Saturday, 7 June 2014

Trip to Tamworth / Lichfield 07-06-2014


3003Tamworth bus interchangeLichfield BSX65Arriva Midlands
9903Lichfield BSTamworth bus interchange765Arriva Midlands
4205Tamworth bus interchangeFazeley, adj Willowbank110Arriva Midlands
4200Fazeley, adj Bitterscote LaneTamworth bus interchange110Arriva Midlands
2615Tamworth bus interchangeCoton Green, adj Danelagh Close3Arriva Midlands
3804Coton Green, adj Shopping PrecinctTamworth bus interchange3Arriva Midlands

Today we decided to visit Tamworth. The decision to go to Tamworth wasn't made until the morning. The weather had been forecast for heavy showers and hail all around us so we put off deciding where we were going until the last minute. Tamworth was chosen because the weather forecast said it would clear up around 14:00 and stay dry for a couple of hours. As we had never been to Tamworth before, research consisted of downloading timetables and maps off the Arriva Midlands site, downloading maps from the Staffordshire County Council site, and checking Arriva Day Saver tickets and areas. After telling mum where the "bus station" was, she did research on parking for us. Matthew got up just after 10:00 and had toast and orange juice for breakfast. We set off around 12:30 today as we weren't traveling as far as usual. We had decided to travel via Cannock so we could eat at the truckstop just to the West of town. It was raining as we set off onto the A5035 and we drove towards Trentham. We stopped the BP garage on Longton Road to put some air in the tyres. At Trentham we turned North on the A34 and then we took Whitmore Road up to the A519. Here we joined the Southbound M6. We did the journey south through the rain, and we had slow traffic up to Junction 13 where the roadworks start. As we went though the roadworks we started to gain some speed again, although the was never any chance of speeding through the average speed camera section as we only just about got to 50mph as we turned off the M6 at 12. We did the 2 miles from the M6 along the A5 to the truck stop and we pulled over to have dinner. Matthew used their toilet and mum ordered the food. He a a breakfast with some extra toast washed down with a can of Coke. After we had finished we continued our journey east along the A5. We passed through Brownhills and then we got to the faster section of the A5 for the last couple of miles into town. We turned off the A5 and we got a little lost as we tried to find corporation Street where we had planned to park. A quick check on mum's GPS help us to get the last few hundred yards into town and we parked up near to the bus interchange, a row of six stops on Corporation Street. We had spot a public toilet as we parked up and Matthew wanted to go and visit it before we caught a bus. On the way up to the toilet we saw Arriva Midlands Scania 3807 on a #785 to Shuttington.

Arriva Midlands 3807 in Tamworth bus interchange
When checking out the bus tickets I noticed that the Arriva Tamworth Day Saver ticket was valid up to Lichfield so I thought it would be nice to take Matthew there as he has never been. When we got back from the toilet we spotted Arriva Midlands Mercedes Citaro 3003 on the X65 to Lichfield.

Arriva Midlands 3003 in Tamworth bus interchange
As we were about to crossed over to go catch a bus Alfa Coach 72 came into the bus interchange.

Alfa 72 in Tamworth bus interchange
I asked Matthew if he wanted to do Arriva Midlands 3003 and he said yes. The bus was required as we have never been on this type of Arriva Midlands bus before. We got on the bus and the lady driver was really nice, chatting away to Matthew for good while. We booked out Tamworth Day Saver ticket (£4.20) and we told her that we had never been on one of these before (well not this new and not an Arriva one). She mentioned that she had driven and even newer one the other day that was even better, a 63 reg one... We sat down near the back of the bus, it was nearly empty except for 2 other people. I looked at the timetable on my phone and the journey time to Lichfield was a mere 17 minutes. The bus set off out of town and onto the A51. We crossed the river Tame and the Coventry canal and we went through the village of Hopwas and past Whittington Barracks. we turned into Lichfield and into the bus station. We waited for the bus to empty and Matthew took a picture inside the empty Arriva Midlands 3003.

