Tuesday 30 November 2010

Things you don't see everyday

Plymouth continues to be a good source of interest for the bus enthusiast. Though initially it may seem that Darts is all there is to see (or should I say Volvo B6s these days!), Plymouth always manages to come up with a few interesting things for the enthusiast. Two things were of particular interest on Thursday last week while I was passing through. 

Firstly is this Mercedes 709, N284 PDV. It is becoming increasingly rare to see 709s in the city today, you will go days without seeing one out in service, but if you're lucky one will show its face. The usual haunt for them is/was the 45s or 59s across the moor, but amazingly, N284 was being used on core route 42 to Tamerton! The Enviro 200s were bought new to do the 40/1/2 but have found their way onto 5/A competing with First in recent months. This has meant the route largely returned to Step Dart operation, though the influx of the Wright bodied Darts have meant some regular form of low floor has been restored. How N284 had escaped onto here I really don't know, but it was great to see! I found it in time to hopefully get a trip on her, but unfortunately on the driver changeover the driver announced he was going to ring up the depot to ask for another bus! I was disheartened to say the least. Maybe it was simply that he didn't have the correct licence to drive the 709 (though I thought PCB train all their drivers to manual level?). It seemed more to be his worry on capacity issues for the route. It was a real shame as I'm sure it would have easily coped until the evening peak at around 5, and been more economical for day operation too! 

Another bus of interest was this beast! Tally Ho's Leyland Tiger G782 YAE. What a gorgeous sounding bus this is. No doubt the bus is today relegated to school contract work, but it was great to see the bus out doing some private hire on Thursday afternoon. She gave plenty of 'clag' on start-up and roared away sounding very tuneful! 

Sunday 28 November 2010

Snap on Sunday: Snowy snaps!

Well with the snow very much evident over Cornwall yesterday I thought it best to post a couple of these shots. Amazingly a majority of the snow stayed put the whole day in the Truro area and provided me with some good opportunities. The photo of the 150 was in fact taken around 4pm! Really shows how cold it was, I could hardly hold the camera steady! Though the hardest part was getting my ticket out after standing around for half an hour, how ever pathetic it may sound! 

A full set of photos are available on my Flickr : http://www.flickr.com/photos/11717981@N02/

Saturday 27 November 2010

Final day of the 40

First Devon and Cornwall's service 40 (Threemilestone to Camborne) ceased operation today after many years with the company. Of course this was one of the routes that was inherited from Western National, where I am told they used to carry loads requiring VR operation. Well times have changed and the staple diet of the 40 has been reduced to Dennis Dart MPDs. Though through the reduction in the tender revenue they receive they have decided to give it up and place it into the hands of Western Greyhound who will start the route on Monday as their 540. 

This was the first time I've done the 40, and its quite an interesting little route, passing through many sleepy villages. The bad weather made the journey even more interesting with the Dart slipping and sliding in several places along the way making it that bit more exciting. The route does take forever to travel very little distance though. In the time the 14/18 take around 30-40 minutes to get from Threemilestone to Camborne, whereas the 40 takes a shade under 1 hour, 40 minutes. Good luck to WGL in their running of it from Monday, who knows, we may see the VR conquer the route once again!

Thursday 25 November 2010

On the 'Wright' route

The Wright body is becoming more and more prominent within the city with the Tavylinx B6s being revamped, the 'new' Dart chassised ones for Plymouth Citybus, and the fact that now S reg Darts and the Volvo B7s are dwindling, other 'standard' B6s are finding themselves doing all sorts of duties. 

Royal Parade today showed off two of the best examples, these being one of PCB's new Darts, looking very smart, and the most recent Tavylinx bus to come into service in the new livery, bringing the total to 4. As you will see this one 'XFF 283' - 40581, has had the addition of a white/silver grill, while the other 2 retain black grills. I must admit I really do prefer this silver grill, just a small touch that leaves a much higher quality look. 

The first of the new Tavylinx - 40583, had actually, strangely, escaped onto 48s today! This seems somewhat strange unless this is built into the new workings for the Tavy routes? Wembury though has gone from getting the cast-offs to the top quality buses! Are they trying to entice people on for a final push!

Sunday 21 November 2010

Snap on Sunday - Christmas is coming!

