Sunday 28 February 2010

WNPG 2010 Rally now confirmed

It is now confirmed there will be a Plymouth Hoe rally in 2010 run by the Western National Preservation Group that will take place on the 25th of July. This will be the 25th Rally WNPG have held on the Hoe. So yet another date to be put in the diaries, hopefully the weather will be a bit better this year though!

Is this the end?

Weymouth correspondent - Luke Farley (why is a Plymouth focused blog reporting on Weymouth? I don't know either!) has reported today NO sighting of JHU 902X both in the depot or on any of the routes. This may well be the end for both JHU and C414 HJN - the two oldest buses in the fleet, though C414 was still in operation yesterday. Looks like I got there just in time!

Luke has now also sent me a photo of 414 in the depot yesterday, quite fittingly 'Love' is displayed on the wall behind her.

But on a Weymouth related note Marc Reddy will be taking the reigns of FHD in the near future. To read more about this please visit the link below to Plymothian Transit:

Snap on Sunday

With the Plymouth Citybus 709s coming so close to the end of their life now I thought I'd take a trip on the 58 to experience them - possibly for the last time. Indeed 58/9 is quite a spectacular route and there were far too many moments I wish I could have been taking a photo on the outside with some beautiful backdrops of the moor. If only I had a car! The 709 is of course perfect for the route and there were several places where I think the Solos may struggle to negotiate as well as the 709s - though of course they will be better on some of the hills!

Saturday 27 February 2010

First Group Footwear

Derrick Cuff came across this today while browsing the web. These are official First Group shoes in the 'Converse' style. As you will note the material is the First Group Moquette - taken from real bus seats. The rubber has been taken from used tyres as well making the shoe totally recycled. And all this for just £70! Get down to the shops quickly they're "Selling like Hotcakes" according to First.

Torpoint 'On the Buses

Just a quick little video I've knocked up for a bit of fun!

Thursday 25 February 2010

57000 now in Devon

With thanks to a friend I can bring you this photo of the sole Plaxton Primo with First Devon and Cornwall. This bus was used as a demo in its early life until Truronian bought it to use on their services. Of course when it passed to FDC it stayed in Cornwall for a while until a major crash last year near Redruth. This resulted in a fatality but around 7 months later after major refurbishment its back on the road, though this time in Tavistock. As you will note she is now painted in Barbie 3 with similar variations to the Enviro 200 that came from Truronian as well, at least its out of that horrible pastel green! It will likely be used on the town service 87 to replace one of the Solos on this route currently.

The bus has now disappeared from Tavistock depot, there was no sighting of it today. This could simply be a routine check up etc but at the moment its gone missing. Any sightings please feel free to comment.

My photos selected by WG

I couple of days ago I received an e-mail from the man in charge of marketing at Western Greyhound asking me if some of my pictures of the WG fleet could be entered for possible inclusion in this summer's publications. Pictured above are a couple of examples of the photos be may use. I must admit I was pretty chuffed at this so fingers crossed one of two may be used in the coming months! Though looking at the weather outside now, I think the photo of the Solo is somewhat optimistic weather wise!

Wednesday 24 February 2010

K615 LAE

Unfortunately I haven't caught the blind on this one but here is Leyland Olympian K615 LAE. If you'd jump to conclusions she was on a 3 today - you'd be wrong. Infact she was on the extended X80 which runs up to the City College in the mornings to drop the students off. Quite a trip on this old thing! Though when you think about it even though its the same age as one of the K-ORLs, they are much better suited to the route than this would have been.

Ignore what I said previously here about a lorry, this was actually several months ago! (whoops!) But thanks to David Sheppard K804 has ironicallly been on the X80 today! Someone at First has to be reading this!

Tuesday 23 February 2010

CrossCountry Ticket Wallet

Not the best photos in the world but here is my Cross Country Ticket Wallet that I sent off for just a few days ago. There was an offer of a free give-away on their Facebook site. There may still be a few of them available. If you would like to try and get one simply send your address to the e-mail address below and hopefully they'll send you one!

Monday 22 February 2010

Trip to Cornwall

With all this action that seems to be happening down South at the moment I decided to have a quick look around down there on Saturday and indeed as always, a trip to Cornwall brings up several surprises!

