Wednesday 14 January 2015

Cleaning The Night Away

You will have notiiced recently that vehicles are dirty. Very dirty in some cases. It's the norm for this time of year with rain mixing with salt on the road and caking everything in mud within minutes of setting out on the road. However there was an exception to that rule today. I had been invited to a demonstration of the new cleaning procedures at First Ipswich tonight and initially thought it was gong to be a complete waste of time as I had noticed during the afternoon just how much cleaner than other companies the First fleet was - in fact I thought everything coming in was 69006 as they were that clean (69006 hasn't arrived back from Rotherham yet). I met David Warren in The Plough beforehand and we spent most of the time marvelling at the cleanliness of the buses.

32493 with full 66 branding leaves Old Cattle Market without a spec of dirt on it.
So at 6pm we wandered into the depot to meet up with Clive Nixon from Ipswich Bus Blog, Chris Speed (only there to act as my taxi driver) and the man running the show now, Paulo van Krijcken (if I've got the spelling wrong let me know). Chris developed a cleaning system called "Fresh Start" some 10 years ago but Paulo has been the brains who has brought it to Ipswich. Quite simply it means that each and every bus gets hand washed during the week every week. However it's how it is all fitted in that is the clever bit.

It takes 4 minutes to fuel a bus (110 - 130 litres per night on average) and obviously it takes more than 4 mins to wash a whole bus. So they don't wash the whole bus. Each day different parts of the vehicle get treated with detergent and brushed before the bus goes through the wash. Over the course of the week everything is done at least once and the results are already showing. So simple yet so effective. So for a couple of hours we watched with a growing respect as the conveyor belt of buses went through the process. It was also a glorious opportunity for a night time photoshoot rarely possible.

Paulo gets to grips with a B7rle
I then realised that at night the camera on my phone is far superior to my camera so started snapping with that. Next vehicle in was the rather impressive looking Excel fronted 69426.

69428 in the fuel lane - and who is that gatecrashing the photo on the right?
Now at official events such as tree planting or foundation stone laying you get a big wig dressed in a hi-viz vest and a suit who is pictured holding a spade pretending to know what he is meant to be doing. I'm delighted to report nothing like that happened tonight.

Ah. Ok it did - sorry!!
Ipswich isn't the biggest of depots and it was interesting to watch the shunters slot the buses into their allocated spaces with extreme skill and dexterity.

69428, soon to be departed 65670 and 66976 in the gloom
Finally here is a pic of a couple of the deckers - I wanted a shot of the light gleaming off the side of 32656 and it certainly gets that. However next to it is I believe 32489. This was without doubt the dirtiest First Ipswich vehicle I had seen all day - because it is currently VOR and hadn't been out. That says it all and sums up the new attitude and desire for perfection that Paulo and his team have. Great credit should go to Paulo for this venture, and it was a privilage to see it in action.

32656 gleaming next to a duler 32489
If you are going to have a taxi driver for haf an hour it may as well be an interesting one, and Chris gave me a couple of nuggets on the way home. Firstly the Norwich Paragons 20514/5 are no longer Norwich Paragons but Ipswich Paragons and have moved permanently for Rail Replacement work. They will be joined by two as yet unknown others and repainted into a livery Chris was quite vague about but won't be Ipswich livery.

20515, long term VOR 44516 and 20514
Finally a couple of weeks ago I said that the last Ipswich Scanias were going to go West for the final days of their life. This turned out to be false information, but not as false as I first thought as I just had the wrong vehicles. Chris told me tonight (so blame him if it's wrong) that the ex YARMOUTH Volvo B10BLE Wright Renowns 60813/4 and 66126 are going to First Devon and Cornwall. The Ipswich Scanias 65579/88 and maybe 65589 are going into storage at Rowntree Way, Norwich.

My thanks goes to Chris, Paulo, Dave and Clive for a most enjoyable evening. It was great to see behind the scenes and I can see the Ipswich fleet and entire operation being the envy of many a depot in the months and years to come. This time last year First were giving me many things to criticise. Now they are giving me many reasons to praise, and that is far more enjoyable.


  1. Good post as usual Steve
    So much for being told to keep quiet about the move of the ex Yarmouth Renowns to the south-west! LOL!

  2. Oops! I know how annoying that is, Roy. Best thing to do is tell me what you've been told to keep quiet about so I know not to unintentionally get the jump on you, if that isn't contradictory and makes sense in a bizarre sort of way!

  3. I know what you mean about unintentionally getting the jump on me Steve - Seriously it's not an issue with me as far as I am concerned!
    Hope to meet up again with you soon