First Bus Refurbishments

JumpinTrainz

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Just looking to find out as a matter of interest - what level of budget First have for refurbishing their buses. I have noticed a real variation on buses which do get a midlife refresh and others which have the same interior for most (if not all) of their virtual life.

Particularly in Glasgow I have noticed most of the B7RLEs and B7TLs have never seen a refresh with the seats threadbare. On the other side of that the B9TLs saw quite an extensive refurb with new flooring, seat covers and grab poles refurbed. The B10BLEs kept roughly the same interior with some seat coverings being redone but again some were rather firm and uncomfortable.

Focusing on FIG the E400s are really worn inside and the fabric has really faded in terms of seat coverings. Wouldn’t it give buses a life extension if it was mandatory to get a refresh mid life and keep the buses updated with the latest branding to keep them uniform
 
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TheGrandWazoo

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Just looking to find out as a matter of interest - what level of budget First have for refurbishing their buses. I have noticed a real variation on buses which do get a midlife refresh and others which have the same interior for most (if not all) of their virtual life.

Particularly in Glasgow I have noticed most of the B7RLEs and B7TLs have never seen a refresh with the seats threadbare. On the other side of that the B9TLs saw quite an extensive refurb with new flooring, seat covers and grab poles refurbed. The B10BLEs kept roughly the same interior with some seat coverings being redone but again some were rather firm and uncomfortable.

Focusing on FIG the E400s are really worn inside and the fabric has really faded in terms of seat coverings. Wouldn’t it give buses a life extension if it was mandatory to get a refresh mid life and keep the buses updated with the latest branding to keep them uniform
It depends on the OpCo and the types of vehicle.

First Glasgow have obviously been refurbishing the B9TLs and bringing them up to CAZ/LEZ compliance; it makes sense as they have a longer life anyway than the singles. B7RLEs, or at least the majority, are now of an age where they probably won't be treated; there chance has probably gone. There are various OpCos that are already converting 2004/5 B7RLEs to driver trainers to replace B10BLEs anyway.

Going more widely, First's refurbishment programme varies across the country. Note that you say the latest branding to keep them uniform.... There is no standard spec as such on refurbs (and indeed new fleet). For instance:

First Midlands newly refurbished Citaros for Worcester https://www.flickr.com/photos/34016627@N07/49394717362/in/photolist-2ifQQzY-2ifwvC5
First Kernow - this is on 2016/2018 e400mmc but was used to refurb their Solars https://www.flickr.com/photos/jongr...Q7T-9ydG9D-WtpP3j-9zVL6j-8kQHCV-t8zDQE-u57Xn5
First Cymru use a blue version of the Kernow one on refurbished B9s and some 56 plate Eclipses - https://www.flickr.com/photos/joshs...g1Y-DRaw5H-EuL9b9-wqAkSz-gDPV1Q-ZcQpp3-uKTHDq
First West of England used this on their new e400mmc gas buses but also refurbished some B9s with it https://www.flickr.com/photos/14167...u-YwUHDo-2feQKLP-2cKa1ue-SoutaC-wY6fXs-m5omLV

Note that First West of England did refurbish a number of vehicles about 2017 with the original barbie interior moquette rather than the later version (the one that faded badly).

There is an argument doing mid life refurbishments and that is something that Stagecoach have been generally good at. First are probably in the zone where there are a good number of 2008-9 deckers that have got another 6 years in them that could justify the spend, a few 2010/1 vehicles (not many as most went to London) that will need doing soon (as per the Glasgow e400 you mention) and then into a more robust programme of refurbishment of the fleet that then arrived from 2012 onwards. However, it all depends on the financials at the time and that is a great unknown.
 

43055

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Not just varying across the country but also route. Recently first potteries upgraded three routes with brands and new liverys. For some reason the two routes with the single deck omnicitys got a internal refurbishment (I think simular to the images above) but the route with the Volvo B7TLs and almost threadbare seats did not.
 

Jordan Adam

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First Glasgow have obviously been refurbishing the B9TLs and bringing them up to CAZ/LEZ compliance; it makes sense as they have a longer life anyway than the singles. B7RLEs, or at least the majority, are now of an age where they probably won't be treated; there chance has probably gone. There are various OpCos that are already converting 2004/5 B7RLEs to driver trainers to replace B10BLEs anyway.
Quite a number of older Euro 3 B7RLEs have been refurbished (deep clean, repaint & retrim), but this tends to be more sporadic and not to the same extend as the Geminis. Of note Glasgows 69182 has just been done while Aberdeens 69124 was done at the end of last year.

