Abus Running Day with First visits – 16/02/2020

**UPDATE 14/01/2020**
In 24 hours of opening bookings, the tour is sold out. I am trying to arrange more space if possible but am with talks with the relevant people to see if this is possible. I will post a further update in the next couple of days

Abus Running Day (with First Depot Visit’s)
Sunday 16th February 2020
£15 per person (payable on the day), which goes towards the restoration and running cost’s of preserved Spectra M645 RCP
Free reservation required, see bottom of page for details.

Please note you will require a high viz for this tour, I will have a small handful of high viz vest’s for people to borrow but you must let me know if you need one!

It’s a new year and the start of the ‘quiet’ period (for some!) where it’s a good time to plan visits to operators that won’t have everything out. However, the first tour for the year is slightly different.

Being what *might* be Abus’s final few months of operation, I have arranged an Abus running day, using as much of the fleet as possible, mostly Optare Spectra’s.

Instead of just running around the area on their vehicles, we also have secured visit’s to First Bath (Weston Island) and First Bristol (Hengrove & Lawrence Hill) depots.

Being a Sunday it is easier for their operations, so we will be starting at Bath Spa Railway Station at 10:50am at the bus stop on the station side on Dorchester Street.
Rail connection’s will be held for the 10:44 arrival from Paddington, 10:41 arrival from Weston-super-Mare and 10:32 arrival from Cardiff Central.

From here we will proceed on to our visit to First Bath (Weston Island) and then to Keynsham Bilbie Green for a photo stop (the terminus of the Abus route 349).
We will then have visit’s to Abus, First Hengrove and First Lawrence Hill depot’s, and later we will have a 20 – 30 minute circuit around the City, so you can get some more numbers of First bus vehicles in service.

We aim to be back at Bath Spa Railway Station between 17:30 and 18:00.

There is no planned order of which vehicles will be used, however we will use as many vehicles as we can making swaps as often as possible. The first trip from Bath should be an Optare Spectra, and it’s is possible preserved Spectra M645 RCP may be used, and also Scania SN04 CPE, but this depends if these will be ready.

Car Parking is available at Odd Down Park & Ride, with the P&R bus dropping off close to the station. It is noted that the last bus is at 18:00 and we will do our best to ensure you make this connection.

Please E-mail me at james37611@hotmail.com to reserve a seat. Reserving is free and guaruntee’s a space on the tour, which has to be limit to 35 passengers due to the depot visit’s.

**There is 1 space left**

Sn-ap Bristol to London

Sn-ap Bristol to London journey review



Sn-ap (pronounced as ‘snap’) is a relatively new service, most people haven’t heard of it yet. I only heard of this in January 2018, when a post appeared from an operator on Facebook saying that they were now part of the sn-ap service from Bristol to London. With the URL looking a bit suspicious, and the fact I haven’t heard of it before, made me a bit wary but having looked at the replies to the post, it looked like it was actually genuine. It was then I learnt that sn-ap isn’t an operator, it uses various trusted operators and runs at competitive prices. If you find a non discounted return journey with National Express or Megabus that is cheaper than the fare quoted by sn-ap, you can claim a price match.

So far the options are Bristol and Nottingham to London, but hopefully this will be expanded, and there is options to build your own route or book ‘non-confirmed’ trips but I haven’t found any of this on the website myself yet.
The idea is that it runs on demand. The main page allows you to search Bristol or Nottingham to London or vice versa, and you can book any of the confirmed trips, which runs 7 days a week and at various times of the day.

I booked my trip using the free day return ‘Brizzle’ voucher promotion for two people for a day trip to London. At first I wasn’t really sure it was going to work for 2 people and thought there was a catch, but no sure enough it came up with a zero fare and got my trip confirmed, the 0846 Bristol Lewins Mead to London Baker Street, and the 1640 return. This was booked a week before the date of travel and the fare would have cost £26 return for 2 people.
Had I booked a week in advance for a similar trip on National Express, it would have cost me £60 for 2 people.

What I did like was it informed you of the coach operator (in this case, Andrew James) and also there was detailed information of where the pick up point is with maps, information and a picture which was extremely useful. The morning of the trip I had a text confirming that the coach is nearly ready to go and will be at Bristol Lewins Mead at 0846.

A text later on informed me that driver ‘Nick’ is on his way in AJ17 BUS, and provided a link to the coach tracker. This was very handy, and I liked the advance information of what coach is being used.

Me and my friend traveled up to the Brislington Park and Ride and got the bus to The Haymarket, which is a short walk away from the pick up point. We turned up 10 minutes before the departure time, and there were a few people here already waiting for the coach.

Andrew James Mercedes Tourismo AJ17 BUS turned up at 08:44 with a ‘sn-ap’ sign in the window and a sn-ap representative. We joined the coach which already had a fair amount of passengers on and we set off at 08:48.


