Thursday, 26 December 2013

Statement re suspension of trading

On 18 December following consultation with the finance company that underwrites our VOSA financial standing and invoice discounting facilities, a decision was made for Classic Bus North West Ltd (CBNW Ltd) to suspend trading. The services being operated on the CBNW Ltd licence were therefore suspended, affecting services 80 (Blackpool - Poulton - Preston) and the Red Rocket Express (although the operation of this was going to be paused after Xmas).
The decision was taken against a background of increasing amounts owed to the business and losses on the bus refurbishment side of the business, affecting cash flow and our ability to keep pace with payroll obligations. Some staff have been laid off and it is likely that there will be redundancies. The decision DOES NOT affect service 22, which operates on the Oakwood Travel licence, and we are now working closely with our principal stakeholders to develop a fresh and sustainable operation through Oakwood Travel Services Ltd.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Red Rocket shuttles in orbit!

'Houston, we have a problem' is right up there with 'Beam me up Scotty' at the top of the spaceflight-related quotations tree. To get the negatives out of the way first, we have been experiencing some teething troubles with our Bendybuses, thought mainly to do with being more used to crawling around London's city streets and now we are expecting them, after being laid idle for a few years in store, to run the London marathon everyday (well, up and down the M61). MAL41 is the only one in service at the moment with MAL53 due back in service next week. Unfortunately, MAL49 is out of use and requires a new engine.
Anyway, the upshot of this is that other buses from the fleet have had to be drafted in to operate Red Rocket journeys. Saturday 30 November was our busiest day so far though and extra buses duplicated the 09:00 from Blackpool with even a Dennis Dart venturing to Manchester! Later in the day, Volvo B10M no.898 operated the last return journey - a bus no stranger to Manchester having started life with Stagecoach Manchester for the busy 192 Piccadilly to Hazel Grove service.
898 works the last departure of the day from Manchester at 20:00 on Sat 30 November

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

From Harrogate to Blackpool

601 & 611 collected from Lancashire United at Blackburn today.
The first two of a possible batch of six former Transdev Harrogate Volvo B6 buses were collected today from sister Transdev company, Lancashire United. They are former 601 and 611 in the Harrogate fleet and have been purchased by CBNW initially to replace some of the Darts on service 22 but they are also likely to be destined for regular use on new service 80 which will be operated by CBNW from December.
We are taking on this route on a commercial basis from Lancashire County Council (LCC) and the current subsidised service operated by cumfybus has been cancelled. From 09 December, the service will be revised to operate Blackpool - Victoria Hospital - Poulton - Preston every hour with a reduced evening and sunday operation. As a result of our registration of the service, other services subsidised by LCC are being amended to fill the Poulton-Fleetwood link and parts of the 75/76 Fylde Villager network.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Is that a Red Rocket?

Looking a bit out of place in the rural setting of Bruntingthorpe are MAL41 & MAL53 following collection from storage at the Leicestershire airfield.
Life has never been busier here at Classic Bus North West and I'm afraid this is the reason for the lack of blog postings over the summer months.
Our current project is to start the RedRocket Express service to Manchester which will use former GoAhead London Mercedes Benz Citaros. See
Three of these superb vehicles have been acquired initially to be dedicated to the new route. They are MAL41 (BD52LNU), MAL49 (BD52LNF) and MAL53 (BL52ODK).

