LATEST NEWS - - - - - N E WaleS

News 5th November 2018

posted 5 Nov 2018, 13:03 by Ron Newbe

Coastline Taxis, Rhyl
While their Solo YJ18CZL is off the road following the serious RTC they have now on loan YX14RZE an Alexander Dennis E20D Dart - B29F. It was new in June 2014 and originally operated by Reays,Wigton and currently owned by Mistral. <PHOTO>

E Jones and Sons, Rhosllanerchrugog
The Scania / Irizar EJS7A now sports the latest livery of this firm <PHOTO EJS>.
A line up of the smaller capacity coaches was seen today. <photo line up>

Routemasters 4 Hire, Llay, Wrexham
This firm has a small fleet of three Routemasters which are available for hire for weddings or any other events. One of these Routemasters has recently been offered for sale but it still remains in the fleet. At the premises of Routemasters 4 Hire was privately owned OJD 93R. This Bristol LH / ECW was new to London Transport as BL88 and was originally registered OJD88R. It was allocated to various depots including Hounslow, Kingston and Croydon, In November 2011 it was sold to OK, Bishop Auckland and for unknown reason was re-registered to OJD93R and given fleet number 9093. It appears to have been withdrawn in early 1997 and has since been stored awaiting restoration. <photo rear> <photo front>
Whilst NOT owned by Routemasters 4 Hire they are involved with the restoration and garaging and it is intended that it will join the Routemasters available for hire.

Express Motors - family members sentenced to imprisonment

posted 31 Oct 2018, 08:56 by Ron Newbe

I was present today at Mold Crown Court when family members behind Express Motors were imprisoned for their involvement in fraud and money laundering. Father and founder of the firm Eric Wyn Jones was sentenced to seven and a half years imprisonment, his son Ian was also given an identical seven and a half years sentence, son Kevin was given seven years and son Keith six years. All four men had been found guilty by a jury at Caernarfon Crown Court last month on two separate charges. The first involved conspiring together to commit fraud relating to the use of concessionary passes and the second involved money laundering where they concealed money by using various accounts and failed to declare and pay taxes on income gained.

Ian Jones also faced a third charge involving being in possession of £840 in fake bank notes which had been found at his home during a police search. He had pleaded guilty to this offence.

In addition to the four family members a fifth person, Rheinallt Williams, who had been employed as a driver, was also sentenced today. He had pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge before the trial. He was sentenced to twelve months imprisonment. The Judge indicated he had considered whether to suspend the sentence but had chosen not to do so due to the gravity of the crime.

The Judge, His Honour Timothy Petts, made a sentencing speech where he outlined the role of the defendants in the Express Motors business which he indicated started in 1977. He detailed the system of bus passes which were first used using a system when only a button was pressed. He stated that this system was prone to abuse. He then pointed out that this system had been replaced by a smart-card reader but that the family had found a loophole to enable their fraud whereby they used lost cards and a collection of such cards had built up over the years. He indicated that the jury had heard that the figures of use by these cards were staggering. Some 80,000 fraudulent swipes had been made during the period that the investigation looked at. On one day alone over 80 fraudulent swipes had been made. Some £88,500 had been fraudulently claimed during the relevant period. He stated that the the driver before the court had been responsible for 99% of these fraudulent swipes. In addressing the money laundering matters he stated that it was difficult to establish the extent of this due to incomplete records but he was sentencing on the basis that over £300,000 had been laundered even though a much higher amount had been found in various accounts.

The Judge indicated that he considered that the matters had taken considerable planning and that each of the defendants had acted together in the conspiracy. He indicated that it was fraud by 'breathtaking arrogance' and that each fraudulent swipe was “quite literally money in the bank for Express Motors”. The Judge had taken into account that there was no likelihood of the offences recurring

In relation to the individuals in the case he considered that father Eric Wyn Jones had a high level of culpability and it was not helpful that he had not shown any remorse and was still denying that he had been guilty of a crime. He indicated that he had carefully considered the pre-sentence report where details of his and his wife's heath and circumstances were outlined and he had taken these into account but also indicated that his wife was also to be considered as another victim in the matter. In relation to Ian Jones he indicated that he considered him to have a high level of culpability and whilst there was concern that his family would be greatly affected by his imprisonment he thought that Ian should have considered that before. In relation to Kevin Wyn Jones he considered he had played a leading role but that like his father he had shown no remorse and was blaming others. In relation to Keith Jones, his level of culpability was less as he was often away abroad driving. Finally in relation to the driver he had taken into account his guilty plea, his remorse, that he had not gained any personal income and that he had done what he did on a misjudged sense of loyalty and with a view of securing his employment.

He also praised the officers who carried out the investigation and for the smooth running of the trial.

