Tuesday, 8 July 2014

A Southerners Northern adventures!

Once again, not so "South West" Transport News as I have been off on a jolly up north this last weekend. Departing Paignton on Thursday 3rd July, this trip as seen me visit mainly Manchester, but also venture out into the country to Rawenstall and a large part of the North West of England! I returned to Paignton, rather tired and with over 600 photos and videos to be uploaded (which I'm working on!) , on Sunday 6th July.

So heres a little recount of each day, not in great detail as I'd still be sat here next July!

Thursday 3rd July:
22130 S130TRJ at Piccadilly
After a ride into town on bog standard boring crap Stagecoach Trident 18065 WA04CRK, it was time to board Cross Country Trains' Voyager 221139 for the, as expected, lengthy and uncomfortable ride for 5 hours up to Manchester Piccadilly. We checked into the Premier Inn Central hotel which was very nice, would definitley reccomend it! As those of you who know me well enough will know, I was eagar to get out and explore, so I did just that! I had a few trips on various Magic Bus branded Euro 2 Dennis Trident's, some of which were very nice before also having my first ever bash on a MAN 18.220 ALX300. Out of complete lazyness (and okay, I admit...I was lost too!) , I had a trip on a Metrolink Tram to head back to the hotel.

18281 W671PTD 
Friday 4th July:
A rude awakening by the parents messing around saw me up at just after 5am, so I took the chance to stick some of the previous nights videos on youtube before we all headed off to the Coronation Street tour which was fantastic! It really was great to wonder the street that I had been watching on TV religiously, several times a week since before I can even remember!
Looking down Coronation Street towards the Kabin & Bistro




Transdev N116UHP & BF63HCZ in Rawenstall Town
After a nice tour around the filming sets, of both inside and outside the Corrie buildings, I headed out to have a bash on 'the Witch Way', a premium route numbered X43 operated by Transdev. The Volvo B9TL sat comfortably at 55mph on the motorway (and probably would have done more had it have not been for the pi***ng down rain). The added comforts of full leather coach seating upstairs (which I did sit up there for a short period, unusual for me, I know!) and e-leather bus seats on the lower deck really did mean I was impressed as I was already a big fan of the B9TL. Upon arrival at Burnley Bus Station, by pure luck I saw Transdev Volvo Olympian/Alexander Royale N116UHP, a bus of which most of it's sisters ended up at First Devon & Cornwall. Even better, N116 was just ready to depart on scenic route 8 to Rawenstall, which was ideal for connecting with a frequent X43 for the run back into Manchester. Around 19:00, I was grabbing some dinner at Manchester Piccadilly when the announcement for the "19:03 Northern Rail service to Manchester Airport" and with that a Class 142 Pacer (which as most know are my favourite units!) pulled in on the distant platform 13. So after making rather an idiot of myself by legging it over to Platform 13, to my delight, the unit for my trip was actually 142063, which was one I'm very familliar with as it was one that was with First Great Western and 063 also happened to be the 3rd to last 142 I ever went on in service with FGW as it was on the farewell tour back in November 2011. After arriving at the Airport (I hear it's rare to get a 142 on Airports, so that really was some luck!) I remained on 142063 for a run back to Newton-Le-Willows where I caught an Arriva Trains Wales 175 back into the City Centre and made my way back to the hotel, ending a great day.
ex-FGW 142063 at Newton-le-Willows

Saturday 5th July:
A big plan ahead saw me up and dashing out of the Premier Inn for a nice 06:45 start. Although not really needing to be at Piccadilly until 08:30, I managed to slip in a perfectly timed run to Marple and back on 142004. I then boarded the 08:30 Arriva Trains Wales service to Crewe where I met Elliott. After filming a rather dissapointing pullaway performance of DRS 37405 on a test train, we continued into town on a VDL





A Sapphire vehicle in Chester
The luxuries of Sapphire on 4404's upper deck
DB300 before boarding recently transferred ex-Arriva London , now Arriva North West Volvo B7TL/Wright Gemini 4216 LF02PKZ which gave an okay-ish ride (A DAF DB250 would have been far better, but you can't have it all!) on the 84 over to Chester. Time permitted for a quick try out of Arriva's premium brand Sapphire, which is by far and away better than Stagecoach's effort with 'GOLD'. Once again , dissapointingly the upper deck of the Enviro400's benefit from the better comfort with full leather coach seating and plug sockets (including USB connections) while the downstairs has had a full e-leather retrim of the previous seats on the vehicles and up to date next stop info screens and accouncements as well as Wi-Fi are availible on both decks.

