Friday, 19 June 2015


On Monday 25th May, as part of Cunard's 175th Anniversary Celebrations, the Three Queens - Mary 2, Victoria and Elizabeth, were on The Mersey at Liverpool together for a short period. Queen Mary 2 arrived the previous day Sunday 24th May, berthing at the Liverpool Cruise Liner Terminal.

Queen Mary 2, Cunard's flagship, the biggest passenger ship ever to sail up The Mersey, slipped away from the Cruise Liner Terminal at 1045 hours on 25th May, majestically making her way to greet her two sisters at Brazil Buoy, between Crosby Beach and New Brighton.

The Three Queens having met up cruised up the River Mersey in convoy, led by the newest of the three, Queen Elizabeth. Essentially, Queen Elizabeth, like Queen Victoria, is a cruise ship in design, rather than an ocean liner, only Queen Mary 2 of the three ships being a true ocean liner. Queen Elizabeth was constructed in Italy between 2007 and 2010, being launched on 5th January 2010. She is the second largest of the Three Queens being slightly larger than Queen Victoria.The ship was formally handed over to Cunard on 4th October 2010, christened at Southampton by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II on 11th October before setting sail on her Maiden Voyage to the Canary Islands the following day.

Queen Elizabeth is followed up the River Mersey by Queen Victoria, and another view of Elizabeth. The spectacle was viewed by an estimated 1.3 million people!

Queen Victoria, the smallest of the Three Queens, was in the middle of the convoy. Like Queen Elizabeth she was built in Italy and launched on 15th January 2007. She left the Port of Venice on 24th August 2007, to commence sea trials, arriving at Southampton on 7th December. On 10th December she was named by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwal, before embarking on maiden voyage the following day, a 10 days cruise to Northern Europe. A cruise to the Canary Islands followed before Queen Victoria embarked on her first World Cruise, circumnavigating the glob in 107 days. The first leg of this cruise was a tandem crossing of the Atlantic with QE2 to New York City where the two ships met with Queen Mary 2 near the Statue of Liberty on 13th January 2008. This was the first time that three Cunard Queens had been present at the same location.

Queen Mary 2, Cunard's flagship, brings up the rear of the convoy. Queen Mary 2, or QM2 as she is often known, was the first ocean liner to be built since QE2. She was constructed in France and launched on 21st March 2003. Her first sea trials took place between 25th. and 29th September 2003, with further trials between 7th and 11th November. Formally handed over to Cunard on 22nd December and arrived in her home port of Southampton on 26th December 2003. Naming by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II took place on 8th January 2004, with the Maiden Voyage to Fort Lauderdale sailing on 12th January.

Another view of Queen Mary 2. This won't be her only visit to Liverpool this year as she is due to return for a special sailing on 4th July to re enact the first transatlantic crossing from Liverpool to the New World in 1840. 400 passengers will embark at Liverpool, sailing to Halifax, Boston and New York, the first time in almost 50 years that people have been able to embark at Liverpool to cross the Atlantic.

The Three Queens make their way up The Mersey on this historic occasion. The first time these three ships had been together was on 13th January 2011, when Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth had made a tandem Atlantic crossing to join big sister Queen Mary 2 at New York City. Twelve months later all three were in Southampton to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II. On 6th May 2014, all three were together at Lisbon and on departure sailed in a line to Southampton, arriving on 9th May 2014. Prior to the 25th May gathering all three were together in Southampton as they returned from cruises.

Now facing down The Mersey the Three Queens pose for the cameras. Queen Elizabeth is out of view, hiding behind Queen Mary 2 in this picture. Queen Victoria is on the Wirrall side of Queen Mary.

Queen Victoria was clearly visible from the Wirral side of the river.

After a fly past by the Red Arrows Queen Mary 2 left the party just after 1400 hours sailing for St. Peter Port. Queen Elizabeth moved to the Cruise Liner Terminal, leaving Queen Victoria in the river. A fireworks display was scheduled for 2230 hours, prior to the departure of Queen Elizabeth, at which point Queen Victoria was due to take her place at the Terminal for an overnight stay.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Ken Jones Travels

Despite changing jobs during the first quarter of this year Ken Jones has still been out and about with his camera and here are just some of the pictures from his first 3 months or so of this year. More pictures at his Flickr site at

Meanwhile his model railway site “kenjonestrains” has been hacked and is indefinitely off line,

The year started on New Year’s Day with a visit to the GCR, where 70013 Oliver Cromwell was one of two engines in steam.