Just up the road we stopped briefly and Nick welcomed us on board, went through the safety procedures and informed us that we should be in London by around 11am. The journey was up onto the M32 then across on the M4.

The sn-ap representative came round asking how we found out about the service and also gave out a small packet of sweets and a sn-ap key ring. Very nice touch!

I have a soft spot for the Tourismo, and this was a very nice coach. Nice shallow entrance steps, nice seats with a small table, nice big windows and a very smooth ride.
We even managed to overtake the 040 London National Express on M4 which left Bristol Bus Station at 0850.

Somewhere past Swindon I noted a Redwing Irizar i6 operating a sn-ap service from London.

At M4 junction 8/9, we turned off onto the A404. Nick then informed us that there was congestion between junctions 4A and 4B because of the rugby match at Twickenham, we will be taking the M40 into London. This was a good idea and because it’s non stop to London and makes a first call at Park Royal, it makes it flexible for diversions. I suspect the 040 London service, which was still behind us, probably carried on down the M4.

The M40 was clear and we had a good run into London. Some people got off at Park Royal, and then me and my friend alighted at Baker Street, arriving there at 11:32.


We came back to Baker Street around 20 minutes before the coach was due. Again I had received a text telling me it will be Nick with AJ17 BUS. I later received a text informing me that there was an event at Wembley Stadium and may effect the journey times. Although this didn’t make much of an effect I did like the fact they texted to inform of the possible delay, although it’s interesting to note the Twickenham match didn’t appear as a possible delay so I’d assume the reports come through of any events happening near the route of the service in and out of London.

The coach appeared at 16:44, and we were one of 3 joining the coach and I was surprised to see it was almost empty! Unless there was a mass load at Park Royal, this was our loading.

We headed out on the A40 which was a bit of a crawl as everyone else was heading out of London but it wasn’t that bad. We got to Park Royal and stopped for a moment but no one got on, so we rejoined the A40. In total there was me, my friend at two other passengers. 4 altogether.

I was surprised at this as they say they only run on demand, so I can only assume because the morning trip to London was a reasonable load, the return will run anyway as the coach will be going back that way to get to it’s depot (which is in Wiltshire, not in Bristol but I suppose it saves running empty all the way from London).

We then joined the M25 to get to the M4, and then it was a straight run up to the M32.
I was also tracking the 1630 040 London Victoria to Bristol Bus Station, which left at 1635, but it was ahead of us and managed to get into Bristol 10 minutes before we did.

Arrival into Bristol was very swift. Off the M32, straight past Cabot Circus then into Bristol Rupert Street at 19:14.


At the end I got a text from sn-ap to rate the operator, 1  being poor and 5 being great. I rated it 4, as on the return, the coach was rather chilly inside as the heating wasn’t on, or it certainly wasn’t working towards the back. Other than that, it was perfect! Would I use it again? I certainly would!

Why not try it yourself?

For a free trial trip between Bristol & London


Bath Christmas Market Coaches 25/11/2017

Although the Bath Christmas Market started on Thursday the 23rd November, the 25th was the first date that the market was on at a weekend. I took a visit to Bath as I expected it to be busier than the usual flow of coach traffic, and it certainly was.

Along with the usual’s like Premium Tours, Redwing, Golden Tours and other local private hires, there was a lot of visitors for the market too, and as expected there was a lot of coaches from the Welsh boys.

I have a gallery on my Flickr of the coaches I snapped in Bath that day, and if you wish to see them, click on the picture below:

Creigiau Travel S12 CTL

I have also compiled a log of the coaches I saw between 10:00 and 16:00 (I would have stayed later if it wasn’t so cold!)

