Wednesday 30 June 2010

Western Greyhound Herritage Running Day 2010

The day unfortunately started off with an Arriva Trains Wales, Class 150 on the run down to St Austell. The train was completely packed with standing room only when I boarded in Devonport, and stayed full throughout the journey. In the week this service is provided with a HST, except on Saturdays and Sunday.

On reaching St Austell it was a quick hop onto my first WGL service of the day down to Newquay provided by Vario V40 WGL. The journey was smooth and uneventful and arrived at Newquay with good time before my first herritage trip of the day.

WGL have recently taken on an extra Mercedes Citaro, this being quite obviously an Ex-London example operated by 'Metrobus' in its previous life operating the X26 between Croyden and Heathrow Airport. This will now provide extra capacity when needed on the Truro Park and Ride which is now carries branding for. The bus was sourced from Venturer Bus and Coach Sales.

The selection of buses operating from Newquay were two Routemasters, the first being SMK 737F.

The shot shows the RF bringing up the rear with Open Top Routemaster 783 DYE, with Bristol VR JWV 259W.

The first trip I went out on was indeed on the VR right the way to Padstow, a journey of an hour and a half taking in the most fantastic sceneary along the country roads which did get very tight in places, not helped in some locations by holiday makers being incapable of reversing, always the way! The VR was a nice example with a stunning exterior. The engine was nice and throaty and coped with the hills surprisingly well. Though I must admit it did get a bit hot along the way! Of course any bus would heat up in the weather we enjoyed on Saturday though. 

Back in Newquay and after a quick pasty it was onto the 3rd Routemaster operating, this being 62 CLT on the 505 to one of Newquay's many holiday camps. This Routemaster was fitted with a Scania engine and pulled very well, though surprisingly it did still have some essence of one of the older engines! A very nice bus indeed. Again from the outside she is a 'stunnah' with plenty of looks as she powered along the route. 

Back in Newquay and it was then another trip on the VR to go upto Truro. The 585 was a very interesting route. I've only ever done the Newquay to Truro run on the more direct 89 and 90 offered by First, but the 585 was certainly a lot more interesting! 

And then it was a quick hop upto the station aboard one of the recent arrivals to the FDC fleet, this being R241 LGH. I must admit this was a pretty nice Volvo Olympian even though it was a short hop, she powered up the hill to the station with ease!

On arrival at the station it was a simple 10-15 minute wait for the train back upto Plymouth - or so we thought. A few minutes of waiting later a call came in from Louis Rawlings which went something along the lines of "Hello dear! There's a line side fire down here between Truro and Redruth. I'm stuck on a train in Camborne but have been told the fire brigade are in attendance".  Sure enough a few minutes later in Truro the news was confirmed. The easiest way to put it is that 2 hours past before the fire was confirmed to be officially out and the train rolled into Truro. It was then quite mad with around 3 train loads of people all wanting to get on one service. 

Luckily this didn't cause too many problems when we did finally reach Plymouth with only a 10 minutes wait until the 2056 81C back home! I thought I was in luck when a Trident rolled down the hill in place of the normal Dart MPD, though on reaching Torpoint it was into the depot for a bus change to 40002! A disapointing end to a great day. Thanks very much to all who were involved in the running day! I shall very much look forward to more in the future. 

Tuesday 29 June 2010

Another GWR 175th Railtour

To wet everyone's appetite, early on Monday Morning D1015 - Western Champion roared through Plymouth giving a nice load of clag in the mid morning sun! With no HSTs or Voyagers to get in the way it made for a very nice photo opportunity!

Later on we continued down to Dockyard to see the main tour - 'The Cornish Riviera' headed by Nunny Castle along with King Edward I providing the second motive power on the double header. 

Monday 28 June 2010

New liveried Dart

Yes I know the photos are - to be honest - shocking, but here is R125 OFJ's new advertisement livery in the form of another Breastfeeding awareness livery. Of course a similar livery was carried by one of the step Darts. I would love to tell you which but as you know - I currently have no archive! But as a guess was it M131 HOD? 

Saturday 26 June 2010

Hot off the press...

So here it is! Western Greyhound's superb summer timetable guides have now been produced and as promised, one of my photos has been included on the cover of one of them. 

It is used on the front of the 547 (the old 501) with a Volvo Olympian at St Ives about to work to Newquay last year. They have been very well made and are a credit to WGL. And I must admit, its amazingly satisfying seeing people carrying round a timetable with your own photo on the cover that hundreds if not thousands will see. 