Inside Arriva Midlands 3003
When we got off there were half a dozen different buses in the bus station to look at. We crossed over the to the middle island of the bus station so we could take a picture of Cannock Based Arriva Midlands 3758 in between services.

Arriva Midlands 3758 in Lichfield bus station
Matthew want to go to the toilet so we went over to the conveniences. As I opened the door for him I heard a voice so I shut the door straight away. I told Matthew he would have to go in the Gents of wait until it was empty. He decided to wait. When it was free again I opened the door for him and he used the toilet. He came out to see Midlands Classic 82 on the X12 to Burton.

Midland Classic 82 in Lichfield bus station
We decided to have a bit of a picnic here. Matthew drank a small bottle of Limeade and ate a double Milky Way. Afterwards we walked over to get a picture of another parked up bus, required Wednesford based Arriva Midlands 2151.

Arriva Midlands 2151 in Lichfield bus station
Another bus just parked up in the bus station from an operator we have never seen before was Central Buses EU06 WGM.

Central Buses EU06 WGM in Lichfield bus station
There seemed to be quite a few buses arriving and and parking up for a short while. Another such vehicle was required Cannock based Arriva Midlands 2732.

Arriva Midlands 2732 in Lichfield bus station
At the top end of the bus station was the colourful Redfern Travel coach 123 RT.

Redfern Travel 123 RT in Lichfield bus station
We did consider catching required Arriva Midlands 3800 on the #765 Warton service, but as we went to take a picture of it it must have turned depart time and off it went. We then saw Midland Classic 83 arrive on X12 from Burton-on-Trent.

Midland Classic 83 in Lichfield bus station
Next we saw dud Burton-on-Trent based Arriva Midlands 4212 on a #7 service from Burton.

Arriva Midlands 4212 in Lichfield bus station
This was a bus that we had done on the #1 from Uttoxeter to Portway Head back in July 2013. As we had missed the #785 and turned down Arriva Midlands 3003 on the return X65, we had to wait for around 20 minutes further. Whilst we were waiting we saw Rotala Blue Diamond come in off a #21 North Lichfield circular.

Blue Diamond 30639 in Lichfield bus station
We also saw Cannock based Arriva Midlands 3761 come from Stafford on a #825, ready to work a #60 back to Cannock.

Arriva Midlands 3761 in Lichfield bus station
Going the other way, required Arriva Midlands came from Cannock on a #60 and was about to work a #825 to Stafford.

Arriva Midlands 3759 in Lichfield bus station
Something of a surprise was the appearance of the demonstrator bus that the lady driver had mention earlier, required Arriva Midlands 9903.

Arriva Midlands 9903 in Lichfield bus station
We also saw Rotala Blue Diamond Solo 20831 on Lichfield Circulars. We crossed over and got on the bus, flashing our Day Saver ticket and we sat down near the back. The bus set off out of town and onto the A51. We turned off to go to Whittington village. As the bus emptied out a little Matthew took a picture of the inside of the bus facing forwards.

Inside Arriva Midlands 9903
The bus carried on through Whittington and through Whittington Barracks before rejoining the A51. We passed the free range pig farm and through Hopwas and into Tamworth. When we got into the bus interchange we were delayed slightly whilst our bus waited for it's stand to empty.It was being occupied by dud Stagecoach Midlands 34627 about to work the #766 service to Nuneaton. Eventually it moved and we got off and Matthew got another picture of the demonstrator bus Arriva Midlands 9903.

Arriva Midlands 9903 in Tamworth bus interchange
It was close to 16:00...If we wanted to get at least six buses in today we would have to catch something quickly. On stand was required Arriva Midlands double decker 4205 about to work a #110 to Birmingham.

Arriva Midlands 4205 in Tamworth bus interchange
As we considered whether to do the double decker, we saw Arriva Midlands 3807 on a #785 to Lichfield.