Registration       Operator                         

11 JBT                   Johnson Bros, Worksop
15-BFS-9              AMZ Topdeck, Borselle (NL)
408 OHY              Arleen Coach Hire, Peasdown
8990 PH               Hodges Coaches, Sandhurst
9649 PH               Hodges Coaches, Sandhurst
978 HHT              Edwards Coaches, Llantwit Fardre
AC13 PCC             P.C Coaches, Lincoln
BF15 KFO            Wheadon’s Coaches, Cardiff
BF15 XPM            Coaches Excetera, Croydon
BJ15 AVZ              Edwards Coaches, Llantwit Fardre
BK11 GKC            Herrington Coaches, Fordingbridge
BN17 JBE             Redwing, Herne Hill
BP12 ZGF             Cymru Coaches, Swansea
BU03 LYF             Rebound Coaches, Bampton
BV17 CJF              Golden Tours, London
BX13 BXJ              South Wales Transport, Swansea
BYC 828B              Arleen Coach Hire, Peasdown
C2 HBG                 A&B Coach Travel, Cardiff
C20 BUS                Coniston Coaches, Stourport on Severn
C4 SSU                   Reading & Wokingham Coaches
CN08 TKV             Ridgways Coaches, Port Talbot
D16 EUN               Olympia Travel, Hindley
DA17 LON            Dhilion, London
DN17 LON            Dhilion, London
DY52 DZF              Jenson Travel, Pontypool
EU07 FHY             Crusader Holidays, Aylesbury
F18 ACT                Abbot Coach Travel, Newton Abbot
JIL 2433                Davies Coaches, Llanelli
K18 DUX               Coracle Coaches, Carmarthen
KX59 CYE              P&S Travel, Ceredigion
KX64 AAY              South Wales Transport, Swansea
MB12 MTB            Bakers, Moreton-in-Marsh
MV08 HVJ             P&R Coaches, Southall
MX04 AFU             Jarvis Coaches, Aberdare
OU14 SVF              Longstaffs Travel, Amble
OY67 DWP            ABC Coach Hire, Manchester
P300 EDW             Edwards Coaches, Llantwit Fardre
P400 EDW             Edwards Coaches, Llantwit Fardre
P6 EUR                   Eurocoaches, Yate
P814 GBA              Berrys Coaches, Taunton
PJI 3354                 Target Travel, Plymouth
PO15 AZD              London Travel In, West Drayton
PO15 AZV              Watts Coaches, Bonvilston
PO17 AUY              Horseman Coaches, Reading
R255 FBJ                Centurion Travel, Midsomer Norton
R555 SWM            South West Minicoaches, Bristol
RJI 2714                 Davies Coaches, Llanelli
RL06 RSL               Jervis Coaches, Port Talbot
RX12 HNT             Horseman Coaches, Reading
S12 CTL                 Creigiau Travel, Capel Llanilltern
SF06 VYL              Gwyn Jones, Bryncethin
SF06 VYW             Phil Anson Coaches, Blaenavon
SF54 NBG              Berrys Coaches, Taunton
SIL 7914                Go South Coast (Tourist)
SN57 LKA             Andrews Coaches, Frome
T112 JBA               James Travel, Caerphilly
TIL 6719                Go South Coast (Damory)
V10 CTL                Creigiau Travel, Capel Llanilltern
V210 EAL              Parrot Motors, Bridgend
W609 FUM           Apec Executive Travel, Cowbridge
WA13 GYT            Mainline, Gilfach Goch
WA14 DVJ             Ferris Coaches, Nantgarw
WA62 BBU            Eagle Line Travel, Andoversford
WH04 OXO           Reading & Wokingham Coaches
WH09 SUN           W&H Motors, Crawley
WJ66 KDO            Watts Coaches, Bonvilston
Y15 POS                 Pauls Coaches, Stoke-on-Trent
YD17 WYV            Premium Coaches, Brixton
YD63 FGA             Johnsons, Henley-in-Arden
YF17 LTO              Mainline, Gilfach Goch
YG67 FZM             Heyfordian, Bicester
YJ13 HTG               Apec Executive Travel, Cowbridge
YJ16 EPP                Galloway European, Mendlesham
YK16 SSZ               Parrys International, Cheslyn Hay
YM52 UVX             Rogers Coaches, Martley
YN10 FZV              Cymru Coaches, Swansea
YN16 NZD             Clarkes Coaches, Lower Sydenham
YN16 WWM         Commandery Coaches, Worcester
YP17 FLM             Mainline, Gilfach Goch
YR58 RUH             Go Ahead Brighton & Hove (Spirit of Sussex)
YT11 LPA              Lucketts Travel, Fareham
YT11 LPE              Lucketts Travel, Fareham
YT11 LPV              Lucketts Travel, Fareham
YX15 OVH            Anderson Travel, Bermondsey
YX16 NYA             Johnsons, Henley-in-Arden
YX16 NYB             Johnsons, Henley-in-Arden

Also noted but have no registration log, was a Johnsons Yutong and a Premium Coaches Plaxton Panther 3

Hampshire Yard Bash Report and Log – 28th October 2017

What a fantastic tour it was. 17 people came along the Hampshire Yard Bash and I everyone seemed to enjoy it. Some new passengers on the tour, along with some familiar faces from the Somerset Yard Bash 1 and 2.

As always, trying to plan the schedule isn’t easy, so we did slip behind time through the day as I underestimated the time we’d need at some places. I don’t like to rush people and provided we ran no more than 30 minutes late we should be OK.

We got our visit’s at Xelabus, Wheelers (Hedge End), Emsworth & District, Stagecoach Portsmouth, Lucketts and Portsmouth Preservation. All were very accommodating and had some interesting vehicles to see.

I’d like to thank everybody for their donations for the City of Portsmouth Preserved Transport Depot. We at Chandlers have also made a donation and we would like to thank them for our visit.

I ‘d also like to thank those on the tour for coming along and I hope you enjoyed the tour. I’d also like to thank my support crew Margaret for hosting and Steve for spending the day driving for us.