It was quite a snowy start to the day after traveling aboard the 581 down to Liskeard. As you can see in the picture the station manager had been hard at work sweeping the snow into piles right along the platform.
Of course the main aim was to see one of the 'new' R reg Volvo Olympians, though in fact the first thing that greeted me was F158 XYG - the oldest bus in FDC nowadays (of course apart from the open toppers). Personally I thought this had already been withdrawn seeing as its been laying at the back of Camborne for a while now, but no she's back out again! Though it is a bit of a puzzle why, seeing as all the G reg Olympians are now withdrawn, along with the K regs starting to be withdrawn, yet somehow this has escaped the net!
Very shortly after (the next bus into the Truro!) was local legend Simon Coates driving L637 LEU, one of the Palatine 2 bodied Olympians. Though he soon departed with the BMC (big yellow school thing!) back upto the depot. This seems to be used as a crew bus most weekends seeing as the Transit is now up in Plymouth.
So seeing as time was short for the F reg I took a trip on her right down to Penzance via Helston on the 82/2. Indeed she still goes very well for a bus of her vintage, if anything better than some of the K regs! Annoyingly though, I passed one of the R regs on the way into Penzance, and never saw it again all day! But better luck next time I suppose.

While in Penzance there was again a few interesting things to see. Firstly one of the last remaining FDC Varios, 52557 out on the 6s.

Another one I've been after for a while are the Nocton Lynxs and I finally managed to snap one at Penzance! This one looked particularly good, though the driver caught the edge of the blind box on the canopy about Penzance bus station as you may be able to make out, and made somewhat of a gouge into it!

After that it was upto Truro again on one of the new S reg Olympians that FDC have acquired from FSA. This particular one went very well on the run on the X18.

I then caught up with Simon once again in Truro driving 34197 and had a quick run upto the station before heading back upto Plymouth.

Apologies this blog has been a bit rushed, but back to school now time seems to be against me!

Sunday 21 February 2010

Snap on Sunday

Well really I've had far too many nice photos to choose from this week. But I've decided on this not really because its the best photo but it holds sentimental value knowing that at least one C-HJN is still hard at work down here in the South West where others have been scrapped and lost into what seems to be the abyss!

Friday 19 February 2010

Plymouth Citybus promotions

Go-Ahead have recently been sending out promotional offers on Plymouth Citybus services. With thanks to Mrs Beatson she picked up these two offers for me when on board service 34.

As the pictures above illustrate one offer is a free Adult DayRider entitling you simply to hand this voucher over to the driver in exchange for a Day Ticket.

The other offer is for £10 of credit for a Citybus Freedom card, either so you can sign up for a Freedom Card or to add to your existing Freedom Card. I'm sure these will go down very well with customers and I do hope that this will get more people on the services, whether it be through word of mouth or getting to use these offers themselves.

Thursday 18 February 2010

Trip to Weymouth

With this week off from school I took a trip upto Weymouth to see for possibly the last time, the 2 'proper' Leyland Olympians which still survive in Weymouth, these being JHU 902X - new to Bristol Omnibus, along with C414 HJN, of course new to Eastern National.

The day started unfortunately not on the bus but in the Fiat Multipla as there was no bus that really gets in early enough to make full use of the day. So having a lift with dad into work made me able to use the 0655 service for the leg upto Exeter. This was led by 43002 with 43035 on the rear. After that it was a quick hop upto Exeter Central on 153377.

Then came the the journey on the X53. This was my first journey aboard a Volvo B9 and 37582 seemed a very good example. In fact I was quite surprised by the sheer amount of power these have, though really over the 3 hours I spent on the bus, there were few opportunities to show off what the bus could really do, though it did fly up some of the hills!

So after a pretty pleasant journey I arrived in sunny Weymouth - a very different picture to what Cawsand was when I left! JHU was parked right in the front of the depot but was not being being used. Round the back sat C414 again out of action! So after a text to Mr Farley about what could be happening I found that they likely wouldn't be put on the road til about 4pm. So that gave me a few hours to get some photos and sample Weymouth's other buses.

Weymouth has several of these H registered Leyland Olympians which were new to London, as you will note they retain the London style destination box. The ride I had on H142 FLX was very nice - if anything better than the similar K-LAEs we have in Cornwall.

I also had a ride on this Volvo Olympian - P530 EFL new to Cambus in 1996. This was pretty nice though the turbo seemed to be making quite an alarming scream and so the driver took the decision to take her into the depot and get something else out to replace her!