Above shows the locomotive at Loughborough and below shows the engine running round the train at Leicester North.

A trip in February around London by Overground allowed Ken to see 90046 (below) passing Willesden Junction on the WCML and 360111 arriving at Stratford.

 The same day Ken went to West Croydon where in the rain he saw a local bus service operated by LJ56ARO – Arriva PDL 126.

Also local trams 2548, 2554, 2542 in various liveries.

Towards the end of February Ken attended AMRTM twighlight running day and below, travelled on Trent RC 7927 to Sutton Coldfield, whilst back at the museum he found W & D Bristol K and former LT Routemaster under the moon [of love]. 

 In March he was at the Statfold Barn Railway for one of it’s open days where he saw below, vertical boiler locomotive Paddy on the garden railway
and a recently restored locomotive as one of some 17 engines in steam. 

 At the start of April he visited the East Lancs Railway where 2 saddle tanks were in service along with class 50 locomotive “Valiant”.

Above Swiftsure” and below 50015 and again there was quite a bit of rain

A quick visit to Bury transport museum and here are two of the vehicles on display, Yelloway AEC NNC 855P and Lanchashire United 116 JTD.

 Finally whilst at the Kirkby Stephen Easter Rally Ken and others visited the very Friendly Eden Valley Railway for a tour of the site at Warcop including rolling stock such as the shunter and the Thumper which was in service.


Thursday, 23 April 2015


With major changes due by the end of Summer 2015, the history of the Park-&-Ride network of services in Norwich can be traced back to the early 1990s with the establishment of the first site at the city’s airport. Progressively other purpose-built sites were opened at Costessy, Harford, Postwick, Sprowston and Thickthorn all up and running by 2005. Buses operated on the services in the early days were Leyland Nationals, Dennis Darts and Scania saloons. 


Between 2005-2010 local council contracts saw the sites  managed and operated by three companies: First, konectbus and Norse, the latter the bus and coach operating arm of Norfolk County Council. Thickthorn Park & Ride was operated by konectbus using pink VDL Bus DB250/Wrightbus Pulsar Gemini's, Harford Park & Ride by First using blue Volvo B7TL/Alexander Dennis ALX400's, Airport by Norse using yellow Irisbus Agora Line's saloons, Costessey by konectbus using green Optare Tempos, Postwick by Norse using Irisbus Agora Lines and Sprowston by First with purple Volvo B7RLE/Eclipse Urban's.


The current contracts run from 2010-2015 and are operated as follows.

Route 601 to/from Thickthorn on the south west side of the city and is currently operated by konectbus, now part of the Go-Ahead Group, using the fleet of three pink liveried VDL Bus/Wrightbus double-deckers.

Route 602 to/from Harford on the south side currently also run by konectbus with three blue Dennis Trident/ADL Enviro400 double-deckers.

Route 603 to/from Norwich International Airport to the north operated by Norse with four ex.London General TransBus Trident/President double-deckers in turquoise livery.

Route 604 to/from Costessy on the west side, alongside the Royal Norfolk Showground is the third route operated by konectbus currently with three Mercedes-Benz Citaro G articulated single-deckers. These are also ex.London General and originally used on the Red Arrow routes in Central London.

Routes 605 and 606 were originally operated separately as Postwick (605) to the east and Sprowston (606) to the north east. In 2011 Norfolk County Council merged the two routes in order to create a cross-city service. They are also operated by Norse with TransBus Tridents, three in purple and three in an orange/red livery.

Norse also operate some of their fleet in a common white-based livery to be used as and when required on any of their three routes.

Now though with the current contracts to end in September, significant changes are due to be made. Konectbus will take over the running of all six routes on the network, using a fleet of brand new ADL Enviro400 double-deckers, supplemented by the bendibuses and one of the current double-deckers on route 602.
In addition the company will also assume the overall operation of the main Norwich bus station and all the Park-&-Ride sites.
Interesting times ahead.