Spotting Log

Where possible I tried to note everything down for reference, especially if people need to tie up their logs. Unfortunately I did not get a log at the Salisbury Go South Coast depot so if you would like to contribute to this, feel free to e-mail me your logs, or any missing registrations I may have missed.

Thanks to Kevin Pankhurst for filling in the Wheeler’s section for me, most appreciated!

Chandlers Coach Travel:

JLJ 403
LIB 3903
T701 SUT
W200 ODE
CT14 CCT – Visible in yard on the other side of the road when we returned to the depot

Hants & Dorset Trim:



SN64 CTO (Demonstrator)
T313 UOX
Y859 GCD


Y866 GCD
Y852 GCD
Y851 GCD


A949 SKL
337 AOW


1604 (HF64 BPO)
1603 (HF64 BPK)
1972 (X572 EGK) – Trainer
1942 (Y742 TGH) – Trainer
2406 (HF55 JZD)
2407 (HF55 JZE)
2411 (HF55 JZL)
1128 (HF59 KCE)


2434 (HX06 EZC)

Wheelers Travel (Hedge End site):

9195 PU
7969 RU
828 SMV

Angela Coaches Compound:

R600 ACL
R800 ACL
R900 ACL

Emsworth & District:

R478 NPR
RDL 686X
R171 VLA
Y461 JAE
R479 NPR
R524 YRP
R475 NPR
P817 REX
T527 AOB
N731 RDD
N906 NAP
X531 UAT
V930 EWP
P991 AFV

Stagecoach Portsmouth:

27561 (GX58 GNP)
36830 (GX62 BDZ)
36827 (GX62 BBU)
26154 (SN67 WVY)
26155 (SN67 WVZ)
26163 (SN67 WWH)
34448 (GX53 MWO)
52619 (413 DCD) – Trainer
35118 (GX56 KVU)
34524 (GX04 EXU)
34615 (NK04 NRF)
17944 (LX53 JYG)
97006 (STW 356W) – Tow Truck
26160 (SN67 WWE)
52617 (NFX 667) – Trainer
17740 (LY52 ZDX)
17698 (MW52 UJE)
19090 (MX56 FUM)
35252 (GX56 OGC)
19077 (MX56 FTP)
34527 (GX04 EXZ)
36833 (GX62 BGE)

Preserved Fleet:

J501 GCD
RUF 186
K879 ODY
CD 7045
UF 4813
S305 CCD
P527 EFL


666 VMX
WCR 474
V142 LGC
V144 LGC




City of Portsmouth Preserved Transport Depot:

RV 720
RV 3412
TBK 190K
STP 995
K916 VDV
ERV 251D
AHC 442
RV 4649
BPK 236B
FTR 511
DTP 823



Somerset Yard Bash Trip Report – 11/02/17


The Somerset Yard Bash was a tour that took many months to come together. It was my first ever tour so was rather tricky writing up a plan. Initially the idea was going to be a trial run just using the Chandlers fleet, the problem though was where to go? Visit coach parks? Maybe visit yards, that would be different but then Wiltshire is a bit sparse for garages, how would we do vehicle swaps with our fleet, not that there is much ‘school only’ fleet that would be of interest.
Over time it grew into using Chandlers and Centurion fleet, and next thing it turned into a multi-vehicle yard bash! This involved a lot of E-mails and was a huge help having some contacts.

The timetable and itinerary was drawn up, which was altered a few times because it was looking a bit ambitious, and even the final timetable looked a bit tight and I was wondering if we would even be able to finish at Westbury by 18:00.

The places we were visiting were spread over different counties, but as the ‘Wiltshire, Bristol, Somerset and Bath & North East Somerset Yard Bash’ was rather long for a title, I simplified it to ‘Somerset Yard Bash’.

I set it up with a limit of 49 seats and asked people to reserve seats just in the slight off chance that there would be a lot of people and not enough room, I’d hate to have to turn people away on the day. However I was only predicting 10 people, maybe 15 at a push.

In the end there were 25 passengers on board, most were from the local region however there were people from Devon, Berkshire, Wales and even West Yorkshire.


The Tour

08:40am I had arrived at the Chandlers Depot, the boss had Dennis Javelin T701 SUT ticking over, warming the coach up and making sure everything was fine. I already hand washed the floor, hoovered the seats, mopped the floor, polished the cab, cleaned the windows, polished the outside windows and washed the body making the Javelin look presentable, all that was left to do was clean the wheels


Steve from Centurion Travel arrived and did his checks and familiarized himself with the vehicle. He was to be the driver for the first and last legs of the tour.

There was now a bit of a change, if there was time we would visit the other part of Centurion in Radstock where the sales fleet are, and also we could use the reserve Duple Laser Bedford B47 DNY from Bristol to Westbury instead of using T701 SUT again, a bonus for our passengers.

We headed off to Westbury station and was pleased to see the people that had turned up as booked, first time T701 SUT has been photographed in a while, especially as there wasn’t any other ones of it on Flickr!

