Saturday 30 November 2013

Saturday Shorts

Went out for a quick ride today and got a couple of previously uncharted routes under my belt. First of all drove to Halesworth and caught the 62 to Beccles and my word if you haven't been on it do it!! The narrow country lanes it meanders down are incredible and it really must take seom learning. The driver of gas bus 110 gave a exemplary ride. I then switched to Omnicity 458 on the 81 to Yarmouth, and again it's a really nice route I want to do again.

After lunch I took 37577 to Norwich on the X1 where I can report that all the X1 shorts were operated by Geminis - the first time I have seen that - and then got on Anglian Omnilink 453 back to Halesworth. No gas buses on the 88 today - any reason for that? Those Omnilinks are ok but seats are a bit hard for an hour and a quarter!

Anglian 110 AU13 FBJ at Beccles before retirning to Kessingland
If rumour is correct soon to be Ipswich Volvo B7tl 32655 AU05 MVA still working the X2 at Beccles
Omnicity 458 YN05 HFH at Beccles
Incidentally after the changes Anglian are making in January it will once again be possible to travel from Beccles to Norwich with Anglian on one bus. That's the good news. The bad news is you will have to go via Halesworth, Kessingland, Lowestoft and Yarmouth. By time you reach Norwich you'll have forgotten why you wanted to go there in the first place! But I like the way routes are being linked up.

To finish with a so called friend sent me this cartoon. I think she thought it was funny!

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Ipswich Special 2

Whilst in Ipswich for the Borismaster I did manage to take some more pics of other random sightings. The sun was making it very difficult to get the angles and light right but I should be thankful it was dry.

Anyway let's start with Tower Ramparts Bus Station. Closed for weeks and for what? To reopen looking pretty much the same as it did before. Does it look a modern 21st Century Bus Station? Judge for yourself as I present to you two versions of the same pic.

The all new modernised Tower Ramparts Bus Station. They say!! Note the tilting Dart in the centre.
Replace the buses with trolley buses or horse drawn carriages and it wouldn't look wrong. Modernised my.......
So what do you guys think? Waste of money or what!! Anyway back to other things and Wirst have started another war with Ipswich Buses by launching their new Service 53 to the until recently unheard of destination of Brookwood, which even I have never heard of. So they are competing with IB's flagship service 13, but not going all the way to Tesco at Copdock, which seems a total fiasco and waste of time. I watched 3 services leave and not a single soul on any of them. Well done Wirst - another winner!

First 69533 PL05 UBS and IB 72 Scania YN56 NYD on competing routes at Tower Ramparts
So to Old Cattle Market and quite entertainng as B7tl 32487 AU53 HKE decided to break down on the entrance to the bus station as I arrived. Thankfully my transport both ways, normally operated by 30887 was operated by 32494 - the only decker in the new livery at Ipswich now, and a decent ride both ways it was. I saw that service today with 32492 on it so presume 30887 has indeed gone to Colchester. Ipswich will have no buses left at this rate.

32488 AU53 HKE conveniently broken down at the entrance to OCM
Buses, buses everywhere and not a Dart in sight! Love Beeston's Scania and observe both Carter's deckers still have roofs!!
32494 AU53 HKM complete with new roof looking rather smart before taking me back to Saxmundham

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Not another one!!

Just seen a report on a Yahoo group that Ipswich ex P&R Volvo B7rle 69430 AU58 FFS has been seen operating in Colchester over the last couple of days. I never thought for a second that Ipswich would be able to keep all of that batch. Don't know why First just don't pull out of Ipswich full stop and let a company who actually gives a fig about the place and its passengers take over. Any decent buses we get are taken elsewhere and those we are promised get diverted. They couldn't take 65670 back could they. Oh no!!! Anyone with more info on this please let me know! Rant over.

Monday 25 November 2013

Ipswich Special Part 1

Not two words I normally put next to each other but today is an exception. The economy of Ipswich was boosted by a multitude of enthusiasts flocking to see the on loan Borismaster make its debut on Ipswich Free Shuttle. I must commend Ipswich Buses for putting it on that route, as they said as it was a free bus as many people as possible could sample the Borismaster for free. Well played IB. Anyway I spent a very pleasant half hour on LT 100 and it was the first time I had seen the front of the top deck on one of these creations. I love the way it has the 1950's feel yet 21st century comfort. Can't see IB getting any of them but would be awesome if they did.

