Thursday, 23 December 2010

Merry Christmas!!

I would like to wish everybody who reads this blog, visits my fotopic site, or uses the First Hants & Dorset website and forum a very Merry Christmas and all the best for 2011. Thank you for all of your support this year. Seasons Greetings to All.

Monday, 20 December 2010

First South Coast.....Connecting People

First South Coast use a number of "Connection" brands across the fleet, and a few of them are illustrated below.

The Southampton - Hamble Connection, for route 16. Demonstrated by Dart MPD 43845 (SN55CXH), pictured in Hedge End on the old route 15 extension. 43845 has now moved on to Essex.

The Atlantic Connection, connecting Barnstaple with Appledore and Westward Ho! on the north coast of Devon. Illustrated by First Devon & Cornwall Trident 32767 (WJ55CTE) in Bideford.
The present version of the Southampton - Hamble connection, which was updated when the MPDs were replaced by new Enviro200s. Illustrated by 44508 (YX58HWG) in Netley.
The original brand - the Gosport - Fareham connection on routes 82, 83, 85 and 86 in Hampshire. Demonstrated by Dart SLF 42132 (S632KTP) leaving Gosport bus station.
And finally the Riviera Connection, connecting Plymouth with Torquay and Paignton in Torbay. First Devon & Cornwall use Dennis Tridents on this route, as illustrated by 32713 (W713RHT), pictured in Totnes on the X80.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

The Third Snowfall of the Year

Last night, the South received its third significant snowfall of the year, although it was far less than either January's amount or earlier this month. I went to Fareham earlier this morning to find that the First Hants & Dorset bus network was largely unaffected in terms of routes in service, although diversions were (and are) still in place on some routes.

First up, here is Dennis Dart SLF 42117 (R617YCR), one of a number I photographed in the snow the other week. Here 42117 departs Fareham on route 63 heading for Havant.

There were a high number of step entry Darts out on Fareham town services - here is 46319 (M319YOT) heading for Stubbington on route 35. Routes 33 and 35 were not going around Hill Head on Saturday morning, terminating in Stubbington.
Another step entry Dart out in service, here is 46329 (N329ECR) heading for the Highlands on route 95. Unlike previous snowfalls, the Highlands routes were largely unaffected with only the 94 cancelled during my visit.

Fareham's main roads were largely clear this morning, with snow remaining on the back streets. Here 46322 (M322YOT) heads out of the bus station for the Highlands on route 93. Fareham town centre itself was largely free of snow as pedestrian paths had been cleared.

Finally for today, here is 47307 (N607EBP) heading for Portsmouth on route 5. During my visit, the 1A, 5 and 57 to Portsmouth started up - it appears Portsmouth received heavier snowfall as Hilsea depot was not in use before the 1000 FHD Service Update - all Portsmouth routes had been cancelled.  I'm sure this won't be the last snowfall of 2010 - let alone the winter season - so hopefully disruption will be minimal and oppurtunities for more snowy photos will be available. Thanks for viewing.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Route 69 in the recent past

When my hobby of photographing buses began back in 2001-2, Stagecoach's route 69 operated hourly from Winchester to Southsea, via Fair Oak, Bishops Waltham, Wickham, Fareham, the M275 and Portsmouth city centre. Cut back to Fareham from Southsea more recently, this post depicts my memories of route 69. This post has been adapted from my original message to the Stagecoach South forum, click here to visit this growing forum.

I first remember route 69 being operated by striped Volvo Olympians and Volvo B10M single deckers, symbolised by the photos to the left. My first image illustrates the 69 continuing to Southsea, as shown by 16290 (P290VPN) in Wickham in June 2003. Although I'm a fan of the swoops livery and preferred it over the stripes, the former livery was an iconic image and sadly missed by myself at least. The second illustrates Volvo Olympian 16263 (P263WPN), in Fareham bus station in April 2004. 16263 is seen with a friendly driver on board, heading for Winchester. 

