Friday, 29 April 2011

The end of the Manchester Darts

In summer 2007, three Northern Counties bodied Dennis Darts were acquired from First Manchester as Volvo B10BLE replacements. As of last week, the last was withdrawn from Hoeford, meaning the end of another type of Dart with First H&D.

Darts 40250 (M106RRJ), 40262 (N630CDB) and 40265 (N633CDB) entered service at Hoeford in summer 2007, and were the first Northern Counties bodied Darts at Hoeford depot. 40265 attended the Stokes Bay rally that year, and is pictured to the left in Gosport bus station in February 2008. 40265 was also the first one withdrawn, and spent it's entire FHD life at Hoeford depot.

40250 spent a small amount of time at Hoeford before moving onto Portswood depot. It a couple of years in service in Southampton, mainly found on routes 3, 7, 11 and 12. The last time I photographed it was on route 7 last Autumn. 40250 went on to contract duties toward the end of its life at FHD, before being withdrawn a few months ago.

40262 was the last Northern Counties bodied Dart left at Hoeford, until it was withdrawn last week. It was used on a lot of the "small Dart" routes, and I frequently found it on routes 34, 80, 87, 88 and the Highlands routes. We aren't sure what will replace this yet - I'll let you know when we find out.

Although they were fairly old and step entry, from an enthusiast's point of view they added interest when photographing around the Hoeford network because of their rarity. Even if they may not have served passengers' interests best, I'm certainly glad they came down to Hampshire in the latter years of their life.

[Apologies for the lack of updates recently - thank you for your continued support.]

Friday, 22 April 2011

Winchester visit

 I've made the most of the good weather and some time off of my usual commitments to go and explore parts of the country for the last two weeks - Worcester news to come soon but first up here are some shots from Winchester from yesterday.

I'm going to start of with BlueStar. BlueStar operate into Winchester at a frequency of every 20 minutes on route 1 from Southampton - upgraded in 2009 with 7 Scania Omnicity double deckers. Pictured to the left, here is 1131 (HF58KCK) arrives in Winchester.
One of only two remnants of the Red Rocket network remaining with BlueStar are the E set of routes from Eastleigh to Winchester. The E1 and E2 operate every hour, making a frequency of 30minutes. Solos are the usual allocation - here is 2603 (R603NFX) arriving in Winchester. 2603 was new to Wilts & Dorset, as were all of BlueStar's Solos.

One the main reasons why I wanted to get to Winchester were the Rivers branded Dennis Tridents - here is 18521 (GX06DXV) arriving in Winchester on a 64 from Alresford and Alton.
My second primary reason for going to Winchester was to photograph the new fleet of 7 new Enviro300 single deckers for the Winchester Park and Ride services. One remains unbranded - this one being 27616 (GX10HCD) which is pictured here arriving around the back of the bus station, already blinded up for its next trip to Fareham on route 69. Six of the E300s were the Winchester P&R green livery - as demonstrated in the second photo by 27621 (GX10HCJ) as it arrives into the bus station out of use.
A few of the older Volvo B10Ms are still around although you wonder for how longer - here is 20446 (L346LCK) arriving in Winchester on the 46B. The 46 is a frequently forgotten route between Southampton and Winchester that used to run alongside the 47 (now BlueStar 1) - via Hiltingbury and a number of other areas. The 46 is Stagecoach's only bus route in Southampton.

Finally, a Dart. Winchester has their fair share of Darts which all come in different shapes and sizes and from a variety of origins. Here is 33025 (NDZ3019) that was new to Winchester Park and Ride duties in 2000. Pictured arriving in Winchester on route 11.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Swanage Railway

 As promised, a slightly off topic post now regarding Swanage steam railway last week.

