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Friday, 28 February 2014

First Ipswich News

Nothing like a good double take to wake you up on a wet and dismal morning. That is what happened to me today on my way to Ipswich on a rain splattered 32492. A bus passed the other way and I did a double take Rowan Atkinson would have been proud of. I saw nothing else but a partially white blind box. That could only mean one thing - Norwich had invaded Ipswich and even better hadn't been reported elsewhere! So I carefully worked out what time said invader was due back and lay in wait. And waited. And waited. Eventually I decided to find out directly and went to Ipswich depot, where I was told that yes, Norwich Volvo 66333 is indeed on loan to Ipswich after being at Braintree for a few weeks while 69005 is away being repaired from the damage suffered in Stowmarket. It was suggested that no mechanical faults were found on 69005. Anyway the reason I waited so long is it had broken down with brake trouble. Thanks, Norwich for sending one of your finest - and why a branded vehicle?

Ammendment: My ignorance has been exposed as it turns out the white branded Norwich vehicles ARE the spare ones as there is no White route. So why not just leave them unbranded? Answers on a postcard please.........

As luck would have it as I was leaving the depot 66333 returned so I got my pic after all.

In other news 32655/6 are to have guide arms fitted so they can be used on the 66. Apparently the powers that be want the new liveried deckers all on the 66. Reading between the lines I have a feeling Ipswich could be the place to be this summer so watch this space. Isn't it typical though - the depots on the coast are the subject of interest through winter then Ipswich in the Summer. Looks like the bermuda shorts stay in the drawer for another year.......

Norwich White Route Volvo  66333 MV02 VBY at Ipswich depot

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Leicester becomes Yarmouth

Steve's Bus and Train Page is proud to be the first to bring a pic of one of the ex First Leicester Volvo B7 ALX400's to enter service at Great Yarmouth. I ventured down to Beach Road coach station today to see what was on the BM contract and low and behold 32062 appeared minus any destination screen, accompanied by 37575. A spot of good luck which ran out when my "close up" pic failed to take properly so this is it!!

New to Yarmouth ex First Leicester ALX 400 32062 W422SRP on a Bernard Matthews Contract followed by 37575

And Now The Praise

I have some nice things to say, which after my last post is somewhat of a relief! Firstly I would like to say thank you to all at Suffolk Links. You can never fully replace a proper bus service, where you can look out of the window, think it's a nice day and hop on a bus which you can't do by having to book in advance. However I have found the service nothing short of excellent, the ladies on the booking service bend over backwards to fit you in when you want, and the drivers are all decent, knowledgable and have always been on time, normally early. One even texted me last week to say he'd be 6 mins late. Thank you Suffolk Links and I'm not worrying about the lack of a car nearly as much as I thought I would.

Secondly a big thumbs up and well done to Anglian. A few weeks ago I mentioned that gas bus 100 had a rattly window and said it was pointless having a quiet bus when a rattly window effectively disturbed the peace. Today I travelled on 100 for the first time since that post and the window has been fixed and no longer rattles. Kudos to Anglian for having that fixed - it makes such a difference.

Anglian gas bus 100 WX62 HHP now minus the rattling window

Gas Bus Comparison: MAN v Scania

I love Scanias. The favourite bus from my youth was a Metropolitan Scania. The best bus I drove was a Scania. The best coach I ever drove was a Scania. I love the Omnicity Dekkas - the ride more than the seats! I think the Scania 113 engine is one of the best bus engines ever built. So when I read yesterday that Anglian are trialing a Scania gas bus it seemed like all my Christmasses had come at once.

So this morning I set off to sample this Mecca of buses, and at 1147 precicely boarded Anglian 999 at Lowestoft Station.

Anglian 999 AD Scania E300 gas bus YT13 YUK at Lowestoft Station just realised showing completely the wrong destination!
Minus destination which is due to my camera not the bus.
So where to start. I had initially arrived at Lowestoft on MAN Eco City gas bus 102 so a quick comparison was easy. I'll break it down into different sections.

