Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Torbay Service changes 29th May

Having heard noises of service changes from Stagecoach South West, due to happen towards the end of May, I took to Traveline to investigate. 

Service X46 will have a new timetable, with late night journeys to and from Exeter on Fridays and Saturdays. 

Service 11 will be withdrawn and replaced by the revised 22 route which is extended to Dawlish Warren every hour, with the other two journeys per hour terminating at St Marychurch. Sadly, the late night journeys from Dawlish Warren have seemingly been withdrawn, with the last bus now 2010. 

Service 'hop 12' will have a new timetable, with a lower journey time (and thus two less vehicles on the route) to complement the new Torre reversal scheme, and the South Devon Link Road between Kingskerswell and Newton Abbot. 

Service 66/66B and other varients will be withdrawn and replaced with a new service 13 & 13B which connects Newton Abbot to Totnes & Brixham via the majority the previous 66 route. The 13 will serve Newton Abbot, Aller Brake, The Willows, Torbay Hospital, Foxhole, Roselands, South Devon College and then onto Brixham as the current 13 does. The 13 will run from South Devon College to Totnes, and then via Berry Pomeroy to Torbay Hospital and then on to Newton Abbot via Aller Brake. There will be a two hourly service on each variant. 

The other 66 routes, such as the 66C and D will remain the same, but be numbered 13C/D. 

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Stagecoach South West fleet movements:

Latest changes within the Stagecoach South West fleet within the last two weeks are as follows:
17053 T653KPU Chard - Withdrawn

17702/3/5/6/7 Exeter - East Scotland

17708 Exmouth - Reserve

17734 SK52USN Barnstaple - Chard 

17735 SK52USO Barnstaple - Exmouth

17736 SK52USP Barnstaple - Exmouth

18062/3 WA04CPY/CRF Exmouth - Exeter

19093/4/5 MX56PHK/N/O Exeter - Barnstaple

Plymouth based 17289/90 X289/379NNO were transferred to Inverness for parts around 3 weeks ago. 

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Bye bye W regs!

Go-Ahead Plymouth have sadly withdrawn their final two centre staircase W reg Volvo B7TLs. These being 420 and 421, W509/11WGH. 

Thankfully, I was the final person to have completed a full journey on 421 (former PVL111) as she worked a return 12 service from Plymouth to Bude Saturday afternoon, which I was on for the full four hours. It then failed on Sunday, before being withdrawn Monday 25th January. They now join the other pair of W regs, 431/2 W483WGH and W493WGH in the disposal pool, awaiting sale. 

420/421 were the first two Plaxton Presidents to join the Plymouth CityBus fleet in 2011 to aid replacement of the ageing Step entrance Dennis Darts, and carried the smart two tone red livery. 

Monday, 18 January 2016

New Year, New Buses!

As we welcome 2016, there is already interesting times ahead for Plymouth as both Stagecoach and Go-Ahead receive batches of new vehicles for the area!

Following on from the batch of Alexander Dennis Enviro400s they received in the summer of last year for the 'Yellow Flash' 50 service, Plymouth CityBus placed a further order of 7 Enviro400s, as well as 13 Enviro200s. These are the first Enviro200s to join the fleet since 2008, with the Volvo B7RLE being the favoured saloon in the meantime. 

150 WJ65HME with sisters at Milehouse prior to entering service
The Enviro200s are currently on delivery, although delayed as they were due into service on 11th January, and the Enviro400s are nearing completion at Alexander Dennis's Falkirk facility. These, too, were due into service on 11th January.

The Enviro200s are numbered and registered as following:
147 WJ65HMA
148 WJ65HMC
149 WJ65HMD
150 WJ65HME
151 WJ65HMF
152 WJ65HMG
153 WJ65HMH
154 WJ65HMK
155 WJ65HMO
156 WJ65HMU
157 WJ65HMV
158 WJ65HMX
159 WJ65HMY

I've not yet got details of the Enviro400s registrations, however they are to be numbered 532-8 in the fleet.

