Tuesday 5 August 2014

VA479 Special and Ipswich Update

As promised I went back to Ipswich today on several missions. First was a visit to Beeston's depot in Hadleigh Rd and there will be a special post on that tomorrow. Secondly was to photograph and ride on the newly heritage painted 32479, now VA479. I was not disappointed on either count.

The bus Gods were smiling on me today as I had calculated when VA479 would be at Ipswich Station. It wasn't, and even more worryingly the driver of the 66 that was there looked completely puzzled when I asked him if he was in front or behind the red one. "What red bus?", he asked and he genuinely did not know about VA479's existence. Anyway I decided to wait and was rewarded 10 mins later when VA479 arrived at the station out of service and sat there in glorious sunshine for 5 mins enabling me to not only get exterior shots but also pics of the inside. I then rode on her to town and the seats are good, the interior looks great and like all Ipswich B7tl's she gives a smooth comfortable ride. Enjoy.

Looking pretty darn good VA479 at Ipswich Station
Even with the bush in the way still looks good
I think she actually looks longer in those colours
I think she will need to be kept extremely clean to maintain that look
Lower deck interior of VA479
A very smart upper deck - ling may it stay that way
Other News

I am indebted to Barry at Ipswich depot for imparting the following information, and before anyone gets all indignant on me I cleared everything you are about to see for publication before leaving the depot.

First of all ex Norwich (ty, Sam) Volvo B7rle 66950 is due back from Rotherham roughly as I type and I guess the usual welcoming committee will be there to greet her. E200's 44517/8 and B7tl 32490 are still up there and were joined today by B7tl 32487.

Vehicles still due to arrive at Ipswich are from Norwich 69006 and 66957. From Colchester 66985/6 and in the future 5 as yet unidentified further vehicles. The final E200, 44516 is still to arrive due to a rather long chain of movements being broken by a Lowestoft Dart at the weekend! However it is not all good news. Ex Transdev B7rle's 69532/3, originally going to Clacton are now going to Chelmsford, and towards the end of the refurbishment project 3 further ex P&R B7rle's will be going to Colchester. Early plans are for those 3 to be 69431/2/3 but that obviously is subject to change. The refurbishment project is now expected to be completed by the end of November, not September as originally hoped, due to hand painting taking longer than first thought. Incidentally we think we have identified where that opinion dividing dark green front colour has come from. If you look at the First Platinum buses elsewhere in the country that dark green appears to be used for the skirting on those vehicles. Not a stab in the dark after all!

Ex Lowestoft B7tl 32656 AU05 MVA is undergoing an £8,000 engine rebuild so I look forward to riding her on her return. 30888 is scheduled to return to Yarmouth at the end of the month when the 66's pull out of Halifax.

There has been much speculation about one of the Routemasters coming to Ipswich. I can reveal it will operate ONE journey on the 75 to Felixstowe on Sunday 17th August. As there is a high demand expected the back up vehicle will be VA479 so those not Sunday prisoners that's a heads up for you to get a decent pic or three.

OK long but informative post finished, and Beestons special up tomorrow.


  1. Is there a reason why First in Suffolk/Norfolk seem so unwilling to move away from First's corporate livery, in favour of reviving local/municipal liveries? It's not as though First enjoys a great public image.
    It seems to have failed to notice that despite being taken over Norfolk Green, Anglia and Konect still actively market themselves as local bus companies.

  2. A fair point, Scott,and I was recently in an area where arriva operate in all colours of the rainbow. It does ask the question again why a colour of local significance wasn't chosen for the front of the buses. I confess I wasn't aware of how close to Eastern Counties colours Carters were until I had a chance to comapre with VA479 yesterday, so at least one company is sticking to established colours. I have always liked the coporate livery, head and shoulders above barbie, and I still haven't reached a final decision over the dark green/grey. I just fail to see what relevance it has to the area it operates in.

    BTW one the reasons Norfolk Green, Konect and Anglian have kept their identity is for wage and conditions reasons. To provide uniformity may prove to be too costly for comfort.

    1. That's an interesting point Steve, I hadn't thought about employers terms and conditions.

      The one thing that I also admire about Go Ahead, it that it seems to let its local managers get on with running their service, rather than trying to centralise everything up in Newcastle.

      I'm not sure if the same can be said of First.

  3. Now THERE I think you have a seriously good point. I know Newcastle control the purse strings to an extent as regards new vehicles etc, but once a budget is set you are right and it's the local managers that take charge. The other thing is that First aren't known for taking over small independents like Go-Ahead do. They take over big companies like Eastern Counties and so the initial set ups are a little different.

    1. Yep I think First are hamstrung with their bureaucratic and underperforming NBC and "Municipals" legacy. They bought what they could, not what they should. And the mentality until recently was cut rather than change. To an extent it still is, out of necessity. Look at Stagecoach for comparison, though even (to be fair) their eastern region exhibits some of the same faults. But they caught the wind with their regional services. First did an imitation with the X1, then gave up. I do get the impression though that if I think poorly of some of First's depots (I emphasise some, the exceptions are plain to see) they think even less of them. A pity. It's not the way to get the best out of any organisation. First are now trapped by the regulator, since they're big enough to upset the competition gods, and not big enough to grow nonetheless. They're stuck, as First Group, in survival mode. So I think the UK bus division is still dragged down by the millstone of group debt. The company is treading water, and I wouldn't bet on which way it'll go, apart from that something may have to give, sooner or later.

  4. Forgot to say, though, nice paint job. Now wouldn't that have been a nice cheery nose job for the rest of the fleet to brighten up your mornings (or any other time of the day, for that matter).

  5. I agree, if a bit too much like Carters, whose front ends are pretty similar. Still think Ipswich Town blue!

  6. I have just read points above but I think in my opinion that go ahead have missed a trick by linking straight from there depot in beccles to Norwich a major hub of konnectbus. As why would I want to travel beccles to Lowestoft get another bus to Yarmouth to stay on same bus to Norwich it makes no sense to me .and if they wernt running it in to ground why keep giving services to konnect it may as well rebrand it as since the old management have gone it has got worse not better brad

  7. Anglian did originally run from Beccles to Lowestoft as the 146, now adopted by Borderbus. It didn't pay. You can get one Anglian bus from Beccles to Norwich but it will take a very long time! the 0902 service 62 becomes a 61 at kessingland then a 7 at yarmouth and gets into Norwich at something like 1230! There is an 86 that goes through the villages, or you can get an 81 to Yarmouth and change, or an 80 to Bungay and change onto the 88. I agree not ideal if you want o link up with the Konect network but I have a little feeling things might be about to change. I've heard nothing specific, but there has been next to no news from either Anglian or Konect recently, and that tells me there might be something big about to happen.

  8. I meant Beccles to Norwich - it was late!!

  9. Well all I have seen is connect taking over angluan in city runs and that means the versa will be going I would presume brad