He had a fair choice of vehicles but luckily he opted to take out JHU 902X! So she roared into life and was brought out half an hour later (with a lost journey) onto the 8 to Chickrell. Suprisingly the Olympians are still regulars on the core services in Weymouth. But anyway back to the bus. I must admit even at the age of 29 this Olympian has to be one of the nicest I've been on. The Gardner engine was still in what seemed peak condition and she drove superbly on the route. I never realised how much I missed that whale of a Gardner 6LXB! She carried a pretty full load no problem at this peak time of day.

Coming back down into Weymouth though, what did we pass but C414 HJN! I'd worked out the timings of when it should be back so I could just scrape a journey in before heading home. Though infuriatingly the driver pulled her into the depot after just 1 trip and swapped her over for H145 FLX! With this City Centre location of the depot that actually happened quite a surprising amount and it seemed like if the driver got bored he simply pulled in a changed the bus over!

So it was then over to the King's Statue to catch a 31 upto Axminster - a journey I'd been advised to take, rather than using the X53 again. The bus turned up about 15 minutes before the trip, but as 17:45 drew nearer there was no sign of anyone to drive it! In fact it wasn't until around 18:00 that the driver turned up to take her on! And with only a 10 minute gap in Axminster between the bus arriving and the train leaving I was quite tense for most of the journey! The bus really did seem to be suffering from power distribution problems. At times it would blast along but then simply loose power. This meant in the whole 2 hour journey we made up just 6 minutes, mainly gathered by the quick driver change in Bridport. So on arrival it was a dash across the footbridge with the 20:05 to Exeter already in the station! I did just make it and then it was a nice relaxing run down to Exeter St Davids.

The 20:45 Cross Country service was sitting on the Platform to go down to Plymouth when we arrived. Though if I'm honest I didn't fancy a trip on a Voyager! And would have meant an hour + wait in Plymouth for my 81C anyway. So I stayed on in Exeter to do a bit of spotting before catching the 2122 FGW service. I'm quite glad I did this seeing as I saw a Class 66 hauling China Clay on its way down, and then proceeded with a much better journey down to Plymouth.

A half hour wait in Plymouth then saw me board the 23:02 81C to Cawsand in the hands of Nick and 43809, arriving back into Cawsand just after Midnight!

Quite a day, but was very enjoyable, just a shame that I never got on 414, the whole purpose of the trip!

Tuesday 16 February 2010

Cornwall fleet update

With thanks to Cornwall Correspondent Anthony I am able to bring a bit of an update on whats happening down south!

Firstly in what seems to be a reaction to my previous post on the Scania's being withdrawn, some of the K-LAE Leyland Olympians that have only been down here a very short time, are starting to be withdrawn and laid up in St Austell. Confirmed ones that have been withdrawn are K609 LAE, K613/7 LAE and K630 LAE. Other buses in there include D707/8 GHY along with E215/6 BTA.

As can been seen above, Cornwall has started to gain some R reg Volvo Olympians from First Somerset and Avon. These vehicles previously were new to London and retain the 'bigger' destination blind space.

He also tells me that another Trident has joined the fleet and is rumoured to be 32812 - the Trident that was involved in the crash on the 93 back in February.

MX06AEB - the solo Plaxton Primo is also now back in service after the accident last year near Redruth (?). This vehicle is now painted into Barbie 3 rather than the Green Trevithick Link livery.

So plenty of stuff to keep the enthusiasts interested down in Cornwall and in Anthony's words "A changing seen almost weekly down here".

Sunday 14 February 2010

G909 TWS lives on!

Another happy story of the week is that Leyland Olympian G909 TWS has now passed into preservation! She was the only one of the batch that had retained the older - original front grill rather than being changed to a more traditional looking alternative, so in that respect she always stood out. Talking to other enthusiast we agreed she also had one of the better engines of the batch.

She now lives back home in Gloucestershire near Stroud, with an old Bristol Omnibus inspector that hopes to tidy her up, then re-paint her into the old Badgerline Green and Yellow livery that she was painted in when new! Another feature that will be changed is to re-install one of the old 5 speed gearboxes rather than the one she has at the moment! This will without doubt
be beneficial as some of the newer gearboxes can be a bit jerky and not so fluent.

So things are very much looking up for this Bristol Beast!

Snap on Sunday

As the main focus this week has been the Northern Belle lets finish the week with a picture of her starting up on Thursday before going on trials. She of course was then put into service the following day. There are few things that excite me more than a clagging Gardner 6LXB!

50301 lives on!