Here is the view of Swanage station today. It was closed in 1972 despite still making a small profit, as it did not fit into the government's criteria of which lines to keep open. The bus depot area on the right used to be the freight/engine storage yard - now long gone.
On the Wednesday and Thursday of my trip, the timetable was operating at every 45 minutes with one working from the DMU. Here, BubbleCar Class 121 55028 was attached to Class 108 51933+56504 and operated the scheduled DMU services on Weds and Thurs. Below is long shot of Swanage station with the DMUs loading passengers. Platform 1 (on the right) was originally for local services, with the mainline services to Waterloo departing from platform 2, where the DMUs are in the photo.
Only the stone engine shed remains of the storage yard - luckily all of the stone buildings were left standing following the line's closure although demolision work did start on the actual station.
Class M7 "53" was the steam loco on the services from Wednesday to Friday, and is pictured in the above shot running around to take up the other end of the train. The shot directly on the right shows "53" arriving in Swanage station on Thursday morning.  
Swanage signal box overlooks Class 33 "33111" - "Hot Dog" as it stands out of service at Swanage, having some sort of work done to it on the other side.
The Swanage railway actually has 3 Class 33s - 33111 pictured earlier, and here is "Swordfish" 33103 shunting some truck equipment around. They've also got 33034 being used for spares at Norden. A fourth will visit for the Diesel weekend from 6th May. Pictured on the turn table is SR 4-6-2 "West Country" Class no. 34028 Eddystone.

Finally, just small plug for the Swanage Railway's Diesel Gala - 6th - 8th May - hopefully the weather will be good!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Ugobus: The Portsmouth Network

Today I finished off my photos of the 6 former Hong Kong based Dennis Dart SLFs that are now in service from First Hants & Dorset's Hilsea depot. Following cutbacks of the Ugobus network in Plymouth, these all moved up as Mercedes-minibus or Dennis Dart replacements.

40956 - S344SUX - Pictured approaching Gunwharf Quays, The Hard Interchange on 9th April on route 13.
40957 - S372SUX - Pictured earlier this afternoon leaving Southsea's South Parade Pier on route 3, heading for Paulsgrove.
40959 - S335TJX - 40959 was one of the initial two acquired back in 2010 - here seen earlier this year in February heading for The Hard on route 6. Pictured at South Parade Pier.
42759 - S659SNG - The second one acquired back in 2010, here is 42759 departing The Hard heading for Hilsea on route 6A.
42778 - S678SNG - One of now 6 in the fleet previously with First Eastern Counties, here is 42778 heading through Southsea's South Parade Pier on Sunday only route 16A. February 2011.
42783 - S683SNG - Numerically the last one in service at Hilsea, here pictured on the 9th April in Palmerston Road, Southsea. Close observers will note these are usually used on routes 3 or 6.
Further to these six, four more have arrived at Hoeford depot (Fareham) - numbered 40961, 42754, 42757 and 42773. All apart from 42773 are already in service from Hoeford, and I managed to get my first one today -

Here is 40961 (S474TJX) pictured in Waterlooville having arrived on route X42 from The Hard. I've managed to photograph sisters 40956/9/60/2 already down in Devon but never have found 40961 until today, so I'm quite happy!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Lymington today

Lymington is a lovely little town on the south coast in Hampshire. The primary bus operators are Wilts & Dorset and BlueStar, and there is a half-hourly train connection to Brockenhurst and the main line.

The main trunk route to Bournemouth is operated by 7 Wilts & Dorset Volvo B7TLs with East Lancs bodywork. New to the south coast in 2005 and convertable open toppers, these provide the main allocation on the X1 and X2. Both services run once per hour, meaning two buses an hour between Lymington and Bournemouth. 405 (HF05GGE) arrives in Lymington on an X1.

Of the Lymington Volvo B7TLs, only 407 (HF05GGK) has received the new 2008 Wilts & Dorset livery. 407 arrives in Lymington on the half hourly circular route 119 from Pennington. Despite carrying only small loads, the 119 is usually a double decker bus these days.
The third service Wilts & Dorset operate in Lymington is the two-hourly route 112 to Hythe. This route can see anything allocated at Lymington depot operating it - here is former Solent Blue Line Leyland Olympian 734 (H734DDL) returning to a familiar area - it would have operated to Hythe frequently as an X9, 37 or 38 in its days with SBL. 

The biggest recent change to Lymington bus services is the introduction of BlueStar to the town. The BlueStar brank (based Marchwood & Wilts & Dorset rather than Eastleigh) have taken over routes 56/56A from Southampton to Lymington, introducing Transbus Dart MPDs to the town for the first time. In the first picture on the right, 576 (SN03ECA) arrives in Lymington from Southampton. Solos are also used on the 6 - the second image shows 2668 (V668DFX) heading to Lymington depot as the driver has his lunch break. The 6 is run, as a BlueStar branded service, from Lymington (Wilts & Dorset) and Totton (Marchwood Motorways), meaning there are technically two operators serving passengers on the route. All buses should be in BlueStar blue, but sometimes a red Solo slips on to the route.

