Saturday, 30 August 2014

'Scene’ in Lichfield Bus Station


This small City by comparison to some others, Lichfield is located in Staffordshire on the edge of the West Midlands, not far away from the East Midlands and is dominated by its Cathedral.


Lichfield sees to be a quiet place but as it lies along the route of the proposed HS2 railway line, It will no doubt see expansion when it becomes commutable from London.


The Bus Station is old fashioned being reminiscent of the 1960’s and ripe for development. That is not to say that it is not functional. The buses are driven in and driven out. No drive in and reverse out. The shelters are quite effective at keeping the rain out as I found out for myself ! 



Most of the services operating out of the bus station are in the hands of ‘Arriva’ but there are others.


The ‘Arriva’ fleet is represented by




An Optare Versa from ‘Arriva Midlands’ about to depart for its home town at Burton on Trent.




A Scania K230UB Omnilink from ‘Arriva North Midlands’.




Another of the same from the same batch albeit wearing the earlier livery.




A VDL SB200 with Plaxton Centro bodywork.



Old and new ‘midi buses’ were in attendance.



A Dennis Dart fitted with Plaxton’s Mini Pointer Dart bodywork and




An Alexander Dennis Ltd. Enviro 200 branded for the Walsall-Lichfield service 35. 


The attractive young lady driving this bus had a smile that was like the sun coming out. She quite made my day!



Another VDL SB200. This time fitted with Wright’s Pulsar 2 bodywork. Working from Cannock depot.



‘Arriva’ operates the X65 linking Lichfield with Tamworth. Seen waiting departure time is


BJ12 YPM  

A Mercedes-Benz Citaro.



The X65 was was introduced to compete with CEN Group owned Central Buses who operate a fleet of approximately 24 buses across the West Midlands.


They run the service between Lichfield and Tamworth as the X55 and cleverly include the ‘55’ in its ‘xpress’ branding.




An Alexander Dennis Enviro SLF 200. One of 2 in the fleet. (the other being ZXK).





‘Midland Classic’ are a relatively new operator mainly working in the Burton-on-Trent area. They operate the X12 from Burton to Lichfield on a half hourly basis and hourly it is extended to Sutton Coldfield. 



A Scania L94UB with Wright Pulsar bodywork. One of 5 similar that came from  ‘South Lancs Transport’ of Atherton in Greater Manchester.






It is unusual for a Ford Transit to appear on bus work but this one working for ‘Solus Coaches’ is operating on service No. 823 between Lichfield and Rugeley.






An Optare Solo of ‘Blue Diamond’ (BD). There are a couple of these working a circular service round North Lichfield. The other is BUF. Both came from ‘Rossendale Transport’.


‘BD’ started with the formation of the Birmingham Coach Company in 1984 and today after a complex series of take overs is now part of the ‘Rotala’ group.



Lichfield apart from its Cathedral is an historic city and because if that finds itself on the tourist trail


R161 LDE

A Volvo B10M with Plaxton bodywork. A now elderly coach which looked very well. Working for ‘Chris Cars’ who use the fleet name ‘Coracle Coaches’, based in Carmarthen in South Wales.

New to ‘Jones’, Login in 1998 as R161 LDE it was re registered 834 TDE by ‘Jones’ in 2005. Presumably because ‘Jones’ wanted to retain the date less registration it reverted to the original when the coach joined ‘Chris Cars’ in 2011.




KVL 261

A Plaxton Cheetah bodied Mercedes-Benz-Vario working for ‘Sleafordian’ from Sleaford in Lincolnshire who this year celebrate 50 years in the coaching business. Congratulations !!

(Somebody has pinched the 3 pointed M-B 'star' off the radiator).



KSK 985


A Volvo B9R with Plaxton Elite bodywork. Working for ‘National Express’ contractor ‘Park’s of Hamilton’ and just leaving Lichfield on on its way to Brixham.


The driver very kindly stopped and posed the coach for me.


K107 OHF


A Volvo B10B with Northern Counties Paladin bodywork employed by ‘Arriva’ on driver training duties called in to sample the bus station’s facilities.



Sunday, 24 August 2014

‘Scene’ briefly in Melton Mowbray (MM)

It is almost a rear and a half since I last visited ‘MM’ so I thought that another visit was due. A North Leicestershire town which lies at the crossroads formed where the A 606 Nottingham to Stamford road and the A 607 Leicester to Grantham road intersect.


A pleasant country town, it is better known for its connections with Pork Pie and Stilton Cheese than for its buses.


It was a very brief visit lasting little more than half an hour but there was plenty of interest


A ‘Centrebus’ (Cb) town with just the occasional incursion by ‘Arriva’ on the ‘MM’ to Leicester service.


