Thursday, 1 November 2012

An unexpected return home

In 1996, Southampton Citybus received 6 Volvo Olympians from stock dealership, to upgrade services in the city from Leyland Atlanteans. In 2003, having passed into First ownership, all 6 moved to First Devon & Cornwall, to upgrade their X80 (Plymouth - Paignton and Torquay). I thought I'd lost the chance to photograph them again when they moved up to Manchester two years later. However, as a result of Olympic cascades, P295KPX has unexpectedly returned home to Hampshire.

Ok, so not exactly *home* because 34295 has entered service at Hoeford rather than Southampton. Incidentally, it was never allocated to Empress Road, having left Portswood long before the new depot was even dreamed up. It is quite a smart bus externally - some panels could do with a quick brush up (such as the front black grills) but all in all she looks good.

I'm not sure why, but she seems to be spending an awful lot of time in Stubbington at the moment, on routes 33, 34 and 35. She has made it to Portsmouth too- and has been photographed on the circuit routes 17 and 18. These buses left just before I started photographing widely - I've only got photos of sisters P293KPX and P296KPX from 2003, and these are lost in the depths of fotopic at the moment... still not long until "J" comes around on the username download!

I'm not sure how long she will be around for, or whether more are coming. Sources within First are publicly stating they want around 7 or 8 low floor double deckers for the X4 (Portsmouth - Southampton), although I'm sure Volvo Olympians aren't what was envisaged.

The Hampshire Olympian allocation are as follows:

At Southampton - 34079, 34128, 34129, 34130
At Hoeford - 34016, 34017, 34022, 34059, 34060, 34071, 34295, with 34033 on site VOR


  1. I don't think P296 ever went to Plymouth as it was carrying an all-over advert at the time. It went straight to Manchester IIRC.

  2. 7 or 8 buses for the x4 the route requars 7 buses a day they prob need 10 buses to gauantee double deck on all journeys

  3. Give it another 4 years and it might be old enouigh to come back to Plymouth!

  4. They weren;t an up grade for the X80 they were a down grade, from 55 reg dridents which have been stolen for weymouth

  5. In reply

    Anonymous2 November 2012 17:51
    They weren;t an up grade for the X80 they were a down grade, from 55 reg dridents which have been stolen for weymouth

    Firstly, the Volvo Olympians worked the X80 between 2003 and 2005 - before the 55 plated Tridents had even been made. They also entered first into service at Torpoint, Falmouth and Barnstaple - none entering service on the X80. Around 2005, the X80 was being upgraded by former National Express Volvo Olympians (which actually replaced the P---KPXs on the route).

    Bringing it to the present day, one would have thought that *if* the X80 was a viable route for First to continue all the ex-Barnstaple Tridents would have been transferred southwards. As all of these Tridents have gone to Southampton and Weymouth, I think this tells you all you need to know about the future of First's operation in Plymouth.

  6. In any case, Plymouth only lost one 55 plate Trident to Weymouth - 32763 which came for a specific college contract in the early summer. The other Weymouth 55 plate Trident came from North Devon around 2 years ago.
    Given that the older Tridents from North Devon are of a similar age and standard of comfort from the W-reg Tridents on the route at present, I'm not surprised that they weren't sent south for the X80/93 - although watching an ex London 02 plate Trident arrive from Kingsbridge on Friday alongside K614LAE loading for Kingsbridge does sum Plymouth up at present. Incidentally 34628 K628LAE was on Tavistocks on Friday.