Volvo B10M single deckers were a common sight on the 69. Here is 20634 (L634TDY) seen having been repainted into the stropes livery, pictured in Wickham square in October 2003. I remember this bus arrived late and was packed out with passengers, as can be seen in the photo.
 Northern Counties bodied Volvo B10Ms were rarer on the 69 - usually allocated more to the Basingstoke and Chichester depots. 20665 (M665ECD) is pictured in bay A of Fareham bus station on 4th July 2004, again heading for Southsea. This was a Sunday, and I seem to remember that single deckers were more common on Sunday than double deckers.

Back to the double deckers, and finally to South Parade Pier. I didn't realise when I took this shot that within a year or so it would be impossible. 16277 (P277VPN) has arrived from Winchester on the 69, and is parked up out of service waiting for the return trip. Photo taken 15th February 2005. Route 69 now terminates at Fareham rail station.

Before the recent introduction of the Dennis Tridents onto route 69, it was a mix of Volvo Olympians, Volvo B10Ms, and increasingly of Darts. I remember that Enviro200 workings were quite common on Sundays too- I photographed a "Spring" example in Fareham bus the photo failed, much to my annoyance. Here is Dennis Dart 32322 (N322AMC) in Fair Oak, pictured in January 2009.

And finally, the new order on route 69. The Dennis Tridents displaced earlier in the year from Coastliner 700 have found their way to a number of different Stagecoach Hampshire depots- some to Winchester. One such example is 18523 (GX06DXY), pictured in Bishops Waltham on Friday. Route 69 is one of the country services to have also received "Rivers" branding, along with other routes such as the X64/X65. 18523 still wears a base fleet livery, allowing it to be used on a variety of services where needed.

Thanks for viewing. This post has been adapted from my original message to the Stagecoach South forum, click here to visit this growing forum.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Invaders from the Potteries!

I've struggled to get out this week so far, so I'm afraid its a bit of a slow news day. Today's blog entry sees us remember some of the transfers to First Hants & Dorset from First PMT, and one that got away back up north.

First Hampshire operated two Leyland Olympians that were new to PMT - the first was 30050 (MTU124Y), which entered service at Hoeford as a VR replacement, initially on the Asda Havant contract. She is pictured here in full Asda livery in Fareham bus station on route 31, pictured 2nd April 2004.

Two Mercedes minibuses were transferred to Hoeford in summer 2003. These were the first buses to operate in FHD with the new national numbers - fleet number 50088 (L556LVT) and 50107 (N591CEH). Despite the 'numbers for life' being applied, 50088 became 51056 for a time and then returned to 50088, where 50107 permanently became 51691 as First Hants & Dorset was renumbered. 50088 is pictured first, on one of its first days of service in July 2003 the south is 50088, with an old yellow on green People's Provincial blind, again in Fareham bus station. 50107, as illustrated, entered service in the PMT red and yellow livery, remaining this way for over a year before it was repainted. 50107 is pictured in Stubbington in September 2003.

The second double decker to arrive was 30056 (A157UDM). I remember 30056 as it took me ages to find, and this shot (from August 2006) was taken not long before it was withdrawn from service, replaced by younger Volvo Olympians. Pictured again on route 31 departing Fareham bus station.

I thought I'd include one from Dorset - here is Leyland Lynx 62557 (H657GRE). First Southern National acquired a few former PMT Lynxes over the years, but following merger of Weymouth and Bridport with Hampshire, it became the only former PMT example in FHD. Pictured outside Weymouth Debenhams on route 8.

