R852 PRG's Reviews
RE: R852 PRG's Reviews
Tuesday 20th December 2016

Yesterday, I embarked on a North East Explorer without any real aims, just to give me the freedom to roam wherever. 

08:26 X25 6140 Chester-le-Street Corals to Newcastle Eldon Square
The day started with an alarm at 07:00, not too painful as it's routine for me to be getting up at that hour during term time. I had decided the previous night to try and catch the 0830 X25 from Chester-le-Street through to Newcastle, then head north from there. Having been out for some night shots the evening before, I observed all of Chester-le-Street's OmniDekkas were out in service, and as the board that the 0830 is attached to is more often than not a double decker, I was hoping for one of the aforementioned buses on it. I was quite happy to see 6140 was my chariot, with one of the drivers I know at the wheel. Nice ride through to Newcastle, although the suspension was shot (which I notice is a persistent issue on Scania N94UDs) and a guy got on at Portobello that absolutely reeked to high heaven of stale urine. As I was getting off, I had a brief conversation with the driver as he was curious about the orders list. 

09:32 X21 7528 Newcastle Haymarket to Regent Centre Metro
I got some photographs at the bottom of Prudhoe Place for about five minutes (reminder: I do not care if it is a bus station shot or not. I think if the quality is good, the photo is good), before heading across to Haymarket. The time by this point was 0925, and I noticed that an X16 was due to depart at 0948. I had enough time to catch something else up to Regent Centre and go from there, so opted for a Sapphire X21. The driver pulled into the stand, turned the bus off and got off to have a cigarette, chatting to another Arriva driver on the X14. Now, it might just be me, but if there is a queue waiting to board, maybe let them get on first before you have a cigarette and make us stand in the cold? Just a suggestion. In true fashion, the plug sockets and WiFi did not work. Aside from that, it wasn't that bad a journey, the Enviro400s are quite entertaining at higher speeds.

09:59 X16 1408 Regent Centre Metro to Morpeth Bus Station
During my ride up to Regent Centre, the sun seemed to emerge from behind the clouds and cast its rays upon Gosforth. My intention had been to utilise my fifteen minutes or so here for photos, but the poor sun pretty much prevented this. While the sun may shine with a harsh glare during the winter months, it doesn't eliminate the harsh cold. Following a near hypothermia-inducing wait at Regent Centre, 1408 finally arrived with the X16 for Morpeth. This was probably one of the better rides of the day; I am a fan, like many others for that matter, of the 09-plate VDL Pulsars. They have an abundance of power and are very responsive vehicles when compared to Pulsars that have been plagued with 'EcoNoSpeed', which, from what I have heard, has more negative impacts than positive in the long run. After a spirited run up to Morpeth, I disembarked into the cold bus station.

10:41 43 2870 Morpeth Bus Station to Cramlington Manor Walks
This one came as quite a surprise. I was expecting an ALX300 or ALX400, or perhaps a B7TL Gemini, but a Nexus Solo was the last thing I expected! The driver was an unbelievably miserable man; failed to make any exchange with passengers, not even a thank you, and challenged a woman at Bedlington over something so ridiculous I can't remember what it was. 2870 wasn't a bad little machine, quite quick off the mark and the seating was comfortable enough. The best thing about this journey, in my opinion, was the nice views between Morpeth and Bedlington. Some of the country lane running was quite scenic, with passenger numbers remaining low until Bedlington, where most of those who had just boarded alighted only a few stops later. My makeshift plan was to alight at Cramlington and then connect onto a Go North East 42 towards Killingworth, then carry on from there.

11:29 42 625 Cramlington Manor Walks to Killingworth Bus Station
After a longer wait than anticipated at Cramlington, I finally saw an indiGo Solo approaching. It had an orange LED destination, which indicated it was one of the older examples that joined the Percy Main fleet a few months ago during service changes. As it soared past me, with the driver clearly eager to make up for lost time (by now, running well over five minutes late), I identified it as 625, which previously saw use on the low-cost unit local services in Whitley Bay that have since been tendered to Phoenix Coaches, and was new to Saltmeadows Road in the summer of 2011. This one was a winner for haulage, and was certainly quite agile, which is something I find present in a lot of the Solo SRs. Passenger numbers were quite decent, with about half of the seats occupied by the time we reached Killingworth, where I chose to alight in favour of something else.

11:49 54 7474 Killingworth Bus Station to North Shields, Nile Street
Absent from its 'branded' route of the 43/44/45, I was surprised to see DAF DB250RS/Alexander ALX400 coming into the bus station with the 53 I was intending to catch to North Shields. The driver was quite a happy chap; a far cry from the misery in the cab of 2870. Rather than sit downstairs, as usual, I decided to head upstairs and claim the front seats above the driver. Another passenger occupied the upper deck, bearing an Asda uniform, presumably on his way to work or having finished his shift. I couldn't believe just how powerful 7474 was, I have always been of the opinion that the DAF ALX400s are animals of machines, but this one really did affirm that judgement. The tremendous roar of the DAF engine whenever the driver placed the slightest bit of pressure on the accelerator was hard to believe. It was quite a shame to get off, I could have happily done the return journey, but I had other plans...