Interior of 150 WJ65HME prior to entering service,
These new arrivals have upgraded several routes across the network to newer buses, including routes 8 & 9 Royal Parade to Efford, 23 & 24 Royal Parade to Mount Gould. These are allocated E200s 147-153, which are in the company's latest 'Swoop' livery, with the the standard red and grey interior.

Buses 154-159 will be for route 5 & 5A which connects the City Centre to Plymstock and Staddiscombe, and will be branded 'Green Flash' in line with the other Red, Blue and Yellow routes. The vehicles will feature the same interior as the standard liveried ones. Two of the Enviro400s, 532 & 533 one would assume, will also be Green Flash branded.

This leaves the remainder of the E400s, 534-8, which will be in standard swoop livery for use on the Torpoint services 70/70A/71, that are currently served by former Go-Ahead London General Volvo B7TLs. Because of the ferry, the Enviros are currently undergoing rear end modifications to assist with boarding - similar to that of Firsts 2004 'Tamar Link' Tridents, which in fact, were the last new buses for this route. 

The current order - 412 PL51LGC is seen on the coast road working
 a 32A to Liskeard
Whilst the passengers of Torpoint and Rame will no doubt appreciate the vastly improved capacity of the Enviro400s, and slightly increased reliability - it will be interesting to see how they perform on those challenging roads. My general experience of euro 5 ADL Enviros is that they are woefully sluggish and don't tend to like steep inclines, although I guess the same could be said for the current Volvo B7TLs, which being ex-TfL aren't at all used to Cornwalls difficult (to say the least) terrain. Being slightly wider than the B7TLs could also cause the Enviros a few issues, especially on the 32A where some of the roads near Downderry are extremely narrow, and buses are also contending with parked cars. I've witnessed the Volvos only just managing to negotiate those roads, to the point where had they have been any wider, they wouldn't have made it at all! It'll certainly be interesting to see what the response from both drivers, and passengers is. 

I was also quite intrigued by the fact the new Enviro200s are shorter than previous batches. With every increasing loads on routes 8 & 9, I would have expected 11.3m versions to have been bought. I've previously seen deckers on the routes, full and standing at peak times - so it'll be interesting to see how the new vehicles manage! 
151 WJ65HMF on Royal Parade - 16th January 2016

With the recent entry of Stagecoach into Plymouth, I'm very surprised that Go-Ahead chose to order old style euro 5 versions of Enviros. I would have thought they would have opted for the new MMCs, to try and stay as up to date as they could, especially with Stagecoach having new vehicles on order for the same time. With two sets of brand new vehicles on the road, with 10 years of design apart - will passengers of the new CityBus Enviros even realise their on a brand new bus?

Now, onto Stagecoach South West who have had a large influx of new vehicles within the last few weeks. The first are euro 6 Alexander Dennis Enviro400MMCs, 10457-10462 which follow on from the Exeter Park & Ride batch, This five are in fact a diverted Manchester order, intended to speed up the process of upgrading Plymouths Park & Ride services and allowing the current loaned vehicles to return to First Kernow. The batch are fitted with high back e-Leather Lazzerini 3840 seating, in a blue trim and are also said to be fitted with Stop-Start technology. All five I believe will be in a two-tone blue livery dedicated to Park & Ride services, the first two have already arrived and were present during my visit to The Ride depot on Sunday. 

10458 SN65NZR at The Ride, with 10457 seen behind.
They are registered as follows:
10457 SN65NZP
10458 SN65NZR
10459 SN65NZS
10460 SN65NZT
10461 SN65NZU
10462 SN65NZV

Rears of 10457 

The next batch are the original vehicles intended for Plymouth, 10488-10503. All sixteen are to be in standard 'swoops' livery, and fitted with low back Lazzerini 3845 seating in standard moquette as found on the majority of other Stagecoach vehicles in the UK. These Enviros are intended to replace the current S/T/V/X/04 reg Tridents on routes 1, X1 and 3. However, some Tridents may be kept for school services. Three of these were present during my visit over the weekend.