Borismaser LT 100  LTZ 1100 outside PALS on the 38 free shuttle in IPswich
The front seat top deck. I love the retro feeling
LT 100 at the "new" Tower Ramparts Bus Station
The rear doors were firmly closed unlike in London

Friday 22 November 2013

Survey Time

It has long been a bone of contention with me that companies do not consider passenger comfort when choosing seats for their vehicles. Even the seats on the new X1's will come under scrutiny next summer to see how hot they are for passengers wearing shorts after sitting in the Lowestoft sun for half hour. So I thought it might be fun to have a survey as to what you think are the best and worst seats on our buses today. So using the comments section let's see what wins your votes. If you don't want to comment you can email me and I'll add your vote for you.

For me the best, or certainly the ones I like the best are on Anglian's gas buses. It is a three way tie for the worst between First's W reg ALX 400's, First's 51 reg Scania Solars (6567*) and Anglian's Omindeckers 550-3. It is possible to have to travel for an hour and a half on any of those for which the companies should have to pay us to endure, not the other way round.

Thursday 21 November 2013

Answer To Below

Since no one rose to yesterday's challenge I have done some research myself. The Shorelink service 44 is operated by Centrebus on behalf of Rutland County Council. The vehicle used is Dennis Enviro 200 YX13 EJA, new in June 2013, reduced to 34 seats to accommodate bikes, and given fleet number 501. As yet I'm not sure which depot she is based at or what used to operate the service.

I also found a video promoting the bus on the Rutland Council website, which can be viewed by clicking the link below.


Wednesday 20 November 2013

Random Pics

Due to my sight probs which mean I find driving after dark almost impossible and not living on a bus route (plus I'm allergic to the cold) the next two or three months are going to clip my wings so to speak. So I will be going through my archives to find things of interest and I'll start today with a challenge to you clever people out there.

In the Summer I managed to go from Beccles to Rutland Water and back in a day by bus. For reasons even I can't work out I only have one picture from that day, but it is of the bus operated by Rutland Council that basically circumnavigates Rutland Water linking to bus and rail services in Oakham, which is where I took this pic. The bus still smelt new when I travelled on it so any info on it and it's operator, and even what it replaced will be gratefully received.

The bus operating the Rutland Water Link at Oakham Station

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Ipswich News

Clive Nixon from Ipswich Bus Blog has kindly informed me that Scanias 65550 P550 RNG and 65128 R116 GSF were withdrawn at the weekend. I travelled on 65550 last week and knew it was on borrowed time. A shame that those seats can't be salvaged! Clive also tells me it has been reported elsewhere that Ipswich are to receive Lowestoft X2 B7's 32655/6 to replace 32652/30887 which are going to Essex. I'll believe it when I see it, personally. Thanks, Clive for the information and for letting me use it.

Withdrawn Scania 65128 seen a couple of weeks ago in Ipswich
No apologies for reposting this - the final Superoute Scania to be withdrawn 65550 before I boarded it in Saxmundham last week
This brings the total number of Scanias withdrawn or transferred from Ipswich in the last fortnight to 8. So far 65128/65528/29/40/42/50/65628 have been withdrawn and 65632 has transferred to Clacton and is still in service. One of the ex Basildon Scanias was also withdrawn after constant engine probs so that now accounts for the 9 ex P&R Volvos. It remains to be seen what else appears at Ipswich over the next few months. As a side note the withdrawal of 65550 means that First Ipswich no longer have any buses with roller blinds - another era ends.

30 Mins in Beccles

After a weekend spent recharging my batteries I decided to check out reports of Anglian now using deckers on the 60 between Beccles and Pleasurewood Hills. Well they are using a right pot pourri of vehicles, which I always like. I caught Trident 713 from Lowestoft to Beccles and a decent ride it gave too. I also saw 712, two unidentified Solos, and either 450 or 451 - which I can't be sure but it was an 07 plated Scania Omnicity!
Anglian Trident 713 T813RFG at Beccles
I decided to carry on to Norwich on the X2 but hung around in decidedly cold weather to see what else I could see. The problem with Beccles is that you can't see the buses go in both directins at the same time so I think it may well be a spotting destination for warmer times.

One for you, Cameron! Enviro 200 45119 RT09 JPT on the X22
Former Konect Optare Excel 216 W216PRB on the 81. Interestingly the fleet number is above the door like Konect and not on the front like most Anglian vehicles
Trident 715 T715RFG in use as a staff shelter at Beccles
Streetlite 351 MX60 BWK on local Beccles town service 82A

After a particularly uncomfortable journey to Norwich on First's Volvo B7tl 30889 W744DWX - whoever decided on those seats never gets on a bus - I had a much nicer return journey on former X1 Volvo B9 37566 AU58 ECE. Of all the B9's I've been on so far 566 is by far the best - no rattles, fast and quiet. A shame they are all not quite up to that standard. At Lowestoft I got the chance to take a pic of her next to one of her replacements before heading home to some much needed heating!