Monday, 29 July 2013

Catching up with SeaFront 12

Summer is passing by so quickly and blog posts have been few and far between over recent weeks, which are our busiest months of the year. Catching up with SeaFront 12, the service was extended to St.Annes from 20th July, as well as starting the evening operation with later journeys between Pleasure Beach and Norbreck Hotel only.
On the bus front, Routemasters are now making some appearances on SF12 and also "Wallace & Gromit" liveried Olympian 269 has returned to service and will be dedicated to the sea front operation until the autumn closure. The next Olympian to return to Sea Front service is no stranger to the Promenade, having previously operated in orange/yellow Line 1 livery with Blackpool Transport. It is ex-Trent Olympian 701 (XAU701Y) which has received a poppy red & white front (echoing its NBC Trent days) and an all-over advert for the Pleasure Beach Hot Ice show.
701 - returning to active duty on SF12 after returning to Classic Bus North West custody following its previous loan to the LTT collection. In this view it was posed at Mereside and clearly shows the NBC inspired Poppy Red and White front echoing its early days at Trent. (Philip Higgs)

Saturday, 22 June 2013


The biggest bus in Blackpool has now entered service on SeaFront 12 in its eye-catching Wallace & Gromit advert livery for the Pleasure Beach's new "Thrill-o-matic" ride. This 102-seater bus is the first of two ex-Big Bus open tops to join the fleet of CBNW for the 2013 season. It originated as one of arouund 80+ tri axle Metrobuses delivered to China motor bus (CMB) back in 1988. Its first day of use on SeaFront 12 was Friday 21 June.
102-seater MCW Metrobus 69 on SeaFront 12

Thursday, 6 June 2013

A Cracking Contraption!

The finishing touches are being put to former Big Bus Tours MCW Metrobus open top F69SYE and its wrap for Wallace & Gromit. 69 is now looking superb in its stunning advert livery that will certainly turn heads this summer on SeaFront 12. F69SYE last carried passengers back in 2009 and it is expected to start operating on 12s during mid-June.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Lothian 269 un-wrapped

Former Lothian Olympian 269 has been unwrapped of its Pleasure Beach vinyl advert applied in 2010 to reveal its maroon & white livery once more. However, it will not be for long because 269 is currently out of service for receipt of a new vinyl wrap for the Pleasure Beach's "Thrill-o-matic" ride, inspired by the much loved characters Wallace & Gromit. 269 will be joined by one of the MCW open top double deckers in a turquoise based scheme.
269 with its Pleasure Beach vinyl wrap removed.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Heritage Day a Success!

The loan of two LTT buses to Classic Bus North West on Saturday 25 May for its first Heritage Day proved to be quite a success. Blackpool 529 and Lytham 19 joined CBNW's own London Routemaster RM1568 on the 30-min Saturday service. This was the first working of a Blackpool PD3 on service 22 since back in 1988 when the type was withdrawn from service by Blackpool Transport. Many local passengers were surprised by the arrival of the vintage buses and enthusiasts, some travelling from as far south as London, enjoyed the heritage workings. Further heritage dates are now being discussed with CBNW.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Heritage Day Timetable

Blackpool 529, Lytham 19 and an iconic London Routemaster will be operating on Classic Bus North West's "Catch 22" service this Saturday on the first heritage day. Full details have now been published on the Catch 22 website.
The CBNW depot will also be open to visitors and will feature a display of CBNW and LTT owned buses. It will be the first time that a Blackpool PD3 has operated on service 22 for nearly 25 years, with the last PD3s being withdrawn from regular service in November 1988.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Welcome to the fleet 915

Another vehicle to join the CBNW fleet from the Stagecoach clan is Olympian 915 (P915RYO) which has just returned from respray into all-over red livery. 915 joins us from Stagecoach North West but it was acquired by Stagecoach from the Yorkshire Traction acquisition. Prior to this, 915 was new to London Central as NV115 as a dual-door vehicle in 1997.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Routemaster to Cleveleys

As a Bank Holiday weekend treat, Routemaster RML887 ventured out on Sea Front 12 on the Monday allowing a number of the usual output on our 12/22 services to be kept in for washing and maintenance. It was the first use of a Routemaster on the 2013 timetable and this photo records RML887's first journey as far north as Cleveleys; the 2012 service only operated as far north as Uncle Tom's Cabin.
RML887's first arrival at Cleveleys on Mon 6th May (photo: David Umpleby)

Dart 162 finally returns!

