Bumper Big Weekend Special

Drafted in by First from Ipswich were 32655 and 32656, along with
heritage liveried 32479.
This Saturday and Sunday, as I am sure you are aware, saw BBC Radio 1 visit Norwich's Earlham Park with a whole load of big names in the music industry, from the likes of Olly Murs all the way through to Foo Fighters and Muse. For those of us enthusiasts who didn't manage to get their hands on tickets, we instead turned up to photograph the unbelievable amount of bus movements taking place to ferry the some 40,000 visitors a day to and from the event.

As reported earlier  here on the blog as and when news came in, local operators First and Konectbus had the biggest look in on special services. First operated additional buses on the 25 and 26 to the event and two evening shuttles serving housing estates on the East and West sides of Greater Norwich, as well as additional early morning buses on the X1 and X2. Konectbus operated park and ride shuttles from Costessey Park and Ride site, and County Hall - which over the weekend acted as a temporary parking site for visitors.

Gemini 36179 displaying one of the special destinations programmed
by First ahead of the event.
First Eastern Counties Business Manager Chris Speed described this weekend to me as "one of the biggest weekends ever for Eastern Counties". To put Saturday and Sunday operations into perspective, from 23:00 on both evenings a bus left Earlham Park for Norwich approximately every 30 seconds completely full. In the mornings, 25 and 26 buses from the Rail Station were so full that most buses were displaying "Sorry... Bus Is Full" before they reached the City Centre bus stops. First also programmed special destination screens on all Norwich based vehicles displaying "Radio 1 Big Weekend", as seen here on Norwich Gemini 36179 BD11CFZ; buses drafted in from other depots displayed the standard 25 and 26 destinations for the University of East Anglia. Shortly after I took this shot, 36179 flicked its destination across to the full message and drove direct to the temporary stop for Earlham Park on Bluebell Road. A special mention bus go to First for their incredible effort organising and utilizing the Big Weekend operation, especially to Chris Speed who completed two eighteen hour shifts to ensure punters were safely home, and still made time to chat with the enthusiasts!

One of the Konectbus bendys employed on Park and Ride shuttles,
seen during one of the wetter periods.
Konectbus also done extremely well coping with the high number of passengers descending upon their buses. At peak period before the festival site opened, a fully laden articulated Mercedes Benz Citaro was sighted on the Costessey service - which for most of the day ran at 5 minutes intervals. Identified as Blue Parking, the Costessey Park and Ride service was worked by Mercedes Benz Citaros for most of the weekend, with deckers making an appearance also. Over on the Yellow Parking County Hall route, 3 & 6 branded Alexader Dennis Enviro400s made up numbers for most of the weekend, with Sunday also seeing a Wright Pulsar Gemini bodied VDL DB250LF and a standard liveried Enviro400. Buses from County Hall ran at slightly less frequent intervals, particularly during the less busier periods in the afternoon. Seen here among an abundance of yellow traffic cones, and rain, is Mercedes Benz Citaro 800 BD57WDA on Earlham Road - which was labelled a no stopping tow zone for the day, that being that as soon as a car stopped, a recovery vehicle was sent to get nudge them on and point them in the direction of parking at Costessey Park and Ride. Norfolk Police, Eventguard and Norfolk Recovery done a simply excellent job at keeping the roads clear for buses.

One of the Norse vehicles drafted in, with a further two parked up
behind on The Avenues (c) Sam Larke
To cope with enormous passenger demands on the evening shuttles between 23:00 and 02:00 the next morning, which were frankly astonishing, First hired in ten buses from Norse - all of which were Plaxton President bodied Dennis Tridents from the Park and Ride fleet. Sam tells me the entire breakdown of Norse was four Airport vehicles, one Postwick liveried and three generic Norse liveried examples. The loaned buses were driven by Norse drivers on shuttles to the Bus Station, returning out of service back to The Avenues to ferry more passengers. Also noted working evening shuttles from other depots were 32655, 32656 and 32479 from Ipswich, 30889 from Lowestoft, 32061 from Great Yarmouth and X1 Enviro400 33808.

Due to work commitments, I was unable to witness this spectacular sight, however, contributor Sam Larke has shown me pictures of the masses of double deckers rowed up along The Avenues ready to be consecutively pulled up to the pick up point on Bluebell Road. 

What a weekend, for the enthusiasts and music fans - I'm sure it was an excellent weekend for all operators involved business-wise aswell. It was a great opportunity to meet so many readers for the first time, and catch up with the ones I have already met!
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About Kieran Smith

Norwich Buses Blog was founded in December 2013 by Sam Larke after he left another popular blog, Norwich Bus Page. Since it's launch, the site has grown dramatically, especially whilst written solely by Kieran Smith during 2015. The blog is now in it's third year and we look forward to more success and growth in the future. If you think you'd make a good writer for Norwich Buses Blog, please do get in touch via email: samuel.larke@gmail.com
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