Wednesday, 29 February 2012

What type of photographer are you?

I really enjoy this time of the year as each day, the days are getting longer and the sun is getting that little bit higher in the sky. Photography conditions are improving, which makes me want to get out more!

In the sun, photography conditions can be difficult - but you can also get some of your best ever photos due to the light. This leads me onto a question which I will attempt to answer for myself, but it is just one to consider when out and about. Would you consider yourself to be:
(a) a bus enthusiast who takes photos, or 
(b) a photographer who takes transport related images.

(A) would be a bus enthusiast looking for as many sightings as possible, especially those rarer ones of a bus off route or similar. Regardless of the angle against the sun, the photo would be taken, as it would be more important to record the event than worry about the sun.

(B) would be a bus enthusiast who would get into a sun-friendly position, and not move, aiming to take the best photos of any bus that turned up. The focus would be on the angle of the sun, and this would involve ignoring even a rarely allocated bus if the sun angle was not suitable.

Now I reckon I am, unfortunately, more of a B than an A. I tend to get in a sun friendly position and will seldom take photos of buses heading the other way against the sun. For example, at South Parade Pier on Saturday, I stood on the promenade and took shots with the sun against my back. I ignored every bus heading the other way as the sun wasn't right. Luckily there were no rare allocations! 

Can the two be combined? Probably, as it is important to get a balance. If I've never been to a location before I try not to worry about the sun until I get "settled". In my view, if you can get perfect sun you should try, although don't pull your hair out trying to do so. 

Bright cloudy conditions - now there's an easy day's photography :-)

Monday, 27 February 2012

Sunday Lost Scenes - 26th February

This week's Sunday Lost Scenes comes from Portswood in May 2008...

Accord Southern 18 - HX51LPZ - Portswood (St Denys Road) - 13th May 2008

Accord Southern took over from First Hampshire on the Unilink contract in 2001, and in turn were replaced by Solent Blue Line in 2008. Accord operated a varied fleet of buses on the Unilink routes, which included Darts, Omnicitys, Enviros, Volvo B10Bs, Omnidekkas and many more different types of buses. The most common type of bus were a fleet of locally bodied Caetano bodied Dart SLFs, new in 2001, which provided the core allocation on routes U2, U6 and U9.

Here is fleet number 18 heading for Townhill Park on a middle of the day U9. Since Solent Blue Line have taken over, the U9 has been cut back to peak only buses, which means this particular shot is now impossible. You can still get one U9 heading down St Denys Rd - this bus tends to be in the hands of a double decker now though.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Eclipse Update

More details are becoming clear about Eclipse - the new Fareham-Gosport bus way. As we pass the 56-day notification requirement to change, introduce or cancel routes, the routes are now known. First Hants & Dorset have said they will confirm the routes very soon, both on the unofficial FHD enthusiasts forum and their facebook page.

All information is from recent VOSA releases, with some guesses and estimates thrown in. Therefore, the details of the information are not confirmed, but just what I see as likely.

There will to be two Eclipse premier routes - the E1 and the E2. These routes will operate daily. These routes appear to be roughly Fareham bus station - Fareham rail station - BRT - then one to Bridgemary, Elson and Gosport, and the other to Ann's Hill and Gosport. It has not been confirmed which one is which yet or the frequencies of the routes. The 82 and 86 have been cut altogether - which further backs this point that the E1 and E2 will become a new version of these old routes.

The third primary route to operate on BRT will be the a version of route 88. As posted here, the council documents claimed the peak service via Rowner and Stokes Bay would operate via BRT. This route appears to be newly numbered the X88, as the VOSA registration is for the 88/X88. There has not been an X88 previous to now.

VOSA confirm the 83 and the 85 remain. The 83 sees a change though - it will operate half-hourly during the Mon-Sat daytime, and be extended from Fareham bus station beyond to the rail station and West End. VOSA confirms the 83 is replacing the 31 town service circular route, as the 31 is cancelled.

Furthermore, the 85 will operate at every 20 minutes Mon-Sat and half-hourly on Sundays. VOSA has confirmed this alteration. We do not have the details of (a) the route, although I presume it will be along the A32, or (b) the bus type - Eclipse Volvos or First Darts.

