Saturday 8 August 2015

Weekend Supplement

A lot of tidying up to do this weekend and we start with one of many contributions from Cameron Robinson who, unlike me who honoured the start of the footy season by welding myself to the sofa, was out and about and getting one of the rare workings of the year so far. Soon to be retired Anglian Optare Excel 229 was pressed into service on the 61 to Kessingland Beach. This probably never to be repeated picture was the result.

Anglian 229 in the glorious Kessingland sun.    pic (c) Cameron Robinson
A transfer this week that caught everyone by surprise was Norwich Dart 42921 returning to its former home at Yarmouth on a permanent basis. I understand this is due to the imminent arrival of Ipswich B7rle 66982 but even so it was a surprise to all, especially as Norwich only recently repainted it themselves. Anyway she is back in Yarmouth and Cameron once again was in the right place at the right time.

First Yarmouth 42921 back home seen at Belton    pic (c) Cameron Robinson
Another returnee to the area is Anglian Solo 907, which has been on loan at Chambers for a couple of years.  Tuesday I saw her in Lowestoft on the 61A's.

Anglian 907, Optare Solo YT51 EBF at Lowestoft
Another Solo to make my camera this week was one of Stagecoach Norfolk's new Optare Solo SR's, which entered service in the last few days. It was in use on the X29 on Friday, and after making a complete dogs dinner of my effort to picture it in St Stephen's St I finally caught up with it in Norwich Bus Station. 48022 YJ15 ANP is one of a batch of 5 SR's for Kngs Lynn and is named "Florence Ada Coxon".

Stagecoach Norfolk Solo SR 48022 at Norwich Bus Station
Now a bit of technical stuff. When I posted about BorderBus's loan E200 demonstrator which arrived on Monday (see here) I mentioned the reason it was there was to trial a new ZF gearbox which Alexander Dennis claimed to give substantial fuel savings. When I travelled on it it sounded and acted like any other E200, so I was surprised when I read that apparently it was a semi automatic box where the driver could change gear at will. I have driven many semi automatic buses and coaches over the years and one thing they all had in common was a gearstick! There is no gearstick on the demonstrator so some research was needed.

I contacted Dave Marshall at BorderBus for some clarification. He told me that "It does have that (semi automatic) capability  but not ideal to use as its actually a manual gearbox  without having to use clutch ,therefore you basically drive it like a manual ie come off throttle as changing gear". Of course it would normally be driven in fully automatic mode anyway. However it transpires that the gearbox wasn't working properly anyway, so some men in white coats have come down, fixed it, and BorderBus have got it for a further week so full and accurate evaluation can be made. Btw although advisable you don't have to come off the throttle when changing gear on a purpose built semi automatic box.

For the real technophobes amongst you I have found this video on You Tube made by ZF, which explains and demonstrates the gearbox. Interesting that ZF and Alexander Dennis have different estimations for fuel savngs though.

Ipswich Bus Blog has revealed that Ipswich Buses have withdrawn 3 of their East Lancs Darts. 91, 97 and 99, X91/9/199 XBJ have been taken out of service because of in 91's case serious mechanical failure, 97 is being cannibalised and 199's MOT has run out. All these vehicles are non DDA so would have had to be withdrawn at the end of the year anyway. I'm sure I have pics of these somewhere but I can't access my archives at present due to memory stick failure so you'll have to imagine them!

Regular correspondent David Green from Galloway has informed me that Galloway have taken on long term loan an Olympian - yes Olympian from Stephenson's of Essex. N827 FKK is an ex Dublin Bus example. This pic was taken by Matthew Evans, whcse rather good Flickr page you can access here. I have yet to discover what route the Ollie is going to be used on - David if you can let me know I'll be grateful as it's a day out waiting to happen!

Stephenson's 827 now on loan to Galloway. pic (c) Matthew Evans
I now have a plea to any transport and especially rail enthusiasts who are lucky enough to have a railway passing their back garden (or business even). I have become rather addicted to Railcam, which provides access to cctv cameras dotted throughout the country giving great views of railway lines, as well as providing diagrams showing realtime train information etc. It is perfect to watch those special trains you hear about but never get to see. There are also cameras on several heritage lines including the recently added Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway in Kent. I invite you to take a look yourself at the railcam site by clicking here.

However if you join Railcam you will notice that the East of England is grossly under
-represented and it would be nice if this could change. Basically the requirements are you have a good view of the line from your property, you have an unlimited broadband package, and you don't mind hosting a camera. The railcam team will do the rest including advising on privacy laws etc. It would be wonderful if there could be a camera on the GEML, and right now a camera to get those majestic 37's between Norwich and Yarmouth I'm sure would prove very popular. So if you, or if anyone you know is in a position to help then either let me or the railcam team know. I do warn you they are addictive though! But when you see a steamer going over the Ribblehead Viaduct on the Settle - Carlisle line live from the comfort of your own sofa it's truly worth it!

Now a picture that is going to becoe a rarity. In September First Ipswich finally launch their express service to Felixstowe. The X7 will go direct along the A14 and the two Volvo B7rle's painted up for the job last year, 69426/8 will be used. Therefore when I was lucky enough to catch 69426 to Saxmundham the other day I realised it might be a long time before I had that opportunity again. Even more of a collectors aspect to the pic is the 64A is being scrapped in September and the 64 will revert to running Ipswich - Aldeburgh, although not as frequently. A special post on that coming soon. So here is the picture, taken outside Tesco in Saxmundham.

69426 on the 64A to Aldeburgh at Saxmundham
Finally for this rather big post I saw two sides to bus drivers this week. Two very contrasting sides. On one side we have the driver who stared into space through his wndscreen, refusing point blank to help an old lady who had dropped her pass while trying to board his bus with a shopping trolley, choosing to wait for a passenger (me) to help her and STILL refusing to make eye or verbal contact with anyone. The industry does not need drivers like him. Contrast that to the driver yesterday who turned conductor - musical conductor that is - leading his bus in a chorus of Happy Birthday to another elderly lady who is a regular passenger. The tragic irony is the second driver is paid less than the first. Life just isn't fair is it. Have a great week everyone.


  1. Truly magnifico post ! And highly commended for "admitting" your addiction lol I am in awe of the diagrams especially the Clapham Junction one ! I will have Saturdays free so to speak now and have a few trips planned

  2. Cheers buddy, looking forward to the 23rd!

  3. What days does the excel run throughout? I am tryna catch it before it goes.

    1. Not sure I understand what you're asking buddy. 69426/8 don't have regular routes yet - they can be on anything out of Ipswich at present, but from September will be used on the X7 between Ipswich and Felixstowe. The timetable for that hasn't been released yet.

    2. I mean the optare excel, or does it run everyday.

    3. Look below mate - the answer's there!

  4. Replies
    1. This is what happens when someone sends me a DM at 6am on a Sunday morning! Sorry Anon the Excel is normally on the 80/81 and as a rule works the 1045 and 1445 out of Yarmouth. Of course nothing is guaranteed but it's on there more often than not.

  5. Hi Steve Galloway update the hire olympian will be use on Stowupland high to Mendlesham or hartismere high (eye) to Gislingham I expect it will do mostly Stowupland and will work alongside the other olympian the plan is to find a good second hand decker as the main service bus and to downgrade the spectra day decker as it's not dda

  6. Do you know what times konects excel runs and on what route?

    1. In recent weeks it has been regularly on the 80/81 between Yarmouth and Diss, leaving Yarmouth at 1045 and 1445.