69124 a few months back:
 

TheGrandWazoo

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Quite a number of older Euro 3 B7RLEs have been refurbished (deep clean, repaint & retrim), but this tends to be more sporadic and not to the same extend as the Geminis. Of note Glasgows 69182 has just been done while Aberdeens 69124 was done at the end of last year.

69124 a few months back:
Indeed, and I did mention I felt that for the majority, it was too late. I did mention that First Cymru had refurbished some 56 plates last year.

There are probable exceptions for services that don't penetrate the CAZ (e.g. Dumbarton locals) but for many, the expenditure on vehicles that are now 14/15 years old with perhaps only 3 years in service may not be justifiable. That said, who knows what will happen with the CAZ and First's vehicle purchasing with CV19.

As @43055 mentions, they have refurbished some 2006 Omnicities (though they're quite modern for Potteries) but the cash didn't extend to three very tired late model B7TLs that did get a new branding/livery. So uniform in First is generally anything but.
 

cnjb8

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From what I gather, Kernows recent influx of Volvo B7TLs will only receive an exterior refurbishment, not interior.
 

overthewater

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Pretty much nothing for refurbs in First Scotland East and its been like this for donkey years.
 

TheGrandWazoo

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From what I gather, Kernows recent influx of Volvo B7TLs will only receive an exterior refurbishment, not interior.
Those vehicles in the WX05 and WX55 batches were refurbished by First WoE in 2013, as were some of the WX56 batch. The SF54's only staged for a short time in Bristol but didn't seem too bad so don't know if they were ever treated? The ex Hampshire ones were also refurbished.
 

Aaron Ashton

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Quite a number of older Euro 3 B7RLEs have been refurbished (deep clean, repaint & retrim), but this tends to be more sporadic and not to the same extend as the Geminis. Of note Glasgows 69182 has just been done while Aberdeens 69124 was done at the end of last year.

69124 a few months back:
shame they didn't do the flip up seats to the right there!....
 

MB162435

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Very few buses have had interior refurbs with Kernow and was the same during First Devon and Cornwall days, once a bus gets tired and worn they are quite often replaced with something new or of better quality and standard, although at least with Kernow older buses now have exterior repaints more often than in D&C days

I believe some of First South West's Truronian Coaches have had interior refurbs on arrival to the company, can't recall any buses tho
 

TheGrandWazoo

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Very few buses have had interior refurbs with Kernow and was the same during First Devon and Cornwall days, once a bus gets tired and worn they are quite often replaced with something new or of better quality and standard, although at least with Kernow older buses now have exterior repaints more often than in D&C days

I believe some of First South West's Truronian Coaches have had interior refurbs on arrival to the company, can't recall any buses tho
Some of the EL Tridents (e.g. 32760-2) got eLeather when in Plymouth. Also, travelled on one of the ex AC Solars up in Bridgwater which had been refurbished; I don't know if it was done in Kernow but might think more likely than Somerset.

However, fair to say that many vehicles have simply been towards the end of their lives and refurbs just weren't cost effective.
 

MB162435

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Some of the EL Tridents (e.g. 32760-2) got eLeather when in Plymouth. Also, travelled on one of the ex AC Solars up in Bridgwater which had been refurbished; I don't know if it was done in Kernow but might think more likely than Somerset.

However, fair to say that many vehicles have simply been towards the end of their lives and refurbs just weren't cost effective.
Definitely in D&C days, you could hardly justify refurbishing a claped out Olympian!

Kernow certainly went about the best way, replace the fleet over time and start fresh, it's taken time a good few years, but better long term than trying to keep an ancient fleet going

Can't recall the Solars having a refurb with Kernow, still had the same interior from its Truro P&R days didn't it, the blue seats and driver cab

Thanks for the info about the Plymouth Trident refurbs, and we still get to enjoy them all apart from the late 32755, never really followed First Devon like that so never kept up to date with their fleet, suppose back then I never thought it was going to go anywhere
 

buslad1988

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Quite a number of older Euro 3 B7RLEs have been refurbished (deep clean, repaint & retrim), but this tends to be more sporadic and not to the same extend as the Geminis. Of note Glasgows 69182 has just been done while Aberdeens 69124 was done at the end of last year.