Just found by Derrick Cuff was this admitantly small photo of what we believe to be 50301. This was found on "Friday Ad"'s classified listings and looks to have been sold on. Who knows what for but it will be interesting to see if she will work again in the future!

Saturday 13 February 2010

First Railtour of the year

Today saw the first 'Rail tour' of the year pass through Plymouth today on route to Par. Though this was not a particually enthusiast orientated one several did turn out to see 67002 pass through on her way down the mainline.

Friday 12 February 2010

Northern Belle is back!

The Cremyll Ferry - Northern Belle was put back into service for the first time this year this afternoon, with a chance to experience the improvements that have been made.

As you can see in the pictures she looks ever smart outside, with a couple of cosmetic changes such as the removal of the windscreen wiper, instead being replaced by an opening window. The other cosmetic change is on the stern where a canopy has been added on the back deck, specifically for smokers when it rains.

Inside there has been padding added to a majority of the seating inside the boat, along with the addition of a door to the stern - very much a welcome feature on the cold days! There has also been some more sound proofing added, to cover up the sometimes deafening Gardner engine!

I think you'll all agree she does look quite superb. You'd never think this boat was nearly 84 years old!

Happy Birthday!

Its a Happy birthday today for C412 HJN! She was first registered on February 12th 1986 making her 24 years old today. The batch of C reg Olympians were actually registered over a period of a few weeks though 412 was registered the same day as C414 HJN. 413 was registered 3 days earlier on the 10th, where as 417 was registered nearly 2 months later on April 2nd.

Nice to see though that some of the batch have made it to 24 years of service. C414 HJN and C418 HJN are the last to still remaining in service now, though it is rumoured that 414 is being withdrawn iminantly in from Weymouth. 418 still survives in the town she has served her whole life up in Chelmsford Essex, again the future is not certain for her!

Thursday 11 February 2010

Northern Belle back on the water

The Cremyll Ferry – Northern Belle is now out of Mashford’s boat yard after her yearly refit and is pictured just coming into Cremyll this morning, taken from the Tamar Belle. Note that this year ‘Cremyll Ferry’ has been reapplied to the side, a feature that has not been included for a few years now. But she is now looking superb once again and is a credit to Tamar Cruising and will soon be running in her 84th year!

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Another passing

Today I have heard that Stagecoach Devon/South West's last Scania N113 has been withdrawn. I was quite saddened to hear that these were going, especially as I never actually managed a trip on one! But I always remember the roar that these buses made when whisking through Exeter, one of those pretty unbeatable throaty sounds that just not enough buses make these days!

It is funny to think though that these K reg beasts have just ended their life, where as First's K reg Olympians have just started their lives down here!

Film below is of one of the J reg examples of the type leaving Exeter St Davids.

A-Line joins facebook

Along with the current trend of bus companies joining Facebook, myself and Derrick Cuff now operate a 'group' for A-Line Coaches. Please if you have facebook come and join us. We will keep both passengers and enthusiasts updated with anything interesting that comes up from day to day as well as pictures etc to keep you interested.

To link directly to the page please use the link below. Alternatively search for "A-Line Coaches" on Facebook:

Stagecoach Amphibus

The Amphibus
The Amphibus

A possible solution to bypass the Torpoint or Cremyll ferry is being trialled in Scotland! Yes I suppose really its a bit far fetched for use down here but you never know! I could see myself getting on a bus in Cawsand and being taken to Plymouth via Cremyll! Click the link above to see the video of Stagecoach's new Amphibus in action.

Sunday 7 February 2010

M52 HOD's re-appearance on Plymouth routes

Plymouth Citybus' Volvo B6s are making a re-appearance again after being out of service for a while. Not the easiest thing to track down when your not paying attention seeing as these have a near identical registration and appearance to the M1-- HOD Dennis Dart sisters. Though the Volvo engine does give it away somewhat when it wails past!

Snap on Sunday

On a visit to Exeter on Saturday it was clear to see that Western Greyhound are making a top quality impression with this superb line up of vehicles. I don't think any other local company could line up an Enviro 400 a Citaro and a brand new Solo!

Wednesday 3 February 2010

86 GFJ - A star for a day

WHOTT's Exeter Corporation Leyland PD2 featured on the One Show this evening on a topic about old money. This then saw one of the presenters take a trip to discuss old money with group member Nick (?) and how the change to decimal had effected him when he was a bus conductor. If you want to see the feature please click on the link below and scroll where the feature starts at around 10 minutes.