Didbygraham has also had his photo published on the Plymouth guide showing one of the Ex-Oxford Tridents, and one of the many Varios in Bretonside - a brilliant shot! 

Friday 25 June 2010

Weymouth Rally 2010

So here we go my quick review of the Weymouth Rally this year. As always a fantastic event with some great routes running and a great variety of buses, not just your - dare I say it 'usual' lot. 

The day started off though on board Plymouth Citybus' Volvo B10M JSK 263. Shame that it couldn't be undertaken on a more interesting vehicle but then again, getting there in just 2 and a half hours does have its advantages!

The first trip of the day though was a hop into town on Steve Cock's BDV 318L. Of course this vehicle undertook the Penzance to Aberdeen Royal Blue run and has survived seemingly un-scathed! The engine was still running fantastically! Great little bus with an expert driver at the helm. 

After a quick look round the depot in Weymouth taking in the local bus scene it was onto Cheltnam District liveried BOU 6V. BOU is quite rare in being an automatic example of the Leyland National while also being pod-less. She gave a great ride back upto the rally. The owner was hoping to drive the service, but unfortunately over 8 passengers were onboard. You will note the vehicle has just turned 30 - making this legal with 8 or less passengers onboard.

The next trip was out to the iconic Portland Bill aboard D707 GHY, one of the Ex-First Devon and Cornwall Volvo Citybus'. This one hasn't joined her sisters in being on open topper and has instead made it into preservation. I never managed a ride on this when she was actually in service but she did give a great ride upto the Bill. Its amazing how much power these old beasts have, and summited Portland with ease!

Onto the interesting few buses, there were a nice little line up of minibuses including and LDV and 3 Transits. Love them or hate them these really did work hard when in service and is really the reason we now enjoy high frequencies on many routes. Of course at A-Line a P reg example is still at work (quite literally, the Vario is off the road yet again)!

I believe this is RHT 503S's first rally after being withdrawn from the Western National fleet in 2003. She was new to Bristol and is now preserved within Bristol. I very much look forward to seeing her restored over the coming years. 

Another vehicle you may recognise here. A813 THW did work in Penzance on the Penwith explorer for several years and is now preserved. She was seen last year still in the FDC livery but she is now being re-painted and looking very nice. 

So there we go. There's my brief overview of the rally. Thanks must go to all the organisers of the rally. Yet again it was a brilliant event and I'm looking forward to next year's already!

Wednesday 23 June 2010

University shuttle or sightseeing tour?

Plymouth University currently has many students visiting the campus and as usual the shuttles are being provided by FDC. Usually these are frequent shuttle with single decks - previously operated with Volvo B7s. This time though one sole Dennis Trident - W717 RHT was used on the shuttle carrying an absolutely full load everytime I saw it, seeming to be operating a vague half hour frequency. 

As can be seen the route took it along the Hoe and this shot could be captured as the Trident winded its way along the seafront.

Monday 21 June 2010

Weymouth update

Well we'll start here with a photo of the now withdrawn - JHU 902X. As afore mentioned service won't be continued with this vehicle and she's now right at the back of Weymouth Depot. As described the registration is removed, stickers attached with no tax disc etc in the window anymore. 

Onto some happier news, the sole remaining VR, MOD 571P may hang on for just a bit longer in service on the 501. E215 BTA - her replacement is currently out of service due to a gearbox issue and therefore the VR will carry on until this has been dealt with. Strange though that usually this is the other way round, with the VR off the road with gearbox issues. Drivers of course don't really know how to use the semi-auto boxes properly and therefore she very much suffers in the hands of the un-educated FHD drivers. I wonder if the VR is fitted with DriveGreen! The other photo is of E215's roof - honest! 

And here of course is my true favourite, C414 HJN. Still giving great service on the core routes as the blind tells. She still powers upto Portland frequently and shows no real signs of giving up, though she was out of service through the simple lack of need on a Sunday rosta!

Sunday 20 June 2010

Snap on Sunday

  1. Today's Snap on Sunday is of Dennis Trident 32757 still working hard on Torpoint routes. She is seen here along Maker yesterday. Unfortunately a cloud was passing when the photo was taken which has made the photo look a bit dull, but there we go I suppose that's life!

JHU bows out

I would love to give you a photo for today's news but unfortunately I can't! You have have realised I've been using phone photos a lot recently. This is simply because the main computer has died so I'm without my collection of some 18'000 photos at the moment. Hopefully this can be rectified or at least the files can be retrieved but for now I'm without them and blogging with as much new stuff as I can come up with.