We was doing fine for time and waited for the 0958 train to arrive as there were 3 passengers coming off that train.

We set of after 10:00 and our first visit was to the Chandlers Depot, which isn’t far away but we had to take a small diversion as the direct route over the railway bridge has a 7.5t limit. There was a First S&A Dennis Dart in tow behind on the 265 to Bath, and at the industrial estate there was another Dart operating the 265 towards Warminster.

At the depot I opened the gates and people went around getting their photo’s and numbers, the first time this has happened here I believe. CT14 CCT was out that day on a Strictly Come Dancing day trip, and HT07 CCT and CT16 CCT were away. The rest of the fleet was in for viewing. People had also noticed the privately owned preserved ECW bodied AEC Regal IV next door, which I forgot to mention. The registration is LYM 729, and seen here when it arrived about 5 months ago


Back on the Javelin we set off on time for a run to Midsomer Norton via Radstock. Plenty of roadworks in the area (they were working too) and tree cuttings taking place which held back our progress but we made it to our second visit, the Centurion Sale’s park, all vehicles for sale. Contact Centurion if you are interested in buying one of these vehicles, as they need to go and would be a shame to scrap them.


Then it was off to the Centurion depot in Welton where we had a vehicle change to Martin Spiller’s Duple Dominant 1 bodied Bedford, wearing the Economy Travel livery. There was time here for people to view the Centurion fleet as well.


Martin Spiller took us in his Bedford up to Berkeley Travel up in Paulton to view their fleet. I hoped we could visit here as although I knew most of the fleet was ‘modern’ but would be a good place for spotters to get what they could. There was the added bonus though of ex-Westway Van Hool T8 E329 OMG.


Having viewed the fleet it was back on board KPC 211P for a drive down towards Shepton Mallet. It was a great run including a couple of hill climbs. We were on our way to see Steve Lester’s private collection, although it was two vehicles it was a case of quality rather than quantity.
He got his Bedford VAL out for us to see which is currently under restoration. The registration is RPR 738K. Next to this was his Plaxton Paramount Leyland Tiger KYA 284Y.


KPC 211P was moved out the yard and Steve attempted to get his Tiger out of the farm. Having managed to get it out onto the road, we jumped on for a short spin out to Pylle. It was a shame we couldn’t do a longer run or do a return trip but there wasn’t much time and we were already around 30 minutes behind schedule.
Our visit to Pylle was to visit the Smith’s garage. The owner was unable to be there however he was going to park what he could outside for us to see, and he did a good job as there was a variety of vehicles parked outside.


Unfortunately, I packed my camera away with it switched on and killed the battery. So photos from here on are taken by my friend who has kindly allowed me to use them for this report.

The Tiger returned to base and we switched back to Bedford KPC 211P for a ride to the Travel Filers/Somerbus yard at Stanton Wick available to view. There was a wide variety available, a  Jonckheere Deauville, a Marshall dart, a variety of Van Hool’s and even a rare Van Hool A308.

Tim Jennings had his preserved AEC Regal 3 on display as well. We had a vehicle change here onto Alan Peters Abus Optare Spectra YE52 FHF which was requested. Steve also turned up with the Duple Laser Bedford B47 DNY who would be following us up to Bristol.


Trying to do a headcount on a double decker was a bit of a challenge but after three attempts I counted 25 passengers and we headed off to Bristol. We decided to try Eastville (KT Travel) first as we were expected between 1500-1530 and we was pushing it for time as we were still late.
Passing through Temple Cloud, a few people noticed the Buglers coach depot, unfortunately this was not scheduled in and we wouldn’t have had time to stop over.

We made it to KT Travel at around 15:20 or so, but there was no-one to be seen. A driver appeared and wandered what we were doing, and after explaining we were expected here he let us look around. There were a couple of coaches and the added bonus of ex-Frist and Arriva Olympians



Back onto the Spectra we had a short ride to the 3 Tuners sites. Unfortunately the gates were closed on two of the site’s, but the owner apologized for this as he wasn’t well and it was cold outside so he went home which is understandable. There was also a private Routemaster nearby used as a mobile cafe.


Our last visit was to the two Abus site’s. As always, there was a wide range of vehicles to be seen at the Kingsland Road site, including 1910 Group’s R910 BOU, ex-APL Dart Y658 NLO, Routemaster ALD 977B, ex-Empire Facilities E113 KYN and a wide variety of other vehicles.

At the Abus depot round the corner, we got to see the rest of the fleet and the Optare Spectra being converted to an open topper before being exported to Jamaica.


The original plan from here was to use T701 SUT back to Westbury so that the Javelin is back home, however we got it arranged that we could use Centurion Duple Laser B47 DNY then swap the vehicles over at the start of the week. This was an added bonus and I think everyone enjoyed the use of both Bedford’s.