Arriva Midlands 3807 in Tamworth bus interchange
I asked Matthew if he wanted to do the double decker and he said yes. We got on the bus and flashed the ticket. We were going to go to the edge of the Day Saver map South of the Hospital. We went upstairs and the rear of the top deck was empty so Matthew got a picture inside Arriva Midlands 4205.

Inside Arriva Midlands 4205
A check of the timetable revealed that the service was every 15 minutes. We set off out of town and we went West towards the A51. We then turned South and crossed over the rivers before going past the Ventura retail park. We passed Arriva Midlands 4206 going North on a #110. The traffic was heavy going past Ventura retail park so we decided not to go too far. We crossed under the A5 and we were looking for a stop on the opposite side of the road with a shelter in case it started to rain. Eventually we decided to just get off. If it did rain we wouldn't have to wait too long for a bus anyway. We spotted stops on opposite corner of a roundabout so we got up and the bus stopped. We got off and got another picture of Arriva Midlands 4205 as it headed South towards Birmingham.

Arriva Midlands 4205 in Fazeley
We crossed over the busy Fazeley Road and then crossed over the quieter Biterscote Lane. Almost immediately we saw a Mercedes Citaro approaching. It was on the #780 service to the hospital so we let it go. It was required Arriva Midlands 3005.

Arriva Midlands 3005 in Fazeley
Right behind 3005 was a double decker on the #110 so we flagged it down. It was required Arriva Midlands 4200.

Arriva Midlands 4200 in Fazeley
We got on the bus and Matthew said hello to someone on the lower decker before we went upstairs. The rear of the top deck was empty so Matthew took his picture inside the bus immediately.

Inside Arriva Midlands 4200
The bus went North under the A5 and back past Ventura retail park before coming into town from the West. When we got back to the bus station Matthew took another picture of Arriva Midlands 4200 before we headed off to the toilet.

Arriva Midlands 4200 in Tamworth bus interchange
The oldest buses that operate from the Arriva Tamworth garage are a small batch of Volvo B6's. I had seen one working on the #3 service earlier in the day so I asked Matthew if he wanted to after one of these buses and he said yes. We sat down on a step whilst we waited for the bus to appear. Whilst we waited we saw Solus Coaches MX10 KNR on a #82 to Clifton Campville.

Solus Coaches MX10 KNR in Tamworth bus interchange
We didn't have to wait for long before a Volvo B6 appeared on the #3 service. It was required Arriva Midlands 2615.

Arriva Midlands 2615 in Tamworth bus interchange
We got on the bus and flashed the ticket. We were second on the bus and Matthew took a picture inside Arriva Midlands 2615 as we got on.

Inside Arriva Midlands 2615
With the exception of eleven other buses (2 at Stafford, 4 at Telford and the other 5 based in Tamworth), most of it's brethren have been placed in the reserve fleet. For the non-bus fanatics out there, the reserve fleet are buses which are still serviceable but only come out on special occasions like Shrewsbury flower show or to temporarily cover buses that have been accident damaged. Usually most buses that end up in the reserve fleet quietly go off to the the scrap yard... The only other bus we have had from this batch was Arriva Midlands 2622 which we had for a very short distance in Uttoxeter back in December 2013. At 16:39 when the bus was due to depart we set off onto chuch Street and back past the top of the bus interchange along Aldergate. We passed the Arriva garage and then we crossed over the West Coast main railway line and we turned right into a housing estate. We headed through the Leyfield area of town passing a Scania Omnicity going the other way. We turned onto Cotton Lane before turning back towards town along Fontenaye Road. It looked like we were coming to the circular end of the run so when we passed some shops we got up to get off. The next stop wasn't much further along the road and was outside the pub the Coton Arms which was a timing point on the timetable. We got off in this very spacious estate and we took a picture of Arriva Midlands 2615 as it headed back towards Tamworth.