No news on how the changes affect the 33, 36 or 87 yet, but these routes could easily not change at all. I'll bring you the official press release from First as an when it happens. Before I end, I just want to emphasise that, unless I've stated the information is from VOSA, I have filled in the gaps by estimating, so to speak.

We will be having a late running Sunday's Lost Scenes this week.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

First Devon & Cornwall Cornish wins

First Devon & Cornwall have won 12 contracts from Western Greyhound in Cornwall. This blog entry just details the routes won. It marks an exciting time for First Devon & Cornwall and a sad time for Western Greyhound - First need an extra 20 buses in to the area, where Western Greyhound will be given the opportunity to move on some of their Mercedes-Benz Varios without buying more buses. 

* 500 - Truro to Helford Passage via Falmouth and Maenporth

A variation of the old Falmouth Explorer open top service, before it was made the 400 by First Devon & Cornwall (FDC). Western Greyhound (WGH) later won the contract, but First are claiming the service back.

* 511 - Penzance to Treneere via Manor Way
A Penzance service won by WGH a few years ago off of FDC when they ran it as the 11 - no doubt it will return to become service 11 from April 1st.

* 516 - Penzance to St Ives via Nancledra
Another route won by WGH off of FDC a few years ago - now returning to FDC. No doubt they won't be using these Mercedes-Benz 811Ds on the route this time :-)

* 534 - Redruth to Helston via Four Lanes
FDC winning Sunday services.

* 535 - Helston to Falmouth via Mawnan Smith, Constantine and Gweek
Originally bought into First with the takeover of Truronian, they then lost the contract only to win it back from 1st April.

* 537 - Helston to Lizard via Mullion

* 540 - Camborne to Truro via Illogan and Redruth
Another route returning to First Devon & Cornwall from 1st April.

* 542 - Camborne to Redruth via Pool

* 543 - Camborne to Truro via Illogan and Redruth

* 576 - Plymouth to Bude via Callington and Launceston 
See the last Sunday's Lost Scenes for details.

* 582 - Helston to Truro via Rame Cross
FDC winning the Sunday and evening contracts from WGH to incorporate them into the existing route.

I hope this is of interest - I really just wanted to document this all in one place. Further changes are taking place - for example the Bude 128 is leaving FDC and moving to Stagecoach South, and the Bude 518/519 is moving to Jacketts. All change in Cornwall!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Lymington rail link

The line between Lymington Town and Lymington Pier is being redeveloped at the moment, which means the usual weekday Class 158 or weekend Class 450 is curtailed at Lymington Town. The remaining journey is completed by one of Stagecoach South's South West Trains livered Volvo Olympians, and I was lucky enough to capture one in action last week...

16502 - NDZ3020 (previously R502UWL) - Lymington Town rail station - 15th February

Former Manchester based 16502 was my Olympian last week - pictured here reversing into the "bay" where the bus and train swap passengers. 158882 is in the background. Train and bus meet at Lymington Town at every 20 past and every 50 past (I think they arrive at 21' past to leave 4 minutes later) giving a rare photo opportunity. The LED also displays "South West Trains Lymington", although unfortunately it did not come out on this photo. 

You will be able to get this photo opportunity until 29th March - I may return one day to get further shots.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Sunday (not so!) Lost Scenes - 19th February

Today's Sunday Lost Scenes is a scene that will soon repeat itself...

First Devon & Cornwall 48273 - YG02DLV - Bude strand - 7th April 2008

Back in 2009, First Devon & Cornwall lost the contract linking Callington with Launceston and Bude. Operated by First Devon & Cornwall as the 76/76A, Western Greyhound took over the route as the 576, with First curtailing their operation at Callington (except peak workings to Launceston).

The situation is about to reverse. Western Greyhound has now lost the contract - one of 12 contracts across Cornwall that FDC have won. First Devon & Cornwall will operate the 76 all the way to Bude again, with Western Greyhound operating their 576 from Launceston to Plymouth, but at an improved and competitive hourly frequency. One peak journey each way will still also go to Bude. 