On the way out of Bristol in the Brislington I pointed out the Playbus Olympian. If anyone was wondering what the registration is, it’s J620 GCR


We did a set down and Bath Spa and Westbury Station then set off to the Chandlers Depot to park up the Bedford.

Despite our late running earlier, we managed to arrive at Westbury Station 2 minutes early!

Overall it seemed to be a very successful day and various people asked  ‘Are you doing another one?’ ‘When is the next one?’ All I can say is keep your eye’s peeled on this blog!

I’d like to thank all the operators and various people who have helped make this possible, and more importantly I would like to thank all 25 of you that turned up for the ride. We visited 9 yards, covered 101 miles, rode on 5 vehicles and saw a wide variety of buses and coaches. I hope that it was worth the £10, and I certainly won’t charge any more for the next one.


Bath Rail Replacement Buses 15/11/2016

I took a visit to Bath, having to make a visit to the Royal United Hospital, and the day started off by taking the 06:04 train from Trowbridge. However upon arriving at the station, everything was cancelled due to a ‘broken down train’. I had to take the 06:23 265 bus to Bath instead.

It turns out a freight train was the issue as the axle broke and damaged the rails, and was stopped at Hawkeridge, between Trowbridge and Westbury.
No Rail Replacement Buses could be sourced immediately but they would come out once vehicles were free from school duties. After the visit to the RUH, I went back to the City at 10am to see the Rail Replacements were out in force until around 14:00.

A variety of coach operators were out in force providing a variety of vehicles, and it was handy that I bought my camera with me! Here is the vehicles I caught operating Bath to Westbury services:


Applegates of Berkeley provided their Plaxton coach H6 EFA


Centurion Travel

Centurion Travel of Midsomer Norton provided their Irizar Century S344 SET



Chauffeurhire Coaches had a Mercedes Tourismo CP15 CHP parked near the station though I didn’t do a turn, I suspect it was a reserve

Chaufferhire CP15 CHP.JPG

Pewsey Vale Coaches

I noted 3 coaches from Pewsey Vale, Bova WA04 MHM, Beulas Spica C PE63 OSO and Bova Futura 2 WA15 BWB


Silverlink Travel Services

Silverlink Travel of Nailsea bought along their Yutong YD66 AXS, which also worked the school runs later on, not seen a new ’66 plate coach on school duties before

Silverlink YD66 AXS.JPG

South Gloucester Bus & Coach

Bristol based South Gloucester Bus & Coach bought a small selection. What caught my eye was two N.C Palatine 2 bodied Volvo Olympians at the coach park! I did not see both of them work a service when I was taking photos, however when I passed the bus station on the bus from the RUH, I noted one of them parked outside the station, and then proceeded to the coach park, I suspect they were reserve.

Their National Express Levante’s NX05 AAA and T100 SGB also worked the rail replacements


Wiltshire Day Rover – 28th April 2016

This is the post excerpt.

Wiltshire Day Rover: 28th April 2016

Welcome to my first post! This first trip report covers my Wiltshire Day Rover (WDR) travel on the 28th April 2016, and also covers a bit of info on the rover as well.

It isn’t my first day out using this rover, as I’ve done a couple before as I am trying to do all the routes covered by the rover ticket, and it’s not that easy to do!

This is however my first spotting trip, having recently purchased PSV Circle’s Wiltshire fleetlist. At £9.99, it not only covers the bus and coach operators, but has all the non-PSV vehicles too, so that’s minibuses registered for schools, community travel, clubs, groups etc. You can get one for each area of the UK, and I highly recommend their books.

The Ticket

The rover not only covers Wiltshire, but expands over the boundary too, and can go out by some distance too. For instance it is valid on Stagecoach route 66 from Swindon to Oxford, even though only a short distance of the route is actually in Wiltshire. It is also valid to places like Southampton,Bristol, Bath and Hungerford, although you can only travel to these places on certain routes.

As for operators, it is accepted on a lot of operators, there isn’t many operators that it isn’t valid on, but there is information on the Wiltshire Council website which lists what operators it is valid on.

I always carry the WDR leaflet in case a driver doesn’t know what the ticket is, and believe me it does happen! (I once almost got refused travel on a bus because the driver was adamant that it wasn’t valid, but thankfully I had the leaflet to prove otherwise!)
I also have it on my phone as a PDF. This is a more updated version provided by Wiltshire Council, the reason being that their leaflets they supply are out of date, as it not only shows long gone operators such as Hatts Coaches and Levers Coaches, but it shows the old price of £7.50 instead of £8.50, and the map shows that Swindon to Fairford is valid, but actually it is no longer valid on that route.

I do wonder how many people go to the Tourist Information Centre for a leaflet and not know of the changes without going online, you could go on a bus from Swindon to Fairford, and claim that it is valid, as the information you are provided with shows it is valid?