Well the lights have gone on in Plymouth City Centre and are once again lighting Royal Parade, but in a somewhat underwhelming fashion. The only lights are the ones in the middle. Usually all the trees are covered as well, but this year only a couple are draped with fairy lights, but not to worry!  

Its a shame the photo below didn't turn out better as the driver had the blind nicely set to 'Merry Christmas'. Unfortunately at the point you could actually see the blind the bus was already out of shot! I also tried to go for a 'Coca Cola' type shot with Plymouth Citybus lineup instead of trucks, again this didn't really pay off yesterday, but hopefully there will be another opportunity. 

Saturday 20 November 2010

A182 hits the road

The new coach at A-Line hit the road for the first time on Wednesday working the Torpoint school contracts. As luck would have it I finished early on Wednesday and therefore was able to pursuit a quick trip aboard the new bus on the dead trip back to the depot in Millbrook. It must be said, I can really see what Cuffy means, this is a fantastic B10M! Really decent amount of power under the floor whisked her up the hill from Cremyll effortlessly. The coach really is a dream to ride on as well as to drive I've been assured. The gearbox is still pretty good and as afore mentioned, the interior is second to none. I have therefore taken the liberty of enabling you to listen to the delights of the vehicle on her first day of service at A-Line! 

Friday 19 November 2010

Tamar Belle is back

The Tamar Belle is back on the Cremyll Ferry for another winter season, taking over the Northern Belle on Wednesday. Nothing much has changed on the boat in the last year, so nothing to report there, but the boat is now for sale! That's right, you can now own the Tamar Belle for £90'000. She is for sale on the following link (http://www.findafishingboat.com/detail.php?aid=28006) if you're interested! It does give some interesting technical information. So who knows, this may be the TB's last year on the ferry, we'll have to wait and see! 

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Turning back the clock

CrossCountry trains have recently updated the fleet numbers on their HSTs by adding an extra one onto the front. This is much like BR used to do back when they were brand new with '253' class fleet numbers! Quite a nice little touch, though its a shame the public will have now idea of the importance! Well done XC!  

Monday 15 November 2010

Snap on Sunday (On Monday

Firstly I better apologise for the lateness of this post, and indeed of the lack of posts throughout the last week! Usual excuse, A-Levels! I'm yet to finish my Physics Evaluation Paper yet so just a quick post for tonight. Taken on Saturday this was taken coming through Laira on a Crosscountry HST with Louis after completing a day of filming at Exeter St Davids for a competition which I will post about later in the week. The sky was perfect for this shot, beaming down onto the HST, much better than a Voyager, indeed this photo wouldn't have even been possible if this had been the case for the journey home! 

Tuesday 9 November 2010

A new coach at A-Line

Now I must admit, this one is quite a beast! Behind this modern looking Van Hool bodywork is in fact A182 MNE, a 1984 Volvo B10M! I've always thought Van Hools, whatever the age, always look really modern. The bus may be some 26 years old, but you would never think so. 

As is quite obvious this is the second bus that has come to A-Line via Roselyn of Par. Though the vehicle started off life as a batch of 39 similar vehicles (half were Leyland Tigers the other half were B10Ms), at Smiths, who carried out coach work for Sherings. She was painted in a Smiths/Sherings livery until she was moved on. Interestingly the coach is listed as having 9 owners over its life. We could only think that it may have been passed round another subsidiaries of Sherings, or swapped between Roselyn and Girlings? 

Whatever the story is behind her, she is certainly in very good condition, with a near new interior fitted. The toilet and middle door/staircase have been covered up and replaced with some extra seating, making this a 57 seater. When new she was listed as only a C49 (in other words 8 seats have been added). 

Both the Scania Van Hool and the E reg Volvo B10M are now withdrawn and off the road stuffed down in the back of the depot along with Mercedes 709, M152 LPL, or 'Milly' as I always referred to her as. The A reg will take over as the spare bus, though driver Derrick Cuff, has promised me his first preferrence will be the A reg for his duties! He even described the coach as 'The best coach I've ever driven'. For me, I'm yet to ride on her but hopefully it will be soon! 