12:36 1 5270 North Shields, West Percy Street to Wallsend The Forum
As a rare user of the Coaster service, I decided that, as it was a convenient connection time, I'd catch the 1239 service from North Shields, towards Wrekenton, and jump ship at some point along the route. Luckily, it was waiting time, so I crossed the road and boarded, taking a seat at the rear next to the emergency exit door. Heating was on so the bus was nice and warm, which was welcomed following just a few minutes in the freezing North Shields. Out of habit, I inspected one of the tickets and noticed that, through the duty number, the driver was on an early shift (104), and hypothesised to myself that he would be relieved at Percy Main by another driver, which was correct, he was replaced by a much older guy. I decided that I would bail at Wallsend and make my way down to the bus station, before catching an 18 to Walker and a 39 to Newcastle from there. 

13:33 18 22343 Wallsend Metro Interchange to Walker Bus Terminus
Made my way to the bus station from the High Street, noticing how quiet the activity was. A few indiGo Solos passed through and I managed to get some photos, as well as 4899 on the Q3, although the low winter sun was a bit of a pain. With Santa Claus at the helm, I saw a 55-reg ALX300 coming in on the 18, so I headed to stand C to board it. I am a fan of the Stagecoach ALX300s; the half-German (MAN) and half-Scottish (Alexander) collaboration ensuring hundreds of them taking places in the uniformed Stagecoach fleet all over the country, although their time is slowly coming to an end. While I think some of the older examples in the region, the 03/53-plates, are the better ones, at least the stylish bodywork will live on for a few more years, courtesy of the younger examples, such as 22341-22348 and 22408-22413. I alighted at Walker and put £1 in the charity donation bucket on the dashboard.

13:55 39 12069 Walker Bus Terminus to Newcastle Blackett Street
From my ten minutes at Walker, I was able to establish that this desolate dump is not a place I intend to return to for some time. Perhaps I was just in the wrong part of it, and the rest of Walker doesn't look like the target of carpet bombing, but the impression I obtained of the place was one of a post-apocalyptic world, covered by a thick fog that conceals the residents from view in the darker hours and allows them to go about their business undetected. I was more than happy to see two Enviro400 Hybrids turn up together, with 12069 being the one to take me back to the city centre while the other made use of the layover bay. One of the aspects of the E400Hs that I really do admire is how quickly they get up to speed. I believe they top out at around 40mph (free to correct if mistaken), but it doesn't take them long at all to get there. Alighted on Blackett Street and made my way towards Market Street.

14:45 1 5267 Newcastle Pilgrim Street to Low Fell Ale Taster
Following some calculations in my head, I realised that if I caught the 1430 service 1 from Pilgrim Street towards Wrekenton, and alighted at Low Fell, I could then connect onto the 69 service, in hopes of a Volvo B10BLE. It was quite apparent that there was some traffic congestion in the city centre, and after waiting for a considerable time, I was most pleased to see a Coaster Omnicity eventually round the corner onto Pilgrim Street. 5267 was my steed for this journey; quite quiet in passenger numbers, with about ten other people boarding on Pilgrim Street. With the 69 due at Low Fell at 1513, I was a bit unsure if I would make the connection, as 5267 was fifteen minutes down. However, after leaving Gateshead, the driver thrashed it along Durham Road and managed to make up enough time to reach Low Fell at 1505, having made up five minutes since leaving Newcastle.

15:19 69 4900 Low Fell Ale Taster to Blaydon Bus Station
Woop! Although running over five minutes late, I was greeted with the sight of a Volvo B10BLE. Easily, this journey was the highlight of the day. 4900 was for many years a ''Lime'' vehicle, operated by Stanley depot for most of its life, on the Consett/Stanley to Sunderland services, which have been in several guises since its introduction to the fleet but are now numbered 8/8A/78/78A. Having heard reports that, these days, it produces a strange noise when accelerating, I was intrigued to find out what it was like for myself. It's very much a whining noise not too dissimilar to that of a Voith gearbox during take-off. After consulting an engineering friend of mine who is an expert in the Volvo B10BLE, he determined it was a result of the turbo ring blowing on the joint to the intercooler, likely the result of the turbo turning slightly. Aside from that, it was generally as sweet as a nut as far as older buses go these days.

16:00 49 4933 Blaydon Bus Station to Metrocentre Interchange
Once 4900 reached Blaydon, I decided to disembark here and work my way back to Newcastle via the Metrocentre, catching a 49 there and then a Stagecoach 100 to Blackett Street. While I was hoping for a Mercedes Citaro on the 49, as I have very few of them ticked off in the book (self-confessed saddo over here), I was instead faced with the sight of Y-reg Scania L94UB 4933. As I have a fondness for some of the Solars, and 4933 is a 'winner', I decided to go with it. Fantastic machine. The heating modifications proved themselves to be beneficial, as I was warmed up more or less instantly upon boarding, having effectively frozen to death outside. Mechanically, the bus was sound. Very responsive whenever the driver touched on the accelerator, and it got up to speed comparatively quickly to the Stagecoach Enviro400H earlier in the day on the 39. Alongside 4929, 4935 and 5217, this is now one of my favourites. 

16:14 100 27508 Metrocentre Interchange to Newcastle Blackett Street
I alighted at the Metrocentre and made my way down to the departure stand for 100. One of the Scottish Enviro300s was waiting to depart, but it was packed like a tin of sardines. Decided to let it go and wait for the next one. I noticed 27508 and two ALX300s, both 54-plates, were sat over in the layovers with what looked like a supervisor present. Seems like the heavy passenger traffic on the 100 had warranted some management at the Metrocentre. I was quite pleased to have 27508 as my vehicle to Newcastle, as it could likely be the last time I have one of the 05-plates on the 100. During the journey, I was reminded of just how powerful they are when not carrying a full load, as it was thrashed down the motorway with about one-third of the bus full. 

