Tuesday 31 December 2013

B9 on 101's????

Nipped into Lowestoft today on shopping duties (if you can nip 20 miles) and well worth it it was too. Having popped in the bank I was crossing the road from the bus station, glanced to my left and did a double take Rowan Atkinson would have been proud of. There, on the 101's was B9 Gemini 37657. I managed to get a quick snap of it just as it was leaving but can anyone tell me how often a decker is seen on that route? First one I've seen.

A rare sight indeed - B9 Gemini 37567 AU58 ECF on the 101 to Gunton Estate
Whilst in Lowestoft I also saw Norse's Enviro 300 on the 107 for the first time - quite a contrast from the 29 seater Darts formally on that route - the E300 is high density seating - 5 across so must seat at least 70 I would guess. And glory be just after snapping that in came 33423 on an X1. I wonder if that bus will ever end up back at Yarmouth!

Suffolk Norse E300 SN56 AYL on Lowestoft town route 107
X1 reserve 33423  SN60 CAA pulls in to Lowestoft bus Station
 Finally, I also managed to do some enthusiast spotting and standing by me when the above pic was taken was Zac Nelson of Norwich Bus Page. Pleasure to meet you at last, Zac and hope we'll have longer to chew the cud next time.

Sunday 29 December 2013

Review Of The Year

  As this Blog only started a couple of months ago there really isn't much to review, so this will be my own personal memories together with some of my favourite pics of the year.

2013 started with me, as well as a few dedicated others trying to convince the good people of Wickham Market to switch from First to Anglian's 164 service. We were succeeding too, but were hampered by the coldest winter in 50 years and Anglian's reluctance to give the service enough of a chance and make the necessary alterations to the service which would have made it nore attractive. However, the six months it ran gave me a few decent photo opportunities.

Now departed Anglian 508 ALX400 X251NNO at a cold Wickham Market, the only decker to ever operate that route.
The only gas bus ever to operate the 164 - Anglian 607 now 107 AU62 DWN at a much warmer Wickham Market
Wickham Market suffered a double whammy with First's decision to withdraw the 63 from Ipswich to Framlingham. Not only did it leave us without a bus link to Tesco but also the 64's overcrowded and no guaranteed decker back from Ipswich that I always used to catch. Anyway although taken in 2012 this was my favourite bus to operate the route.

Making a rare appearance on the 64, Leyland Olympian 34610 K610LAE
On the fleet front Ipswich finally got rid of their last Darts but replaced them with some really awful ex Basildon Scanias that have been nothing but trouble. Also gone are the batch of Scanias with the really comfortable seats bought new for the Superoute 88. A shame to see them go. It will be interesting to see if the remaining 11 former P&R B7's stay at Ipswich throughout 2014.

In July 2013 I was forced to move from Wickham Market and ended up in a village with no bus service - well nothing with a destination display or automatic doors anyway, which isn't that good for a bus enthusiast! But it did give me the opportunity to finally explore the bus networks of North East Suffolk and Norfolk and a whole new world was opened up. I discovered the X1, even getting to Rutland Water and back in a day from Beccles, and of course sampled my first gas buses, which I believe to be the nicest single deck buses ever built.

But my timing was impeccible as excitement was mounting for the delivery of the new E400's for the X1 and I was out there on their first day not only sampling them but taking many pics 
Taken from 33805 this unidentified E400 on first day of service approaches Easton
 Now we have the ex X1 B9's appearing on Yarmouth and Lowestoft routes which is meaning the demise of the much loved Olympians. It will be a real shame to see these workhorses finally retired, and the end of an era.

And so to my awards of the year - just a bit of fun and I don't expect anyone to agree with me, but feel free to add your own in the comments section.


I guess this is no contest and purely for the excitement and interest it created this year it has to be the X1. It could be another interesting year for this flagship route as Stagecoach muscle in on the area. Let's all hope the X1 remains intact in itrs entirety this time next year.


A very difficult decision this - there are many reasons to give it to First - getting rid of the Darts from Ipswich, welcoming me into their depot for a chat, and giving Cameron his year's pass. But I'm giving it to Carters. Ok call the nurses I know but any company that gives me the opportunity to travel in service on a 1985 ex London Transport Leyland Olympian deep into the Suffolk countryside gets my vote. One of the journeys I'll remember with extreme fondness this year.