And finally, the one that got away. Scania L94UB 65704 (YN04GNU) was the single decker allocated to the X54 Exeter - Colyton for many a year, but following the introduction of new Volvo B9TL double deckers in 2008, it was repainted into fleet livery and then transferred up north. I believe it now operates the Chester - Liverpool service mainly, but I could be wrong.
Thanks for viewing - this list was by no means meant to be exhaustive but I thought it would be of interest.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

BlueStar Solos

My visit to Bishops Waltham on Friday helped me complete my photos of all the Optare Solos that BlueStar have operated. All have been acquired from Wilts & Dorset at various times in years gone by, with the initial examples brought in to bolster Red Rocket services, and the latter ones (identifiable by the newer BlueStar logo on the front) came to replace Transbus Dart MPDs at Eastleigh. This is a pictoral post to illustrating all of these buses.

2603 - R603NFX - Otterbourne Hill
Heading for Eastleigh on route E2
4th November 2009

Allocated to Eastleigh
2604 - R604NFX - Allbrook Hill
Heading for Winchester on route E1
4th November 2009

Allocated to Eastleigh
2605 - R905NFX - Highfield
Heading for Southampton City Centre on route 14
12th February 2010

Allocated to Eastleigh
2609 - R609NFX - Bishops Waltham
Arriving from Eastleigh on route F
10th December 2010

Allocated to Eastleigh
2610 - R610NFX - Botley Rd, Sholing
Heading for Weston on the now withdrawn route 15
2nd February 2009

Allocated to Eastleigh

2633 - T633AJT - Hythe (Ferry Yard)
Pictured on Hythe town service H2
24th April 2010

Allocated to Totton

2634 - T634AJT - Hythe (Prospect Place)
Arriving in Hythe on town service H2
6th November 2009

Allocated to Totton

2659 - V659DFX - Winchester bus station
Departing for Eastleigh on Red Rocket route E1
12th February 2008

Vehicle withdrawn- now with Damory

2664 - V665DFX - Barton Park depot
Pictured out of service
29th February 2008

Vehicle withdrawn - now back with Wilts & Dorset
2668 - V668DFX - Swaythling
Pictured heading for Bitterne on route 14
8th February 2010

Allocated to Eastleigh

2669 - V669DFX - Winchester bus station Pictured arriving in Winchester on route E2
12th February 2008

Allocated to Eastleigh (now in blue!)

Friday, 10 December 2010


I look forward to a new bus company starting up. You've got the new buses, the new livery and possibility of new routes - you've got the possibility of the new company ruffling the feathers of a larger company - and, to put it simply, it refreshes the local bus scene. Three years after Velvet were registered, beginning to operate in February on registered routes, Xelabus have arrived, just in time for the February contract retenders.

They are branded as the bus company with traditional values, and hope to expand the fleet and services provided during 2011 and beyond. If you havent seen, Xelabus have a fleet of buses in a traditional two-tone green, black and cream livery, the lower green in particular reminding me of People's Provincial. The fleet consists seven buses at present, consisting of double deckers and Dennis Darts.

Route wise, the following are operated by Xelabus:
* the Asda Totton contracts - previously operated by First Hants & Dorset.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday routes around Eastleigh, to Boyatt Wood, Nightingale Avenue and Bishopstoke up until Christmas Eve
* the Tesco Burseldon and Tesco Winchester shopper buses - again previously operated by FHD.

The Spotter's Guide to Xelabus:
* MONDAY - Eastleigh town services (one bus operating on a 20min frequency), ASDA buses to Lyndhurst and Romsey arriving in Totton at 1030 and 1135. Xelabus will be operating two buses on the Asda contracts due to demand.

* TUESDAY - Tesco Bursledon shopper bus, one bus serving Locks Heath, West End and Netley, arrving at Burseldon at 0954, 1039, 1142 and 1337, Tesco Winchester shopper bus, with one bus operating to Colden Common, Alresford and Crawley/Sparsholt, arriving at Tesco at 0935, 1035 and 1237  

* WEDNESDAY - Eastleigh town services (one bus operating on a 20min frequency), ASDA bus to Fawley & Hythe and again to Romsey, arriving in Totton at 1035 and 1145 and departing at 1200 and 1320. Xelabus will be operating two buses on the Asda contracts due to demand.

