Sunday, 23 December 2012

Blackpool Transport Fleet Review of 2012

24 ex Bus Vannin double deckers joined the Blackpool Transport fleet during 2012. Here Trident 351 operates route 1

2012 has seen further contraction in the Blackpool Bus fleet from 149 plus three open tops to 144+3. For the second year running no new buses arrived, though an unprecedented 24 second hand double deckers entered service, all sourced from Bus Vannin on the Isle of Man.

Late 2011 had seen 343 (H1FBT) enter service having been the pilot refurbishment of 11 Manx Tridents. At the end of the year several sisters were present and Bus and Coach World, Blackpool with the remainder all on site by the end of February. The ten sisters arrived in Blackpool in stages, with 344 in January, 345/6 February, 347-8 March and the rest (349-353) in April. 344-6 entered service in March, 347/8 April and 349-353 in May. These directly replaced Leyland Olympians.

March saw the first of a batch of ten DAF DB250s with East Lancs bodywork new to Isle of Man in 2001 as 89-98. The first, 354 (IOM 97) was displayed at a conference in May, but it was not until July that it reached Blackpool with sisters 355-360. Sisters 361-3 arrived in August. The batch entered service in September (354-8) and October (359-363).

 A second batch started to arrive at Blackburn from August with IOM 54, 56, 78/9 and 81 so far delivered. Sisters 55, 57, 76, 77 and 80 remain in use on the Island but are expected to follow. Four have been delivered as 364/5 in September and 366/7 in October and they entered service in December. IOM 78 remains under refurbishment and should become 368. The DAFs have replaced the six East Lancs Olympians and several Optare Solos. Service reductions have seen bigger vehicles replace the smallest Solos - routes 2/2C and 17 generally now usually seeing bigger buses.
The surviving closed top Leyland Olympians were all retired during 2012 - ten having a final hurrah operating on special services for the Open Golf Championship - here is 416 on the first day

The 24 incoming buses have replaced 29 vehicles. The March Tridents saw off Olympians 402, 407 and 414, with sisters 411/6 off in April and 365, 408/12 in May. June saw 403, 405, 410, 413 and 417 laid up - 417 being the last orange and yellow Olympian in service on 26 June. Nine of these returned to use between 15 and 22nd July, wrapped in white based all-over adverts on special services from North Station and Starr Gate to the Open Golf Championship at Royal Lytham St. Annes. 365, 402/3/5/10, 413, 415-417 were joined by East Lancs bodied 370 on this service. 370 and 417 saw school service use in the days before the event and several dropped out with failures during the week such that 370, 402, 403, 405, 410 and 413 were the only ones in use on the last day. All were finally withdrawn.

373 was the final Leyland Olympian to operate on 6 October
The other 5 East Lancs bodied Olympians soldiered on until 368 was stood down in September - the first new liveried bus to be withdrawn. The first week of October 2012 was to be the last week for the Leyland Olympians. Sadly they seemed too keen to retire and faults saw 369, 371 and 372 retired during the week leaving 373 to work a special last day on Saturday 6 October on route 9 ending its career with the 1748 Blackpool to Cleveleys and empty to depot. Other than open toppers 818, 857 and 873 the Leyland Olympian era is now over.

The remaining DAFs replaced all but two of the surviving initial 1999/2000 Solo batch with 267-9/71-2 withdrawn in October and 273/4 in November with 2002 vintage 280/1 also laid up in November.
The last Line 4 liveried Solos were retired during 2012. This is 271 earlier in its career.

Repaints continued but only 19 buses received the new livery and a further four gained adverts. Excel 226 and Solos 254/7 were treated in January with 256 in February. 223 and 301 were repainted in March along with 313 which received a side and rear advert for Tower Dungeon. 312 ran briefly with a black/yellow front on Line 14 livery in April but soon gained a side/rear wrap for Tower Eye with 315 following in May for Tussauds and 314 returning to use in early June promoting Sealife Centre. A hiatus then followed as the 10 golf Olympians were wrapped with their front ends painted white. A number of tram repaints took place before fleet livery bus repaints resumed after six months with Solos 242, 278, Trident 302 and the final pool livery Volvo Olympian 374 treated. Excels 212/5 and Solos 241/60 were painted in November, with Excels 216/7 and Solos 248, 249 and 277 following in December.
Trident 313 was the first of four advertising buses for the Merlin Entertainments group

Disposals of withdrawn vehicles commenced in February with stored 406 going for scrap followed by 366 in March after almost two years in store. Olympian 411 went for preservation in May, with 412/4 scrapped in August. 365, 402/5/15 left in October, 403, 410, 413, 416 and 417 in November. The six East Lancs Olympians and the nine Solos remain in store along with open top Olympian 858.

Other events saw Trident 310 sidelined with fire damage in on 7 April and after a period in store was being repaired in the body shop in December. Excels 223 and 226 returned to use after their engine change while 225 followed suit in August, ending the process started with 210 back in 2007. Meanwhile during the summer several Tridents had their roller blinds replaced by LED indicators - 318 was treated in June, with 319, 323/4/6-9, 331/2 and 338/9 following in August/September. Only Excels 210-218, Solos 249-260, 275/6, 286-293, Tridents 301-317, 322, 325, 330 and Olympians 374-9 retain roller blinds.

The fleet ends with 71 Double deckers (up 4) comprising 51 Tridents, 14 DAFs and 6 Olympians); 31 single deckers (17 Excels and 14 Volvo B7s unchanged) and 42 Solos (down 9). Three open top Olympians were used in 2012 but are stored for the winter as usual.

The year has seen the end of Metro Line 1, 4 and 5 liveries. Only 23 buses retain
New: 210-2, 214-7, 221-224, 226, 241/2, 248-257, 260, 277/8, 284-293, 301/2, 310, 322-367, 374-9, 520-533 (106)
Line 2: 240, 243-7, 294 (7)
Line 3: 258/9 295-7 (5)
Line 7: 213 225 (2)
Line 14: 303-309, 311/6 (9)
Pool: 218-220 275/6, 279, 282/3, 317-9 (11)
Adverts: 312-5 (4)