69124 a few months back:
Always loved that interior! So classy and like nothing seen before when launched in 1997. Such a consistent brand image throughout even down to the ‘no smoking’ stickers on the windows. You knew from the moment you stepped on board you were on a new First bus. Introduced a whole new standard of travel to many of the opco’s at the time.
 

fgwrich

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Always loved that interior! So classy and like nothing seen before when launched in 1997. Such a consistent brand image throughout even down to the ‘no smoking’ stickers on the windows. You knew from the moment you stepped on board you were on a new First bus. Introduced a whole new standard of travel to many of the opco’s at the time.
I do rather have to agree with you on that - I first came about it probably either on a Wrightbus Renown (Excellent vehicles) or the Plaxton Pointer 2 darts - it still looks good in those!

Speaking of different First Group interiors, I came across this shot on Flickr of the new Glasgow Airport Express vehicles. It rather looks like they've taken full Lothian spec for these and adjusted it with a smart black and raspberry leather seats.


I do have one question related to the interior refurbishments though, How many of First's Opco's decided to embellish the leather seats with the First logo? I say this because I haven't seen it in any other vehicle before, but noticed it in this ex West of England dart being sold by Ensign.

 

swifty

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I do have one question related to the interior refurbishments though, How many of First's Opco's decided to embellish the leather seats with the First logo? I say this because I haven't seen it in any other vehicle before, but noticed it in this ex West of England dart being sold by Ensign.

In the WoE fleet it was only the small batch of Darts refurbished for the 8 that had the embossed First logo. They were the first buses to be refurbed with eLeather in the fleet at the time.
 

swifty

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Some of the EL Tridents (e.g. 32760-2) got eLeather when in Plymouth. Also, travelled on one of the ex AC Solars up in Bridgwater which had been refurbished; I don't know if it was done in Kernow but might think more likely than Somerset.
I’m sure @B7rleThrasher can confirm but some of those Scanias went to ADL Harlow for a full trim and paint once they’d transferred to Somerset.
 

D2007wsm

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From what I gather, Kernows recent influx of Volvo B7TLs will only receive an exterior refurbishment, not interior.
A lot of the Geminis in Bristol had the seats retrimmed in Bristol from the original Barbie moquette to the grey leather.
I do rather have to agree with you on that - I first came about it probably either on a Wrightbus Renown (Excellent vehicles) or the Plaxton Pointer 2 darts - it still looks good in those!

Speaking of different First Group interiors, I came across this shot on Flickr of the new Glasgow Airport Express vehicles. It rather looks like they've taken full Lothian spec for these and adjusted it with a smart black and raspberry leather seats.


I do have one question related to the interior refurbishments though, How many of First's Opco's decided to embellish the leather seats with the First logo? I say this because I haven't seen it in any other vehicle before, but noticed it in this ex West of England dart being sold by Ensign.

There is only a few Darts which had the seats like these. The rest of the Darts, Geminis and E200s had plain grey leather.

Some B7RLEs have been refurbed for Mendip Explorer consisting of just a retrim and USB installation and some for Discover which included the grab rails as well.

The 33411 to 33419 batch of E400s in Weston-super-Mare really could do with a refurb. Whereas they have been repainted twice, from the Plymouth P&R clouds to Express Yourself or Urban then to excel the interiors haven’t been touched. The green leather seats are very comfortable, but are now very threadbare. The pale cream and green panelling and flooring and yellow grab rails are also not coping as well as the Barbie interior.
 

Jordan Adam

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Indeed, and I did mention I felt that for the majority, it was too late. I did mention that First Cymru had refurbished some 56 plates last year.

There are probable exceptions for services that don't penetrate the CAZ (e.g. Dumbarton locals) but for many, the expenditure on vehicles that are now 14/15 years old with perhaps only 3 years in service may not be justifiable. That said, who knows what will happen with the CAZ and First's vehicle purchasing with CV19.