* THURSDAY - Tesco Bursledon shopper bus, one bus serving Locks Heath, West End and Netley, arrving at Burseldon at 0954, 1039, 1142 and 1337, Tesco Winchester shopper bus to Micheldever, arr 0946 and dep Tesco at 1115

* FRIDAY - Eastleigh town services (one bus operating on a 20min frequency), ASDA shoppers bus to Langley & Hythe and Upton Crescent, arriving in Totton at 1033 and 1145, departing at 1205 and 1320. Xelabus will be operating two buses on the Asda contracts due to demand. For full details, please see the timetables.

Over the coming weeks I'm going to try and get some photos of our latest independent to join the south's bus scene. Visit their website here or they have a very good facebook page already - the link is on the website.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Brijan Tours also have new Darts!

Brijan Tours are based in Botley, in Southern Hampshire, and operate mainly a network of coach services and school services. However, three bus services also are run by Brjan - all ex-Solent Blue Line routes. The 7 (Southampton - Bishops Waltham) and 17 (Bishops Waltham - Petersfield) are what's left of the old 52 route from Southampton to Petersfield. Darts are used on the hourly 7, with mainly minibuses on the infrequent 17. The 7 interworks with route 8 (Eastleigh - Bishops Waltham), a mixture of the old 48C and 48D routes in BlueLine days. To coincide with yesterday's post, Velvet aren't the only ones who have been purchasing Darts recently.

Five new Darts have been acquired by Brijan since February. The first is fleet number 107 (XLZ3106), a former Stagecoach Oxford and Western vehicle, although it was acquired from another independent. It was acquired back in February and some of you may have seen it in freshly applied Brijan livery back on the open day earlier this year. Former registration - N57KBW.

Brijan Tours have also been busy with Stagecoach directly. Former Chichester based N452PAP became the first Alexander Dash bodied Dart to enter service with Brijan, and is numbered 109. She is seen on the right at Hedge End rail station, heading for Eastleigh on route 8. Brijan have also have acquired a number of the former London Dennis Dart/Alexanders previously in use at Winchester - N317/8/21AMC. N318AMC and N321AMC have been painted in white for future sale, where N317AMC has been painted into Brijan livery for future service. I'm not sure if this one is out and about yet - it hasn't been uploaded on the online company fleetlist yet.

I hope to get the others soon, although Brijan is a company I don't photograph that often. For my photos of Brijan Tours, please click here.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Velvet have a new toy...

Black Velvet Travel have a new bus in service. Dennis Dart SLF/Pointer 2 162 (S162BMR) was acquired to replace one of two DAFs that suffered severe fire damage. 162's life began with Thamesdown in Swindon.

 I've managed to grab a couple of shots of 162 in service. Seen today in Velmore, 162 is pictured on route C1 heading for Eastleigh. Velvet route C is a mixture of three routes - C1 Eastleigh - Velmore - Chandlers Ford - Hiltingbury, where it becomes a C3 Hiltingbury - Valley Park & Asda - Velmore and Eastleigh. C3s also begin at Eastleigh and become C1s in the other direction. Furthermore, the C2 operates during day time hours, hourly from Eastleigh heading for Chandlers Ford, Hiltingbury and Miller's Dale. The C was taken over from BlueStar nearly two years ago, where the route began in Eastleigh, terminated 3 miles away, yet went all round Hiltingbury and Chandlers Ford!

The pride of Velvet's early fleet were the 4 DAF SB220/East Lancs, originally used on the then-half hourly route A. Only two remain due to fire damage - one example is 507 (V7GMT) pictured right. 507 is seen heading for Eastleigh.

