Monday, 20 December 2010

Fleet Review 2010

A last look at the Optare Delta. The 23 in service at the start of 2010 had all been withdrawn by the end of November.
 2010 was a year of transformation in the Blackpool Transport fleet as major service changes saw the starting fleet reduce from 172 to 160 at the end of the year. The year started with 72 double deckers - (36 Tridents, 32 Olympians and 4 open top Olympians), 40 single deckers (23 Deltas and 17 Excels) and 60 minibuses (57 Solos and 3 Metroriders). A further Trident (338) was being prepared for service having been acquired way back in October 2008. 13 withdrawn buses were in store; Delta 124, Atlantean 364, Metroriders 503, 505-507, 511-513 and 593 and Open Toppers 813, 844 and 849.

Trident 338 finally entered service on 5 January - 443 days after its ill fated delivery run. It is seen here on Line 14 having lost its Line 1 branding
 The net reduction in the fleet of ten masks a transformation as 17 vehicles were acquired. Two more ex Blue Triangle Dennis Tridents arrived, 341 in February and 340 in March - the latter like 338 having failed on delivery! A further Trident - 342 from South Lancs Transport - arrived in April. All three entered service in August.

New Volvo 529 heads down Station Road on a diverted Line 1 working
 No less than 14 Volvo B7RLE single deckers arrived - 9 (525-33) purchased brand new in August featuring Plaxton Centro bodies which took-over from Tridents on Line 1 on 6 September. The other five had Wright bodies and were acquired from Anglian Buses which was a drawn out affair. First mooted in the spring, two arrived in July and three in September with entry into service in October (520/2/4) and November (521/3).

The demise of the Deltas saw the last Line 11 examples withdrawn in September - 118 puts in a rare appearance on Line 17 on Clitheroe Road - a section of route now served by Line 18
On the debit side the 17 new buses (and 338) released 30 others for withdrawal. First down was Delta 103 due to a major engine failure around February. The July changes saw off the rest of the Line 6 batch (104-109, 112-114) and also 116. 115 followed in August and the other Line 11 buses (118/9, 122, 125-7, 132/3) in September. The pool liveried buses outlived these with 101/2 retired in October and 123 at the end of November.

With just two weeks to go before retirement, 515 poses in front of a confusion of architectural shapes on Corporation Street
Metrorider 515 was withdrawn in the early Spring, but returned to use in May to replace sister 517 which had failed. 515 last operated on its dedicated Line 15 on Sunday 25 July, but did appear as a route learning bus the following day but was soon withdrawn. Sole survivor 518 last ran on Line 10 on Saturday 24 July and settled down to a new role on the Department of Work and Pensions works contract - though it did work a duty on Line 3 in August. Sister 512 has been in use as a mess room for the tramway overhead crew following a repaint in all-over yellow.

Olympian 366 leaves St Bedes School in Lytham. It was withdrawn in April having been purchased  in October 1986 to replace three fire damaged Atlanteans
The first Olympian withdrawals saw the end of the three ex West Yorkshire examples 365-367 in April after over 23 years service. 367 had been laid up for a while with engine problems but the other pair were still in regular service. 401 and 403 became the first ex Trents to be withdrawn in October.

Blackpool Transport has kept the scrap dealers busy starting with the disposal of fire damaged Delta 124 to Inglemere Metals of Marton in May. After this Parton's of Barnsley became the chosen destination with 103/5/14 collected in August, with 13 more in September: 104/7-9, 112/3, 115/6, 506/11/5/7/93 and 118 in November. Busworks purchased Metroriders 503, 505, 507 and 513 for spares - save 505 which has been converted to an unglazed tour bus for the Scilly Isles. Deltas 109 and 127 have gone to a food packaging firm for staff transport and open toppers 844 and 849 are now with Alpine in Llandudno.

Solo 290 was the first vehicle to operate in the new livery
2010 also marked the end of the Metro livery. Excel 219 was painted into Pool livery and Tridents 310/1 into Line 14 livery - the latter being the last so treated. 17 buses have so far received the new livery with Excels 211/4/24, Solos 288-290/3, Tridents 330-335, 337 and 340-2 treated. The 14 acquired Volvos are also in the new livery.

Refurbishment work on Optare Excels continues with 219 returning to service in February; 215 around June. 214 became the final new to Blackpool example to be treated with work starting in March. It was repainted in June. It was collected by Cummins in August and returned in November but has yet to return to use, though it has just been relicensed. Sister 224 has also been repainted and collected by Cummins and is currently under refurbishment.

Sole surviving Atlantean 364 was retaxed for the summer, appearing at totallyTransport in June and at several events since. It has not operated in service.

The fleet ended the year with 71 double deckers (one fewer = 40 Tridents, 27 Olympians and 4 open toppers). The single decker fleet has dropped by 9 with 31 buses (17 Excels, 14 Volvos) and the minibus fleet now totals 57 Solos and 1 Metrorider. 16 withdrawn buses remain in store (Deltas 101/2, 119, 122/3, 125/6, 132/3, Atlantean 364, Olympians 365-7, 401/3, Open Toppers 813) while 512 is still in use with the overhead crew.

Trident 340 arrived in March, was converted to single door and entered service in August in the new fleet livery

December 2010 fleet summary.
New Fleet livery: Excels 211/4/24, Solos 288-290/3, Tridents 330-335, 337, 340-342, Volvos 520-533 (31)
Old Pool Livery: Excels 218-223, Solos 261-264, 273-283, Tridents 317-9, Olympians 370-378 (33)
Line 1 Orange/Yellow: Tridents 336, 338/9, 368/9, 402, 404-17 (20)
Line 2 Green/Yellow: Solos 240-247, 249, 284-287, 294 (14)
Line 3 Blue/Yellow: Solos 258-260, 295-7 (6)
Line 4 Cadbury Blue/Yellow: Solos 265-269, 271/2 (7)
Line 5 Red/Yellow: Solos 248, 250-257 (9)
Line 7 Purple/Yellow: Excels 210/2/3/5-7, 225/6 (8)
Line 10 Grey/Yellow: Metrorider 518 (1)
Line 11 Turquoise/Yellow: Tridents 322-329, Olympian 379 (9)
Line 14 Dark Green/Yellow: Tridents 301-316 (16)
Line 16 Lt Blue/Yellow: Solos 291/2 (2)
City Sightseeing: Olympians 818, 857/8, 873 (4)