Friday 29 August 2014

First Ipswich Update And Praise

Today has been a good day for First Ipswich. In fact a spectacularly good day. one of thosae days where I couldn't wait to get home and write this post, as believe it or not I derive great pleasure from writing positive, happy posts.

Pride of place today was going to be the arrival of ALX400 in the new livery, and a photo opportunity probably never to be repeated, but no. That can wait because pride of place today goes to the First Ipswich staff who have excelled themselves today in a way that made me proud to be using them.

It started with 65589 from Saxmundham, which a few tears ago I'd have been really happy with, but now not so much. Fortunately a chap from Leiston who is into transport I haven't seen for ages was on board and we nattered the whole journey which made it seem a lot quicker. However, as we were approaching Ipswich a young girl in a buggy was travel sick on the bus. I have seen drivers in the past create a right song and dance over something like that, take buses out of service transferring passengers and the like. Not Lushi Lavdosh, who has been a driver at Ipswich for 10 years now. He stopped the bus, somehow cleared the mess up, made sure the girl was ok, gave her a tube of Smarties for when she got off the bus (checking with Mum first) so she instantly forgot she had been sick, arranged for the bus to be cleaned at Ipswich and we carried on. Outstanding professionalism and empathy, and a credit not just to First but the industry as a whole. So pleased I was on that bus to witness it. A pleasure to meet you, Lushi (really hope I've spelled that right) and hope to board your bus again soon.

So I wandered down to the depot in hope more than expectation as I had heard some days ago that 32490 was due back this week. So you can imagine the grin on my face when I got there and 32487 was standing on the forecourt gleaming in the sun. It appears not even the depot were expecting her so a surprise all round. However, I have to say that I think the new front suits the deckers more than anything else. Judge for yourselves.

Volvo B7tl 3287 AU53 HKE in her new colours
A shot from the rear - just look at those wheels - superb!
A nice welcome for passengers
I have said this before and I'll say it again - the guys at Ipswich depot are the friendliest bunch you'd ever wish to meet. It is always a real pleasure to pop in there and not once have I ever felt in the way or not welcomed. It was also a pleasure to meet a certain James Long for the first time today - his new arrival sensors had been activated and he arrived at the depot to photo 32487 at the same time I did. Good to put a face to the camera at last, Jim, and hope we meet for a longer chinwag soon.

While I was there I noticed B7rle's 69532/3 together in the depot. I thought there might be some significance to that and so it proved when I was informed that they are off to Colchester tonight. In return 66985 arrived last night and 66986 will follow if it passes an inspection today. Another decker comes back from Rotherham tomorrow - probably 32490 but could easily be 32486 as they were expecting 32490 last night and look what arrived instead!

69532 stands behind her sister 69533 about to be prepared for transfer to Colchester
Around the back of the depot lies a sad sight. Scania 65690 has carried her last passenger and has been withdrawn to be scrapped. I was allowed to take one last pic of her, and really think the destination screen should read "That's it. Had enough - Retired"! This 1998 bus has served the vast majority of her life at Ipswich and is one of the better looking Wright Renowns with the original front still intact.

Scania 65690 stands forlornly waiting to be picked up for scrapping

And so to the grand finale. I wandered back round to Old Cattle Market and 32487 was already there, waiting to replace 32655 on the 66's which doesn't have guide wheels. It was standing next to B7rle 69009, which made a great photo, and you were meant to see it here. However parked up opposite was E200 44519 and it was a shame I couldn't get the three together. So I hung around with intent hoping the E200 would be the first to be used and hey presto it was! To typify the outstanding attitude of First staff today the driver agreed to momentarily reverse her next to the other two and so I was able to take the pic below, the true new face of First Ipswich. A few weeks ago another enthusiast had probs at Old Cattle Market and I posted condemning that. It gives me so much joy to report the exact opposite today. The staff at First Ipswich have truly excelled themselves today, and both I, and those others involved are extremely grateful.