Former X1 Volvo B9 37566 AU58 ECE next to one of its replacements 33824 YX63 LKO. One looking decidedly grubbier than the other

Thursday 14 November 2013

Miscellaneous Spots

On Tuesday I was in Saxmundham meeting a friend and by a slice of luck timed it as Nightingales service 521 came in from Halesworth heading towards Aldeburgh. That service really should link up at Halesworth better with the Anglian network. perhaps Anglian should go for the tender next time it comes up.

Nightingale Mercedes SF59 BXR close to the old Saxmundham Bus Station
Behind it is First Ipswich Scania 65589 which is one that should survive the latest round of withdrawals.

Scania 65589 V589DVF at saxmundham having just changed from a 64 to 64A
Today I had to go to Wickham Market and was quite pleased to see 65550 come round the corner as it just might be my last ride on one of the Superoute Scanias. They have really comfortable seats and I'll be sorry to see them all gone.

The last roller blinded bus in Ipswich! 65550 P550RNG picking me up in Saxmundham
Wickham Market is now where the services meet, and as I got off I saw 65672 heading in the opposite direction.

Scania 65672 SN51 UYE at Wickham Market heading for Saxmundham. The destination screen was working fine, but my phone didn't capture it for some reason
65550 and 65672 pass at Wickham Market. I know which one I'd rather stay.
69432 AU58 FFV still with Co-op wrap ad taking me home. Apologies for no number plate but toook it in a rush!
Have First forgotten to take the ad off 69432? Does anyone know of any other vehicles still in this ad? I know the Norwich bus used had it taken off ages ago. Now the new co-op ads are out. Anyway apart from the ad she is unique as the only one of the batch to still have a Barbie front.

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Norwich Today

Went to Norwich today to get some supplies - any excuse to go on a gas bus - and did a bit of snapping while I was there. Was especially pleased to see 37574 on her first day out after repaint on the X1 shorts. A few pics on here,but many more on my Flickr page once I've uploaded them

Newly painted Gemini 37574 AU58 ECY with  Norfolk Green  Enviro 400 21 SN12 EHN behind. Anglia Streelite 350 MX60 BWH is hiding MAN Ecocity Gas Bus 108 behind
37574 heads off to Yarmouth - I think she will have known the way!!
Anglian Omnideka 550 proving all her rear lights work, and that someone has attacked the ad!
Taken from the front top deck window of 550 we pass gas bus 111 AU13 FBK at Brooke
Looking splendid in the winter sun Anglian 550 AO57 EZM waits time at Halesworth before continuing to Southwold. I do wonder how long she'll be advertising an old route number though!
As a footnote I have just looked at where that rear ad on 550 is advertising, and I happened to pay them a visit later as I saw they were advertising free puncture repair and I have had a slow puncture on my car for a long time, which has meant frequent checks and air topping. Now normally they find any excuse they can to say why they CAN'T fix the tyre and then sell you a new one. Not Hammonds though - 20 mins later my tyre was repaired and back on the car with no charge whatsoever. Worth a mention and when I do need a new tyre I know where I'm going.

Monday 11 November 2013

Blast From The Past 3

I feel that I could be guilty of false advertising as I have really only talked about my love for buses and not mentioned the trains. Being in Kent I grew up with Electric Multiple Units and little else, but even then there was astill a variety of rolling stock to grab a boy's interest. I lived on the Medway Valley Line, which runs from Strood to Paddock Wood and this post is dedicated to the vehicles I have seen over the years, including some I worked myself as a Conductor at the turn of the century.

Taken at Maidstone West in 1976 this was the staple fare on the line. heading towards Paddock Wood this 2 car ubniut has a 1st Class section at the rear
I loved train travel and by the age of 7 I could be found poring over timetables planning our days out including connections and fastest trains etc. When I went to college in West Kent in the early 80's I knew the entire line so well I could identify where we were with my eyes shut from the track noise or individual points!

Change of colours but similar stock, except this one has no 1st Class and the coaches have been opened up to allow conductors to walk through the entire coach, although still no coach to coach access. Taken in 1986 at Cuxton
In the early late 80's these non corridor units were gradually withdrawn to be eventually replaced by the new 465/6 Networkers on the suburban routes in 1992. This meant that main line stock was used  on the line for the first time on a regular basis.

I have chosen this pic of CEP 1501 as not only does it show Cuxton Station still staffed - a distant memory - but also the manual level crossing and signal box that remain to this day. The semaphore signals were replaced by aspect signals in the last ten years
Being a branch line adverse weather meant that it was not a priority for clearance, so it was not unknown for services to be suspended. However January 1987 was spectacular to say the least.

Going nowhere fast. Now THAT'S the wrong type of snow! CEP 1581 stranded at Maidstone West with a class 73 loco at the other end
Then in 1998 disaster. A refurbished batch of class 508 3-car units were acquired from Merseyrail by Connex and they proved very unreliable and unpopular. They were certainly the reason I changed depots and moved to do more mainline work. They were frequently overcrowded, had no toilets, and looked totally out of place.