10491 SN65ZHF rests next to elderly 17006 S806BWC
The batch are registered as follows:
10488 SN65ZHB
10489 SN65ZHD
10490 SN65ZHE
10491 SN65ZHF
10492 SN65ZHG
10493 SN65ZHH
10494 SN65ZHJ
10495 SN65ZHK
10496 SN65ZHL
10497 SN65ZHM
10498 SN65ZHN
10499 SN65ZHO
10500 SN65ZHR
10501 SN65ZHT
10502 SN65ZHU
10503 SN65ZHV 

As well as the deckers, Stagecoach have also got five 11.9 metre Alexander Dennis Enviro200MMCs on order for the Park & Ride services. They will be fitted out with the same interior as 10457-62, and powered by the larger than standard Cummins ISBe6 with Voith transmission - making these the new 'SPDs' I suppose. Alexander Dennis intend to replace the full size Enviro300 with this model, so it will be interesting to see the comparison between the two! They also happen to be numbered under the 2xxxx series, whereas other Enviros are 3xxxx - this indicates them being classed as a full size saloon. Whilst at least one has arrived, it was in the paintshop Sunday so I was unable to see it, sadly. 
The registrations will be as follows:
26034 YX65RCV
26035 YX65RCY
26036 YX65RCZ
26037 YX65RDO
26038 YX65RDU

Now, for me, the most exciting of the new buses. A batch of eight 15 metre, tri-axle Volvo B11RTs with Plaxton Elite bodywork. These are intended to be used on an up and coming express service between Plymouth and Bristol, and are dressed up in a stunning livery, accordingly. These are fitted with Volvos exceptionally good euro 6 D11K engine, coupled to the successfu Automated-Manual l i-Shift 12 speed gearbox. They feature Fainsa Gala seating, and are fitted with mains plug sockets for maximum passenger comfort. 
Two were present when I visited the depot, and the batch is said to be registered:
54319 YX65VXU
54320 YX65VXV
54321 YN65VXW
54322 YN65VXX
54323 YN65XYA
54324 YN65XYB
54325 YN65XYC
54326 YN65XYD

NOTE: The registrations of 54321 onwards are NOT yet confirmed - this post may change after delivery.

The 'Falcon' service is a new venture, as part of Stagecoach's plans for Plymouth depot, and will see an hourly service during the day connecting Plymouth to Bristol City Centre, calling at Exeter Park & Ride (one would assume Honiton Road), Cullompton Services, Taunton Park & Ride, Bristol Airport and finally Bristol City Centre (one would assume they will share the Megabus stops at Colson Hall). There is also said to be overnight journeys to connect with flights from Bristol Airport.
The service is designed to run on a 'turn up and go' basis, which would leave MegaBus to all of the bookings and long distance travel. The competitive fares that are to come of Falcon will no doubt give National Express and the railways a run for their money, especially with the delays faced along Dawlish Sea Wall during periods of inclement weather, and also appeal to day trippers and students within the South West. South Devon and Exeter have been lacking any sort of decent bus service to Taunton, and Bristol for a number of years now since First gave up route 92, which itself took a rather long time to reach Taunton. It's nigh on impossible to reach Bristol by service bus in a day, never mind in any short space of time - so the Falcon is a winner in my book and I very much look forward to trying it out! Falcon is due to begin on Sunday 14th February, and more information will be available nearer the time. 

So, intriguing times ahead with all these new vehicles and I look forward to trying them all. I would like to thank Steve Mutly for numbering information on the Stagecoach vehicles, and the same to Bobby Darch for the CityBus side. 

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Days before DDA

With just two days left of stage carriage work for the majority of elderly single deck vehicles before the much dreaded DDA comes in on the 1st January 2016, I thought it would fit to write a post about what I've seen in the lead up to Christmas that may not see 2016.

