Thursday, 2 January 2014

End of Year Review ~ 2013

 End of Year Review ~ 2013

For admin reasons, we have decided to post our End of Year Review as a blog post surplus to the available .pdf file availble through the slideshow on the home page.

Ambassador Travel

2013 has been a rather insignificant year for the company, with the highlight being the decommissioning of 180 FD54DGU from National Express duties, which later received the private registration plate, KIG1890. She has since been given a Sunrise Direct livery.
 Just Go Holidays liveried Sunsundegui 251 FJ06BRF has also been spotted without any branding in Ambassador’s classic plain white paintjob.
Other news included sister company Semmence & Co. moving out of their depot on Norwich Road to nearby Ayton Road Industrial Estate, whilst more recently they are thought to be expecting a delivery of three more used coaches to add to their fleet of school buses.


Unlike Ambassador Travel, 2013 has been a very significant year for the company. It started in January when four more MAN EcoCity's arrived for use on the 601 and 588. These four added to the fleet of six that anglian had taken delivery of in December last year. These four raised the total to ten, which left three more to arrive. These were held back from service until March to allow them to be the first '13' reg buses in service in Norfolk and Suffolk. These were brought into service with a new 146 timetable and were promoted to be used on the extra early morning services, after high demand on the route.
110 AU13FBJ awaits passengers in Beccles
 The then only Optare Excel in the fleet (400 X228WRA) received extensive body damage after catching fire on the way back to the depot in January. She still sits at the back of the yard today.

June saw the announcement that long serving managing director Andrew Pursey was retiring, and konectbus boss Julian Patterson was due to take over at the end of the month along with a new operations manager Philip Eden. The first signs of the takeover was the renumbering of anglian's fleet. The new fleet numbers interlinked with those of konectbus, to make it simpler for management to know which buses were where. We then saw a new logo introduced on the official fleet list, and with that came rumours of a new livery. These were originally downplayed but during July, one of three former konectbuses that were originally transferred emerged resplendent in a rather familiar looking livery. Original public opinion of the new livery was negative, with people suggesting that anglian isn't a family-run business anymore and is now too 'konect-like'. Unfortunately, negative comments continued into August, when anglian released information of a new network that would result in all service routes being given a new number. News that the popular 146 between Beccles and Norwich along with the A47 route would be withdrawn was also announced at this time. 
229 X229WRA was the first bus to emerge in the new livery. Seen here exiting the paintshop.
 The 2nd of September saw the first day of operation for the new network with the newly branded "anglianexpress 7" route replacing the A/X47 which skipped Acle in a bid to fight back at First's X1 service. The first day, as expected was rather hectic with quite a few delays but since then the creases have begun to iron out with the public and enthusiasts alike gaining confidence in the new system. 

453 YT11LVE is one of three buses currently branded for the 7
 In preperation for the network, anglian's fleet was significantly reduced in size from ninety-six to around seventy and currently sits at sixty-five. The remaining step entrance vehicles were first to go, followed by the R reg Scanias and the dual door OmniCitys, and ALX400s. Late October saw the oldest Solos withdrawn. All of this pushed the average fleet age up whilst reducing running costs which saw profit begin to rise again.
Some of the many withdrawn buses sit awaiting their fate at the back of anglian's yard in July
More recently it has come to light that konect will take over the 50/50A, and the 51; causing another four buses (slimline Solos) being transferred from anglian. The 7 will run through Acle on its way to Yarmouth before turning into the 61 at a twenty minute frequency. This will see the ‘express’ branding being removed but will give passengers from Southwold, Kessingland and Lowestoft a through service to Norwich at a frequency higher than the X1. The college service 69 (Brundall to Yarmouth and East Norfolk Sixth Form Colleges is also set to be renumbered as 7A, and will be extended to and from Norwich.


2013 was one of the first in recent years that no brand new buses arrived. However due to the link with sister company anglian and the introduction of the new network, they saw an influx of ex-anglian vehicles transferred in whilst some of their older buses were transferred out. They took on two more Tempos and three Versas whilst getting rid of four Excels before taking one back. Konect also sent one of their Tridents in exchange for anglian's buses, which still wears her blue livery today!
414 YJ55BLX in service in Dereham, still retaining her yellow colours
Konect also operated the replacement for anglian's 122 and A47; the 52 operated from Cringleford to the City Centre, then on to Brundall and Blofield through to Acle. As of January though, it will no longer serve Acle due to the reinstatement of anglian's 7 service through Acle from Yarmouth to Norwich.

konectbus service 52 in Acle during Autumn
The boys in blue are also set to take on more of anglian's routes next year in the form of the 50/50A and 51. To do this, they will acquire four of anglian's slimline Solos to work the route