So this Sunday Lost Scenes - of a Plymouth B6 in Bude - will very soon be repeated. Many thanks to a commenter on this post which tipped me off - this has now been confirmed. Interesting times ahead from April 1st.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Connection Darts freed into Portsmouth

The Dart SLFs allocated to Hoeford, which were previously used on the Gosport-Fareham connection routes, have now been freed to operate across the network. This has meant that I've managed to get my first shots of any of 42126-42 (S626-34KTP, S635-42XCR) east of Portsmouth...

First up, here is 42130 (S630KTP) operating route 57 to Portsmouth. It is pictured outside Highbury Buildings in Cosham on Saturday morning. 

These Darts sometimes sneaked into Portsmouth when branded, but now are used anywhere on the network. With the arrival of 12 brand new Volvo B7RLEs in the near future, these Dart SLFs will be cascaded onto other services replacing 12 step entry Darts. 

I've never seen 42141 (S641XCR) on the 1, 1A or 1C set of routes before - here she is going through Cosham heading for Southsea and Portsmouth city centre. I still do find it strange seeing these Darts without branding. The branding was first applied in 2003.

However, these Darts still do form the backbone on routes 82, 83, 85 and 86 as the replacements have not arrived yet - nor has the BRT link opened yet. Here is 42138 (S638XCR) heading for Gosport on a route it knows very well - pictured leaving Fareham bus station on Saturday morning.

I hope these photos are of interest - certainly some new views of this familiar batch of Darts.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Sunday Lost Scenes - 11th February

My Sunday Lost Scenes today comes from April 2003...

16291 - R291HCD - Portsmouth (The Hard) - April 2003

The 69 once was part of a large number of cross-Hampshire routes operated by Stagecoach Hampshire. The 69 operated from Southsea all the way to Winchester, via The Hard, Portsmouth city centre, M275 / M27, Fareham, Wickham, Bishop's Waltham, Fair Oak and Twyford). Unfortunately in 2005/6ish, due to EU driving regulations, the Fareham-Southsea section was cut. This meant Portsmouth no longer had two Stagecoach companies operating in Portsmouth, and took away some of the variety. 

The 69 was operated by a variety of Volvo Olympians and Volvo B10M single deckers during this period, with the odd Dart thrown in now and then. Here is a typical scene from The Hard back in 2003, with 16291 on the 69 in Portsmouth.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Truronian in Fareham

Truronian's 20557 (TT05TRU) was a special visitor in to Fareham this morning...

Now I am reliably informed this is a Volvo B12B / Plaxton Panther, although as regular blog viewers will know, I am not too good at coaches. I am not sure why it is in Fareham - either a Truronian tour, or replacement for Greyhound. Certainly not rail replacement as all services were operating as usual today, and RR services don't often go into Fareham bus station anyway. 

Certainly added interest alongside the usual - however the Barbie will be disturbed in the near future with the arrival of Eclipse. The bus station as it is now will be changed soon  for ever.

Thursday, 9 February 2012


It is nearly time for Eclipse to be launched, and First Hampshire & Dorset's second bus priority corridor to be launched. Eclipse is the redeveloped Fareham-Gosport connection link, using some of the former railway between Fareham and Gosport. 14 brand new Volvo B7RLEs have been purchased for the route, and the first one is ready. See the First Hants & Dorset facebook site for photos.

It has been reported that the start date will be Monday 23rd April. Branded as "Eclipse - Above and Beyond" this new bus priority corridor is far more impressive and expensive than the last corridor on the A3 (Portsmouth - Clanfield), and should mean traffic congestion around Gosport on the A32 is alleviated. Maybe, passenger numbers will rise so high more buses will have to be purchased!

Buses have wi-fi, wood effect flooring, leather seats, GPS, real time updates, luggage space and more - all the features you would expect across any of the more inner city high profile bus corridors.  

It looks like there are three main routes.

BRT1 - Fareham Bus Station - Fareham Rail Station - Bridgemary - Brockhurst - Elson - Forton - Stoke Rd - Gosport.
--- loosely a combination of routes 83 and 86 today, with added timing points.