Velvet have also recently acquired one of Wilts & Dorset's DAF/Optare Spectra double decks - L711ALJ - as a DAF replacement and for use on Barton Peveril contracts. It is in allover white at the moment - probably to be repainted in the new year.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Snow Report - part 3

The final part of my snow report comes from Cosham and returns back to buses. Having caught the train up from Portchester to Cosham, I found that there were more buses around than last year on day two of the snow. Whether this reflects a lighter snowfall, better management, and benefit from experience is open to debate- I suggest it is a part of all three. Anyway, to the buses...
I'll start off with Stagecoach, who were out and about on route 23 (Leigh Park - Southsea) seemingly unaffected by the snow. Last year route 23 was cut during the snow and operated between Farlington and Portsmouth city centre. The Enviro300s were also out - although it was more "Skate" than "Surf" for the branding... first up is Enviro 27562 (GX58GNJ) seen with Portsdown Hill in the misty background. The second photo illustrates 27555 (GX58GMG) pulling away from the stand at the Health Centre.
There were some odd workings from First Hants & Dorset about. When I arrived, route 1/1C were in the process of being transferred from Hilsea depot over to the usual operator, Hoeford depot. Here is former London Dennis Dart SLF 41165 (R165TLM), pictured heading for Southsea on route 1.
Another route in the process of changing over from Hilsea to Hoeford was route 5. Former First Midland Red 52558 (S558RWP) is seen with the destination set for Fareham, although in reality the bus emptied at this stop and returned to Portsmouth. Like last year, minibuses from Hilsea operated the first routes in Portsmouth after the snow.

By mid morning, Hoeford were out on their regular routes. Here is 42112 (R612YCR) pictured at Cosham bus interchange heading for Southsea on route 1C. Going the other way, the 1C did take some time to return to Paulsgrove, and terminated at QA Hospital at the time this photo was taken.

Routes 40 and 41 took some time to return to service. Only one bus was out on the 40 until Thursday lunchtime, and route 41 operated a shuttle service at reduced frequency between The Hard and Waterlooville. Here are both services in Cosham - operated by 69392 (HY09AOR) on the left operating route 41, with 69384 (HY09AKF) on the right operating route 40.

Finally for this evening, here is my former arch-nemisis 69393 (HY09AZD) - the only Volvo B7RLE at Hilsea I hadn't managed to photograph yet. Thursday finally gave me that oppurtunity - and here she is heading from Waterlooville for The Hard, pictured on route 41. Thanks for viewing over the last few days; I'll move away from the snow theme now until it returns again.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Snow Report - part 2

Today, I'm going off on a train tangent for this post - it may happen from time to time. I'm not a train spotter or photographer, but as previously discussed on the blog, I do like the railways. Thursday's snow gave the oppurtunity for a few odd workings. Southern were still snowbound, so not operational. First Great Western were using a variety of 150s and 158s to Portsmouth, and South West Trains were using Salisbury's Class 158s and 159s on the Southampton-Portsmouth route...
First up is South West Trains 444016 pictured heading arriving at Portchester on Thursday morning. South West Trains' 444s were on a shorterned Portsmouth Harbour - Eastleigh all stopper route, with no through workings to Basingstoke and London Waterloo. I do like these trains - they give a lovely smooth ride and are very quiet. I do enjoy my trip down to Weymouth or up to London on one of these, and its nice to see them so close to home - even if it is for the snow!
As I previously said, SWT were using Salisbury's Class 158 and 159 DMUs on the Southampton Central to Portsmouth Harbour route. I'm not sure if these extended at Soton Central to Salisbury - a modified timetable was in use. Pictured to the right are 158884 (head) and 158885 together at Cosham station heading for Portsmouth Harbour. Two 159s were also out on the line, one being 159102 and I think the other was 159022.

Finally, First Great Western were also down operating the entire Cardiff Central to Portsmouth Harbour route. Here is 158955 pictured at Cosham heading for Portsmouth Harbour also on Thursday.
That's it for trains - tomorrow I'll post my Cosham photos and then we'll return to normal posts, until it snows again.....