New fresh look for the 6&7 Accrington & Blackburn services
The Hyndburn Circular service
The 6&7 Hyndburn circular service has seen an interesting mix across the years, as Transdev took over the former East Lancashire depots from Stagecoach in 2001, taking over the Manor Sutton Street depot in Blackburn. The route has stayed the same across the years, with many a variation to the theme, as Blazefield sort after updating the Blackburn and Burnley fleets with more modern vehicles, which included over 30 Volvo B10BLEs with Wrights bodies for the mainline services in Burnley and the Volvo B7TL/Plaxton double deckers for the X43 Manchester service. Blackburn gained its B10BLEs during 2002, with most replacing the former Stagecoach Darts on the Hyndburn Circular services.
By 2007 Transdev has purchased the Blazefield operations in Lancashire & Yorkshire, later the acquisition of the Blackburn Transport was also secured. This resulted in the revamping of all the Blackburn services with the ‘Spot-On’ Brand. The red & Black ‘Lancashire Way’ X41 Blackburn to Manchester was kept, as it was already an identifiable brand.
The first real change to the Blackburn fleet under Blazefield control was a new livery, which looked better then the stripes of the former Stagecoach fleet. Above:- 210 an Alexander ALX200 bodied Volvo B6 is departing the old Blackburn Bus Station, with full Hyndburn Circular branding. The Alexander Darts were kept by Blazefield as they were youngest buses in the fleet at the time.
Blazefield then undertook a programme of vehicle replacement, as most of the buses inherited from the former Stagecoach operation were becoming time expired. An order for over 30 Volvo B10BLEs with Wrights Renown bodywork was placed, most were based at Burnley. Around a third of these new buses were dispatched to Mannor Sutton Street, for use on the Hyndburn Circular route and the 225 Bolton to Clitheroe service. 1085 pauses at the exit of the former Acrrington Bus Station, bound for Blackburn.
New liveries and new vehicles
The 6 and 7 could go either via Great Harwood the long way round to Accrington or go via Oswaldtwisle, which was the quicker way round. The 6A & 7A were an extension of the service, which would venture between Intack and Oswaldtwistle via Stanhill. However towards the end of 2012 the Blackburn fleet were being repainted into the new yellow and blue livery, with additional brand for the 6&7, 152 and the Lancashire way X41 services. This happened after several vehicles had gained the new ‘Spot-On’ grey and purple livery.
Transdev had successfully purchased the Blazefield operations of Lancashire and Yorkshire in late 2006, with the new identity being applied to vehicles in early 2007. Then in an unexpected move Transdev purchased the operations of Blackburn Transport and quickly established the 'Spot-On' branding. 1825 a Wrights Eclipse bodied Volvo B7RLE is depicted departing Blackburn during May 2009, while on 7 duty to Accrington via Great Harwood
Transdev decided to introduce a corporate identity to livery application and thus came up with various ideas, which were an improvement on some of the liveries. The best of the bunch was the improved livery for the 'Spot-On' routes, as shown above by 573 a former Keighley Volvo B10BLE/Wrights Renown saloon.
The new 6&7 Hyndburn Connect branded was appearing on various types of Blackburn based saloons, Volvo/Wrights, Optare Tempo & Versa. However there were plan drawn up for 2016 within the Transdev group of a new local identity and new livery for each depot served. Blackburn were to become two tone blue with new branding and brand new Optare Versa saloons, all of which would be in serve around June/July 2016. This new local livery would also be accompanied by two new identities for the X41 now the ‘Red Express’ and the recent updated 152 Preston to Burnley via Blackburn service, ‘Hotline’ using a two tone purple livery.
Transdev brought in the new blue and yellow livery from early 2012, for the whole Blackburn fleet, which included the 'Lancashire Way' X41 Blackburn to Manchester service. 203 another Wrights bodied Volvo B10BLE, which was new to Ambassador travel. Is seen entering the temporary Blackburn Bus station, in full Hyndburn Connect branding.
A day in Blackburn on the new Optare Versa saloons
Transdev brought in the new two tone blue livery on 18 brand new Optare Versa saloon, which arrived during late August 2016. These new buses were exclusively used on the rebranded 6&7 Accrington service. Above:- 224 departs Thwaites Road bound for Blackburn, in full 6&7 branding.
By early September 2016 your author decided to venture across to Blackburn to sample the new Optare Versa saloon on the 6&7 service. My first journey was on 224 on the 7 to Accrington via Oswaldtwistle, going along Thwaites road. Then dropping into Accrington via Stanhill Lane and into the newly revamped bus station. After a short stay in Accrington, your author returned back to Blackburn on the 7A which went via Windsor Road and Stanhill. Which offers some very nice areas for photography. After some lunch it was back onto the buses, this time using a 6 to get to Thwaites Road for some shots along the road and at both ends.
The new standard Transdev interiors, which offer wood effect floors, very comfortable seats, USB power sockets and 4G Wi-Fi with a light, bright and airy feel all adding to the passenger experience. The Optare Versa with a Euro VI Cummins 6.7 litre engine coupled to a Voith gearbox, deliver a smooth and comfortable journey. The new buses are also rattle free and allow good all round vision for the passenger.
For the final part of the day, your author ventured towards Windsor road for some shots of the Versa arriving and depart the road, before heading into Stanhill and getting some scenic shots of the new fleet, before venturing home.
The Blackburn Bus Company livery and logo are shown here to good effect by 234, exiting Windsor Road while on 6A service to Blackburn. These new Optare saloons are very impressive vehicles, with the latest in passenger comfort and easy low floor access and dedicated buggy and wheelchair zones.
The Blackburn Bus Company brand new livery looks very smart on the new Versa saloons, as demonstrated here by 236 on 6A duty. The bus is seen heading along Stanhill Lane just near the bridge which has the main M65 running underneath.