Comfort

A tough act to follow as I have publicly said I adore the MAN gas buses and find them really comfortable. The Scania did not match the level of comfort of the MAN's in my opinion, despite the leather seats. In fact the interior as a whole didn't set me alight - the floor looks like something you were made to sit on at Primary School, and it doesn't look as warm or welcoming as the MAN's

Ride Quality

First of all the Scania is noisier than the MAN. Sometimes it's difficult to tell if the MAN engine is on or not. That is not possible with the Scania. It whines and is not anything like as good a soundtrack as the MAN. The suspension is rougher, the acceleration not as smooth and the air con is noisier than the MAN.

Rattles

Oh dear. Can someone tell me how Portugal can build a bus body that doesn't rattle and Britain - who built the best bus in the history of buses - the Routemaster which doesn't rattle 50 years on - can't! I checked with the driver who said the Scania had done 17,000 miles and the rattling was embarrassingly more accute than the MAN's. I'm not sure what the mileage on the MAN's are but I'm willing to bet it's more than that! All the more baffling is that in the 80's and 90's Alexander built the least rattly bodies going - I drove Volvo Citibuses in London that had Alexander bodies and not a rattle between them, so what's happened? Why do Britain's new buses rattle so much?

Braking

I didn't intend to have this category but it was the one positive I found with the Scania. I know the MAN's can be a tad difficult to brake at times, and the Scania felt safe and solid in the braking - the driver confirmed that. He really liked the Scania.

Looks

The Scania looks great from the outside. I saw it from above in Market Gates Shopping Centre later and it's really streamlined on top. I also like the MAN's look so I guess it's a tie there.

Conclusion

I went out today to really like the Scania. I wanted to like the Scania and I'm seriously annoyed that I can't like it. I'm sick of writing negative reviews and comments about vehicles I want to like, and SHOULD like if the quality and yes workmanship were up to scratch. Quite simply Britain can't build a bus these days that retains quality and comfort like the Routemaster or Olympian did. Very sad indeed. So Scania or MAN? Man that's an easy decision.

Scania E300 gas bus YT13 YUK leaves Yarmouth for Norwich
Just realised how appropriate the last three letters on the registration are!


Still Going

The end for X1 Excel coaches 20514/5 has been predicted for a few weeks now, and both of them have seen active service elsewhere in those weeks. However, both today were reunited on their old patch working the X1 shorts. I managed to capture them both in the space of 10 mins at Yarmouth Market Gates today.

20514 about to leave on the 1305 to Norwich
20515 having operated the 1235 from Norwich

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Showbus 2014

Spring hasn't arrived and already I'm talking about this coming September. For a good reason though as Showbus is taking place at Duxford again on Sunday 21st September. I have been asked to inform you that Rob Collins is intending to run a coach for us enthusiasts to Duxford, picking up at Beccles, Lowestoft., Gorleston. Yarmouth and Norwich. The cost of this will be around £20 which I think is pretty good value. He has said he is hoping to hire the 30 seat executive coach from Grebe travel, but I think if we get enough interest 33423 would be a much better option!!!! Or a gas bus which really should be there anyway. It is to my shame I haven't been to Showbus since it was at Woburn and I went with the old M&D Atlantean 5558 and came back with Olympian coach 5447 (I think). Must have been 84/85ish. Syd probably has pics :))

Anyhow my opinons aside if you are interested please contact Rob at bertiecollins123@sky.com and he'll give you all the low down. I'll be in touch soon, Rob so save my place!!

Monday, 24 February 2014

Short Set In The Sun

After shivering under my duvet over the weekend I was sufficiently recovered enough to go to Lowestoft to catch the "short set" to Norwich on its regular 1057 departure. After suffering the indignation of a Solo instead of a gas bus (102 suffered a broken windscreen due to bird strike this morning) I got to Lowestoft Station just in time to see 47810 lead the short set in, with freshly painted 47818 bringing up the rear. Apparently known as "Emily" 47818 replaced the unreliable 47813 last week. It is rumoured that the 47's are soon to be replaced by 37's and tonight 3 Mk II coaches are arriving at Norwich behind 47853 specifically for the "short set".