16:45 X21 6019 Newcastle Eldon Square to Chester-le-Street Front Street
Waited on Blackett Street until about 1635, after giving it five minutes and seeing no activity at all, which was surprising given the time of day, I decided to just head into Eldon Square for the bus home. It was pitch black by now, and I must admit I love the atmosphere of the dark. As the 1650 X21 off Eldon Square isn't Crook-operated, but a miscellaneous car working operated by Chester-le-Street, I looked for one of our own. Volvo B7TL 6019 was sat in the layover bays, so astutely assumed this was to be my final vehicle of the day. As it turned out, I was correct. Had one of the 4-day rota drivers that used to regularly take me to school on the 21 driving; he seemed to recognise me but we didn't exchange more than friendly smiles. Following a spirited journey along Durham Road, I alighted at the Red Lion and got a quick night shot, getting a nod from the driver as he pulled away. To be honest, I was surprised he was smiling at all customers. The poor guy has been at Chester since 1997. 

Overall, an enjoyable outing that didn't piece together too badly in the end. Will be doing another one next week. I got a quick video of 4900 storming up Lobley Hill Bank, a link is attached below. If anybody wonders who disliked it, I'd hazard a guess at it being a former forum troll.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beDPh7M28e8

As I doubt I will be out again between now and Christmas, I would like to wish all who read my reviews a happy Christmas.

R852 PRG
Lover of Volvo B10BLE/Wright Renowns.

My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLf5tJq...pvNU8vv1SA

My Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/142814434@N05/

RE: R852 PRG's Reviews
As usual,  a great read. I enjoy your style of writing very much.

Yes,Walker isn't the greatest, the Riverside is nice and under regeneration but there are still parts (including where the bus terminal is) that are slightly sketchy, though students are slowly encroaching. 

Agree on those Hybrids, far more impressive than Angel examples GNE went for.
Wistfully stuck in the 90s

RE: R852 PRG's Reviews
(22 Dec 2016, 12:08 am)Ambassador Wrote: As usual,  a great read. I enjoy your style of writing very much.

Yes,Walker isn't the greatest, the Riverside is nice and under regeneration but there are still parts (including where the bus terminal is) that are slightly sketchy, though students are slowly encroaching. 

Agree on those Hybrids, far more impressive than Angel examples GNE went for.

Thanks very much, the kind comments are greatly appreciated. Aiming to do an Explorer next Tuesday, so hopefully there will be another review on Wednesday 28th.

I don't mind the Angel Hybrids too much, admittedly they haven't been looked after as much as one would have hoped, but for what they do, I don't think they do too bad a job. That said, I'd probably grow frustrated with them if I had to use them day in, day out, at peak times. The Stagecoach E400Hs are very quick off the mark in comparison to them.
Lover of Volvo B10BLE/Wright Renowns.

My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLf5tJq...pvNU8vv1SA

My Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/142814434@N05/

RE: R852 PRG's Reviews
Parts of Walker can be a bit scary. If you are changing buses at Regent Centre check out the library close by. Well stocked with clean loos. Very handy if you get caught short. Good review look forward to reading the next one. X

RE: R852 PRG's Reviews
(22 Dec 2016, 2:18 pm)Charles41 Wrote: Parts of Walker can be a bit scary. If you are changing buses at Regent Centre check out the library close by. Well stocked with clean loos. Very handy if you get caught short. Good review look forward to reading the next one.

RE: R852 PRG's Reviews
(22 Dec 2016, 2:18 pm)Charles41 Wrote: Parts of Walker can be a bit scary. If you are changing buses at Regent Centre check out the library close by. Well stocked with clean loos. Very handy if you get caught short. Good review look forward to reading the next one. 

Cheers, Charles. Will bear that in mind next time I'm changing at Regent Centre.
Lover of Volvo B10BLE/Wright Renowns.

My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLf5tJq...pvNU8vv1SA

My Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/142814434@N05/

RE: R852 PRG's Reviews
Tuesday 27th December 2016

Hope everybody had a good Christmas. As I did last Tuesday, today, I embarked on another North East Explorer.

07:53 GNE X21 6303 Chester-le-Street Clifford Terrace to Newcastle Eldon Square
The first bus of the day was the 0830 arrival into Eldon Square; the 0753 from my local bus stop on the Durham-Newcastle stretch. As it was a Saturday service from Go North East, this trip was the first X21 of the day. This morning, it was in the hands of 6303. This was the first of the seven Wright StreetDecks that I claimed haulage on, back on Saturday 12th March, during their first week of service on the X21, on the exact same journey as I had it on on this occasion. To be honest, I was expecting a pretty busy bus when I boarded at my stop, along with three other passengers, but when I made my way upstairs, I found it was almost totally deserted. One thing I still like about the StreetDecks is the consistency in charging sockets working. While the WiFi can be a bit hit and miss, with it sometimes working faultlessly and sometimes being a pain; the sockets tend to mostly work, and I struggle to recount an occasion where they haven't.