Whilst the DDA law double deckers doesn't come in until this time next year, operators are sadly replacing the step entrance examples at an alarming rate.

First Kernow 42471 T471JCV at Newquay
A recent visit to Cornwall on Friday 18th December saw a surprising amount of non-DDA vehicles on the road. Single-deck wise, these included First Kernow Dennis Dart SLFs 42801 Y1EDN, 42471 T471JCV, 42521 R421WPX and Optare Solos 50284 W215DWX & 53012 W812PAF as well as Travel Cornwall UK Mercedes Vario RIL5199 on a Truro College working,

Whilst I've never been fussed over Dart SLFs, I decided to ride aboard Dart/ALX200 42471 on the lengthy 87 route which connects Newquay to Truro via Perranporth. I guess I'll have to admit to missing the Torbay ones a bit, in comparison to the crap that has replaced them in recent times. I later caught up with my Cornish 'Stalker' Dart, 42521 R421WPX on route 21 which I rode from Quintrell Downs to St Austell.

43810 KU52RXJ at Truro Bus Station
As I've previously mentioned, the majority of the newer low floor vehicles from Plymouth depot were transferred to Cornwall to replace Olympians and non-DDA Darts in the fleet. However, I noticed on that visit that the non-DDA Darts replacements are infact, Non-DDA! Former Torpoint Transbus Mini Pointer Dart 43810 KU52RXJ has been treated to a repaint into 'Olympia' livery and looks rather smart, however she lacks a side destination blind meaning it cannot be used after the 31st. Some of the former Truronian Optare Solos are similar, 53404 TT54TVL has been repainted into a rather smart semi-Barbie like livery, however lacks the side blind, as does 53205 HIG8434 which was the former Dartmouth Park & Ride vehicle.

Although many replacements have arrived in the form of 2002 (and one 2005) Ceatano Slimbus bodied Transbus Dart SLFs from Hereford, Essex and Great Yarmouth, it will be interesting to see if buses such as 2005 Solo 53205 and 2002 Dart 43810 are fitted with necessary equipment to comply with DDA, or if they'll be disposed of in the new year.
42863 EG52FFK in Norwich - thanks to Cameron Robinson

661-4 R904BOU at Cribbs Causeway
A visit to Bristol on the 22nd December was a real shocker, at least three non-DDA Volvo B10BLEs out and about in the First fleet! I was delighted to be able to have a couple of 'last rides' on them, those were 66104 R904BOU and 66162 S362XCR, both of which were excellent machines with years of life left in them.  I had 66104 on route 78 from Bristol to Cribbs Causeway (although it continues to Thornbury), it had lovely Dual purpose seats in the latest First moquette as well as a powerful and sweet sounding Volvo D10A pounding away underneath. 66162 was had on a round trip to Nailsea and back to Bristol Bus Station on route X8, and provided a smooth and fast ride on a route that gives the B10s a decent run!

With only around 8 B10BLEs in line to survive DDA in Firsts South Yorkshire fleet, and a small number in Somerset, they are certainly becoming a rare breed and will be missed!

Y243DRC at Nailsea
Another surprise on that Bristol trip was Abus', former Trent Barton, Optare Excel Y243DRC. I'm unsure to whether it is DDA compliant or not, however it was only my second Excel for haulage in my life and a decent ride back into Bristol from Nailsea on route X9!

The much loved Volvo B10M will be another type thats up for the chop among fleets, including Stagecoach, where in various parts of the country there is still a minority out in service! Whilst the farewell event in Manchester back in November largely marked the end of the type, some depots in Scotland and the South ran some for schools until now.

Two Varios at Summercourt depot
One operator that was very intriguing was Western Greyhound with their large quantity of Mercedes Varios, only two of which out of the 30 they had when they ceased trading were DDA compliant. They had already made significant progress in replacing these, as they once had 55+ examples of the type, some of which were up to four years younger than their DDA replacements!