The journey was great, the soundtrack awesome, and some of the pics I got I'm really pleased with. I'll try and get pics of the new coaches later in the week. Many more of today's pics on my Flickr page when I update it tomorrow

47810 brings the short set into Lowestoft
Newly painted 47818 heads the short set back to Norwich. 170272 in the distance
47818 with short set approaching Reedham Bridge
Oh what a sight! Smoke pours from 47818 as she powers away
Gleaming in the Norwich sun

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Another Another Repaint

David Warren has emailed me to tell me about the repaint of Ipswich Buses 62 - Scania Omnidekka PJ54 YZV which has been painted in their dual purpose P&R colours. Apparently this is so it can be ultilised on Football Specials when Town are playing. I presume this is just on the Martlesham site as the London Road site can't accommodate deckers - can anyone confirm this? Either way I think she looks quite magnificent in her new colours, and many thanks go to David for allowing me to use his brilliant pic, which of course remains his copyright. His extensive Flickr page can be found here

IB 62 Scania PJ54 YZV at Tower Ramparts in her new P&R colours. Pic copyright David Warren

Borismaster Bonanza

On my way down to Kent on Tuesday I stopped in London with the intention to ride and photograpgh Borismasters on every route they operate on. I came very close to achieving it. Right now Borismasters operate on routes 9, 11, 24, 148 and 390. There are a few floating around on the 38 but that route is still predominantly operated by other vehicles.

So I ended up catching the 11 from Liverpool St - Victoria, the 24 from Victoria - Pimlico and back, the 148 from Victoria - Elephant and Castle from where I went to Waterloo on the 172 (a very rattly E400) to do the electric bus back to Victoria. I then caught the 38 (not a Borismaster) to Green Park where I caught the 9 to Trafalgar Square.

That just left the 390, which doesn't go through Central London, running from Notting Hill Gate - Archway. So on Thursday, while taking an extended "cross London" journey between main line stations on the Circle Line the staff at Notting Hill Gate Station kindly let me out for a few mins so I could get some shots of the 390. I didn't ride one but plan to next time now I know the 148 also passes through Notting Hill Gate.

I really like the Borismasters, but in no way can I see them lasting 50 years like their predecessors. They have been well designed, seem more solid than other new buses, and I love the illuminated side adverts that become obvious after dark. But like everything else let's see what condition they are like in 3 or 4 years time, and only then will we be able to really judge.

LT59 LTZ 1059 at the temporary Liverpool St terminus while the bus station is closed
LT's 21 and 23 at the Pimlico terminus of the 24 on the Victoria Embankment
LT138 on the 148 at Elephant & Castle
LT90 approaching Trafalgar Square on the 9
LT107 at Notting Hill Gate terminus of the 390. Don't know what the one behind is.
Absolutely no idea of the vehicle but it does show the illuminated side ad rather well

Friday, 21 February 2014

Hanging Out On The Circle Line

It would appear I've been living in a cave. Last year I did a feature on the new trains for the Metropolitan Line without realising the new S Stock trains for the Circle Line were on the way and about to be phased in. Last Tuesday (11th) saw the Circle Line completely operated by the new trains for the first time. Compared to the old C Stock the S Stock are 7 coaches compared to 6 on the C Stock, 24 metres longer (117m compared to 93), and can carry 865 passengers compared to 739 for the C Stock.

So having spotted one on Tuesday I decided yesterday to spend a couple of hours on the Circle Line to see what the new ones were like. They are quite similar to the Metropolitan Line trains, except all the seats are side facing, but are certainly faster and smoother than their predecessors, which have been in service since 1970. You can still find C Stock on the Edgware - Wimbledon branch of the District Line but I don't know for how long.

One of the new Circle/Hammersmith & City Line trains at Farringdon

One of the remaining C Stock still on the Wimbledon branch at Edgware Road

The old and the new - C Stock and the new S Stock together at Edgware Road
Inside of new S stock Circle Line train - unlike the Metropolitian Line all seats are side facing
These new trains mean that only the Bakerloo and Piccadilly lines still have rolling stock I remember from my childhood. I'm not sure when they are due for replacement.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

I'm Back

I have returned, with a very red eye and lots of pics, First of all Anon, Zak and Sam I'm not sure whether to say well done, or you guys seriously need to get a life!! Yes, it is indeed Electric Bus EB1, which I was lucky enough to photogrsph at Waterloo Bus Garage. Both of them were in the Garage when I got there, but the Duty Manager told me when the one not suffering a power cut was going to be out, so I got a ride on it to Victoria. Verdict? Erm noisy and rattly and sounded like a tram on tyres. Not the quiet smooth journey I had envisaged. Anyway here are the pics I took of them, but I'll be surprised if they are the future of bus travel so these pics may be collectors items in a few years!! My grateful thanks to the driver for directing me to the Garage, and the manager for allowing me to take the pics.