I will also mention that it isn’t that easy to buy either, although you can apparently purchase it from any bus driver, that very much depends on who knows how to issue one. If you try to get one from Beeline or Libra Travel, in my experience, they have no idea how to sell one (in fact most drivers have never heard of it). First bus apparently don’t have it on their machines, despite publications stating that you can buy the ticket from any operator. I wonder how many people actually purchase this ticket? With out of date leaflets with mis-guided information and operators not knowing how to issue one, it is quite poor compared to some other day riders, which have clear information and is widely advertised.

The Trip

I had a rough plan set out, which is essential when it comes to covering routes that only run once a day, or is very limited. The plan basically covers the northern part of Wiltshire, including Bath and Swindon.

I set out from home at 0730 for the walk to the town centre, making a visit en-route to the County Hall to see what Wiltshire Council minibuses were parked up. Having noted these, I went to the town hall to get the 08:06 bus to Chippenham.
This is on the X34 route from Frome to Chippenham operated by Faresaver (J.V Pickfords), which used to shadow the 231 route operated by First S&A until they pulled out in 2015.

SN65 OFP, an Enviro200 Dart, appeared on the X34 from Frome, and was only a minute late. The ticket was successfully purchased and I got a seat, which surprised me as I expected it to be full of school kids, but I suspect most of them are on school coaches.
The interior was in a good condition in my opinion, and on my previous Faresaver journeys I’ve found their interiors to be in good condition, compared to some major operator’s buses which are sometimes dirty.

Having poodled around Trowbridge, we were on our way to Melksham, having only stopped a couple of times to let people off. Progress was going well as was time keeping, but that was soon over when we reached Melksham town centre. The traffic was clogged up, with a mix of commuter and school run traffic. What doesn’t help is the two set’s of traffic lights and a mini roundabout all in a short distance from each other. This particular service is given tighter timings than the other services outside of the rush hour, which I find rather odd. It’s given 8 minutes to do Semington to Melksham, and in the middle of the day, when it’s quieter, it’s given 12 minutes. It took us around 15 minutes to do Semington to Melksham. I also noted a couple of bus stop flags that still have ‘First’ on them, on part of the route where the 234 used to operate, but they pulled out of the route in 2015.

From Melksham, it was well loaded with college students. The service now runs fast to Chippenham, one of the only northbound services to skip out the village of Lacock.

We arrived into Chippenham Town Bridge around 10 minutes late. I was going to take it to the bus station, but got off here as we were late and didn’t want to miss the 09:20 town route. Turns out it was 09:20 after all though. I got the time from Traveline South West, however the timetable at the bus stop suggested it was 09:30 for the route 44A.
The Faresaver operated Optare Solo turned up at 09:15, and the driver got out, and got back in at 09:25, so obviously it is 09:30 then!

Faresaver YJ10 MGX at Chippenham Town Bridge on the route 44A town circular service

01 - YJ10 MGX

I told the driver I’d be going round the whole route, just to save him asking me where I am actually going (which has happened to me a lot of times in the past) but I was the only one getting on, which is no surprise really as I can’t imagine many people going home already.

We went round a few estates that I haven’t even heard of before (and I used to be a pizza delivery driver in the area) but we certainly picked up a few passengers, mostly using bus passes. I felt like the odd one out, everyone knew everybody on board, dishing out the gossip about who passed away and who did what at number 12. We came back to town 12 minutes later with a load of around 12 passengers.

I jumped off for a power walk up to Chippenham Bus Station for the 09:55 route 35 to Castle Combe.

The vehicle was another Faresaver Optare Solo. Loading’s were light with only a couple of passengers onboard. I didn’t do the whole route, I was only taking this to Willowbank on the outskirts of Chippenham, the nearest stop to Bumpers Farm Industrial Estate. I went here to visit the Faresaver yard to see what I could spot and to see what was knocking about, as Faresaver also operates as NextBus, leasing out and buying/selling buses.

Former Sunray East Lancs Myllenium vehicle at Bumpers Farm Industrial Estate, now stored out of use

02 - Scrap

So after a brief visit and logging of sightings, I set back to Willobank for the return 35 to Chippenham Town, formed of the same Solo I got off earlier.

It was then time to leave Chippenham and board the 11:05 X31 Chippenham to Bath Faresaver service. First operations have only just ceased in this area, as they scrapped the 231 route, leaving Faresaver to operate the route. Vehicles vary on this route from Optare Solo’s to ALX400 decker’s. I was kind of hoping to try out one of their MCV eVolutions, but the 11:05 was formed of MAN Wright Meridian FJ09 NZK.
The X31 basically follows the route of the former 231 route, which it always has been with just a couple of minor variations. One could assume the ‘X’ means express, or direct, however the route divert round the housing estates of Corsham, and pulls away from the A4 at a couple of places. It is booked to take 1 hour and 12 minutes to do the entire journey, if you took the train it would only take 18 minutes. Not many people on this bus were doing the entire journey though, the bus is always handy for serving the towns in between where there is no train service.