So onto the actual piece of news, JHU 920X has finally bowed out of service after some 28 years of service. She was new to the Bristol Omnibus company in the summer of 1982 along with 14 sister buses. I am quite sure she is the last 'in service' example from the batch and is such a shame she has now come to the end of her incredible life. A true survivor outlasting so many more modern vehicles, and for an X reg vehicle still to be used on core routes by a multi-national company is quite an achievment. This leaves C414 HJN as the last 'proper' Leyland Olympian still at the depot. Of course there are still some of the H-FLX Cummins examples running, but of course these aren't a shadow on the Gardners. I really do hope that she will be preserved in the coming years and months and though this is a sad moment, we really can apreciate the hard work the bus has done.

This does make you think though. Marc Reddy of course has recently taken over FHD and well all I can say is in this example, are we feeling the wrath of Reddy already in Weymouth?

Saturday 19 June 2010

Ever again?

Look what appeared on on my 34 yesterday! N282 PDV, not on the short working, but the full Derriford to City Centre carrying a proper load of passengers! She roared upto me on the way into Plymouth. I'll admit I was quite excited about it - the girlfriend wondered what all the fuss was about. "Err its a Citybus?". Not just any Citybus though. Unfortunately a Dart was substituted in for the next rotation so must have been an on the spur of the moment thing her being used. I doubt I'll be seeing a 709 on the 34 again so yes I was some what honoured now that they really are on their final legs.

Though somewhat strangely VU52 UEE one of the 'new' Optare Solos was out on the 45, which is often a 709 operated route! The mind baffles. Interesting to note though that even though I doubt many of us would call these top of the range they are being used on the 'top of the range' routes such as the 43. 

Friday 18 June 2010

Swan update

Sad news to report is that 2 from the original 4 signets are left, though seem to be maturing very well. These photos were taken last week, and have also been sighted next to the park in Stonehouse. 

Thursday 17 June 2010

Weymouth Rally this weekend

This Sunday sees the 4th annual Weymouth bus rally held now in the Weymouth College car park. I must admit Weymouth is one of my favourites. A good variety always turns out, with many not usually seen in this area, a great location with many interesting routes running, and an all round nice atmosphere. There are also some new services for this years rally to experience, now with 6 in total, including a link to the railway station for people arriving by train. 

Of course even the 'standard' bus variety in Weymouth is very good, with the only surviving First Group VR still in service, Leyland Olympians still plentiful including Gardner examples and plenty of Mercedes 709s with local company Sureline. And newly arrived E215 BTA now in the open top formation, now at work on the open top route alongside the VR and Volvo Olympian. 

I'm very much hoping to attend but so far haven't found anyone going locally with WNPG not running up there this year. There must be someone out there though! 

Wednesday 16 June 2010

Carmel Coaches update

Carmel Coaches have recently been updating their fleet of coaches and buses. Seen at the top is one of several new coaches they have recently bought. This is a Plaxton bodied beast but with a Dennis Javelin buried under there somewhere. N473 KHU has actually worked for First in previous years as well as Farrell Thornton of Fleetwood. Carmel have also taken on some more 'fancy' coaches at their Exeter depot such as a B10M with Plaxton Panther bodywork. Another newbie is an interesting Scania. I simply do not know the maker of the body so instead I have included a photo of what I mean. A similar coach is operated by Hookways which you find at the bottom of this post. If anyone does know what they are then please don't hesitate to post a comment. 

The other new bus is this Mercedes Vario, S195 RAO which was new to Stagecoach North West. 

Tuesday 15 June 2010

Away from home

This was an interesting spot while walking through Plymouth yesterday. Here is one of Williams' Double deck Volvo Olympians, P802 GMU, usually used on school services. Not sure what it was doing in Plymouth but I would presume it was doing some sort of private hire work. There was no one on board at the time and hadn't seen it down at the bus station previous to this! 

Monday 14 June 2010

Optare Solos on the road!

Yes this is quite a shocking photo I know, but this is being done for bragging rights. I haven't yet seen a photo of one of them in services so hopefully fingers crossed I'm the first. So here is VU52 UEE on a 43B. The Citybus livery does look pretty good on the Solos I must admit. Strange though that they are being used on the core services. They aren't exactly high quality buses, and they seem to make a right racket compared to the FDC Solos. But there we go. Will be interesting to see what they do finally make it onto full term. 

Snap On Sunday

Well we're nearly at the end of the exam season so blogging should resume its normal level in around a week now. 