Build Your Dreams Electric Bus EB1 LC63 CYA at Waterloo Garage
Rear of EB2 LC63 CXY in the workshop at Waterloo Garage
Rear of EB1
Electric Bus EB1 LC63 CYA at Victoria Station

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Tuesday Teaser

Had a great day in London today en route to Kent. There will be a full report when I get home but here are a couple of pics I took today. One shows newly painted loco 90005 looking spendid at Liverpool St. The other is a bit of a quiz - which bus is this a pic of the cab? All will be revealed when I get home. See you soon.

90005 in new livery at Liverpool St
Quiz time - what vehicle is this and where did I take the pic? Answer hopefully Thursday.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Short Break

I'm travelling down to Kent tomorrow in preparation for eye surgery in Sussex on Wednesday. If all goes well I'll be home Thursday evening but no idea how well I'll be able to see.

Anyway hoping to spend a lot of tomorrow in London sampling many Borismasters, electric buses and so on. It will culminate in catching HS1 down to Kent so many photo opportunities which I'll post later in the week.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Another Repaint

A lot of attention has quite deservedly gone to 33423 this last couple of weeks as it is without doubt one of the more photogenic vehicles around at the moment. However, Clive Nixon, of Ipswich Bus Blog kindly sent me a pic of a vehicle I only travelled on a couple of weeks ago in her new colours. Ipswich Buses 68, Scania CN230UD Optare Olympus  YJ60 KGX has been repainted into IB's "marmite" livery of green and purple. I call it marmite as you either love it or hate it. Personally it's growing on me and I think the Scania looks particularly good in it. Many thanks to Clive for the pic which remains his copyright.

Before the paint job - IB 68 in old green and white
Gleaming in her new colours IB 68 YJ60 KGX at Tower Ramparts on her normal route

Thursday, 13 February 2014

The Many Faces Of 33423

Yet again a stroke of luck this afternoon. I was at Market Gates when 33423 came in from Norwich. I was surprised to see it change the destination to show 1 Martham. A minute later it returned to X1 Yarmouth. I enquired if it was going to be the 1600 to Norwich, which it was and I had a natter with the driver about the E400's in general "they nearly all rattle now"  and it turned out a photographer was going to take a publicity shot of her when she got on the right stand.  An opportunity not to be missed and so I joined in the photoshoot. It turned out that the destination computer had been re-programmed today and so the driver kindly put some of the more unlikely destinations we will see on it. Enjoy and remember they are for display purposes only!!

This destination is quite likely in the future
Dream on kids!!
I wonder if that will ever happen, and is there a "fast" service?
A genuine destination - loading up at Norwich for the extended run to JPH


Finally I was asked to take an interior pic by a certain co-blogger, and actually that was a pretty good idea as not many will have seen the unusual interior of this bus. She goes well too, and even the rattles are tolerable. She also passed the text test, ie I was able to text on my phone quite comfortably, unlike while on 33820 earlier.

Upper deck of 33423. Unusual colours to say the least

101 Decker Deluge

When I first started this blog it was pretty unusual to see a decker on the 101 Lowestoft town service. However over recent weeks it has become increasingly common. Today though there were no less than 4 deckers operating the 101, including one of Great Yarmouth's Gemini B9's. 30889/900, 37570 and Yarmouth's 37578  Perhaps someone in the know can tell me if the 101 is destined to become a decker route, or are so many Darts/E200's off the road it is a matter of necessity. Also back at Lowestoft is X1 Excel coach 20515 which was on the X2 today.