After over 6 months off the road, our Dart 162 finally returned to passenger service on 8th May. Unfortunately, 162 experienced a lot of mechanical and electrical problems from the start of its entry into service with us back in September 2012. It has required a replacement rear axle, electrical components including gearbox and "aladdin" brain boxes, a rewiring of the looms at the rear end of the bus and replacement brake parts. After gradually working through the issues over the last few months, and a lengthy spell at Ribblesdale Auto Electrics, the bus is finally earning its keep again!
162 posed at Mereside turning circle and not really going to "Royal Albert Hall" after finally returning to service following a four-month hibernation in the bus depot. (Photo: David Umpleby)

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Dart 652 returns from respray

Former Metroline but latterly Ensignbus Dennis Dart 652 returned from respray today, looking superb in all-over London red, contrasting with its previous faded Metroline red & blue. Indeed, it is thought to be the bus' first repaint since new in 2001. The seats from 652 are being retrimmed and the handrails are being powder coated with an expected return to passenger service during May.
Dart 652 gleaming in a fresh coat of London red.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Gazette bus advertises new look for 140 year old paper

Olympian 325 was unveiled today in its all-over wrapped advertisement for the new look Gazette newspaper. The first copies of The Gazette rolled off the presses on April 3, 1873. In the 140 years which have followed The Gazette has gone from strength to strength. The newspaper has gone from a weekly to daily, changed size, moved offices and had several owners. The new look Gazette has several exciting new sections, including today’s community news pull-out, revamped entertainment and sport offerings as well as new platforms for junior 
reporters, columnists, readers’ letters and nostalgia.
325 has a busy week ahead on promotional work for the Gazette but it will then be scheduled for a 6-7 day week on services 12, 22, 72 & 73. Classic Bus North West are very proud to be working in conjunction with the Gazette to promote their new look local newspaper.

Friday, 29 March 2013

SeaFront 12 returns

SeaFront 12 returned to Blackpool Promenade today with the spring timetable offering a 20-min service between Pleasure Beach and Cleveleys Bus Station, with some morning journeys starting at either Norbreck Hotel or outside the Cliffs Hotel. After the Easter school holidays are over, the midweek service will be confined to the Tower-Cleveleys section, occupying buses off our Blackpool college contracts between 0900 & 1600.
The spring service will use Olympians 269, 324 & 325 and the Volvo B10Ms 898 & 899.
898 on its first SF12 duty ready to depart from Norbreck Hotel.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Mercedes Bends to Blackpool!

On the evening of 4th March our most ambitious bus to date joined the ranks of CBNW - at least for a month - a former Go Ahead "London Central" bendybus! The bus is on loan for a 1-month evaluation trial which, if successful, may result in us purchasing further examples for a new project. Many of you will know that the Bendybuses were seen as the answer to 100% floor accessibility coupled with speed of boarding in central London and around 350 of these £250k+ buses were introduced between 2002 and 2005, some replacing the traditional Routemaster. However, politics dictated their long term operation in the city and by December 2011 they had all been withdrawn, some with just over 100,000 miles on the clock!
Ex-Go Ahead MAL49 (reg BD52LNF) will not be used in passenger service during the trial period but the superb condition of the bus will be appropriate for its intended use.
MAL49 captured at Victoria on route 436 during its relatively short service life with Go-Ahead London Central.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

CBNW joins Competition Review case-study

Back in January 2010, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) referred local bus services to the Competition Commission (CC) for investigation and report. It was December 2011 before the CC produced its comprehensive final report (see but one of the conclusions of the report was that new entrants to the bus industry were uncommon.
This week, Classic Bus North West has been invited to be one of a select number of new entrants to the bus market to take part in a 5-year case study which will monitor the extent and reaction of competition in the local bus market. As part of the case studies, the selected operators will submit quarterly reports to the consultants which will include a range of empirical research. CBNW welcomes the research, with other operators selected being regarded as competing with examples of the major bus groups.
Service 22 started operation in September 2012 and CBNW is regarded as a 'new entrant' to the local bus market. This week, CBNW agreed to take part in a 5-year case study that will monitor the effectiveness, or otherwise of competition in local bus markets of operators that have been established since the Competition Commission's 2011 report.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Another Dart joins the fold

