Sunday 8 March 2015

Weekly News Round Up 8/3/15

Welcome to this week's Round Up. As usual I'll be rounding up the week, with highlights and other bits that didn't make the main posts. I'm still basking in the glory of yesterday's amazing pageview total - 1,453 in a single day - and wondering when I'll ever see figures like that agan! Quite something and a train post too, although I think the truck might have had a little to do with it too! Anyway here are this week's headlines.

News Headlines

  • Virgin Train East Coast unveil new livery
  • Beestons turn ex Anglian Scania into work of art
  • New Thetford Bus Station opened (partly)
  • Outer Hebrides has better bus service than Rural Suffolk
  • Last roller blind decker in Norfolk still rocking in Yarmouth
  • South central train leaves Suffolk

Virgin Trains have been running the East Coast mainline for a week now and it appears to have been a pretty smooth transtition. Not that I, or anyone else really doubted it as the only thing that ever changes are the uniforms, logos and train liiveries. The huge majority of management and staff will be the same people who were running it for the Government run East Coast Rail, so little will change. However, among many appearances by Richard Branson, VTEC did unveil their first repainted Class 91 loco, DVT and set first thing Monday morning, and I have to say it looks rather smart. How long for is anyone's guess, unless they manage to keep the white white longer than Greater Anglia have.

DVT 82218 and rear of set leave Kings Cross.         pic by VTEC via Twitter
But in my view that wasn't the best repaint unveiled this week. Beestons bettered that with their quite remarkable repaint of former Anglian Scania Omnicity YN03 UWJ. Of course there's no guarantee that it won't be a right rattlebucket under the gleaming paint, but right now that just doesn't matter, and I make no apology for posting this pic again! Can't wait for the vinyls to go on!

Beestons ex Anglian Scania YN03 UWJ opposite Old Cattle Market
I had a trip out West on Wednesday, mainly to take a look  at the new Thetford Bus Station. But like an idiot I left my camera at home and my phonecam has still not been repaired. So the pics weren't great. However, the day was notable in that I went on buses of such extremes one after the other it beggars belief! First of all I finally got a ride on Coach Services' superb Volvo B9tl Gemini 2 CS63 BUS. Olympians excepted (obviously) I think this is probably the best double decker bus in Norfok or Suffolk. I loved it and when I repeat the journey this week to get decent pics of the new bus station in Thetford I'm going to try and get on it again. And a better quality pic.

Coach services' truly magnificent Volvo B9tl CS63 Bus
However you will notice lurking behind the Gemini in the new bus station the back end of a bus, in every sense of the phrase. It is an 07 reg E200 which I will not bother to further identify, but in all honesty if my name was either Alexander or Dennis I'd be changing my name rather than having it associated with that thing. I was going to say the worst bus I have ever been on, but have suddenly remembered those Plaxton Primo thingy washing machines that Simonds have so it may be a tie! I will comment on the new bus station in the midweek post.

I had a shock on Thursday when I discovered that residents on tiny islands in the Outer Hebrides have a better bus service than residents of rural Suffolk. I was so impressed that I'm planning a trip there in May to see them for myself. It will be an endurance test with journeys taking around 30 hours each way but if the weather's ok it should also be pretty spectacular.

Yarmouth Olympian 34186 is still to be seen out on the road, and on Friday she was on the 8's. To my knowledge this is the ony double decker in regular service that still has both number and destination roller blinds in Norfolk or Suffolk which makes her quite special.

Olympian 34186 passes X1 Gemini 37578 in Yarmouth

In other bus news the ALX400 DDA conversion programme is gathering pace.So far 30900/1 have been done at Lowestoft, and 32061 is due back in her repainted state at Yarmouth this week, as long as 32064 passes her MOT, as she has come down half finished to have that done before going back up for repainting. The new destination screen has been fitted, and a pic can be seen on Friday's post of Yarmouth obs.

At Norwich Yarmouth Dart 42921 is still there on loan, and Blue Line Gemini 36168 was operating the 1/1A in Yarmouth yesterday. Sad news from Ipswich where I understand Excel fronted B7rle 69428 has been involved in an RTA and sustained damage to the front end. It is unknown how serious the damage is or how long she is likely to be off the road.