Great Yarmouth B9 Gemini 37578 AU58 EDJ on Lowestoft's 101
30889 W744 DWX also on the 101
30900 W774 DWX also on the 101
Sorry I didn't manage to get a shot of 37570 but trust me it was on the 101's too!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Oops 3

More details on the incident involving Ipswich B9rle 69005 in Stowmarket this morning. Apparently it hit a set of traffic lights and a florist shop. It has been confirmed the driver was not on board at the time and investigations are ongoing. Pic from EADT whose full report with additional pic can be found here.

69005 looking pretty unwell. Pic from EADT

Oops 2

A friend of mine alerted me to this rather good pic of a double decker in a rather precarious position on the road between Falmouth and Truro in Cornwall. Apparently it had ended up there after nearly hitting a fallen tree. Pic on dailymail.co.uk, and usual promise that if anyone objects to use of pic to contact me and I'll withdraw it. Thanks for the alert, Maddie

It has also been reported that 69005 crashed in Stowmarket today. details and hopefully pics to follow.

What a close call. No ID for this vehicle as yet

Ex First Leicester Deckers

As you will  know First Great Yarmouth are expecting some ex First Leicester ALX400 as well as a couple of Geminis - 32629/30. Well I can report that 32628/31/40-42 have been spotted in Basildon so does that mean the two Yarmouth bound are on their way? I know they are meant to replace the Volvo single deckers but it could mean a final death knell for the remaining Olympians. I am waiting to find out if the Geminis have been repainted and as soon as I know will update the post. I have just found out and they have NOT been repainted, so it seems First's new policy of repainting vehicles moving to a new area has not been followed.

Yarmouth bound 32630 working in Northampton in 2012. Pic by 66251

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Borderbus Get First Service Route

Suffolk On Board website have announced that newly formed Beccles based Borderbus have been given their first service route. They have won the tender to operate the 521 Halesworth - Aldeburgh service which runs via Yoxford, Saxmundham and a lot of tiny villages! Currently this service is oiperated by Nightingales using a Mercedes Beaver type vehicle, so it will be interesting to see what Borderbus use as so far I have only heard of them owning deckers and their O licence only covers them for 5 vehicles. Borderbus take over the route on 31st March and yours truly will be out to see what happens. For the Suffolk On Board page click here

Update: Borderbus MD Andrew Pursey has told East Norfolk Bus Blog that a low floor bus wil be introduced on the route as opposed to using deckers. 

Nightingales Mercedes SF59 BXR at Saxmundham close to the old EC depot on the 521, soon to be operated by Borderbus


Friday, 7 February 2014

At Last!

A much better day than yesterday and trust me 80 mins on a gas bus is sheer bliss compared to the bloody awful 80 mins on 65675 yesterday! Got to Yarmouth and had to wait barely 25 mins before 33423 came in Norwich bound. Got some pics of her then waited for Roy from East Norfolk Bus Blog to meet me. I managed to persuade him to accompany me to Acle to get some more shots of 33423 coming back, which we duly did, getting to Acle on Anglian Scania. 455. While we were waiting for 33423 to arrive Roy happened to mention that the short set was on the Norwich-Yarmouth route and it seemed too good an opportunity to miss.

45 mins on a cold, draughty platform has never gone so fast. The anecdotes were in full flow and our patience was rewarded with 47810 leading a first class coach, a standard class coach, a driving trailer unit and 47841 on the rear. We sat in 1st class, obviously, as only befits distinguished bloggers, and a short but sweet journey to Yarmouth for more photos and a video. Then it was back on the gas bus to Wangford and mini bus home.

Roy - thank you for your company on what turned out to be a great afternoon. I won't be getting out much for the next couple of weeks thanks to the limit on the number of minibus bookings I'm allowed being taken up by essential things, and eye surgery. However the eye surgery means two days in London so get ready for much Borismastering! So here are today's pics - more on Flickr over the weekend.

Looking rather good 33423 SN60 CAA shows off her new outfit!

At Acle going the other way. I have to say those colours really suit her
47 810 leads in the 1456 Acle - Yarmouth service. So impressive
Looking positively regal at Yamouth
47 841 about to depart for Norwich
video

Here is a video of the short set leaving Yarmouth this afternoon on the 1517 departure to Norwich