08:41 SC&NL 685 27142 Newcastle Eldon Square to Hexham Bus Station
The service terminated at Eldon Square and I alighted here, with the intention of catching the 0845 685 service to Hexham, so I could check out the recently opened bus station, which replaced an older building that had been present in the town centre since 1933, but was sadly no longer capable of coping with the heavy bus traffic and congestion. I will definitely remember it as a quaint, traditional structure. Another recent introduction is the ''Cross Pennine'' brand on service 85/685 (Newcastle-Carlisle), with three Stagecoach vehicles; two Enviro300s and one Solo SR, and a few Arriva Omnicities, sporting the rather smart livery. To try and kill two birds with one stone, I caught the 685 over. This morning, the first Stagecoach-operated journey to leave Eldon Square was in the hands of 27141. I found the vehicle to be alright; seating was comfortable, but the low traffic and passenger numbers meant the driver just restricted it to trundling along the route to keep to time.

10:05 GNE 74 670 Hexham Bus Station to Newcastle Eldon Square
Spent about twenty minutes looking around the new bus station and getting photographs of vehicles leaving. I noticed the 74 coming into the bus station, with Optare Solo SR 670 (required for haulage!) being the allocated vehicle and decided I would catch this back across to Newcastle. Following a driver changeover, I boarded at bang-on 1000 and patiently waited for the departure. This was the first time I used the 74, and it has to be said, the scenery is brilliant on this route. The country lane running and timetable allows one to see how quick off the mark Solos can be, and I also noted we passed several horses along the desolate roads, with the friendly driver waving to their riders. Will definitely be doing the 74 at some point in 2017. I was the only passenger until the Ponteland area; rather than face a wait in Ponteland for a Stagecoach X78 service, I decided to carry on with 670 to Newcastle, where I would meet Adrian around 1145. 

11:59 SNE 62 10638 Newcastle Blackett Street to Chapel House
As 670 was waiting to descend Prudhoe Place and into Eldon Square, I noticed a couple of police officers were directing traffic due to severe congestion. Took a good five minutes to get into the bus station. Adrian notified me that he had 6142 on the X1, so I headed up to Percy Street for a photograph, seeing one of my driver friends from Chester-le-Street with 4957 on the Waggonway, conversing across the road before chatting in the bus station while he was waiting to depart. After meeting with Adrian, I was again momentarily distracted when I saw another friend in the cab of 3965, who thanked me for the photo of him I had had printed and dropped in the mail for him on Christmas Eve. With that done, we headed out to Blackett Street with the aim of catching a 62 to Chapel House and a 40 back, to get an MMC and a Hybrid. 10638 was our chariot, with a pretty light loading of passengers, and everything working as it should. I remain a huge fan of the Enviro400MMC.

12:38 SNE 40 12072 Chapel House to Newcastle Blackett Street
We realised we were at the terminus of the 62 when the driver turned the vehicle off, so we quickly alighted. I attempted a photo, but was faced with the poor light due to the position of the sun, so returned to the bus stop to stand with Adrian. Our plan was to catch the 40 back to the city centre then look for an Enviro200MMC on the 30/31. As stated in my last review, where I travelled on an E400H on the 39 from Walker to Newcastle, I am a fan of these Hybrids. They're in pretty good condition given they will be six years of age in 2017. It is just a shame that the 39 and 40 serve some absolute dire places, meaning you sort of have to surrender your dignity for some half-decent modern-age haulage. The service filled up pretty quickly shortly after leaving Chapel House, and at the risk of being controversial, I think Adrian and I may have been the only White people sat in the downstairs saloon...! 

13:17 SNE 30 26063 Newcastle Pilgrim Street to Whickham View to Newcastle Grainger Street
Now back in Newcastle, we jumped off 12072 at Blackett Street, making a quick walk across to Pilgrim Street for a 30/31 towards Whickham View/Montagu Estate respectively. While this outing was not the outing dedicated to getting photographs of the E200MMCs, which I do intend to do at some point in January or February, with the E400MMCs thrown into the mix too for some variety; it was decided that it would be a poor choice to not have a ride on at least one of them while we had the opportunity. This wasn't the busiest journey, but it wasn't quiet either. Aside from the USB ports not playing ball, I was highly impressed by this example, 26063. With a similar mechanical set-up to the Wright StreetLite, and a direct competitor as well, I couldn't really notice any difference in the sounds, except for the absence of a rattling emergency exit door! Bodywork was very sturdy, and the vehicle overall just seemed to be very well-built.

14:25 SNE 38 19670 Newcastle Pilgrim Street to Freeman Hospital
While we were on the 30, I had planned to alight at Whickham View and then catch a 38 to the Freeman Hospital, I didn't actually notice the turning circle for Whickham View at any point along the route. I blame my lack of attention, I was enjoying the E200MMC too much. When Adrian pointed out that we were back in Newcastle, I realised we could still catch a 38 from there, but chose to alight on Grainger Street after sitting there for a few minutes doing nothing. We grabbed a quick bite to eat before making our way round to Pilgrim Street, noticing heavy congestion on Market Street as we walked there. 19670 was our bus to the Freeman, a nice vehicle that was quite fast when let loose on an open road, we took a seat at the back downstairs. I have to admit that, in terms of ease to use between notable locations, the 38 is probably one of my favourite Stagecoach routes. We began leap-frogging our next intended target, the 54, close to the Freeman, which had me on edge...