As always, the whole Eastern Counties fleet was updated significantly throughout the year. Great Yarmouth saw all of their Plaxton Pointers withdrawn. These were replaced with four '05 reg Alexander Pointer 2s along with seven ex-Jersey Caetano Slimbuses; the first buses in Yarmouth to wear FirstGroup's new cooperate ‘interurban’ livery. These were followed by the ex-First Manchester B9 Gemini 37562 FJ08FYN which was also in the new livery, after seeing service with Eastern Counties a few years ago in her old one.
43861 EG52FGJ was the first new livery vehicle to operate with Great Yarmouth

The long X1 route between Peterborough and Lowestoft finally received their long awaited Enviro400s in September. To help out the gaps left by repainting of the old fleet, Great Yarmouth was sent another ex-Jersey bus 33423 SN60CAA which was loaned to King's Lynn and is still there today.

Lowestoft's fleet continued to be repainted into 2013, with the remaining ALX400s for use on the X2 being painted and branded for the high profile route. All but one of Yarmouth's Plaxton Pointer 2s were transferred to Lowestoft (the remaining one went to Essex) and saw a lot of work on their town routes. This enabled the older Darts to be withdrawn. Other replacements were four ex-Jersey Caetano Slimbuses, which have seen service on X22, town services and even on the X2. Thanks to the arrival of twenty-two new Enviro400s for the X1, the B9 Geminis previously used on the route were sent to Lowestoft for use on the X2, and Yarmouth for use on the 1, 1A, 8 and X1 shorts. Three of the '05 reg ALX400s were sent to Colchester whilst the other two which were meant for Colchester actually went to Ipswich in exchange for two ex-Park & Ride B7RLEs.

ex-X1 Gemini 37568 AU58ECJ departs Norwich on her second day of service on the X2

Norwich's fleet saw no changes, however repainting was planned to begin in September, with the Purple Line buses thought to be first. It soon became apparent that this wasn't happening and the only glimpse of the new livery was when two of the ex-X1 buses were in service on relief 25s for a few days.  Also worth noting was the removal of all advert wraps from the buses which left the fleet wrap free. This only lasted a month or two with ex ‘Co-op bus’ 66957 WX55TZU now wearing a brand new and improved pink advert for the supermarket.

two ex-X1 buses saw service in Norwich before moving onto their new home in the Potteries
The main reason for the many fleet changes that happened this year was the arrival of twenty-two brand new, state-of-the-art Alexander Dennis Enviro400s. The new buses feature leather seats, wi-fi, air chill and next stop voice announcements accompanied by an information screen. First's new 'express' version of the new livery was also launched alongside the buses. 

X1 spotting in Hopton on the Enviro's first day of service
Norfolk Green

Although Norfolk Green are basically out of our area, they do have a few services that run into and around Norwich; and I felt it relevant to include the recent news that they were bought out by Stagecoach Bus Holdings Ltd in December. The takeover saw no immediate changes apart from the renumbering of the whole fleet on paper, but we are yet to see any physical changes on the buses themselves. It looks like 2014 will be the most significant year in the company’s history, as part of the Stagecoach group.

Sanders Coaches

This year has seen a few new arrivals and a couple of new services for Sanders, the highlight probably being the acquisition of two Volvo B12BT Jonckheere SHVs. Both coaches received Sanders' cherished registrations in the form of RDV903 and OGR647. Other coach acquisitions include a VanHool (WK06AEG) and another Plaxton Panther (YN05HVD) which arrived with at least three more Premieres.
On the bus front, Sanders have acquired five ex-Reading buses. All five are Wright bodied Solars and mostly work on the 44s and the new service 43 from Norwich to Reepham. They also acquired an ex-demonstrator double decker to replace one of their OmniDekkas that caught fire during the summer; 115 YR10BBO also saw service with Beestons in Suffolk before its move up North. 
Other movements saw three OmniCitys bought in from anglianbus, one of which has still not been painted and saw service in her yellow colours. 313 YN03UVM was then given an allover wrap to hide her incorrect livery advertising the coastal town of Sheringham.

"Postcards from Sheringham"
As well as the new 43 service, Sanders started a relief college service for the 837 from Potter Heigham. The 834 runs a couple of minutes behind the former, to allow the increasing number of students from the area to get to and from college. Unlike the 837, the service is usually operated by a coach.

This brings to a close our end of review for 2013. A busy year to say the least! Joe, Kieran, Sam and I have all enjoyed reporting it all to you and new recruit Marcus looks forward to blogging with myself into the New Year. Bring on 2014!!

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