The New Look - Volvo B7rle 69009, B7tl 32487 and E400 44519 posing at Old Cattle Market


  1. Hi Stev,just one point to make really,the Scania L94 is an Axcess Floline as the Renown goes with the Volvo B10BLE chassis.
    Like your report,you have said on how you saw it,i heard your enthusiasm once you clapped eyes on 32487,i see you were fortunate to get 32487 at the ocm with two others,well done for that,i got a roasting when i got back in the car,as we had spent the best part of 1.5hours waiting around for 66985,no not being devorced,just a slapped arse,and that's not the first time.
    One thing that puzzled me was,picking my name out of the hat like that,and no one elses,as my mug isn't on any sites,amazing!! took me back a bit really,and yes nice to put a face to a name.

  2. SHOULD read Hi Steve,sorry for typo.

  3. Haha one thng you need to be in this hobby is observant. I knew you are always on the button whenever anything arrives at Ipswich, I saw how the depot staff knew and greeted you so it was obvious you were a regular there, so it was perfectly rational to think it was you. Elementary my dear Long!!!

    Getting those 3 together was just luck, as was being at the depot at the right time as I have to book my days in Ipswich days in advance. So today was one of the good days, and yes - I actually think those deckers suit the livery better than the singles. I wasn't expecting that which is why I was as enthusiastic as i was. Mind you I had been put in a brilliant mood by the driver who brought me in and the chat I had had on that journey, so sometimes you just get the feeling it's going to be a good day!

  4. What a good blog so sad that a bus the same age as me is about to be scrapped gone forever hope 33423 is saved. Read about the ipswich trip u had.

  5. Well I have had some consolation news in that if she is repainted into X1 livery it will only be for a year or so until the X1 is joined back up, then she will go back to her glorious old self again. Thanks for your kind words and yes, comparing it to your age does rather put things in perspective,

  6. In your photo of those B7RLE's being prepped for Colchester, I couldn't help but notice that it seems 69006 is parked on the left of the photo; or at least a bus with an Easton and Oatley College advert...

  7. I can guarantee it isn't 69006. That is to remain in Norwich until end of Sept due to contract obligations re the ad you're talking about. To be honest I'm not sure what vehicle that is, but being Easton and Otley college there would have been one over here for the Otley campus. I'll find out.

    1. I am reliably informed by Clive of IBB that it is 69010, which is going to be the last one to be refurbed here for the same reason 69006 is staying at Norwich

  8. An excellent blog post as usual Steve.

    From 4,000 miles away and by photographs only, I'm gradually getting used to the new First Ipswich livery, although the jury is still out.

    My question is - did any of those nice chaps at Ipswich tell you if fleetnames are ever going to be applied?

    I wonder if there are plans so to treat Norwich and the Great Yarmouth/Lowestoft vehicles to such a scheme?

    Regards from a sunny North Carolina.

    1. A new Norwich livery is currently in the plans, but the final design is not yet confirmed.

    2. You have no idea how much I want it to be Royal Blue! I have always said the best way out has got to be to die laughing , , , , ,

  9. Howdy!! Thanks for the kind words - any bus blogs in US I could team up with?

    Yes there will be fleetnames applied in due course. I got a sneak preview and while I can't say anything about it I was quite pleasantly surprised. I have to say seeing 32487 gleaming yesterday was the first time I have said wow over the new livery. I still have my doubts as to how good it will look on a rainy December evening, but I really couldn't say anything negative about her yesterday.

    As to the other depots I really don't know. I would be amazed if Norwich didn't get the treatment in the next couple of years or so - the fleet is in desperate need of modernising so two birds could be killed with one stone. As for colour who knows - no one expected the colour Ipswich got so I have a little bet with myself that Norwich ends up with royal blue................

  10. Steve, I hope that Yarmouth would get BLUE and Lowestoft Burnt Maroon. Just can't see that happening though, just too much swapping of vehicles.

    Re blogs here in the US. Nowhere near the interest here although, like bus ridership, it is growing. Trying to get fleet lists (rosters) is like getting blood out of a stone.

    I did write an article on my local area bus authorities (here, an "operator" is the driver) for Terminus (the ETCS magazine) a few years back and could update that if you think worth publishing. Just let me know. Although unfortunately cars here are becoming more and more European in design, the same cannot be said of buses and trucks (and railroads(ways).