Another really tough one as there are many contenders - my first ride on a gas bus, the above mentioned journey on Carters Olympian, the first journey on an X1 E400 to name but three. But my award goes to the journey I had out to Hemsby on the 3 operated by a Routemaster - the older one of the two. I had no idea it was such a long route and gives them a real work out. Not a rattle, a smooth comfortable journey and transported back to my youth. I'll be a regular on it next year. Thank you First


Anglian's decision to axe the 164 after just 6 months, using the worst winter for 50 years to base their judgement on, just as loadings were getting bigger and the route really catching on. Had the route been marketed bertter from the start it could and should have been a great success and it was disappointing that it wasn't given a real chance - the excellent drivers on the route deserved that.


No contest. I was at Market Gates in Yarmouth when Sam of  Norwich Buses saw his first X1 Enviro 400. Never to be forgotten and so heart warming to see the next generation iof enthusiasts enjoying their hobby as much as I did at their age. Thanks, for that moment, Sam - I'm proud to know you.


Again a toughie. This year apart from the new buses in our area - the E400's and gas buses - I have been on a few old workhorses who have really stayed the distance well. I have also been on hybrids, which I'm sure will become more common this coming year. But my award goes to the Borismaster. This won't be the most popular decision I know but the designers have managed to capture Routemaster spirit with modern requirements and features and I loved the one that came to Ipswich. I really think it is the bus of the future and I'll be amazed if other parts of the country don't adopt it. Plus it means conductors are making a comeback and that has to be applauded.


This is the Bus AND Train page so I have to have a train of the year. For me no contest again - it's the new train for the Metropolitan Line on London Underground. Not much makes me go wow these days, but when I walked onto that train, and realised I could see and walk right through it as if there were no joins at all I was seriously impressed. Quiet, smooth and fast. I don't like change but these are excellent trains and I can't wait for them to be rolled out on the Circle and District Lines too. A pic I took below.

May I wish you all a Happy New Year. To my fellow bloggers a good year's blogging lies ahead, and I'm ;pleased to be getting to know you all. Who knows what we'll be talking about this time next year.

Interior of new Metropolitan Line train with next to no divide between coaches

Monday 23 December 2013

Season's Greetings

May I take this oppportunity to wish all of you a Happy Christmas and a brilliant New Year. Thank you all for reading my blog and making it worthwhile. Lets hope 2014 has lots to keep us interested and it wouldn't surprise me if the bus scene in East Anglia this time next year is a lot different to how it is now. Have a good one everyone.

I would just like to say a particular Happy Christmas to First at Great Yarmouth. For his constant enthusiasm, interest and his blog, First have given Cameron of Yarmouth Bus Page a nationwide pass for the year. I personally think this is a really kind thing to do and full marks to the management at great yarmouth. I am normally quick to criticise First but this gesture touched me and I know Cameron thinks all his Christmases have turned up at once.

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Norfolk Green Purchased

Just seen a post on Yahoo groups saying that Norfolk Green have been purchased by Stagecoach. Although not official it is "common knowledge in Kings Lynn". Not only that but Stagecoach have apparently expressed interest in First's X1 between Lowestoft and Peterborough, Whether they are interested in taking it over or competing against it has to be seen, but just when we all thought everything had quietened down the speculation and interest will build again.

Monday 16 December 2013

Lowestoft Today

Really quiet on the bus front at the moment so apologies for the lack of posts. Anyway I went to Lowestoft today - no not for another hat - and took the opportunity to photograph the two Regal buses operating the rail replacement service between Lowestoft and Beccles. According to the notice on the station door trains are expected to resume on Wednesday (18th) so only one more day for Regal.

Regal 801 WX08 DFN at Lowestoft Station
Regal MAN 802 RG09 BUS about to leave Lowestoft for Beccles
Rear of Regal 802. Just liked the train symbol!
 I also saw First 20515 returning to Lowestoft on an X2. Was hoping to get a better pic on its next journey but it was replaced with 30900 so this will have to do. Note the rather shoddy X2 bit of paper in the windscreen.