Brijan Tours also kept their step entrance Dennis Darts in service surprisingly late before their demise, however I found out the other day that N5BJT that has passed to XelaBus was still being used, and had a final swansong just the other day!
N5BJT at Hedge End Superstores

Sadly, whilst DDA has a lot of supporters, in my opinion it is awful. Small independent operators are having to invest money they can't afford into buying vehicles that are compliant, which are often in worse condition than the older vehicles they are replacing. It's a real shame to see perfectly good buses, like Volvo B10BLEs pensioned off with so many years left in them.

I would like to wish all my blog readers a very Happy new year for 2016!

Friday, 18 December 2015

December's delights!

Once again, due to life getting in the way, it's been over a month since my last post so apologies for that.

This post will be a general round up of the happenings on the transport front recently, so here goes:

Stagecoach Manchester Volvo B10M farewell 
Saturday 14th November saw me take, what will likely be, my final big trip for the year - this time to Manchester where a group of staff at Stagecoach had organised a send off for the popular Volvo B10Ms which have served, not just Manchester, but the whole country tirelessly since the early 1990's. Sadly, DDA regulations coming in on the 1st January 2016 will see all B10Ms on stage carriage work wiped out. 

After a pleasant trip up to London on the Night Riviera Sleeper service, hauled by Great Western Railways native 57604 'Pendennis Castle', I caught an early morning Virgin West Coast service from Euston to Manchester Piccadilly. Arriving at just before 9am, I jumped aboard one of Firsts Optare Versa EVs on the free Metroshuttle to Piccadilly Gardens, and just in the nick of time made it for the first Volvo B10M operated 192 service. Dayrider tickets were sold at usual price, however those issued aboard the B10Ms, the proceeds would go to Stagecoach's charity partner, Genesis. 

My first 'bash' of the day was Stagecoach Manchesters 20982, R982XVM - with a Voith gearbox to Hazel Grove. Here I found a gorgeous line up of various Volvo B10Ms including preserved ex-Stagecoach 20896 R896XVM, ex-Mainline N767CKY and a pair of driver trainers from Stagecoach Manchester. 

The new and the old at Hazel Grove
In an attempt to grab a second photo of 20982, and catch 20983 we boarded the 'standard' traction on the 192 - an Alexander Dennis Enviro400H. Unfortunately, my lack of local route knowledge came into play, and on the return I boarded a Stepping Hill bound 192 (the short working), as opposed to a Hazel Grove one, meaning I eventually went back on myself. Annoying - but never mind, it's all part of the fun haha!

After spotting a PS in the distance, we hastily got off of (what was by now the third) Enviro400, and dashed over the road and stepped aboard native 20983 R983XVM and rode to the City Centre. 983 was slightly louder and more beastly than 982 - so that was a winner.

17631 W631RND at Palatine Road, Didsbury
Those who know me won't be at all surprised that my other aim for the trip was to get some more haulage in on the euro 2 engined Dennis Tridents that can be found on route 168/169 and are slowly being phased off of Magic Bus work. Thankfully, there were at least nine examples out on the 142 and 143, working alongside the recently repainted Enviro400s and euro 5 retrofitted X-NNO Tridents. Our first 'Magic Bash' of the day was native, and un-silenced (yay!) Dennis Trident 17631 W631RND to Palatine Road. A destination I couldn't help but pick up on - great place for the mileage log! 

We returned to town on 17661 V161DFT before splashing through the City Centre to the Arndale in the P***ing rain in order to obtain some lunch. After a bash on 17667, 17632 and 17660 it was time to return to the Volvo B10Ms!  Our next ride was one of the 'guests': ZF gearbox 20457 M457VCW which had come down for the event from Stagecoach Cumbria, and provided a very quick ride, with the added luxury of DP seats back to Hazel Grove on the 192. By far and away the best bus of the day!  
20457 M457VCW in Piccadilly Gardens

Our final B10M was 20792 R794URM which was another guest - this time from Lancashire. 794 is equipped with a very sweet sounding Voith box, however she was pulled out of service at Stockport Road due to the demisters not playing ball, and it wasn't the nicest of weather to be driving in!