14:53 ANE 54 4523 Freeman Hospital to Newcastle Haymarket
As I had noticed the Cramlington-bound 54 departing just ahead of us on 19670, we reviewed the timetables in the hope that a Stagecoach service would be following quickly behind us, to take us to Four Lane Ends, so that we could stick to the plan and get another Enviro400MMC in for haulage on a 62/63 move back to the city centre. Adrian had no issues mocking me for my clear inability to read a Nexus timetable (being a County Durham resident and all that), and we established we had just missed an 18 as well. Rather than face a wait until 1514 for the next Arriva 54, we crossed the road for something back to Newcastle. Quite luckily, we managed to catch Volvo B10BLE 4523. Having travelled on this example earlier in the month, ironically, on the 54 between the Freeman and Newcastle, I had high expectations because I recalled it having a very melodious gearbox. I wasn't disappointed, will definitely miss these when they go. A more 'in-depth' bash of them may be in order. Wink

15:14 ANE 43 7468 Newcastle Haymarket to Regent Centre
Arrival back into Haymarket was at 1507, and one of my plans had been to catch the Nexus-secured 33 service up to Gosforth the long way round, then get another Stagecoach Enviro200MMC on the 30/31 back to the city centre. However, I knew that the 33 departed from Pilgrim Street on a half-hourly basis at xx:07 and xx:37 minutes past each hour, so rather than walk there and get photos to kill time, Adrian suggested we caught something up to Regent Centre. 7468, an ex-London DAF DB250RS/Alexander ALX400, was waiting to depart with a 43 to Cramlington, and as we both quite like this vehicle type, we chose to catch that. Passenger numbers were decent, with the lower deck being pretty much fully occupied. One trait of the DAF ALX400s that I quite like is the sideways-facing seats downstairs, they're just a bit different to what I am used to. I don't think they're present on the Volvo B7TLs cascaded north earlier this year, but then again, I've only been on one.

15:39 T&WM 4008+4084 Regent Centre to Heworth
We attempted some photos at Regent Centre after we alighted, but the low light conditions made it quite difficult. After debating where to head next, we decided to make our way to Heworth, then catch a Go North East 82 to Concord, followed by an 85/86 to Washington, where we would part ways. As we had not made a journey on the Metro on this day, we decided to catch the next service to Heworth from Regent Centre so we could get a decent-length run on the Metro in. When we got down to the platform, which was void of any other intending passengers, to find we had a wait of eight minutes until the next train. When it rolled to a stop, with 4004 leading and 4084 on the rear, we opted to sit in 4084 as it looked to be quieter. Managed to secure two seats facing each other in the middle of the body of the carriage. The train got very busy all of a sudden at Gateshead, but we didn't have to suffer it for long as Heworth was only a few minutes away.

16:17 GNE 82 682 Heworth Metro to Concord Bus Station
With dusk now slowly creeping across the sky above, we made our way outside for some photos. I find the dusk to be frustrating because grainy photos seem more common; low-light conditions tend to be a bit of a bane in my life when it comes to photographs, I prefer complete light or pitch black, just so I know for sure what sort of settings I should be shooting in. Our plan was to catch the 1617 82 service to Concord, then an 85/86 to Washington, so I could hopefully tick off a winner ex-Thames Solo. When it showed up, the driver in the cab was a new starter, being mentored by a young woman with red hair, who I overheard telling him about the ups and downs of being a depot mentor. Much like 670 earlier in the day, 682 had a pretty decent ride quality, although it was, unfortunately, a 'dud' for haulage. Passenger numbers remained pretty much the same throughout this journey; no more than half a dozen on board.

16:52 GNE 86 705 Concord Bus Station to Washington Galleries
By now pretty much pitch black, we alighted in Concord Bus Station with the intention of catching another indiGo service, an 85 or 86, across to Washington, to try and get another M880 Solo for haulage. I reviewed the timetable; there was an 85 due at 16:38, with the 86 behind it expected to depart at 16:52. The 16:38 service never turned up, but during our wait, we observed a driver bringing 5249 from Washington depot to change over with 5259, only to find out there wasn't a need to swap the vehicles over! 705 eventually turned up with the 16:52 86, which I rolled my eyes at, as it was the sole example of the original-bodied Solos acquired earlier in the year that I had already been on! The driver seemed nice enough, making the effort to exchange with passengers. I don't mind these Solos, they aren't as nippy as the Solo SRs, but do the job they're destined for pretty well, I suppose.

17:18 GNE 8 5396 Washington Galleries to Chester-le-Street South Burns
Adrian carried on with 705, while I alighted at the Galleries. It was 17:05, and after reviewing the timetables, I had a fifteen-minute wait until my bus back to Chester-le-Street, the 17:21 number 8, was expected. At Stand A, a disorderly queue for the X1 and 4, both due before the 8, had formed. To my appeasement, the X1 came in the form of 6141, which I still needed a photograph of. May I offer my sincerest apologies that it is a bus station shot - I'm ashamed of myself... https://www.flickr.com/photos/142814434@...ed-public/. I eventually saw the distinct white destination blind on a StreetLite coming along the road, so prepared to board. The vehicle was 5396, a mega dud, but not a bad bus overall. Plug socket was working without any issues, which was refreshing for a StreetLite! Got back to Chester-le-Street at 17:40, at which point I alighted and began to make my way home.

In summary, it was a thoroughly enjoyable outing. With thirteen journies, it took quite a while longer than I expected to get this published. Hope you all enjoyed reading. As it's unlikely I'll be out properly again until the New Year, I'd like to wish all readers all the best for 2017.

R852 PRG
Lover of Volvo B10BLE/Wright Renowns.

My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLf5tJq...pvNU8vv1SA

My Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/142814434@N05/

RE: R852 PRG's Reviews
Hello all.

