Welcome to part one of a three part Spotted! special and that's right folks! Colchester was the choice of destination on my accidental train journey on Monday. I had meant to click 29th when booking but accidentally clicked 19th, thus resulting in me going on a little expedition ten days earlier than anticipated. The whole point of the trip was to finally capture some FirstEssex vehicles in action on the road. I had already seen some Essex buses as various pass through Great Yarmouth's Caister Road for MOTs and suchlike, but I was yet to see one in service. So with a hopeful day ahead of me I boarded the 1000 Abellio Greater Anglia service to Liverpool Street. I alighted the train in Colchester and waited five minutes for a smaller train to take me round to the town center. Upon arrival, I headed straight to the bus station which is only just a short walk around the corner.
deja vu?! I've seen this before! One of FirstColchester's Wright Solar
bodied buses that featured on the little preview post on Monday.
Unfortunately for me, it was rather sunny that day. You might think that that would enable me to take some decent photographs but Colchester's town center is set out in a kind of square which the buses operate through, on a one way system. This, coupled with tall buildings and the fact the sun always seemed to be behind you, resulted in a rather frustrating hour or two in which I could never get a bus in full sunlight unless it was directly from the back or the front, and three new livery Plaxton Presidents whizzing passed unnoticed, closely followed by Chamber's ex-Anglian 907 YT51EBF. I chased the latter around half the town but seeing as I didn't know which road it would turn off on, I quickly gave up and resigned to the fact that I had picked a difficult destination to bus spot.
After an hour or two and a quick visit to the FirstEssex travel shop, the sun had moved around and it was now possible to photograph buses in full sunlight, just. I will take a bit of time to mention the different operators that operate in and around Colchester, for those who are interested in more than just the pictures.
Network Colchester are part of the national Arriva owned TGM group. Despite this, their website seems to be on a bit of a 'limited info' side, and so I can't actually tell you much about them. What I can say is that they operate six services in total, some of which are on behalf of Essex County Council. Their fleet seem to consist of Plaxton Pointer 2 bodied Dennis Darts, accompanied by a couple of Caetano Compass bodied Darts of the same type. This was a body type which I had never seen before and I quite like the styling, although they do look out of date.
Network Colchester's 3406 HX51LSN operating
on Council supported route 1A to Ambrose Avenue
One of the routes operated is the 133 SX Connect which links Cambridge and Braintree with Stansted Airport every hour. On my visit, I only noted one bus operating the route, although I'm sure there are more but I can't find a fleet list to confirm.
Network Colchester's 3818 GN07AVE is a Wright Eclipse Urban bodied
Volvo B7RLE and is seen here at Colchester Bus Station.
That concludes part one, look out for part two which will see photos of the two Essex-based GoAhead subsidiaries Hedingham and Chambers.