First Paragon 20515  WV02 EUR operating an X2
Finally if anyone wants to ride Anglian's Dennis tridents, and let's face it who wouldn't, then route 60 is the one to catch them on. Here is 711 heading towards Beccles

Anglian Trident 711 T811RFG heading towards Beccles

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Round Up and a Rant

Not a lot to report so far this week, despite being out the last two days. Yesterday I went to Ipswich in a fruitless attempt to spot and photo 32655. I was lucky enough to bump into Clive Nixon from Ipswich Bus Blog who told me she was at the depot but to be honest I just couldn't be bothered! I want an action shot so to speak! So other than spotting an unusual working by Ipswich Buses Optare Excel 173 on the X3, which is usually a branded smaller Dart not much going on there.

Ipswich Buses Otare Excel 173 YG52 DGF unusually working the X3
Today I ventured to Lowestoft to replace the woolly hat I left on 69007 yesterday - that's 3 so far this winter. Lowestoft has cheap woolly hats!  Anyway a pleasant journey on Anglian gas bus 100 - although if anyone from Anglian is reading this when in the name of all that's Holy is the rattling nearside window going to be fixed? Pointless having a quiet engine if the windows make a row and that one has been for some months now. Although I didn't get a chance to take a pic 100 has also had a new front put on after someone kindly reversed into it recently. It looks strange minus the decoration and fleet number so if anyone gets a chance to take a pic of it that will be good.

Not a lot to report from Lowestoft except the successful acquisition of a new hat, so I decided to go back to Halesworth the long way round via Southwold. If you believe that you'll believe anything as I just got the times wrong and missed the 61 that becomes the 62 at Kessingland. Very embarrassing for an enthusiast. However on the way back from Southwold on Scania Omni 553 I did get the chance to take a couple of pretty nice sunset shots. Not buses but taken from a bus therefore qualifies as relevant!!

This time last week Blythburgh was bracing itself for floods. Now back to its serene and artistic self
Sunset over Halesworth taken from Anglian Omni decker 553
Now for my rant. Over the last couple of days I have noticed an increasing amount of passengers, normally women in 50's and 60's who sit on the outside seat, put their bags on the inside seat and refuse point blank to move them so other people can sit down. I have had to watch much older passengers go a lot further down the bus than they should just because these selfish people, who in most cases haven't paid for one seat let alone two can't be bothered to make room!! Let's hear what gets on your goat about bus travel - after all any enthusiast will admit it's not perfect.

Finally check out Roy's East Norfolk Bus Blog. He has got some interesting news regarding some new deckers for Great Yarmouth and pics of the Rail Replacement buses serving Lowestoft which is still suffering from flood aftermaths. Link opposite (ish)

Monday 9 December 2013

Blast From The Past 4

It's been sometime since I last posted on my boyhood days so here is the next installment. I guess the day I started secondary school was THE day as it was the start of my unaccompanied bus travel - 2 buses each way to school everyday in the most interesting area for buses in the country. I was so lucky in that National Bus Company used the Medway Towns as their testing ground and so I was subjected to a multitude of wonderful vehicles to choose from. Here is a selection of vehicles that were around when I was 11.

Daimler Fleetline 6122 MKO122F leaves Pentagon Bus Station, Chatham
Ex Northern General Fleetline 5007 GCN 809G. This vehicle was later to become a towing vehicle
Manual AEC Reliance 3754 EKJ 114C.
Volvo Ailsa 3581 LKP 381P and High Height Bristol VR 5101 KKM 101P in Chatham and District centenary livery 

Metropoliitan Scania 5254 KKO254P
I have to say at this point that if God gave me a chance to ride one vehicle from my past it would be the above Metro Scania. I still consider them the nicest deckers ever built and I remember when 5254 had a new engine fitted - they only had two gears but this one didn't go into top until it was dooing 40mph and flew! Of all the vehicles i rode in my childhood I never got a bigger buzz as when one of those turned up. Incidentally there is still a Young Offenders Prison at the site of the original Borstal, which took its name from the village.

Saturday 7 December 2013

Weekend Homework

Went to Ipswich yesterday hoping to see 32655 not even knowing if she's there yet! Anyway I didn't see her and it was a bit cold to hang around taking pics but did get the opportunity to take a pic of this Carters Volvo. Now your assignment is to tell me its history. I have something lurking at the back of my mind that says Stagecoach but not sure. Answers in comments please and a gold star to the best answer!