I hope you are all well. I popped by for a visit and decided to have a trawl through this old thread. It seems a few people have come and gone in the time since I was last properly active as a member of the forum but pleased there are lots of old faces still contributing. To give you all a three-year life update in a nutshell; I am now 19, at university and live in Aberdeen. I have spent quite some time getting to grips with the local network and am *fairly* confident I know my way around the First network. The Stagecoach stuff is on the back-burner right now but I will get to it soon. I don't think I have changed a great deal; I still enjoy writing, still enjoy the hobby and am still fairly gruff in manner I suppose.

Having read through my old reviews, I realised I quite missed writing up my trip reports and wondered if there was still a market out there for them. If at least five people are interested in my adventures and idiosyncrasies, I'll start back up again but with a mixture of write-ups from my outings in the north east when I come home and when I'm in Scotland. To bring me up to speed with everyone - if you remember me, I'll remember you - let me know what you've been up to in recent times.

Best wishes,
R852 PRG
Lover of Volvo B10BLE/Wright Renowns.

My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLf5tJq...pvNU8vv1SA

My Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/142814434@N05/

RE: R852 PRG's Reviews
(29 Sep 2019, 10:13 pm)R852 PRG Wrote: Hello all.

I hope you are all well. I popped by for a visit and decided to have a trawl through this old thread. It seems a few people have come and gone in the time since I was last properly active as a member of the forum but pleased there are lots of old faces still contributing. To give you all a three-year life update in a nutshell; I am now 19, at university and live in Aberdeen. I have spent quite some time getting to grips with the local network and am *fairly* confident I know my way around the First network. The Stagecoach stuff is on the back-burner right now but I will get to it soon. I don't think I have changed a great deal; I still enjoy writing, still enjoy the hobby and am still fairly gruff in manner I suppose.

Having read through my old reviews, I realised I quite missed writing up my trip reports and wondered if there was still a market out there for them. If at least five people are interested in my adventures and idiosyncrasies, I'll start back up again but with a mixture of write-ups from my outings in the north east when I come home and when I'm in Scotland. To bring me up to speed with everyone - if you remember me, I'll remember you - let me know what you've been up to in recent times.

Best wishes,
R852 PRG
I'd be a fan of seeing these reviews return.

I've voiced my opinions before that I think discussion on this forum is less interesting than I found it previously, and that it's because we no longer tend to see good, opinionated, pieces of writing and/or debate (instead just a reel of the same statements and questions all of the time).

A few of our members have since started their own blogs, so I definitely think there's a market out there for this kind of writing. Hopefully it can return and make for some interesting reading.

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RE: R852 PRG's Reviews
(30 Sep 2019, 1:51 am)Dan Wrote: I'd be a fan of seeing these reviews return.

I've voiced my opinions before that I think discussion on this forum is less interesting than I found it previously, and that it's because we no longer tend to see good, opinionated, pieces of writing and/or debate (instead just a reel of the same statements and questions all of the time).

A few of our members have since started their own blogs, so I definitely think there's a market out there for this kind of writing. Hopefully it can return and make for some interesting reading.

Sent from my SM-G960F using Tapatalk
Agreed. The dynamic that was once here has gone which could be why some of the key members from that period may no longer be stopping by or have owt to say, I find some of the discussions now just painful to read particularly the service suggestion threads which is the same over and over again despite points being made as to why those suggestions are not good ideas, so why bother?

Beginning to think my ramblings in the annoying threads kept things interesting on here although don't expect that to return as I'm not like that anymore which is reassuring to know especially considering I passed my driving test last week otherwise that would be a terrifying prospect, also because I became more self aware what I was doing and how people were reacting to it.

So yeah, anything that would be of real insight would be welcomed. I would be interested in seeing some reviews and insights surrounding Aberdeen as it's somewhere I want to venture to in 2020 along with other parts of Scotland and other new areas.

s - Video 
RE: R852 PRG's Reviews

As long as it's something that is going to provoke debate, discussion and conversation - that isn't shot down in a ball of flames, I'm all for it.



'Illegitimis non carborundum'

RE: R852 PRG's Reviews
I too would like to see more reviews and debate. I'd also enjoy reading about the Aberdeen bus scene.

I tried the Coquetdale Community Transport service a couple of weeks ago. Very nice friendly driver. Well worth a go. The Cheviots are beautiful this time of year. Queens Head at Rothbury has now reopened.

Congratulations on passing your test Jimmi.

Charles

RE: R852 PRG's Reviews
I've missed seeing the reviews and opinion pieces.

And well done, Jimmi!

RE: R852 PRG's Reviews
Thank you for your replies. I am pleased to see my old court are still active on the forum. I didn't ask out of desire for validation or anything, I was just more conscious of essentially publishing reviews and not having anybody to interact with. Isaac Newton would habitually verbally abuse his audience to the point that they'd boycott his lectures and he'd carry on regardless, lecturing to an empty auditorium.

I would be tempted to get back into the swing of things by reviewing one of my local outings over the summer on an under 19 day ticket, but I am planning to embark on a Stagecoach Bluebird Explorer this Saturday coming as I'm not rostered to work and don't have any other commitments at present. Let me know what you'd prefer.

R852 PRG
Lover of Volvo B10BLE/Wright Renowns.

