On Saturday I thought it would be worth going into Devon to have a look at what sort of things were on Rail Replacement duties. Opposite to what I said on Thursday it was actually mainly run by the independent operators hiring in coaches. Though First provided many of them themselves on the locals between Exeter and Newton Abbot, with the fast services mainly being provided by independents.
So into Plymouth and already it was evident there would be a lot of variety on offer throughout the day. What met me were various coaches from Carmel had a Izitar bodied Scania W913 BEC along with Bova Future N335 SDV. Royal Blues brought LIB 806, one of several Van Hool bodied vehicles they own. Dartline had Dennis Javelin SLZ 5710 and Volvo B10M SLZ 6750, Holman's had Y337 AUT, C.J Down had B10M 645 CJD and 2 of FDC's B10Ms laid up as spares which were T106 JBC and M303 BRL. So first was a run upto Tiverton and of course I choose the oldest thing on offer, being Carmel's N335 SDV.
On the run up she performed superbly and was quite spritely seeing as she is now 15 years old. Of course Carmel like to keep to high standards and indeed she very much lived up to what I would expect from them.
So on arrival at Tiverton we had of course the 4 coaches that came up from Plymouth as well as Carmel's R639 VYB, and then down the back as spares were FDC's M301 BRL, TT05 TRU, Vario W4 TRU and GIL 2967.
It was then a train down to Exeter on an FGW HST. This set also had the new Volo 'Entertainment Class' carriage which I will post on later in the week. So on arrival at Exeter St Davids, of course there was very little train action, so it was straight outside to see what coaches they had lined up for the intermediate and stopper services. Darley Ford Travel had RAZ 8723, Hookways brought 2603 HP, Abbot Coach Travel had Tri Axle Scania, S21 ACT and FDC had quite a line up with firstly Cornish B7, MX56 AEM, then coaches were M92 BOU, T2 TRU, P521 PRL, Y5 TRU, and spare was WSV 409.
So for the trip down to Newton Abbot I chose something I've always been quite impressed by while spotting, this being S21 ACT the Tri Axle Scania. The Futura of Carmel had been nice, but this was in a different league. Very luxurious with an extremely smooth ride, only criticism I have is its too quiet! But that's just my own opinion!
So down to Newton Abbot we went. Three more Cornish Volvo B7s were on offer these being sisters MX56 AEK, AEL, and AEM, there was also B10M S314 SRL. Shortly after CJ Down's 645 CJD arrived from Plymouth with 3594 CJD as well. T2 TRU then arrived from Exeter St Davids.
While spotting in Newton one of the tri-axle B12Ms from National Express came through on a 501 to London. Though what was more interesting was the driver. Not sure of his name but I remember him from Torpoint when I used to use them daily down to Cremyll simply because on one occasion he expressed an interest in buses when he showed me a photo of him driving First's routemaster! I've put the photo above so if any of the Torpoint driver's who read this recognise him, let us know!
I particularly wanted a ride on the service to Exeter via Dawlish/Starcross etc and this was soon ready to depart with Volvo B10M S314 SRL. This one is one of, if not the only ones down here that still hasn't been re-painted into the new coaching livery, but do correct me if I'm wrong! This also still had the older moquette on the coach seats. The service was driven by one of the timetablers based at Plymouth who I worked alongside while I was on work experience with the company. Today he'd been let out to drive, as well as organise the coaches for the day. The trip was very pleasurable, though it is amazing how long it takes to get between the two towns! It was then quite tense on the run coming into Exeter where I needed to catch the 3:46 to get back down to Plymouth to meet my 81C. So close in fact that the coach was just about to pull away and was luckily held up by a passing car! Therefore this delayed him enough for him to notice me running up behind him, and was kind enough to stop and allow me onto the trip!
The coach for the journey back down to Plymouth a was Volvo B10M (I've said this far that many times today!) from C.J.Down. Annoyingly I never actually got the registration of this one but the bus or rather coach of the day, will go to this superb B10M. The performance was her was tremendous, that engine purring away was a dream, nice and throaty with plenty of power, really didn't feel the age it was. The interior was to match with immaculate dark red moquette with all fittings still looking mint. If I'm honest, it really showed up FDC's B10M that I'd just been on, it felt like a whole different breed of B10M!
Into Plymouth right on schedule and allowed me to whisk round seeing what was about to run upto Tiverton. So there was Dartline's Dennis Javelin RLZ 1673, Carmel's Dennis Javelin R632 VNN with Scania T872 GDV. Then there was Darley Ford's B12 DFT, another B10M. Quantock had FNZ 1052 and FDC had R1 TRU and R308 JAF as well as the two B10Ms there that morning.
So there we go, all that for just a fiver! I now need to go and have a lie down after writing all those registrations!