Carters 479 L679 HNV at Old Cattle Market

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Other Blog News

I am delighted to announce that 3 new blogs are here - one already born, one getting a new look and a brand new one from tomorrow.

Harry Stanley has started his own Norfolk Transport Page. Harry often provides me with news about bus and rail happenings and I wish him all the luck with his own venture. Let me know if there's anything I can do, buddy.

Cameron is giving his Yarmouth Bus Page a spot of DIY and the new look blog will be launched at 7pm tomorrow (5th Dec). Good luck with it , Cameron- I know you're pretty excited about the launch and your new look.

Sam, who has done great stuff with Norwich Bus Page is embarking on his solo career with Norwich Buses, which will also be launched tomorrow at 7pm. A link to Sam's blog will be available as soon as I get the URL.

Please give these guys your support. The more publicity and following the bus industry gets the better, and I know the industry is taking more and more notice of enthusiasts and their extensive knowledge. Sam and Cameron were the inspiration for this blog, and lads you are welcome to use any pics or news you see on here with my blessing - just give a credit. It's not easy finding new and original stuff for a blog, and we should all give these boys every help and encouragement possible - they are the future of bus enthusiasm and seeing their passion and dedication takes me back to when I was their age. It's a privilage to know both of you.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Ipswich Exclusive

I was fortunate enough today to be given time for a chat by Barry Spurling, Depot Engineering Manager at First Ipswich. As a result I am able to clear up and clarify a few things. Volvo B7tl 32656 has arrived from Lowestoft and is in service (pic below). Sister 32655 is due tomorrow. There has been speculation regarding the future of 30887, even rumours saying she would go back to Lowestoft for a bit. This is NOT happening, and she will be transferred to Braintree in the next 2 - 3 weeks. The reason she is going is that she is too tall for the Ipswich washer - the reason Ipswich never got any of the ex X1 Geminis.

On the single deck front I can confirm that ex P&R Volvo B7rle's 69421 and 69430 have gone to Colchester as part of the arrangement for 32655/6 going to Ipswich. Scania Hard Seat 65676 has also gone to Clacton, and the next saloon to be withdrawn will be 61533. One of the ex Basildon Scanias currently VOR will be pressed back into service but that is it for the time being. No more transfers in or out are planned in the near future. It is hoped to start repainting the B7tl's next once all the ex P&R B7rle's are complete - only one more to go now. 69432 is now out of it's co-op wrap and it was out on the road today for the first time in new colours. Thanks to Mr Spurling for the tip off and fate for having it standing there about to depart when I returned from the depot! (pic below).

Those who think First are on the verge of pulling out of Ipswich can rest assured that is not the case. Mr Spurling didn't say it in these words, so I am not quoting him, but I get the impression First want a firm foothold on as many of the town routes as they can over the next 4 - 5 years, so that when Ipswich buses are eventually and inevitably sold off by the Borough Council First will be in a strong position. Could be an interesting future.

I would like to thank Mr Spurling for his kindness in giving his time spontaneously today. Not only does he clearly know the business but he is a really nice bloke too and I've known a few grumpy Depot Managers in my time!!

And so to today's pics. Pride of place has to go to 32656 which not 72 hours previously I had photographed in Beccles (see post below) and now here she is having gone up market and been to Felixstowe this morning!

Newly transferred Volvo B7tl 32656 AU05 MVA at Old Cattle Market

Newly repainted Volvo B7rle 69432 AU58 FFV finally out of its Co-op wrap

No less than 5 ex P&R Volvo B7rle's at Old Cattle Market. A rare sight indeed,

AND FINALLY something that made my day complete. Being Tuesday, Fareline's service 121 from Stradbroke was in town, using their rather striking Volvo B10M, but just look at the ticket machine - it's an old Setright. I owned a predecimal Setright when I was around 13 and if anyone knows of another operator that uses them then let me know!!

Fareline Volvo B10M  F94 CBD  at Old Cattle Market

No idea whose carrier bag that is!! Setright ticket machine in cab of Fareline Volvo B10M