Monday 8 November 2010

A-Line fleet updates

The first of the new buses to join A-Line Travel  Coaches this week was this Marshall bodied Iveco 59.12. This bus has only had one previous owner, this being Heron of Crawley, and has been a loyal working on their local services for many years now. But the time came for fleet replacement, so A-Line snapped up this tidy, well maintained vehicle fast. Of course A-Line have always found favour with the Iveco over the companies history, with 2 Ex-Southern Vectis Ivecos operating at one point. 

The new Iveco, now known as 'Ivor' in the fleet, has replaced the Ford Transit which suffered with capacity issues on the peak services. Though the bus' main use will be on one of the Torpoint school runs. I've yet to ride on the vehicle, so I can't tell you what its like, but hopefully soon she'll be in line to take over the service running in the event of the 'Bertie' aka R651 YCR breaking down. 

Sunday 7 November 2010

Snap on Sunday: Fixed in time

For my Snap on Sunday this week I've gone for this, somewhat striking photo of K804 ORL. I couldn't honestly tell you how I pulled it off, it was in fact a very rushed photo as I saw her whisking up Royal Parade. Perhaps it was that element of rush that has created this photo with the scenery blurred with K804 perfectly focused! I'd certainly recommend viewing this photo full screen to see what I'm really on about. Hopefully, as in the photo, K804 will be fixed, working for some time to come, though there are plenty of rumours as to their fate at the moment. Another one of those situations where only time will tell I think! 

Saturday 6 November 2010

All change for Tavylinx

With the recent changes to the Tavistock services First are undertaking a re-branding for the service with yet more updates for the ageing Volvo B6s. The batch were first brought down from York to operate with other members of the batch that had originally been placed in Plymouth. Tavylinx vehicles always did look smart, but the new re-branding has really put them in a class of their own. The new deeper purple with some bodywork modifications has really made them stand out, I must admit, FDC have out done themselves this time! They are also being re-licensed losing their original licence plates and replaced with private ones covering up the age! It was reported that they are being fitted with leather seats, but the example I saw didn't appear to have them fitted. The buses now also have real time information systems on board showing the current location of the bus updated constantly via GPS tracking. I was sceptic but actually its very impressive. I didn't know half the places that came up on the screen even existed including attractions such as golf courses and nearby hotels. 

Though I must admit, the star of the show was somewhat unexpected. When I first went up to A18 I expected to see a Volvo ready and waiting in the new terminus, but no, it was good old K616 LAE! She has spent much of her recent time down in Cornwall, but with the batch starting to dwindle, this could spell the end for K616. However much I hope not, I do fear she is only having a short spell in Plymouth before possible departure to the scrapheap? She did give a fantastic ride across the moor though, there's just nothing like a good thrash on an Olympian. Though the gearbox was very poor at low speeds with a lot of slipping, with the changes being quite sudden and jumpy. Of course the gearboxes will be fairly worn with the buses previously spending their life running around Bristol all day. 

The rest of the workings were a few B6s along with 2, possibly 3 Tridents all out on the 83/4/6 as well. Of course capacity issues were a fear with services running into Woolwell now, so FDC seems to be making the correct precautions by using deckers on the service. 

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Caradon Riviera Tours sell up

Local coach company Caradon Riviera Tours have been selling many members of the fleet over the past week at auction, with operations finally winding down after many years of successful service. Keith Deeble, now in his 78th year has decided to retire, and pass the reigns on to his son, who will only be maintaining 3 of the original fleet for use on school contracts. 

One of his drivers has kindly sent me some photos of the coaches on their last day in the depot, on there way to be sold. CRT were always famed for their old and interesting fleet, and you knew whenever you say that lovely cream and blue livery, you were in for a treat. Surprising that nowadays cream doesn't get used as much as it once was, as the fleet always looks superb. 

Even I have fond memories of CRT when I used to travel on one of the Dennis Javelins weekly in primary school for swimming lessons in Saltash, from Cawsand. Its memories like that, that has made this companies departure particularly sad. 

On a happier note Keith will be retaining LUI9955 the Baby Tiger, the Ex-Maynes Leopard/Class 6 coach/tow truck and another of the Tigers with a "CRT" registration. 

Good luck to Keith in his retirement, but I for one will sorely miss the company!