A further Dennis Dart has been acquired to strengthen our low-floor operation of service 22. Former Metroline DLD182 was one of a batch of 20+ Plaxton bodied Darts delivered new to Metroline in London in June 2001 but upon withdrawal in 2012 it passed to dealer Ensignbus. It operated briefly for Ensignbus on rail replacement work but was sold to us earlier in February.
Although mechanically in superb condition, its appearance shows years of hard work with Metroline and it looks like it has never been repainted. Before entering service with CBNW on service 22, Y652NLO will be internally refurbished and externally resprayed in red livery.
Y652NLO on its return journey to Blackpool

Big Mama II acquired

Following the arrival of "Big Mama" earlier in the month comes news of our second example to be acquired from Big Bus Tours, reg F69SYE. Like no.326, this bus has been out of service with the London sightseeing operator since 2009 and needs refurbishment work.
F69SYE prepares to depart from the Earlsfield premises of Big Bus Tours

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Cardiff VRT returns

During the summer of 2012, our open top ex-Cardiff Bristol VRT enjoyed a summer holiday in Weston Super Mare where it operated with our good friends at Crosville Motor Services. It has now been exchanged for our genuine ex-Crosville VRT DCA528X and so WTG360T, still wearing the livery it operated in Bournemouth in 2008, will rejoin the CBNW operating fleet this summer. It is planned that "360" will be repainted in our red fleet livery ready for the summer months.
360 is the first of four more additions to the fleet this week. Watch this space....
360 arrives back in Blackpool after its summer holiday in Weston Super Mare with Crosville

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Catch 22 - Heritage Running Day

Buses from the LTT collection will be operating in passenger service on Saturday 25 May. In co-operation with the Lancastrian Transport Trust, we are hosting a Heritage Running Day on our "Catch 22" between Mereside and Cleveleys. Buses will operate every 30 minutes on the Saturday service and a selection of buses are being considered including Blackpool PD3 No.529, Routemaster 521 (RM1583), Atlantean 334 & Swift 570, Fylde 71, Lytham 19, Ribble 1997 as well as some other surprises. More details to follow...
Former Blackpool Atlantean is to be inspected soon for MoT exam as one of the heritage buses that will operate on service 22 on Saturday 25 May.

Monday, 11 February 2013

143 pressed into service

Dart 143 was pressed into service today, a little earlier than planned, to replace Dart 163 which developed a problem in service and had to be replaced by Olympian 324 which was booked to undertake the return journey on College contract 72.
143 posed at Fleetwood after its first passenger carrying duty with CBNW on 11 Feb.
It has become almost fate that each new Dart undertakes its maiden voyage with CBNW on the 72 contract and newly acquired 143 has proved to be no exception! It has had its front repainted in CBNW red but the sides & rear retain all-over white for a planned advert livery. 143's destination box has yet to be refitted.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Support Paul Maynard MP's e-petition

Paul Maynard MP, elected at the 2010 general election as the Member of Parliament for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, is inviting support for an e-petition to force Blackpool Coucil to debate its road transport strategy, and in particular the congestion on Blackpool Promenade following the paved "shared space" area with its three zebra crossings and 20mph speed limit.
If 1,500 people sign the petition then the council has to debate the matter and Paul will get 5 minutes to present his case that Blackpool Council’s road management is not conducive to private investment and therefore is stopping jobs being created. It is affecting the reliability of bus services and increasing journey times for all transport users.
Classic Bus North West ask you to sign this petition. Just click on the link below and follow the instructions. It does not matter where you live, Blackpool, Cleveleys or any other part of the country. Each signature is as valid as the next, as the Council itself has made clear in guidance.
Find out more...