508212 at Maidstone Barracks. These were not popular units with either passengers or crews
Since Southeastern finally gave up on the 508's there has been a mixture of 2-car class 466 Networkers and more recently class 375 Electrostars on the line, which are a vast improvement on the 508's

A pair of 2-car class 466 networkers pass each other at Snodland
3-car Electrostar at Cuxton in Feburary this year The line crossing the Valley line ahead is HS1
In 2011 something I would never have dreamed of as a boy happened to the Valley line. Through trains to London resumed after a 20 year absence, but not local trains. Oh no! It was decided to run class 395 Javelins at peak times to give Maidstone a fast link with London via HS1. Although these trains do not stop at the little stations it is a guarantee for the future of the line, which even 25 years ago was in some doubt.

395011 passes Maidstone Barracks - a far cry from the trains I used to ride as a boy
I hope you enjoyed this look at my boyhood local line - please let me know what you think and if you would like to see more posts like this. There are many more pics of the line in the favourites section of my Flickr page

Saturday 9 November 2013

Norwich In Ninety??

Apparently the Chancellor has given his backing to reduce journey times on the main Norwich - London route. He's set up a task force to look at what can be done. Try asking the passengers - we'll tell him what needs to be done at a fraction of the cost which can then be ploughed back into the improvements needed. Full report on the link.

Thursday 7 November 2013

Day Trip to Braintree

Yes I know hardly Monte Carlo and I didn't intend to end up there either when I set out today. Colchester then hopefully Olympians was the plan but due to a distinct lack of them I ended up taking pics of ex Yarmouth Darts for Cameron at Braintree! However it was not an entirely wasted trip. I started off in Saxmundham and struck lucky on the 0930 64 to Ipswich which can be and quite often is absolutely anything. So when 32653 came round the corner that was a big relief.

Volvo B7TL 32453 AU05 MUV a very welcome sight at Saxmundham
After a very noisy journey to Ipswich thanks to a whinging 2yo - there should be sound proof booths for them - I transferred to Carters Trident 402 for the trip to Colchester but not before snapping a pic that First in Ipswich should be downright ashamed of.

Ex P&R volvo B7 69424 AU58 FFL looking frankly disgraceful at Old Cattle Market

Carters Denis Trident 402 LG02 FEV at what is laughably called Colchester Bus Station
After making Colchester look untidy for an hour hoping in vain for an Olympian I decided to catch the 133 SX Connect to Braintree. A decent ride on a Volvo B7rle and what a reward awaited me at Braintree. I'm hoping someone can enlighten me on the history and usage of this bus, but it made my day!

First Student 68000 Q275LBA
And from the rear. All info on this bus gratefully received via comments please!
After taking pics of a few ex Yarmouth Darts including 43448 P448NEX and 43685 R685DPW I returned to Ipswich on a rather rickety Dennis Trident President 33088 and then got the treat of the day. I was hoping for an Olympian but not a 28yo Olympian I first knew at Plumstead depot in London, then at Ipswich buses no 48 (I think) C101CHM. Now with Carters it was on the 94's today and I was able to ride it to Stratford St Mary before a frantic transfer to the 93 to Ipswich, which had to be flashed down as it didn't get caught in the Colchester traffic as we did and overtook us! The ride on the old Olympian was excellent. ECW knew how to build buses!

Carters 446 Leyland Olyimpian C101CHM doing the tilt test!
I got back to ipswich and luck stayed with me as ex Transdev Volvo B7rle 69533 PL05 UBS turned up on the last 64 bak to Saxmundham - my first ride on one of those vehicles. I like it - real power and acceleration and a decent top speed. Sorry no pic as battery had given out by then but you can see all of today's pics on Flickr in due course.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

World's Dumbest Bus Hijacker

Just caught this on TV - thanks YouTube. One born every minute

Scottish Supplement 2

I decided not to go out today thanks to the weather so here is Grace's second set of pics from Edinburgh. Can I repeat my plea for anyone who knows where i can get an up to date fleet list for Lothian buses to let me know so I can identify some of the vehicles in these sets. I do, however love the livery variations Lothian employ on their different routes. Quite inventive.

So despite being snowed under by literally two essays Grace has managed to capture some brilliant shots. Thanks, Grace, and keep them coming.

I asked for a better shot of this vehicle last time - thanks Grace it's a great pic
The only thing that doesn't work is the sky blue day ticket vinyl
First can take lessons from Lothian's route branding
Rather plain in comparison
Excellent pic, Grace - just what we want to see.
Is that driver giving you a dirty look?