D158FYM in New Brighton
I then had my first bash on a Merseyrail unit ,following a long hunt for a bus stop and a ride on an Arriva Dart, to Birkenhead Central. Arriva North West 4203 LJ51DJK was our ride over to New Brighton and it was a somewhat more interesting B7TL than 4216. New Brighton is the stomping ground for what is quite possibly my new favourite vehicle in the entire Stagecoach Bus Group, freshly refurbished and painted open top Leyland Olympian/ECW D158FYM 14166. Upon takeover from First Bus, Stagecoach were quick to dispose of the D-FYM Leylands in favour of a batch of Y/51 reg Tridents transferred from London for use on tour routes. For some reason unbeknownst to me, D158FYM was kept, and this year rolled out onto free route 15 New Brighton - Harrison Drive with e-leather seats with Stagecoach seat pattern printed onto it and a fully repainted interior complete with white on black destination blinds. D158 really is a credit to Stagecoach Chester & Wirral, and those at Rock Ferry depot where it's based. Frothing over our new open top Trident 17701 stops now!!
D158FYM interior

S281JUA, photo thanks to Elliott Farrell...
kinda messed my shot up a bit!
After a mad rush back to New Brighton station, we headed back to Chester where pot luck meant we got DAF DB250/ALX400 S281JUA (ex-London DLA81)  for over an hour of thrash back to Crewe. S281 is quite possibly the most beastly Low Floor decker I've been on! It really did sound good with the knackered rear axle and it made a nice change to get a DB250 really giving it some rather than just tiddling about Bristol City Centre!

After a couple of hours 'vegging' at Winsford and Hartford stations, we boarded London Midland 350259 back to Crewe where I then headed back for Manchester on Northern's 323236. Rather like those 323's!

Can't say it's very often I get a 142 , B7TL , DAF DB250 , Leyland Olympian and a half respectable Enviro400 in one day, so it really was a great day!

Sunday 6th July:
Breaking my usual Sunday habits, I was up and out by around 7am to chase up some last buses that I had intended to bash while on holiday. I had myself a bash on two Volvo B7RLE's and two Volvo B5LH/Gemini2's with First Greater Manchester. The Volvo B5's really are up to a nice spec, high back leather seating and a rather attractive silver livery, with Firsts pink & purple swoops. I find the B5LH's quite beastly sounding vehicles, escpecailly with the 12 speed I-shift box making it sound like an old classic manual bus!

And then comes the depressing part; home time! 13:27 saw us depart Manchester Piccadilly on Cross Country's 220019 to Birmingham New Street. There, we had a mad rush over to the opposite end of the station where we boarded a severely overcrowded , hot and uncomfortable 221135 for the long haul down to Newton Abbot, and we were diverted via Kidderminster.

To finish off a great 4 days, a ride on First Great Western's 143621 back down the "Riviera line" was much welcomed after that awful Voyager. Either First Great Western have tidied up their units in preparation for my return (Oh, I am full of myself haha!) or Northern's units were in an awful state, either way 143621 and 143619 which was hooked to the back of 621 looked abnormally clean and tidy!