As @43055 mentions, they have refurbished some 2006 Omnicities (though they're quite modern for Potteries) but the cash didn't extend to three very tired late model B7TLs that did get a new branding/livery. So uniform in First is generally anything but.
I agree, yes you're right Glasgow at the moment do intent to retain Euro 3 buses for those services however it'll only be as small number and they'll likely be later Euro 3 buses. Most of the 2005/6 era buses theoretically should've been refurbished 5 or so years ago, at this stage it just doesn't make economic sense to refurbish high numbers of them.

shame they didn't do the flip up seats to the right there!....
I agree, with many of First's "in house" refurbs (that is to say those not done by companies like Thorntons), there does seem to be a trend where the tip up seats and wheelchair back rest don't get replaced. It's not a huge issue as they're still in decent condition, but it does let the bus down slightly. Perhaps we can excuse them in this case on the basis that they actually bothered to fix all the front end rattles! Which were particularly bad on 69124.

Always loved that interior! So classy and like nothing seen before when launched in 1997. Such a consistent brand image throughout even down to the ‘no smoking’ stickers on the windows. You knew from the moment you stepped on board you were on a new First bus. Introduced a whole new standard of travel to many of the opco’s at the time.
Fully agree, i always liked the original First interior as it was colourful but not in your face. Unlike the Stagecoach interior which i've always thought is too garish. The First interior has also stood the test of time, there's plenty of First vehicles 20+ years old still with the original floor and it doesn't look faded on stained.
 

fgwrich

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A trip to First's Hengrove depot in Bristol showed a number of 2009 B9TLs newly repainted and refurbished with the now FWoE standard blue and green moquette. These vehicles were refurbished in 2013 with eLeather and new lighting so a welcome and surprising treat.
They certainly do look quite smart. These new interior refurbishments do seem to be a surprising if somewhat smart departure from the days of old / other large Opcos.

 

Mitchell Hurd

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Back on December 5th 2018, I went up from Oxford to Worcester so I could ride one of the Salt Road-spec 59-reg Volvo B7RLE's from Worcester all the way to Birmingham.

Very bright interior I must say - I'll be honest a B7RLE for me is far more preferable to a Wright Streetlite :)!
 

TheGrandWazoo

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They certainly do look quite smart. These new interior refurbishments do seem to be a surprising if somewhat smart departure from the days of old / other large Opcos.

That's the moquette! Initially used on a batch of e400mmcs for the Park and Ride (which are colour coded as blue or green), others delivered at the same time had standard First eLeather. FWoE did refurb a number of ex Leicester/Southampton 2001/2 B7TLs and Eclipses from 2004/5/9 in. 2017/8 with the original Barbie interior. More recent new deliveries and refurbs have been with that moquette.

Slightly oddly, the vast majority of FWoE Geminis did get refurbished in 2012/3 (plus a number of older ALXs) but the one you pictured didn't as it was on the third P&R and so had to wait until it was released from that so went straight from Barbie 2 interior (lilac) to the blue/green.
 

JumpinTrainz

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It depends on the OpCo and the types of vehicle.

First Glasgow have obviously been refurbishing the B9TLs and bringing them up to CAZ/LEZ compliance; it makes sense as they have a longer life anyway than the singles. B7RLEs, or at least the majority, are now of an age where they probably won't be treated; there chance has probably gone. There are various OpCos that are already converting 2004/5 B7RLEs to driver trainers to replace B10BLEs anyway.

Going more widely, First's refurbishment programme varies across the country. Note that you say the latest branding to keep them uniform.... There is no standard spec as such on refurbs (and indeed new fleet). For instance:

First Midlands newly refurbished Citaros for Worcester https://www.flickr.com/photos/34016627@N07/49394717362/in/photolist-2ifQQzY-2ifwvC5
First Kernow - this is on 2016/2018 e400mmc but was used to refurb their Solars https://www.flickr.com/photos/jongr...Q7T-9ydG9D-WtpP3j-9zVL6j-8kQHCV-t8zDQE-u57Xn5
First Cymru use a blue version of the Kernow one on refurbished B9s and some 56 plate Eclipses - https://www.flickr.com/photos/joshs...g1Y-DRaw5H-EuL9b9-wqAkSz-gDPV1Q-ZcQpp3-uKTHDq
First West of England used this on their new e400mmc gas buses but also refurbished some B9s with it https://www.flickr.com/photos/14167...u-YwUHDo-2feQKLP-2cKa1ue-SoutaC-wY6fXs-m5omLV

Note that First West of England did refurbish a number of vehicles about 2017 with the original barbie interior moquette rather than the later version (the one that faded badly).