After a brief trip back into the City Centre on former Stagecoach Yorkshire 12089, YN61BFL, (complete with Sheffield branding), we rode a couple more MagicBus Tridents before making a run back to Piccadilly for the last train Southbound, ending another fantastic day! 

The total B10Ms at the event were as follows:

Stagecoach Lancashire, Alexander PS bodied 20794 R794URM

Stagecoach Manchester (training), Northern Counties Paladin bodied 20653 R653HCD

Stagecoach Manchester (training), Alexander PS bodied 20971 R971XVM

Preserved, former SC Manchester, Alexander PS bodied 20896 R896XVM

Preserved, former First South Yorkshire Mainline, Alexander PS bodied 767 N767CKY.

Stagecoach Manchester, Alexander PS bodied 20982 R982XVM

Stagecoach Manchester, Alexander PS bodied 20983 R983XVM

Stagecoach Cumbria, Alexander PS bodied 20711 K711DAO

Stagecoach Cumbria, Alexander PS bodied 20457 M457VCW

Classic Bus North West, Alexander PS bodied R898XVM - former Stagecoach 20898

Preserved, former Stagecoach, Alexander PS bodied P131XCN
The line up at Hazel Grove Park & Ride

                The decline of the Torbay Tridents
Well, after a bloody good sleep the following day, that week was then spent chasing Torbay's last three Dennis Tridents; 17003, 17057 and 17058 as well as ZF Transbus example, 17702. These would be replaced the following Monday by former Exmouth Scania Enviro400s 15660-9.

17057 on School route 27
Sadly, after several unsuccessful attempts early in the week at getting a photo, 17058 T658KPU was taken off the road for it's M.O.T and then sent to Plymouth, so it was just 17003, 17057 and 17702 to get.

I managed to catch 17057 T657KPU on Upper Headland Park Road on Thursday 19th November, whilst it was working Torquay school route, 27. This provided a slightly unusual photo. I then headed for Torquay where I scored a trip up to St Marychurch and back on 17003 S803BWC, and then another, though on 17702 ML02RWU which was driven by a fantastic driver, I also had a chance to photograph it in St Marychurch. 
17057 in Torquay Fleet Street

Friday 20th November saw me catch a photo of 17003 on Fleet Street, Torquay working it's usual 22 route, followed by 17057 T657KPU twenty minutes behind. It turned out to be my last chance to catch 17057 in Torbay, since she appeared at Plymouth early the following week. 

Of course, the 2004 Tridents were also due to leave, however I was less fussed about those. I spotted 18071/2/3 WA04CSU/V/X working out of Exeter last week.

...and their replacements
Stagecoach certainly didn't hang about after the Gold spec Scanias began to arrive at Exmouth, with the first '10 reg being delivered to Paignton Bus Station at around 04:55 on the morning of Sunday 22nd November. This was the first of the batch, 15660 WA10GHO. 

15660 WA10GHO at Dawlish Warren
During a brief visit to the Bus Station at the more sensible hour, I was advised 15660 would be in service later in the morning, which gave me time to grab some breakfast at McDonalds and dash home to get my initial shots online.  I then headed back out, and boarded 15660 at my local stop on the it's first ever trip on the 22 route and rode to Torquay. Since it was a Sunday, the bus then worked an 11 to Dawlish Warren, so I stayed on. Not a bad vehicle at all; sounded fairly nice and coped well on the difficult gradients of the 11. 

The 10 strong batch slowly entered service in Torbay that week, except 15667 which was sent to Scanias for almost 3 weeks for maintained, and then 15668 & 15669 which joined Torquay within the last week. 15667 returned Monday.