Apart from various ‘town’ services there are 2 through services which are the 8 which links Loughborough to Grantham and the 19 which links Nottingham with Oakham. These days it runs through as far as Peterborough.



An Alexander Dennis Ltd. (ADL) Enviro 200 working service 19 that was to carry me back to Nottingham.




A VDL SB200 with Wright bodywork. It still carries the livery of ‘Kimes of Folkingham’ (KoF) to whom it was new in 2009. ‘KoF’ were taken over by ‘Cb’ in 2011.


Seen working the 19 in the opposite direction.


Whilst the Optare Solo is the workhorse of the ‘town’ services. it can also be found on the longer services



Working on the Loughborough/Grantham service. In an earlier employment it worked for ‘Veolia Transport’ in Rotherham.



Which was new to ‘Bebb of Llantwit Fardre’ in Wales. It also had a spell with ‘Cb’ group member ‘Bowers’ of Chapel en le Frith in Derbyshire. Somewhere along the way it had a spell with ‘White Rose’ in Yorkshire. A much travelled bus and it looked it !!




Which appears to have been owned from new.




One of a two purchased from ‘Nottingham City Transport’. The other being YJ51 ZVZ.




Previously worked for ‘Geoff Amos Coaches’ the Northamptonshire based operator who closed down in 2011.





Is another bus that worked for ‘Veolia Transport’. Also for ‘Paul James Coaches’ and ‘Cross County’ in Leicestershire.




A Dennis Dart SLF with Plaxton Mini Pointer bodywork. 


At one time it worked for ‘Irvines of Law’ in Scotland. However it came into the ‘Cb’ fleet when ‘West End Travel’ of ‘MM’ was taken over by ‘Cb’ in 2011. The bus still carries most of its ‘West End’ livery.






Another Dennis Dart SLF with Plaxton Mini Pointer bodywork. Again joined ‘Cb’ from ‘West End Travel’.




Y299 FJN

A Dennis Dart with Alexander ALX 200 bodywork that worked at one time for ‘Stagecoach in London’ but came to ‘Cb’ via the Ensign Dealership in London.



Y242 FJN


A similar bus that comes with the same background.



Tuesday, 19 August 2014

'Scene’ on the West Coast of Scotland part 1.

I recently had a short break staying at the Alexandra Hotel in Oban where most of these images were taken. The tour company was ‘Highland Heritage’ (HH) with whom I have no connection other than as a satisfied customer.




A Volvo B12BT with Van Hool Alizee 59 seat bodywork.


One of ‘HH’s fleet of 16 identical vehicles. All carry different names to identify them to passengers because there are times when more than one is at the same place.




‘West Coast Motors’ (WCM) is by far the biggest operator of bus services in this part of Scotland


‘WCM’ was founded in 1923 in Campbeltown where they are still based. Operating across Argyll and Bute and as far away as Glasgow, the company has a fleet of approximately 200 vehicles.


The ‘Flagship’ route is probably the 926 linking Campbeltown with Glasgow which requires over 4 hours to cover the 140 miles.


Oban is linked to Glasgow by the 976. Both of these routes together with the 918 Oban to Fort William service operate as ‘WCM/Scottish Citylink joint services.


Most of the vehicles on these services that I saw were Irizar i6’s.


YT11 LVH and YR61 RWF seen in ‘joint’ livery.





While i6 Y90 WCM appears in fleet livery.



‘WCM’ seem to have a policy of buying new vehicles then keeping them for most if not all of their lives. When trying to trace previous and or subsequent operators, I have been largely unsuccessful in doing so.


The number of ‘WCM’ suffixed registrations in the fleet is noticeable




A DAF SB120 with Wright Cadet bodywork. One of a batch of four buses with consecutive registrations.



N400 WCM (formerly SF06 HFN).


A Dennis Dart MPD with Plaxton Pointer 2 bodywork.



P600 WCM (formerly YJ07  EHC).


An Optare Solo.



W173 CDN


A Mercedes- Benz (MB) 0814D with Alexander bodywork.






An Optare Solo SR.



W200 WCM (Previously YN08 NXP).


A Plaxton Primo.





An Alexander Dennis Ltd. Enviro 300.





A Dennis Dart with Plaxton Pointer bodywork.


The style of bodywork would suggest that this bus is the earlier step entrance Dart and not the low floor variety.


N400 WCM


A Dennis Dart  SLF with Plaxton Pointer 2 bodywork.



Friday, 15 August 2014

‘Scene’ on the rails in Bury

Bury is a very interesting place for transport enthusiasts not only because of its bus station (see my earlier ‘blog’ dated 09/08/2014) which forms part of Bury Interchange and also includes the terminus of the Tramway line.