My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLf5tJq...pvNU8vv1SA

My Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/142814434@N05/

RE: R852 PRG's Reviews

(01 Oct 2019, 4:08 pm)R852 PRG Wrote: Thank you for your replies. I am pleased to see my old court are still active on the forum. I didn't ask out of desire for validation or anything, I was just more conscious of essentially publishing reviews and not having anybody to interact with. Isaac Newton would habitually verbally abuse his audience to the point that they'd boycott his lectures and he'd carry on regardless, lecturing to an empty auditorium.

I would be tempted to get back into the swing of things by reviewing one of my local outings over the summer on an under 19 day ticket, but I am planning to embark on a Stagecoach Bluebird Explorer this Saturday coming as I'm not rostered to work and don't have any other commitments at present. Let me know what you'd prefer.

R852 PRG


Might seem a funny question, but can a 19yr old get a under 19 ticket in Aberdeen?, won’t get one on my bus.


RE: R852 PRG's Reviews

(01 Oct 2019, 4:38 pm)Stanleyone Wrote:


Might seem a funny question, but can a 19yr old get a under 19 ticket in Aberdeen?, won’t get one on my bus.

I have a student pass for the academic year. Unrestricted access to the First network. I turned 19 end of September so was still 18 over the summer.

Lover of Volvo B10BLE/Wright Renowns.

My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLf5tJq...pvNU8vv1SA

My Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/142814434@N05/

RE: R852 PRG's Reviews

Saturday 5th October 2019


Well, almost three years following my last review, here I am with my report of my adventure this Saturday. I embarked on a Bluebird Explorer, priced at £10.95 for students, and tried to navigate the Stagecoach Bluebird network around Aberdeen for the first time.


10:17 SNS X17 29019 Aberdeen Union Square to Kingswells Park & Ride

My first vehicle of the day was 29019, an ADL E350H electric hybrid. I boarded in Union Square bus station and was greeted by a fairly amicable driver who expressed confusion as to the Bluebird Explorer I asked him for. After about twenty seconds of looking through the ticket machine, he found it. I assume it's not a particularly common ticket, at least with the Bluebird network. Come to think of it, I can't ever recall an instance during one of my adventures back home where a driver hasn't been familiar with the North East Explorer. As I made my way towards the back of the empty saloon, which still retained its Stagecoach Gold interior from its previous existence in Perth, I was somewhat surprised to find there was no gradual ascent of the gangway but then realised this was due to the 'engine' being on the roof. After we reversed off our stand in Union Square - which I only today realised is allowed after blasting the horn twice to alert others - we picked up a couple more passengers on Union Street (essentially Northumberland Street in terms of shops and facilities but not pedestrianised and always with a heavy flow of traffic) before the journey to Kingswells was underway.


11:44 SNS 747 47606 Kingswells Park & Ride to Aberdeen International Airport

I spent some time at Kingswells getting photos of the steady stream of vehicles on the X17s heading to and from the city on a regular frequency, also photographing an Enviro on the 747 heading to Stonehaven and a Mercedes Sprinter on the 44 shuttle service to the nearby housing estate at Countesswells. The X17 appeared to be a toss-up of just about anything Tullos depot had, with electric hybrid Enviro300s, ex-Highlands ALX400 18111 and regular Enviro300s making up the boards I observed in the time I spent there. Running about ten minutes late, old-style 2008 vintage Solo 47606 came in with a 747 heading towards the Airport. The last time I was on a Stagecoach Solo was way back in May 2015, when Dan and I had a run on one on the 302 from Workington Bus Station back to Lillyhall depot at the open day there one Saturday. I was surprised to find its seats were all equipped with seatbelts and also by how violently the seats in this one shook when idling in traffic. It was quite something. It was otherwise a fast run to the Airport, and we were on time for arrival at 1155.


11:58 SNS 727 10531 Aberdeen International Airport to Aberdeen Union Square

After taking a photograph of 47606 while it took a minute or so to layover, I immediately crossed to board the 727-branded Enviro400MMC which was standing ready to depart. I had wrongly assumed that this would be much like a shuttle between the Airport and Union Square but found that the bus picked up a great deal of passengers as it approached the city centre. It had been quite a while since my last journey an Enviro400MMC and it reminded me of my intention to try and catch the Cumbria example on the 685 next time I do a North East Explorer (potentially when I'm home at Christmas). Not much else to say really, 10531 provided a smooth ride and showed no real sign of the ageing and vibrations we're all fairly accustomed to on other 16-reg deckers such as 6301-6307. It was a reminder of which is the infinitely better product. Very much looking forward to trying Go North East's handful hopefully soon. I debated between having a ride out to Banchory on the 61-reg Panther 2s that dominate the 201/202 allocation or to Inverurie to tick off an 'A96 City Connect' Elite on the 10.


13:05 SNS X37 27111 Aberdeen Union Square to Inverurie Town Centre

After patrolling Union Square for a short while, I didn't see the 1245 service out to Banchory on its allocated stand. It would leave some ten minutes late in the end, by which point I'd decided to head north west to Inverurie instead on the X37 at 1305. The driver rather gruffly demanded to see my University ID card on presentation of my Bluebird Explorer - something no driver earlier in the day had asked to see - I complied and took a seat on the back row. The vehicle for the ride out to Inverurie was 27111, a 14-reg Enviro300 with 'Inverurie Connect' branding. Pretty much your standard Enviro300, nothing particularly worthy of discussion. I did notice that the bus gradually got fuller and fuller as we left Aberdeen with most passengers travelling a good forty minutes or so to Inverurie. Seems a well-patronised route, but I imagine I'd have enjoyed it more if I'd had 19369, which I saw heading out to Inverurie on the X37 earlier in the morning. I alighted in the town centre with the majority of passengers and 27111 went on its way.