Arriva Midlands 2615 in Coton Green
We decided to walk the 200 yds or so back to the shops so we could get some supplies for a bus stop picnic. Matthew chose a can of Coke and a bottle of Fanta as well as some chocolate and we headed to the till to pay for them. Matthew said hello to the lady behind the till as well as another lady stocking the shelves. We walked over to the bus stop outside the shops and although there was a shelter there was no seating here. Matthew sat on the ground and drank the Fanta. The rest of the supplies went into the trip bag for future usage... With a 15 minute frequency on this service, between walking shopping and drinking we didn't have to wait very long before the bus back to town appeared. It was a required bus as we have never been on an Arriva Scania Omnicity before. It was Arriva Midlands 3804.

Arriva Midlands 3804 in Coton Green
We got on the bus and flashed the Day Saver. It was empty so Matthew got a picture inside Arriva Midlands 3804 immediately.

Inside Arriva Midlands 3804
The bus set off along Fontenaye Road and back onto Coton Lane. We then headed back the way we came through Leyfeilds and back onto Upper Gungate. We crossed over the railway line and passed the Arriva garage before turning into the bus interchange. We got off the bus and we met up with mum. Matthew decided to take a few more pictures before going to the toilet. On a #116 to Birmingham was required Arriva Midlands Scania 3812.

Arriva Midlands 3812 in Tamworth bus interchange
Behind this was on a #110 to Birmingham was required Arriva Midlands 4202.

Arriva Midlands 4202 in Tamworth bus interchange
Finally we saw required Arriva Midlands 3803 on a #765 to Lichfield.

Arriva Midlands 3803 in Tamworth bus interchange
We walked up to the toilet and Matthew used it. He seemed to take a while. Often when we are waiting for him we wonder if there is another exit and he had gone out of the other door... Eventually he came out and we headed back to the car. The was time to take one more picture as we saw required Arriva Midlands 3802 on a #115 to Coleshill.

Arriva Midlands 3802 in Tamworth bus interchange
We went back to the car where mum had Greggs sausage rolls waiting for us. I was about to get into the car when I saw a step entrance minibus pull up outside the car park. It was Solus Coaches FY02 LDE, but as I saw it from behind I wasn't sure if it was working a service or on private hire. I got in the car and we drove out of town. As we didn't need to eat we could take a different route home. I decided to go North on the A513. We headed out of town over the railway line and past the end of Coton Lane which we had traveled over albeit for a shirt distance whilst on the #3's earlier. We carried on North, passing close to the National Memorial Arboretum. When we got to a recognisable road (the A38) we decided to take this north to the A50. had we carried on along the A513 to King's Bromley we would have been able to do the A515 up to the A50 cutting off a few miles. When we reached the A50 we turned West towards Stoke for a 30 mile run home. We came off the A50 at Longton so that we could go check out what was parked up at Z Carz tonight. There were five buses on the spare ground tonight. First was red LDV DS51 ZJU.

Z Carz DS51 ZJU in Longton
Next was Mercedes minibus S952 VMY.

Z Carz S952 VMY in Longton
Next to this was the white VW minibus OV05 WSW.

Z Carz OV05 WSW in Longton
beside these were a pair of Ford Transit minibuses. The first on was decaled GL04 CVE.

Z Carz GL04 CVE in Longton
The last bus was plain white FP06 WTW.

Z Carz FP06 WTW in Longton
We turned into Willow row where we saw airport transfer taxi YJ61 GYZ. We turned back onto the A50 and from Heathcote Road appeared First Potteries 60072 on a #22 from Newcastle. We carried on along the A50 and e came off at Heron Cross and we traveled through Blurton, At this point it started to bucket down so we slowly went through the estate as the rain came down. By the time we parked up at home the rain had eased off a little so we ran into the house. We got back just before 19:00. We then had a late tea of bangers and mash with carrots followed cake bar. Matthew chilled out on his computer until bedtime around 01:30...Mark

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