There is an argument doing mid life refurbishments and that is something that Stagecoach have been generally good at. First are probably in the zone where there are a good number of 2008-9 deckers that have got another 6 years in them that could justify the spend, a few 2010/1 vehicles (not many as most went to London) that will need doing soon (as per the Glasgow e400 you mention) and then into a more robust programme of refurbishment of the fleet that then arrived from 2012 onwards. However, it all depends on the financials at the time and that is a great unknown.
I wish First were more uniform with their interiors. I really like the interior of First Cymru’s B9s with the half fabric/half leather. It breaks up the all grey and adds a bit of colour to the interior - it just works well and goes really well with the pink grab poles. I wish they would go back to the darker coloured flooring as the light blue on the Enviros got really dirty and worn looking so quick whereas some of the eclipses and E500s are still looking pretty smart for their age.

As for branding on buses I always felt like it works but I think they FIG have branded too many routes and it’s impossible to get buses to always stay on their given route without straying. It may work for some companies but definitely not bigger areas. First should work on making their fleet more uniform interior and exterior wise imo.
 

noddingdonkey

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Would be nice for the sheds that First West Yorkshire transfer from Leeds to Huddersfield to get a refurb. In fact, a deep clean would be a start.
 

baza585

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Would be nice for the sheds that First West Yorkshire transfer from Leeds to Huddersfield to get a refurb. In fact, a deep clean would be a start.
You should see the state of some of the ex Diamond E400s just received in Hampshire. Any sort of clean totally absent.
 

TheGrandWazoo

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I wish First were more uniform with their interiors. I really like the interior of First Cymru’s B9s with the half fabric/half leather. It breaks up the all grey and adds a bit of colour to the interior - it just works well and goes really well with the pink grab poles. I wish they would go back to the darker coloured flooring as the light blue on the Enviros got really dirty and worn looking so quick whereas some of the eclipses and E500s are still looking pretty smart for their age.

As for branding on buses I always felt like it works but I think they FIG have branded too many routes and it’s impossible to get buses to always stay on their given route without straying. It may work for some companies but definitely not bigger areas. First should work on making their fleet more uniform interior and exterior wise imo.
The Cymru ones are probably my favourite ones too. The blue seems more in tune with the other colours.

However, the issue on route branding is simply not true. Other firms just manage it better. It's a case of sufficient neutral vehicles and attention to detail. It is noticeable that even between the two Bristol depots, there are significant differences in the instances of route branded vehicles being "off route".

I wonder about the uniformity of the First fleet, only in so far as there are different materials and designs being used so what happens when 5 vehicles head from one OpCo to another with a different interior spec. Are they going to have a roll of material for every eventuality?
 

baza585

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Whilst I've not had chance to look closely at the ones Bath just got (as I've no legitimate reason to be travelling), I have seen 33711 and externally, it's terrible!
Both internal and external condition have been an issue, not to mention mechanical condition. I'm not sure having them on the Jurassic services is going to end well. I still think late model B9s would have made more sense for Weymouth.
 

TheGrandWazoo

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Both internal and external condition have been an issue, not to mention mechanical condition. I'm not sure having them on the Jurassic services is going to end well. I still think late model B9s would have made more sense for Weymouth.
There are precious few newer than 2012 so even they are getting on but I get your point. Might have been better sending 5 e400s to Essex rather than the five B9s that went from Leeds to Hadleigh.

A backlog of maintenance issues is certainly going to be exposed on the A35!
 

baza585

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There are precious few newer than 2012 so even they are getting on but I get your point. Might have been better sending 5 e400s to Essex rather than the five B9s that went from Leeds to Hadleigh.

A backlog of maintenance issues is certainly going to be exposed on the A35!
Indeed, particularly given Essex already has e400s. X51/53 are a much tougher test than the 376 which seems to warrant newer deckers and I can't believe is hugely more profitable than the JC routes. I sometimes wonder if Wells were part of BoS rather than FWoE what the fleet might be like...........
 

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