The tramway runs largely on the trackbed of the old railway line that started at Manchester Victoria and now involves street running in the city itself.


If that is not enough, there is also the preserved ‘East Lancashire Railway’ (ELR) that runs North to Rawtenstall and Ramsbottom. This being based at Bolton Street station which is barely 5 minutes walk from the Interchange.




The view from the platform end which shows how either of the 2 platforms can be accessed from both the running rails.




The first generation of modern trams were Italian built Ansaldo Firema T-68/T-69‘s. Dating from the early 1990’s They have now all been withdrawn.


‘Metrolink’ the operator have replaced them with new Bombardier ‘Flexity Swift 5000’ ‘Light Rail Vehicles’ (trams to you and me).


84 units have been delivered and another 32 have been authorised to be delivered up to 2016. Costing £2,000,000 each they are fast, powerful and comfortable. 


But then there are also trains, buses.............!


Both platforms are in use and here car No. 3057 is seen departing whilst car No. 3020 waits for departure time.It

carries the name ‘Lancashire Fusiliers’ an apt name considering that 2014 is the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War in which the regiment like many others suffered badly.








The ‘ELR’ has a history dating back to 1859 when a company of that name operated from 1844 until 1859 running over much of the route that today’s ‘ELR’ covers.


After an acrimonious relationship with the ‘Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (L&YR) the ‘ELR’ was absorbed by the ‘L&YR’ in 1859.


Ownership then continued through the ‘LMS’ and on to ‘British Railways’ who finally closed the line down in the 1980’s.


The modern ‘ELR’, a heritage railway opened in 1987.


Today, the line is one of the UK’s premier preserved railways.



After the modernity of the tramway, it is like stepping back in time. It is pleasing to see the use of 1950's vintage signage.

Just look at this marvelous signal gantry controlling the approach from the South.





This handsome structure on platform 2 provides a tea room/cafe and shelter in poor weather conditions.



Heading North from Bury trains run via Summerseat to Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall.

On view on the day were,


No. 61994 The Great Marquess


Designed by Sir Nigel Gresley and built as a K4 class loco in 1938 by the LNER and numbered 3442 in service. The class was 6 loco’s strong.


The K4’s were designed specifically for the West Highland Line to Mallaig and Fort William.


Withdrawn in 1961 and sold into preservation it was stored on the Severn Valley Railway from 1972 until 1980 when it was overhauled.


Sold in the mid 2000 it was then overhauled at Crewe. It has since moved back to Scotland where it operates trains on the national rail network.



Built by Brush Traction in 1962 being powered by a Sulzer 12LDA28-C engine. Under the TOPS numbering system it became 47402. 


It was unusual in that it was fitted with both steam and electric train heating capability from new and also the Westinghouse braking system.


Withdrawn in 1992 in BR blue livery, it entered preservation in 1993 being repainted into its original livery in 2010.


Withdrawn in 2001, the loco was overhauled and re-entered service in 2005.



Built by British Railways (BR) at Swindon in 1965 as one of its Class 14. A Diesel Hydraulic locomotive, a type of transmission that at that time was in favour with 'BR’s Western Region.


Sold out of service D9531 arrived at the ‘ELR’ in 1987 in the National Coal Board’s dark blue livery.


Withdrawn at the ‘ELR’ in 1997, the loco was subject to an overhaul that lasted 15 years after which it ran temporarily as D9556 to emphasize that it was effectively a brand new loco. The original production run of 55 loco’s had been numbered D9500-9555. 

The 'ELR' has only recently hosted an event to celebrate 50 years of the Class 14 with 10 of the loco's in preservation being in attendance. 


11506 (D2956)


Pictured in an anonymous black livery, this loco was one of 5 produced for British Railways by Andrew Barclay and Sons of Kilmarnock. The first four were numbered 11503-11506. They then became D2953-D2956. The fifth which was produced for departmental stock work as No. 81 was re-numbered to D2956 when the original loco was withdrawn.


Two loco’s survived (‘54 and ‘55) to become BR Class 01 001 and 01 002. They were withdrawn in 1979 and 1981 respectively and cut up.






A Class 121 Driving Trailer having arrived at Bury. Built by the Pressed Steel Company in 1960 to lot number 30519.


Working with another Pressed Steel set this time a 2 car DMU Class 117 numbered DMBS 51339 and DMS 51382 built in 1960.







Every preserved railway seems to have on 08 shunter on strength and the ‘ELR’ is no exception. Its TOPS number was 08479.


Built by British Railways at nearby Horwich works in 1958. Powered by an English Electric 6KT engine.



RNAD 167

This quaint little reduced height van which stands at Bury was used for carrying ammunition by its previous owner the Royal Navy.