Rather ominous is today's date: Friday the thirteenth of April. Yet it was chosen as the official launch date of Stagecoach in Lincolnshire's 7 ADL Tridents with ADL Enviro 400 bodies. Fleet & registration numbers are as follows: 19121-7 (FX07 CLV/Y/Z & FX07 CME/F/K/O), all are H47/29F.
Paul and I cought Stagecoach in Lincolnshire's Connect 3 from Grimsby bus station at 0857. This is a Lincoln depot working and was Volvo B7TL/East Lancs Myllennium, 16909 (FX53 TXC). Upon arrival in Lincoln we let the first Enviro we saw go in order for me to photograph it while exiting the bus station. This was 19122. We planned to catch the next departure at 1105 to Grantham.
The Lincoln - Grantham route was initially a double-decker operated service, numbered 601 and latterly titled the "KestevenLink". In 2002 the service was altered to Connect 1 under the umbrella of Lincolnshire County Council's flagship InterConnect Network and saw its frequency double to every half-hour. A new batch of buses were purchased specifically for the route, MAN/East Lancs Myllennium single deckers - 821-6 (FY52 PLX/Z & FY52 PMO/U/V/X), all have dual purpose seating and through 2005/6 were steadily removed from the route due to reliability problems. Now numbered 39601-6 respectively, as part of the Stagecoach fleet, they are confined to Lincoln city and suburban services.
The Connect 1 boasts an increase in ridership of over 70% since the frequency was doubled, and over 11,000 people use the service each week. Impressive figures, so impressive the route warranted an increase in vehicle size.
19121 was our first vehicle, fresh from the depot, forming the 1105 departure. We're pretty sure it replaced 16919 (B7/Myllennium) that had been operating on there hitherto. We travelled all the way to Grantham and got off at 1225. Next was 19127 on the 1305 departure; this vehicle is classed as the spare and consequently has no branding for the route. We alighted in the small village of Caythorpe at 1336, or rather theoretically we should have! This journey was 15 mins late so we missed the shot needed of a southbound vehicle (19124) with the impressive village church in the background. This meant hanging around here for 30 mins. The wait was well worth it as the next southbound vehicle, 19122, was snapped looking resplendent with the church behind it; a cracking shot!
Next was 19125 on the 1436 service to Lincoln; we alighted at the even smaller village of Welbourn, specifically for me to recreate a shot our LEYTR Treasurer, Richard Belton, had captured 4 years earlier, of one of the then new MANs rejoining the main road (A607) from the village. Walking from the bus stop at 1446 to the main road took no time at all and I ended up photographing 19121 here (the first bus we'd caught). Back to the bus stop for the next service north, formed by 19124 at 1516. This vehicle had been present at the recent bus rally at the Road Transport Museum in Lincoln the Sunday before so I'd photographed it numerous times.
We got off in the large(ish) village of Navenby at 1524, though were running a few minutes late, meaning that no sooner had I got off and photographed it, the southbound service at 1533 arrived in the form of 19123 - hitherto photographed as it had taken part in the official launch a few hours earlier. 16920 had been operating the Connect 1 up to the 1505 departure from Lincoln, meaning now a full set of 6 Enviros were operating the route.
After a quick photo opportunity at Hodsons Coaches in the village, we caught the 1554 Connect 1 into Lincoln for 1625, working was 19122, the first vehicle I'd photographed this morning. This meant I'd photographed all by 19126 today (apparently it had suffered a mechanical problem the day before) and ridden on all except 19123 & 19126. They're on my 'outstanding' list!
We caught the 1650 Connect 3 back to Grimsby. Worked by a Grimsby depot driver, we ran late throughout. The vehicle was 16908 (FX53 TXB), another Volvo B7TL/East Lancs Myllennium decker. The 1921 arrival was a shade optomistic, as we arrived in Grimsby at 1930.