There is still no news as to when Anglian's ex Metrobus Scania Omnidekkas are going to show up. It is also expected that Anglian's new Operations Manager will be revealed this week.

Borderbus have formally announced the new 146 timetable coming into operation at the end of the month. As first revealed on this blog the route has been altered to take in Kessingland, Pakefield and Carlton Colville, and earlier and later journeys are being introduced. It will also require an additional vehicle, and I'm hoping to have news of that shortly. Stay tuned.

Norfolk Green have started a refurbishment programme of their Coasthopper Solos. The first one is back on the road and Sam Larke was in the right place at the right time when it paid a visit to Norwich on Saturday. Many thanks for use of the pics, Sam

Freshly repainted Coasthopper Solo 47903 YK08 EUC in St Stephen's St Norwich.   pic (c) Sam Larke
The very smart interior of the refurbished Solo

Yesterday I posted about a former Connex South Central Electric Multiple Unit that has been hiding away in Beccles for the last 10 years. Thanks to Andrew and Nicky Pursey from BorderBus who sent me the pics I was able to put a pretty good post up. I had it well publicised on railforums, thanks to my BK pal Tim, and to say the post went bananas is an understatement. It smashed all records to smithereens, and is the first post to ever hit the top 5 with no comments in it's first 24 hours - in fact as this is published it's just about to go into the all time number 2 slot! I think a lot of that might have to do with a certain pic in the post of a truck and its occupant, but if you haven't already you'll have to look at the post to see who I'm talking about!

Anyway I have an update on that post. Firstly Andrew has kindly sent in a couple of pics of the other Driver Trailing Coach from the unit, and I have also, thanks to blog member David Warren, discovered a lot more about the history of the unit and preservation plans.

Still looking majestic in my opinion, the other end of CIG 1753 somewhere in Beccles
David directed me to the website of the Network Southeast Railway Society where you will find a detailed history of the unit, together with the ambitious plans to have her running under her own power on an electrfied heritage railway. Thanks, David, and I'll be keeping an eye on her progress. Further responses on the rail forums suggest that her new home will be Finmere in Oxfordshire. Apparently Finmere Station (no longer on a working line) is already home to a couple of Southern units and a Class 73 loco.

On Wednesday, Route One magazine published an article on the STEVE Awards. Unfortuantely there was a mistake and they published the wrong article, which didn't have the name of the blog or a link. They have promised that this week the correct article will be published so look out for that.

This Week's Posts

Ipswich Obs And Beestons Surprise  An afternoon in Ipswich with Bryan, with many varied pics including that Beestons Omnicity

Virgins In Newcastle  Virgin Trains East Coast unveil their new livery - many different shots of it.

Chalk And Cheese  I compare service announcements from AGA and First and ask why not talk in English!

Outer Hebrides Special  Exactly what it says on the tin - a look at bus services in the Outer Hebrides, and the realisation that they are better than those in rural Suffolk.

Yarmouth Obs And Transient 32064  An afternoon in Yarmouth, including the obligatory Ollie, and 32064 not yet painted but with new destination display on display!

The Train Departing From Beccles...  The record breaking, history making post fetauring former Connex South Central CIG 1753 being loaded up for pastures new. Plus a happy young man in a truck!

Quiz Time

Last week I asked where WOO was on the Megabus M20 route between London and Scotland. Well done to Brian Elliss and Quintin Plane, who both correctly identified it as Wooley Edge services on the M1 near Wakefield.

For this week we are going to Kent, and a favourite one of mine - on the rail network in Kent there are 3 consecutive stations that start with the same letter - what are they? Answers by email and I'll tell you what they are next week.

And Finally

I'm sure that most of you have heard of THAT dress - the one turning the internet crazy that different people see in different colours. I surveyed an entire bus last week and got a 60/40 split of who saw it black/blue and who saw it white/gold. Well another pic could create the same split, and here it is.

Is this pink and lilac or turquoise and lilac?       pic (c) Sam Larke
You will observe that this bus is on the 11, the Pink Line, and I assume to the controllers at Norwich it does appear pink. However I see it as turquoise, so it will be interesting to see what everyone else thinks! Of course it might have just been put there to cover a breakdown but that's far too boring to contemplate! Have a good week everyone.


  1. This reminds me of that photo of a dress with everyone guessing it was different colors. The bus certainly looks turquoise to me, too.