So, what about the new Gold vehicles?
Monday 23rd November saw the upgrade of  Exeter-Exmouth-Brixington route 57 to Stagecoach Gold. The vehicles on order were a batch of 11 Scania N230UD/Alexander Dennis Enviro400s, numbered 15250-15260. The intention was for 15250 to be delivered to Torquay, however this hasn't happened yet.

15255 YN65XDU at Topsham
The first day of the upgrade wasn't quite as great as hoped; with only three Gold deckers out along with some of the 2010 Scanias, and even two Enviro200s! Of course, there is two trips actually advertised as being 'non-Gold', these being worked by Tridents 17707 or 17708.

In addition to being late in production, I'm told that some of the new Scanias arrived defective hence the slow start of them. The latest batch are equipped with USB chargers, one of which unfortunately damaged my friends Apple iPhone phone charger - needless to say I was less than willing to try the sockets out myself!

Interior of 15260 YN65XDM
I took a ride aboard 15255 YN65XDU as far as Topsham last Saturday, and found it to be a pleasant ride. It sounded nice, and pulled fairly well - quite impressive for such a new vehicle. On my return, I had 15260 YN65XDM which, again, was nice but 260 also had been given an additional little touch, this being a large print photograph of the Exmouth coast stuck over the large plastic panel that covers the large Scania cooling pack. In my opinion, it is a lovely touch and takes away the boringness of a large cream panel. The KX08 registered Scanias, transferred from Oxford, also have this - although the photograph is of Oxfordshire! 

Some rarities! 
Tuesday 24th November saw a welcome, and unusual visitor to Torbay. Direct Rail Services 37603 worked a test train to Goodrington Sidings as part of it's rounds of the South West.
DRS 37603 rests at Paignton

A rare sight: 17003 at Torquay Strand working route 12!
Back to the buses, the next day saw 'the beast', 17003 S803BWC make a very rare appearance on Torbay's key route - HOP12. Not only did it work during the day, but also stayed on til end of the shift. Of course, I chased 17003 to Newton Abbot, and then Torquay for a photo before jumping aboard for a ride to Brixham and back. A lovely surprise to end the night indeed!

Plymothian Pandemonium 
Finally, a few updates as to whats happening in Plymouth.

Transbus ALX400 Tridents 18068/9/70 WA04CRX/Z/SF have been transferred from Torquay, along with older Dennis examples 17057/8 T657/8KPU. 

A selection of the V.O.R deckers seen at The Ride
These have seemingly replaced the ex-Fife full height Tridents which were seen lined up at The Ride, all VOR on Sunday 6th December. The vehicles in order were 17290 X290NNO, 17670 V170DFT (from Manchester - low height) , 17297 X297NNO, 17295 X295NNO , 17289 X289NNO , 17337 X337NNO, 17294 X294NNO, 17299 X299NNO. Sadly, I haven't manage to ride 17289, 17294, 17295 and 17670 yet and it's unlikely I ever will get that chance. Whilst not being a bad batch of buses to the enthusiast, they are considered rather unfit for service due to lacking seats downstairs and not having any proper wheelchair space. 

First Bus owned loanees 18531-5 and Volvo B7Ls 21096-9 are still going, though their days are now numbered before they return to First Bus, presumably Kernow to finish off the Olympians.
Stagecoach Darts, and loaned B7Ls at The Ride

I was delighted to have a ride to Tavistock and back on 17002 S802BWC last Sunday, although I maybe should have been doing my Christmas shopping...oh well! 

17002 S802BWC in Tavistock
I plan to write another post next week, though just in case I don't get round to it I would like to wish all of my blog readers, Flickr viewers and Youtube viewers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Over and out! 

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Recently at Riverlink

With the controversial DDA looming before us, Riverlink of Paignton have had a shake up in order to accommodate this.