Arriving into Bath, we pulled into the bus station rather than stopping outside, with the absence of First’s 231, this leaves a bay free for Faresaver to use. There was an hour free in Bath, which I built into the plan for a PNB and lunch break, so me and my mate wandered around to the coach park and stocked up on food. The Riverside coach park is considerably smaller to what it used to be, and nowadays is a drop off/pick up point.

We then headed to the Grand Parade to pick up the X76 service. This route is a one-a-day return service from Marlborough to Bath and return, operated by AD Rains. In the school term, It’s a school vehicle which after dropping at the Marlborough schools, it does a round trip to Bath, and returns in time to do the afternoon school run. Last time I did this, it was a S724 KNV, an SLF Dennis Dart.

This time it was Jonckheere Modulo bodied Volvo B7R FL02 ZYA.

AD Rains FL02 ZYA in Bath operating the X76 Bath to Marlborough

C12 - FL02 ZYA

Last time I did the route on the Dart, it was full with every seat taken, but today’s loading’s was rather light, with only 8 other passengers on board. I told the driver I was going to Calne, as there was no stop bell on the vehicle:

Me: “I’m going to Calne”
Driver: “Oh are you!?”

He looked at my ticket and just shrugged, probably not seen a Wilts Day Rover before. The route is almost direct, and only pulls into a couple of villages. It was non stop from Bath to the village of Bromham (between Melksham and Calne). I thought this fast running would have made us early, possibly stopping somewhere to wait for time, but actually we were only just pushing on time as it was.

The ride itself was rather comfortable, compared to the Dart which got a battering being thrown around along country lanes with potholes. It was surprisingly tidy inside and practically intact, considering it’s used on a school run.
Calne was reached and we arrived at the town hall a minute early after a non-stop run from Bromham. Just as well, as our next bus out was just coming down the road! What was supposed to be a 20 minute wait turned into a 1 minute leap from one bus to another.

We stepped onboard Stagecoach operated route 55. The driver took a look at my ticket, shrugged and said “erm…OK, whatever”. Usually if it’s a day rover printed from a stagecoach machine, you don’t get any puzzled drivers, in fact I’m sure I’ve shown one to this driver before and got on ok, but as this is from a Faresaver machine, he now doesn’t know what it is.
Still I didn’t have to pull the leaflet out, he let us on anyway, still looking bewildered .

The vehicle is E400 bodied Scania VX61 FKE, fleet number 15731, which has Bowood advertising on one side, and Stagecoach standard livery on the other.
We sat at the top front window seat, which was in a bit of a state, worn seats, biscuit crumbs and half eaten biscuits everywhere and the panels needed a bit of a clean! I understand that the food may have been recent, and you can’t expect cleaners to be on the case straight away, but the stains certainly looked like they have been there a while.

I don’t rate the 55 route that much, I do find it quite a uninteresting route, that is my personal opinion of course. I don’t know why, but it might be because it’s not much of a scenic route. When you approach Swindon, the route is far from over. You get the added bonus of a free tour around Swindon’s Council estates.

Swindon Bus Station was finally reached, and there was a 2 hour free time built in to my plan to basically do whatever. My mate went off into town, whilst I headed out on a Thamesdown route 13 to Cheney Manor to see what was around in the depot. The buses were quite full as it was school kicking out time, the worst time of the day I find! Still, it was only a short ride to Cheney Manor, the new home for Stagecoach Swindon. There wasn’t much there, though being a weekday afternoon I’m not surprised but I did manage to cop the two Plaxton Premier training vehicles.

I then headed back to town on another Stagecoach Dart. The plan was to go out and ride Thamesdown vehicles I needed to go on, but with school brats everywhere, people going home etc it was a bit off putting. I find Swindon makes me feel unsafe, I feel like I can’t just whip out the notepad and camera and expect to get left alone.

Instead I found a quiet spot on a wall and jotted down the buses that passed me for an hour. I met up with my mate who was sitting at the end of the bus station waiting for me. He didn’t spend long in town at all, saying it was run down with chav’s all over the place.

I felt a bit safer with someone being with me, and got some phot’s of vehicles leaving the bus station, even got a nice wave from the APL driver on the route 74

APL Optare Solo MX55 BYC in Swindon on the 74 to Lechlade


The bus station is in dire need of a re-fit, probably the worst bus station I’ve been to, but I suspect there’s worst out there that I haven’t been to yet, if you know of any, let me know!

We then got Stagecoach Route 49 back to Swindon with Enviro400 15971. Last time I was on this vehicle was at Cheney Manor, going through the bus wash. Considering it was 17:10, it wasn’t that busy, though the local routes to Highworth etc were wedged.
Even spotted an ex-Fosseway Reeve Burgess bodied Renault on the outskirts of Swindon, now privately owned as some sort of van:


We arrived into Trowbridge on time, and went home via the Chip Shop to finish off a respectively good day out.