14:27 SNS 10 54827 Inverurie Town Centre to Aberdeen Union Square

My next journey was on the 'A96 City Connect' 10 service back to Aberdeen from Inverurie. I took in the sights of the town centre and have to say it did seem, on the surface, to be quite a nice place. I took a photograph of another Stagecoach Solo on the local town service heading to Tesco as I killed time for the 10 to arrive outside the Town Hall. Running seven minutes late, Elgin-based Volvo B11R/Plaxton Elite 54827 approached on the last leg of its run down from Inverness. A handful of passengers alighted and I was the only passenger to board - I climbed up the stairs at the door, showed the driver my Explorer and took a seat about two thirds of the way towards the back on the offside. Had a great journey back into Aberdeen, the route along the A96 was great and very scenic, less suburban than the trip on the X37 had been and my goodness, did this coach fly. It was so effortless in pulling and very responsive, and good enough to convince me to think about having another ride out to Inverurie next time I do a Bluebird Explorer, perhaps breaking the hour-long wait between 10s in each direction with a run on the circular to Tesco. Arrival back into Union Square was on-time.


15:20 SNS 68 54243 Aberdeen Union Square to Ellon Park & Ride

After having had such a good journey on 54827, I decided I'd finally have a go on the Buchan Express. Standing on the final stance in the bus station was Volvo B11R/Plaxton Elite i 54243 with the 1520 68 service to Ellon Park & Ride. Much like with a ride on a 62-plate example on the X74 between Glasgow and Dumfries with citaro5284 in March 2018, I found myself walking in through the entrance door, going to the left to present my ticket to the driver and then going right to ascend the stairs to the passenger saloon upstairs. The service wasn't very busy but it seemed the majority of passengers were sitting in the forward half of the upper deck rather than towards the rear. I was able to bag a pair of seats to myself with a lot of legroom thanks to the seating arrangement changing to just a single seat in front of me rather than a pair. I was thoroughly impressed with the speed this Elite i was able to get up to on the ride up to Ellon and decided to brave the twenty minute wait at the Park & Ride site for the next one back down.


16:20 SNS 67 54241 Ellon Park & Ride to Aberdeen Union Square

After a wait in the very exposed bus stop at the Park & Ride site, during which I mused to myself as to why on earth somewhere as far inland as Kingswells had a waiting room available and somewhere as cold and windy as Ellon didn't, I was greeted with the sight of 54241 with a southbound 67 for Aberdeen. Also occupying the bus stop and waiting to board was a group of walkers, each of whom commented on the harsh climate and how grateful they would be for the bus to arrive. I boarded first and took a seat towards the back of the upper deck this time to get a feel for the perspective when sitting further towards the back. I have to say, you realise these things are longer than they feel when you sit towards the back. I couldn't help but feel that these would be ideally suited to the X9 and X10, although there would be obvious capacity issues particularly at peak times, and they'd perhaps be the next logical step to take those services to the next level so to speak. After a smooth run back into Aberdeen, I once again alighted in Union Square.


17:15 SNS 202 19174 Aberdeen Union Square to Peterculter

As the day drew to a close, I decided I'd have a ride out to Peterculter on the 201/202 services which I'd decided against doing today in favour of Inverurie. A full ride out to Banchory is definitely on the cards for a future trip, though. Seems to be a nice enough place. The vehicle for the 1715 departure was 19174, a 12 year old (!) Enviro400 with high back seats and seatbelts. I'd previously had sister (or should that be 'sibling' or another non-gender specific term, given how far the social justice warriors have taken us towards oblivion in the last few years) 19171 on the free university shuttle service and was astonished at how quick off the mark it was and how it maintained speed on climbs. 19174 didn't quite have the opportunity to show what it could do due to a fairly flexible timetable but it certainly seemed to manage the route without any difficulties. I did notice how uncomfortable the seats on the very back row in the downstairs saloon looked.


18:14 SNS 202 53639 Peterculter to Aberdeen Union Street

My reason for alighting in Peterculter was not only as it was a nice, twenty minute connection in a fairly nice location, but because it was a good spot to try and catch the First B9TL/Geminis on the 19 service. I had visited the same spot earlier in the week (chauffeured by mb134) but found the decreasing light made moving shots difficult. Once again, I had misjudged how dusk it would have been by the time 19174 got me there given how light it had been at Union Square on departure, but no matter. Ex-Megabus Panther 2 53639 was my chariot back to the city centre on the 202, and I took a seat towards the back. I could tell, even for an eight year old coach, it was a bit tired and had been through the wars in its previous capacity, but enjoyed the journey back to Aberdeen nonetheless, alighting on Union Street rather than in the bus station. I've always had a bit of a thing for the Stagecoach moquette on coach seats - perhaps my only complaint about the younger coaches sampled earlier in the day was the absence of them in favour of leather over fabric.


All in all, a great day exploring the Stagecoach network. I hope to do another Bluebird Explorer before the year is out. It's been a while since I last did one of these, so I'm a bit rusty. Pleased I've made the effort though and hope they'll become routine again. If you haven't fallen asleep yet, thank you for reading.


R852 PRG


Lover of Volvo B10BLE/Wright Renowns.

My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLf5tJq...pvNU8vv1SA

My Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/142814434@N05/