And this is what should be on route 6... 3 DAF SB250/Optare Spectras have been repainted into the blue of BlueStar for route 6, but unfortunately cannot operate the route yet due to overhanging trees requiring attention. 3165 (W165RFX) finds service on local Wilts & Dorset route 119 rather than heading for Southampton - as the bus is still legally owned by W&D it is therefore fine to operate the 119, even if in BlueStar livery.

Finally, a couple of years ago First Hants & Dorset won the Cango services from Wilts & Dorset, along with the HCC-owned Optare Solo bus. First's 53076 (YJ05XMR) is pictured arriving in Lymington earlier today on Cango service C33.
That's all of the Wilts & Dorset depots visited and photographed in 2011 - I've already taken more W&D photos this year than I ever have in one whole year before. Thanks for viewing!

[Note: Wilts & Dorset's Lymington depot operates a large number of Olympians from it for the Brockenhurst College services and other school routes. Furthermore, on Wednesdays there is a market bus route 118 to Ringwood from Lymington - I've never seen it but presumably this also uses an Olympian from Lymington]

Sunday, 17 April 2011


I've just returned from a few days down in Swanage, where I've been busy taking photos around the area. Wilts & Dorset are the primary operator in Swanage and use their Optare bodied Scania N230UDs on the key routes.

Advertised as the "Purbeck Breezers", a fleet of 12 Scanias operate out of Swanage depot on routes 40 (to Poole), 44 (to Worth Matravers) and 50 (to Bournemouth via Sandbanks ferry). They vary between completely closed top, convertable open toppers, and partial open toppers. 1401 (HF09FVU) stands in the foreground having arrived on route 50, with 1412 (HF09FVT) loading for route 40 in the background.

The coast along route 50 gives you some fantastic opportunities for scenic photos - such as my header photo at the top of the blog. Here the weather doesn't help, but 1401 is pictured along Swanage seafront arriving on route 50.
I've worked out that only a PVR of 7 is required throughout the winter with reduced frequencies. It has been announced that route 50 will increase to every 20 minutes during the summer holidays, going to every 30 minutes in May. Here 1403 (HF09FVW) passes 1411 (HF09FVS) having just arrived on route 44.

Swanage depot occupies the area where a large rail yard used to be. The hole of Swanage bus depot on the right of this photo was part of the Swanage rail station yard back when the line was open and part of the national rail network. Now only the stone engine shed remains. 
1412 heads for Poole on route 40 as it passes Class 33 33111 in Swanage town centre. I spent a lot of time on Swanage rail station during my visit - it feels like you are being transported back in time...
Route 40 also gives the opportunity of some excellent scenic shots. Here 1412 heads through Corfe Castle for Swanage with the castle in the rear. Route 40 will remain at every hour in the summer months, but the Sunday frequency will go back to hourly.

No Solos are allocated to Swanage depot, but here former Go North East 2699 (NK54DFD) stops for a break from its driver familiarisation duties. 2699 is a Poole based Solo - minibus operation in Swanage ended a few years ago with the end of routes 142, 143, 144, 150 etc.
I hope to return in the summer - I'm quite looking forward to sitting on the top of the hill on Swanage seafront photographing route 50 arriving every 20 minutes. I've got railway photos to follow later this week.


On another note, my smugmug site has grown a bit more - go to - I've also tinkered with some settings. Thoughts please :-)

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Happy 8th Birthday

On 16th April 2003, I first launched my fotopic site - then Southern Hampshire Buses. Today it has gone - through no fault of my own having been a reliable premium subscriber for 5+ years, but I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to announce my new website. The 16th April can be the birthday of my new photo site. 

After discussing the various options with fellow enthusiasts - flickr, smugmug, blue lemon, webs - I've decided to go for smugmug. I'll do the 14 day free trial - and if everything is going well, I'll pay the money and keep the site.