For the Snap On Sunday I have this photo taken on Saturday of one of Beacon Bus' Optare Versas, this being MX58 ACU. This was my first trip on an Optare Versa so I shall give a brief review of a bus that many of you may not have had a trip on yet. 

Well the easiest thing to compare it to would be the later models of the Dart, and earlier models of the Enviro 200s. The Versa has plenty of power, very useful on the demanding hill across the moor on the 118 route. The interior is very nice a spacious, and its hard to notice the somewhat odd looks from the inside. Though the substantial front overhang did cause some problems when negotiating traffic on the tight rural roads. It would be fine in a normal city situation, but by no means in the country. The ride comfort was very good though with a nice soft ride even on the more bumpy parts of the route. The interior was also nice and comfortable. Though the drawback to this was the gearbox. Unfortunately it was a very jumpy automatic which did seem to make some very strange decisions but overall its no Bristol RE, but was a nice change to an Enviro.  

Saturday 12 June 2010

Tamar Belle on the Ferry

Yesterday saw Tamar Belle return to the Cremyll Ferry for the day while Northern is in for a minor spruce up before the summer season gets under way. Northern continues to have vast sums spent on her and will accumulate to around £40'000 once all modifications have been undertaken. 

Tamar Belle proved to be very nice in the hot weather yesterday though. The open top deck space was very welcome! You'll also note the England flag works very well with the Union Jack livery of the Tamar Belle. 

Friday 11 June 2010

Mix up

Quite a rare working was seen today over two routes, after a bit of a mix up down at the depot! 

'Route 34' liveried Enviro 200 WA56 HHO was out on 36s which I saw on my way to school this morning. I thought at the time hmm thats a bit strange, but had seen an '08' reg Enviro on the 34 that morning, so thought they just did a bit of a swap around. 

Though later on in the day, what came over the brow of the hill but L124 YOD on the 34! Very rare to see a Steppy on the 34 these days so a quick photo had to be grabbed! No doubt WA56 HHN is off the road again, this particular Enviro has always seemed more unreliable than the rest of the batch, so good to see the Darts can still handle it when needed! 

Tuesday 8 June 2010

New signs

As you may have noticed over the years I've tried to keep a bit of an eye on the swans of Admirals' Hard coming back year after year. This sign along with another similar one has now been put up in a common sheltering place they use by the boat yard along Cremyll Street. Of course not quite highway code standard but they do serve a good purpose and will hopefully help at least alert the drivers of the possible hazard! Well done to whoever put these up. 

Another one bites the dust

Apologies firstly for the delay in posting. Exams persist and time is tight! 

But this I felt was really worth posting. Derrick Cuff has found S534 RWP on his travels around the South West, in a scrapyard in Cornwall. All the buses that were stored at the Callington premises have now moved on and we guess that 534 was one of them. 

S534 RWP has always been quite special to me. She often worked the old 4:30 service from Cremyll that I used daily. Indeed she was the last vehicle to perform on this service. As some of you keen people may have noticed in the photo she does indeed display 81B. This photo was taken on the final day of service and was the last trip I ever made on the 81B. I would nearly be as bold to say she was the last Vario to operate the 81B, but the late night services could have been run with a different Vario. So yes just that little bit of history slipping away. 

Ironically sister bus S533 RWP is still hard at work in the First Hants and Dorset empire, though does look quite a state with the FHD livery additions. So this is it, R.I.P 52534

Saturday 5 June 2010

Enterprise Boat's Leyland Olympian

So here she is! Enterprise Boat's Ex Stagecoach Leyland Olympian, K660 UNH. Of course this has replaced the beloved Bristol VR on the route between Truro and Malpas. I will admit the bus does look very smart and a very tidy vehicle for its age. She still retains the Stagecoach moquette seats throughout along with stagecoach painted poles etc. I suppose yes this is better than a lot of buses on the road today but it is a shame that, at least at the moment, these aren't terribly exciting! Though no doubt in 10 years time much like the VR, we'll be all over this! 

Friday 4 June 2010

The first of many?

So this is is. I believe L115 YOD is the first of the L reg batch to have now been properly withdrawn and sent off to a new home. And luckily she has found one in the shape of Riverlink in Totnes. Of course this is where K101 SFJ now lives along with N289 the Mercedes 709. Of course it has been pretty much promised that this year will be the final year for step Darts in the city. I guess they are getting rid of the 'spares' at the moment, replacing the main fleet later in the year.