N589BRH rests next to it's replacement,
 the week before it was Sold.
This began with the withdrawal of the company's 2 Volvo Olympians, as well as Leyland K573RRH which departed earlier in the year. The first of which is no. 5 'Royston' in the fleet, Northern Counties Palatine II bodied Volvo Olympian. It was new to East Yorkshire Motor Services and registered N589BRH. Acquired by Rail Riverlink in 2012, it was treated to a full repaint and interior refurbishment and used on their key 100 services between Torquay and Totnes. I'm very pleased to be told that it has been sold for preservation in Hull after being withdrawn by Riverlink. A fine vehicle most deserving of preservation.

The second bus to be up for disposal is quite a special one; Alexander Royale bodied Volvo Olympian M832HVC, numbered 8 in the RailRiverLink fleet and named 'Western Prince'. It was new to Volvo,Warwick as a demonstrator for Alexanders Royale body. It was loaned to several operators such as Cambus and London General, before passing to Finglands to update their fleet. It was sold to East Yorkshire/Scarborough & District before passing to RailRiverlLink along with N589BRH and K573RRH in 2012. Like it's two workmates, it received a full repaint and Hanover LED destination blinds, and was used on the 100 as well as various private hires. With the reduced winter timetable on the 100 coming into effect back on Monday, no.8 won't see any more service with Riverlink as the 100 is now in the hands of B7TL X169FBB and Transbus Dart FD54FGG. At the moment, it's looking like M832HVC will be sold off to be converted into a classroom, however it would have been since to see it preserved - if any preservationists are interested, contact Jim at RiverLink!
A smart Western Prince departing Paignton on a 100 service.

The departure of the two Volvo Olympians makes
room for some new arrivals; these being four Plaxton President bodied Volvo B7TLs from Go-Ahead Plymouth. All are in good condition, with exhaust systems fitted to upgrade them to euro 3 certified, despite having euro 2 engines. They are four from the smaller amount of ZF 5 speed batch that Plymouth operated, with the gearboxes now in power mode to enable them to cope on the inclines on the 100 route. The vehicles in question are:

Y812TGH at Churston Depot

  • Y808TGH (former 426 in the Plymouth CityBus fleet), new to London General as PVL208
  • Y812TGH (former 427 in the Plymouth CityBus fleet), new to London General as PVL212
  • Y816TGH (former 439 in the Plymouth CityBus fleet), new to London General as PVL216
  • Y827TGH (former 429, and driver trainer 'Doris' in the Plymouth CityBus fleet),  new to London General as PVL227.
Y827TGH is seen having just been rubbed down
 and awaiting paint.
Currently, Y812/27TGH are being prepared for service at Churston depot, with Y827 having already been partially painted. I'm unsure what fleetnumbers the new arrivals will gain, however they will be having their original 'PVL___' number applied somewhere on the bus, to match the original B7TL, X169FBB which displays VP17 in it's former TfL running number slot. 

The three active Bristol VRTs in the fleet; UWV614S, VDV138S and WTU467W WILL see service for the Summer Season in 2016 before being sold off, and replaced by two of the Y reg B7TLs will will be being converted to Open Top format in time for 2017s Summer service. The replacement of the VRs will be a very sad day since they were the buses to first form Riverlink back in 2000 when they were bought as a stop-gap until something newer was found. Nearly 16 years later and they're still here, providing just as good, if not better, a service as any bus a quarter of it's age. They've been maintained to an impeccable standard, including small refurbishments every year, whoever will buy them has a fantastic bus. However, not all is bad - the replacement, Volvo B7TLs, are an ageing type that are increasingly on the decline (although I still see them as a very modern bus) and Riverlink's four may be one of the very few of the type left in service in say 10 years time. The B7TL is a nice change in Torbay from the usual Dennis vehicles that Stagecoach operate, so I'm quite looking forward to sampling them.
WTU467W 'Molly' at Totnes in 2014
Y808TGH is seen displaying route 100.