The positives and negatives of my decision (please note: this is purely from an outside point of view - I haven't even registered an account on any of them yet):

Flickr: + simple to use, + well known, + the most used photo hosting software by enthusiasts now, + yahoo based so very secure for long term; - small images, - poor front page layout (not like fotopic), - confusing sorting system

Smugmug: + simple to use, + adaptable front page (like fotopic), + own web name, + easy access to larger photos, + relatively inexpensive, + can turn into mini-website; - no system (from what I have seen) to show large images immediately, - no long term free option, - no thumbnails, - silly name

Blue Lemon: + simple to use, + free, + adaptable front page, + structure adaptable similar to smugmug, + I have Matt who is an IT whizz who is already on it; - not well known, - smaller images (cannot show larger images straight away), - thumbnails

Webs: + I already have an account and have been a long serving satisfied yet free customer, + good, reliable source; - too much like hard work to organise / load images; - quite expensive compared to other options

Comments welcome - in particular the layout. How does it compare to and - comments regarding services and layouts rather than photos please :-) thanks.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Stagecoach in Worthing

The April sun took me to Worthing for the first time in my life on Tuesday, where I had a very successful 4 hours or so photographing buses. Worthing is served by the previously discussed Metrobus operations on route 23, a few Compass Bus services, and the main service provider, Stagecoach South.

The 700 operates at every 10 minutes in each direction in Worthing, with journeys from Brighton to Arundel (2 an hour), Chichester (4 an hour) - two of which extend to Southsea (2 an hour). The Southsea - Brighton journeys are operated by one-year-old Scania N230UD double deckers with appropriate branding, as illustrated here by 15601 (GX10HBK), turning out of South St onto Marine Parade.

The Arundel and short Chichester workings are operated using Enviro300 single deckers - again with a single deck version of the Coastliner 700 branding. I found a large amount of bunching - it was common to have at least 2 700 buses turn up at once, and a couple of times we had all three. Still, the frequency means the wait isn't too long even if the buses do bunch. Pictured in the first photo are 27643 (GX10HBY) on the left and 27663 (GX10KZR) on the right. My second photo illustrates 27648 (GX10KZA) heading out of Worthing depot onto Marine Parade out of service.

I found a couple of the former Winchester based Enviro300 single deckers out in service - here is 27514 (GX06DZJ). These ones had the original Enviro300 bodywork and therefore seem to have a touch of class about them. Pictured arriving in Worthing town centre on route 5.

There are a number of unbranded Enviro300 single deckers used on Pulseline and 700 duties when there are not enough branded buses available. Here is one such example - 27668 (GX10KZW) heads out of South St onto Marine Parade as it works one of the high-frequency Pulse journeys.

The Worthing Pulseline received new Enviro300s at the same time as the 700 last year. These carry branding on an adapted version of the Stagecoach livery. I personally quite like the branding but I think that may be because it is a bit of a novelty for me. Here are three of the Pulseline Enviros - in the first image we have 27678 (GX60PDV) heading for Worthing seafront and then Lancing. The second image shows 27674 (GX60PCZ) heading back to the depot having previously worked off route on route 5, passing 27676 (GX60PDO) as it picks up passengers for Lancing.

The youngest ADL Dart SLFs were retained by Worthing following the arrival of the Enviro300s, and these now operate the majority of the other high frequency town routes. Here is 35122 (GX56KVZ) as it heads around the roundabout on Marine Parade, ready to take on its next duty - a route 10 to Goring Green.

Finally for this evening, here is sister vehicle 35125 (GX56KWC). 35125 is passing through South St, heading for Lancing on route 7. Together with these Darts, Worthing retains a number of its native ALX200 bodied examples as well following 2010's changes.
Thanks for viewing.  

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Metrobus route 23 in Worthing

Metrobus operate into Worthing from Crawley on hourly route 23. The 23 takes an hour and a half to travel inland from the south coast. Worthing is closest place to where I live where Metrobus operate. During my visit today, I observed three Scania Omncity single deckers on the 23 - the type seems to be the main allocation.

Scania 532 (YN03UWY) arrives in Worthing on the 23 from Crawley at 1109. 532 is a twin-doored example that was new to the Fastway services operated by Metrobus, back in 2003. It was then in a livery of silver and blue - here it wears the most recent variation of the livery consisting of two-tone blue.

The 23 sits on stand for approximately 13 minutes before its 90 minute return trip to Crawley. Here is 532 passing along Worthing's Marine Parade. The dual-door layout is illustrated clearly in this view.
While in Worthing today, I also noted arrivals of Scanias 535, and, pictured here, 513 (YP52CTO). 513 is a single door example, and pictured here heading along Marine Parade, Worthing, having just dropped off its final passengers.
Thanks for viewing - I have Stagecoach photos to come by the weekend from my trip to Worthing today as well.