As usual First take the bulk of the column inches today due to activity just about everywhere. At Ipswich branding has begun on the 66, and will soon begin on the 53 too. I showed pic in my post from Ipswich on Wednesday (click here to see it) of freshly painted 32488 in the depot getting her "Superoute 66" branding. So almost inevitibly when Bryan Dickson saw her today she was operating on the 75 to Felixstowe!
|Superoute 66 branded 32488 on the erm 75! Pic (c) Bryan Dickson
|The new 53 branding on 44517
Ex Colchester Volvo B7rle 66976 has arrived at Ipswich, and I believe has already departed for Rotherham, and the final transfer will be the long awaited 69006 from Norwich which is due on Monday, but then someone or other has said it's been coming every week since August so seeing will be believing! Scania 65675 has gone to Colchester, and eventually 65670 and 69433 will go the same way.
Over at Yarmouth all the new Streetlites are now in service, and the reception seems to be pretty positive. I'm neither here nor there on them - they don't blow me over with their quality - the retarder sounds like a 1980 Metrobus - but there are worse buses that size on the market too. However, I can foresee a major problem which could see them either constantly over the pits having everything tightened up or re-gluing, or rattling like a 1930's football crowd within six months and this time it is not the fault of First, nor Wright. The blame will lay firmly and squarely at the feet of Norfolk County Council. Quite simply the roads these buses will be going over day in day out are nothing short of scandalous. I went on a 2 to James Paget for the first time on Tuesday and was appalled at the state of some of the roads. I couldn't blame any operating company for refusing to operate along those roads until a decent surface was provided.
|New Streetlite 47503 on the 5 to Burgh Castle on Friday
Some of Norwich's new Streetlites are set to make their debut tomorrow (Monday) but it would appear NOT on the 39 as intended. Local media reported on Friday that they would instead be used on the 14 between Wymondham and Wroxham, which is actually more appealing to me and I hope to have a report and pics in the next couple of days. This is one of the times I can't publish what is going to happen but expect some interesting news in the coming days and weeks. As soon as I'm given clearance to publish I will so keep checking back.
I have now been given clearance to reveal to merry-go-round of transfers about to take place although specific vehicles involved have yet to be confirmed. Basically Yarmouth's ex Jersey Darts will transfer to Lowestoft. Lowestoft's E200's in turn will transfer to Norwich and will replace the Solo's on the 39 as the Streetlites have turned out to be a little too big for the route. As I get individual vehicle details I will, of course let you know!
YET ANOTHER UPDATE
One Streetlite that won't be out tomorrow is 47511 - which was captured today at Heysham Docks by the wonderful Malcolm Jones. Many thanks for sending me the pic, Malcolm, and copyright of this pic remains with him.
|47511 at Heysham Docks. pic (c) Malcolm Jones
In other Norwich news Plaxton President 33060 has returned in the new generic corporate livery. It has had its extremely temporary red vinyls removed and the new black and white ones applied that I am reliably assured are the right ones!
|Norwich Trident 33060 LN51 LJU in her new colours
Can't really call this news but as this is always the most read post of the week I thought this deserved to be included. I was well chuffed to receive an email from Dave Marshall, Chief Engineer at Borderbus, formally of Anglian, who sent me two pics he took of the first gas bus to come out of the factory in Portugal prior to coming over here. Unfortunately I don't know which fleet number this ended up becoming but what the heck - amazing pics, Dave, and I would guess extremely rare. Thanks for sending them to me and thus sharing them with everyone else. I must insist that these pics remain copyright to Dave.
|The first MAN Ecocity Gas Bus out of the factory pic (c) Dave Marshall
|pic (c) Dave Marshall
Not something that normally makes the news but there are a couple of changes coming up in Ipswich. The Sunday 116 service to Debenham has been scrapped due to lack of use - that was well predicted in certain corners, but the 65A to Woodbridge has been extended to Melton, and an extra two journeys added to give 5 in total. A shame it couldn't be extended even further to Wickham Market and Rendlesham but hopefully that will come in future months. Any improvements to Sunday services are to be encouraged and applauded, but the public have a responsibility to use the services when they are provided. I fear it maybe some time before Debenham gets another chance.
A bit of a rant now. I have defended Greater Anglian to the hilt in recent months. Indeed it's possible they might be getting an award from this humble publication but things are getting worse. I follow GA on Twitter and right now there can't be many more unreliable services in the country than the Ipswich/Felixstowe line, which I have a vested interest in as I used to live by the line. The excuse normally given is freight congestion, and that is believable to an extent, but only allocating one unit to that line doesn't help much. Having worked on the railway I know all about units and crew displacement etc, but I also know there are normally spare crews sitting around too and at least one spare unit at Ipswich during the day.
I also appreciate that most of the line is single which makes passing difficult. But there simply doesn't seem to be any contingency plan in place apart from a Panther Travel coach outside Ipswich Station that will operate journeys if required. Not much help if the problem is the Felixstowe end. So why doesn't someone step in and operate a fast bus service from Ipswich to Felixstowe via the A14 running in competition with the trains. As long as it proved to be totally 100% reliable and ran at the right times it might just catch on, especially if it carried on to the Town centre. OK those rail passengers travelling further than Ipswich wouldn't benefit financially unless they had a bus pass, but for those commuting between the towns it could be a more attractive option if it took far less time than the current service buses. If it proved really successful maybe it could even extend to Colchester running fast down the A12. Woah now there's a thought! Once again I am available for consultancy work!
|The ususal fare on the Felixstowe Branch, a Class 153 - 153314 leaves Ipswich sidings