 'LOWESTOFT' applied on the side rather than "X2 NORWICH TO LOWESTOFT". The graphics on the top window and rear window will remain the same though. The remaining three will see the standard livery with no branding.

Also to note, 42458 R458CCV and 43459 R459BNG have been withdrawn.

Great Yarmouth

There is a lot more planned for Great Yarmouth then we thought there was, especially in comparison to Lowestoft. I have been advised that along with all the W reg Olympians, four Renowns (60807,08,13,14) will be stored for reserve but are unlikely to see service again once the transfers are complete. The Renowns may be in line to replace the training coaches in the Eastern Counties fleet, but this is just a preliminary at the moment. The last Plaxton Pointer 2 in the Yarmouth fleet 43480 R680DPW may be sent to Braintree within the week as they urgently need one at the moment.

Both Palatine bodied Olympians 34186 S686AAE and 34187 S687AAE are earmarked for disposal but are likely to be the last vehicles to leave thanks to their recent reliability. On the other side of the spectrum, Plaxton Paragon 20514 WV02EUP is likely to be the first one to leave, its new home being Chelmsford. Sister coach 20515 WV02EUR will be debranded and kept for rail replacement work.

Eight ex-X1 Geminis will be arriving within the next few months, all will be in the new livery with GREAT YARMOUTH fleet names applied. Aswell as this, their may be an influx of older deckers arriving from the Leicester area within this same time period. Due to passenger numbers increasing, First would like to convert route 7 to Belton to a double deck route with some talks also about route 6 to Bradwell.

A massive thank you to First for the continious updates and support with the blog.


  1. Not happy at all about the 05 ALX400's not going to Ipswich. As usual First would rather try and grab passengers from Ipswich Buses than look after their own loyal passengers with better buses. It is madness that passengers on routes that can last anything up to an hour and 45 mins still have to tolerate substandard unreliable buses. It does make you wonder what First's long term plans are for Ipswich.

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  3. I'd assume the ALX400s are being sent to Colchester to replace the L Reg Volvo Olympians that have done a sterling job. Also interesting to note that Braintree are taking delivery of yet another end of life Dart!

  4. Hi Anon, The Yarmouth depot are rather upset that 43480 may be sent to Braintree, they say its a really good bus! and Yes Steve, I assume the '05 ALX400s are needed more in Colchester to replace the L reg Olympians.

  5. ALX 400s at Colchester for the 75

  6. @Zak, good to know that Braintree are getting a reliable Dart. They also have plenty of room for end of life vehicles! :-). @Anon09:07, you're probably right. That route can get really busy. Service 71 would be another good candidate except the low bridge at Chelmsford Bus Station would probably decapitate them!

  7. 30887 is staying in ipswich naw


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