Traffic congestion on Blackpool Promenade

Monday, 4 February 2013

Meet our Oriental Big Mama!

Well it's only been with us a few days, but this beast has already been christened "Big Mama" and at 102 seats, it will be the biggest bus in Blackpool this summer. It has come from our friends at "Big Bus Tours" of London but its origins are far more oriental. Now 326 in our fleet, this tri-axle MCW Metrobus was new to China Motor Bus in Hong Kong in 1988. After withdrawal from service, several of the batch were imported back to the UK where they gained a new lease of life as either high capacity school buses or open top sightseeing vehicles on London tour work. DZ7095 from CMB became F326UJN with Big Bus Tours of London following open top conversion.
The MCWs were later joined by ex-Hong Kong Olympians and Condors and following new vehicle purchases, the MCWs were retired after the 2009 summer season and placed in store. Three of them remained in Big Bus ownership at the beginning of 2013 and 326 has been acquired for the CBNW operating fleet, where it will replace Bristol VRT 528 (DCA528X), following refurbishment work.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Dart 145 enters service

Dart 145 was taxed from 1st February allowing the bus to carry its first passengers since 2009 when it was withdrawn for refurbishment by Metroline in London. Looking superb and much younger than its 14 years of age, 145 was used on the afternoon working of college contract 72 and this view shows it with the Fleetwood Mount in the background.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Another Twin arrives - meet Dart 143

A few postings ago, we highlighted the number of twins in the CBNW operating fleet. Well today we added another one! Former Metroline Dart DA143 joins its sister DA145, which itself joined our fleet back in November last year and will enter service after 1st February following its respray into CBNW all-red livery.
DA143 followed an identical career to 145. It was new to Armchair in May 1999 and operated in Brentford, initially in their orange & white livery until the company was acquired by Metroline in 2004. These Alexander bodied Darts had a relatively short operating life, being withdrawn for refurbishment for the 209 service but then placed in store and later returned off-lease in December 2010. DA143 passed to dealer Southdown PSV, was resprayed all-white and then sold onto Gardbus based at Ringwood near Bournemouth. It was put up for sale in December 2012 and CBNW agreed to purchase the vehicle, being collected today and driven up from Bournemouth.
143 in service with Gardbus and pictured at Ringwood in summer 2012
However, 143 is not the only addition to the fleet today - but the more exciting arrival can wait for another day....

Monday, 28 January 2013

Olympian 269 - part of the Royale family

269 in Edinburgh during its final summer of operation in its native city
CBNW has several examples of the successful Olympian chassis in our operating fleet, including former Lothian 269, a 33ft long Alexander bodied 'Royale' example. This vehicle was acquired through dealer Ensignbus but was selected and collected direct from Lothian Buses garage in Edinburgh. 269, along with other Royales, was withdrawn from Edinburgh service in June 2009 and passed to CBNW in December of the same year. Initially used solely on College contracts, our expansion of activities with "SeaFront 12" and "Catch22" has seen 269 back in active service and is popular with the drivers - mainly because of its excellent cab heater!
Summer 2012 and 269 is captured operating on SeaFront 12
The bus is earmarked for a new all-over advert or, failing that, CBNW fleet livery for the summer of 2013 which will refresh its appearance.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Goodbye RMLs 2290/2734

After six summer seasons operating with Classic Bus North West, RMLs 2290 & 2734 have been returned to their owner Graham Oliver who has sold them onto Ensignbus. Both buses have been used on wedding hires since 2007 and saw use on Sea Front 12 during 2012 as part of the Routemaster allocation. Now, both buses are destined for pastures new...
We would like to place on record our thanks to Graham for the use of these buses but now it is time to move on and their departure will make way for some even more exciting vehicles for 2013 that will be landing in Blackpool over the next few weeks....