Buses I had haulage on while up t'North were as follows:
First Manchester YJ60KCU 49101 Optare Versa Electric Hybrid 1 St Mary's Gate Chorlton Street
Stagecoach Manchester V614DJA 17614 Dennis Trident / Alexander ALX400 142 Chorlton Street Plattfields Park
Stagecoach Manchester V158DFT 17658 Dennis Trident / Alexander ALX400 143 Plattfields Park Piccadilly Gardens
Stagecoach Manchester V114MVX 34114 Dennis Dart SLF / Plaxton Pointer 118 Piccadilly Gardens Queens Park
Stagecoach Manchester S130TRJ 22130 MAN 18.220 / Alexander ALX300 118 Queens Park Piccadilly Gardens
Stagecoach Manchester W671PTD 18281 Dennis Trident / East Lancs Lolyne 143 Piccadilly Gardens Plattfields Park
Stagecoach Manchester W633RND 17633 Dennis Trident / Alexander ALX400 142 Plattfields Park Piccadilly Gardens
Stagecoach Manchester MX03KZP 18289 Transbus Trident / Plaxton President 142 Piccadilly Gardens Oxford Road
Stagecoach Manchester MX08GKN 19231 Alexander Dennis Enviro400 Trident 86 Oxford Road Piccadilly Gardens
First Manchester YJ60KCZ 49105 Optare Versa Electric Hybrid 1 Chorlton Street Piccadilly Station
First Manchester YJ60KDO 49109 Optare Versa Electric Hybrid 3 Piccadilly Station Chorlton Street
Transdev Witch Way BF63HDA 2778 Volvo B9TL / Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 X43 Chorlton Street Burnley Bus Station
Transdev Burnley & Pendle N116UHP 116 Volvo Olympian / Alexander Royale 8 Burnley Bus Station Rawenstall
Transdev Witch Way BF63HDA 2778 Volvo B9TL / Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 X43 Rawenstall John Dalton Street
First Manchester YJ60KCX 49103 Optare Versa Electric Hybrid 1 John Dalton Street Piccadilly Station
Arriva North West & Wales MX61AUO 4490 VDL DB300 / Wright Pulsar Gemini 2 38 Crewe Rail Station Crewe Bus Station
Arriva North West & Wales LF02PKZ 4216 Volvo B7TL / Wright Eclipse Gemini 84 Crewe Bus Station Chester Foregate Street
Arriva North West & Wales J800ABW 4408 Alexander Dennis Enviro400 Trident 1 Chester Chester Racecourse
Arriva North West & Wales V587DJC 2357 Dennis Dart SLF / Plaxton Pointer 4 Chester Racecourse Chester Railway Station
Arriva North West & Wales LJ51DJK 4203 Volvo B7TL / Wright Eclipse Gemini 411 Birkenhead Central New Brighton Morrisons
Stagecoach Chester & Wirral D158FYM 14166 Leyland Olympian / Eastern Coach Works 15 New Brighton Morrisons Harrison Drive
Stagecoach Chester & Wirral D158FYM 14166 Leyland Olympian / Eastern Coach Works 15 Harrison Drive New Brighton Morrisons
Arriva North West & Wales J400ABW 4404 Alexander Dennis Enviro400 Trident 1 Chester Railway Station Chester Foregate Street
Arriva North West & Wales S281JUA 4141 DAF RSDB250LF/ Alexander ALX400 84 Chester Foregate Street Earl of Crewe
Stagecoach Manchester MX60BVS 12050 Alexander Dennis E40H 43 Manchester Airport Wythenshawe Bus Station
Arriva Manchester MX61AUL 3105 VDL SB200CS / Wright Pulsar 2 18 Wythenshawe Bus Station Manchester Airport
First Manchester MX05CGZ 66848 Volvo B7RLE / Wright Eclipse Urban 181 Piccadilly Gardens Broadway Retail Park
First Manchester MX05CKC 66871 Volvo B7RLE / Wright Eclipse Urban 181 Broadway Retail Park Piccadilly Gardens
First Manchester BN61MWO 39214 Volvo B5LH / Wright Gemini 2 18 Piccadilly Gardens Parkmount Road
First Manchester BN61MWJ 39210 Volvo B5LH / Wright Gemini 2 18 Parkmount Road Piccadilly Gardens
First Manchester YJ60KCZ 49105 Optare Versa Electric Hybrid 1 Piccadilly Station Chorlton Street


I did also achive a nice 700 or so miles on the trains (including travel from/to the South West) while up there.  Click here to see my rail miles log

All in all, it was a great trip and now I have the summer holidays in just over two weeks to look forward to. Roll on some more great trips!