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.
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.