BRT2 - Fareham Bus Station - Fareham Rail Station - Bridgemary - Brockhurst - Ann's Hill - Stoke Rd - Gosport
--- loosely a combination of routes 82 and 85 today, with added timing points.

BRT 3 - Fareham Bus Station - Fareham Rail Station OR the A32 - Bridgemary - Rowner - Privett - Stokes Bay - Alverstoke - Stoke Rd - Gosport --- loosely route 88 today.

There are several points of interest which will be revealed over the next few months - 

1. What route renumbering will take place? 

2. What will happen to the likes of route 33, 36 and 87 which still use the A32 but then head off to Newgate Lane? Will they use BRT to Palmerston Drive?

3. There still will be a service along the A32 to Gosport. Will this simply be the off peak BRT3 route, or will the 87 be increased in frequency? Will a brand new route appear?

4. What will the routes do to serve Gregson Avenue and Nobes Avenue in Bridgemary? It looks like BRT1 will be the only main BRT route to pass through Bridgemary.

5. Frequencies - what will they be? Routes 85/86 at present take about an hour (49 mins trip, with 10 turn-a-round time). Trips should be quicker on BRT - say 50 minutes - so a frequency of every 10 mins on BRT 1 and 2, with every 20 or 30 minutes on BRT 3? The service is already every 5 mins across the 82, 83, 85 and 86 in the weekdays and this probably won't be allowed to drop.

6. Which Darts will subsequently be withdrawn from Hoeford?

Ah well, all interesting and will be revealed in a few weeks. There is already a section for "Timetables" on the Eclipse website, but no link yet.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Update from Portsmouth Hard

Portsmouth's Hard has always been one of my favourite places to photograph. Firstly, when I was younger, it was down to the fact buses stood still and were parked on bays. However, nowadays it is due to the fact that the sun is excellent throughout the day, and you had a good number of services passing through. Today's post just illustrates some of my shots from a half hour visit on Saturday morning.

First up, here is one of the former Tridents used at Chichester for route 60. Venturing across the south coast on route 700, 18310 (KX05TWG) arrives at The Hard in splendid February sunshine. It was new to Stagecoach Manchester.

You can go pretty much anywhere in the Stagecoach empire and see this combination - a Dart SLF with Pointer 2 bodywork. Here is 34411 (GX53MWA) arriving on route 20 from Havant. 34411 was new to Winchester depot.

First this time - I first captured 41636 (R636VLX) on camera at Heathrow Airport in October 2003 - a few years later it turned up at First Hants & Dorset! It is pictured heading for Hilsea on route 6A.

First Hants & Dorset is one of the few places where you can still find quite a few Mercedes-Benz Varios in service. All the Hampshire ones are allocated to Hilsea depot, and here is former Midland Red 52513 (S533RWP) arriving at The Hard on a 14.

First Hants & Dorset are one of only 3 places in the First empire to use this combination - Scania Omnicity single decks. Here is 65019 (YN54NZT) pictured on First in Portsmouth's premier route - the 17 / 18 circular.

Finally, to commemorate Charles Dickens' birthday, First have named 5 Volvo B7RLEs after his books. 69392 (HY09AOR) is Oliver Twist, and is pictured here on the Saturday only Park & Ride contract.

Thanks for viewing.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Sunday Lost Scenes - 5th February

A very recent Sunday Lost Scenes today...

Thompson's 024 - WFX257S - Ringwood (Meeting House Lane) - 6th April 2010

For a few years, Thompson's Coaches operated a Tuesday and Saturday only route 238 between Salisbury and Bournemouth, via Christchurch, Ringwood and Fordingbridge. They used heritage buses such as Leyland Nationals and Leyland Olympians, and aimed to capitalise on extra traffic caused by Salisbury's market, or those wishing to travel in heritage style rather than on Wilts & Dorset's brand new Scania Omnicitys.

Former People's Provincial WFX257S was one of the Leyland Nationals used. Acquired out of preservation, the Thompson's logo was simply added and she was pressed into service, earning her keep for even more years. Sadly, the service was not financially successful, and was dropped shortly in 2010. Good news is that WFX257S has now passed back into preservation, and is being lovingly looked after by one of the FHD forum members. It is great to know this bus is still around, reminding us of her past.