New Arriva workings X4 to Ellesmere Port and Wrexham 42 and 44

posted 29 Oct 2018, 15:17 by Ron Newbe   [ updated 30 Oct 2018, 04:36 ]

I had a look at the X4 workings today. I set out below my observations:-
1. The X4 continues to interwork with the 4. Buses arriving at Mold on the 4 leave working an X4 to Ellesmere Port. It works X4 returning to Mold and then leaves Mold on the 4 to Chester. Returning again to Mold as a 4. The whole circuit takes six hours. My calculation indicates a total PVR of 12 vehicles.
2. The 4 / X4 is mainly worked by Sapphire Double deckers previously branded and working the 10 / 10a. These vehicles have been cleverly de-branded by the application of an advert on each side of the buses stating 'Ho-Ho-Hop on the X4 to get to Cheshire Oaks – Service X4 is now extended to get you to Cheshire Oaks and Ellesmere Port'.
3. My journey to Ellesmere Port resulted in very few passengers travelling after Chester Railway Station and similarly on the return journey to Chester.
4. The vehicles destinations have been re-programmed but I would suggest that there are some issues. One vehicle left Mold displaying Chester Railway Station via Cheshire Oaks. <Photo 3141 leaving Mold> Other vehicles showed the correct intended destination. From Mold this stated Ellesmere Port via Cheshire Oaks <PHOTO> and from Ellesmere Port this was Mold via Cheshire Oaks <PHOTO> which alternated with Yr Wyddgrug via Cheshire Oaks. At no time did the buses indicate Chester. This must be an issue for intending passengers both on the run into Chester from Mold but mainly on the journey from Ellesmere Port. Intending passengers not aware of the new service are bound to confuse the service with the former SP1/2 now 5 which operated direct from Ellesmere Port to Mold. I observed that at many bus stops on the run back to Chester from the Port were possible passengers who did not indicate for the bus to stop. They either were intent on travelling by Stagecoach or they were not aware that the bus was en route to Chester.
5. Available on the buses were new leaflets detailing the 4 and X4 service.

I had a quick look at the new services which Arriva commenced operations today in Wrexham namely the 42 King Street to Stockwell Grove and the 44 King Street to Barkers Lane. On the journey I observed Enviro 2147 worked first the 42 then the 44 and afterwards worked a 4A. The next journeys of both the 42 and then the 44 were operated by Solo 661. It therefore appears that the new services have been incorporated into the general workings of the depot which interestingly involve drivers and their vehicles working numerous services through their shift.

New leaflets for this service had been prepared and made available in the enquiry office (still operated by staff of the company behind the easyCoach firm). However very disappointingly was that none of the workings on either the 42 or the 44 on both buses I observed had any destination or route number displayed (<photo 2147 on the 44> <photo 2147 on the 42> and <photo 661 on the 42>). The digital display showed the generic Arriva logo and there was not even a hand written route number in the window.

It was pleasing to note that the buses involved appeared to be reasonably well patronised.

Price Coaches, Pentre Broughton, Wrexham

posted 26 Oct 2018, 04:16 by Ron Newbe

The firm's Volvo B7TL / Plaxton President has been re-registered from its cherished number FSU807 to its original number X161FBB. This has been done prior to it being replaced next month.

Townlynx, Greenflield, Holywell

posted 17 Oct 2018, 09:56 by Ron Newbe

One of the four ex Stagecoach East London Tridents has been swapped. LX03OSY (ex Stagecoach 17923) <PHOTO> has replaced LX04FZD (which had a severe oil leak).

Public Inquiry - easyCoach and easyBus

posted 4 Oct 2018, 13:30 by Ron Newbe   [ updated 7 Oct 2018, 13:26 ]

The Public Inquiry into matters associated with the companies trading as easyCoach and easyBus occurred today (4th October 2018).  The purpose of the Inquiry was to allow The Traffic Commissioner, Nick Jones, to consider any disciplinary action in relation to the licences issued to the companies The Skiers Lodge Limited and also Express Airport Transfers (Europe) Limited.  In addition whilst an earlier indication had been given that an application for a new licence under the name of TSL (Wales) Limited had been withdrawn prior to determination it transpired that the application was still to be considered. The original application was for twenty vehicles but a revised application was now being made for just five vehicles.  Also to be considered was the repute of both Andrew Martin the sole Director of each of the companies and who was also the designated Transport Manager for the two current licences.  The repute of Alan Jackson was also to be considered as he was the designated Transport Manager on the application for the new licence and had been in charge of the operation at the new Rhosymedre depot.
Before hearing any evidence Nick Jones stated that he had received very large bundles from Andrew Martin before the hearing and that included in those bundles were various issues and allegations made by and also involving past employees and previous maintenance companies.  He indicated that he had decided that any such issues were not to be considered by him and were more appropriate for other legal processes.  Therefore he was not going to receive any evidence from a previous employee as was originally planned.
The evidence heard by the Inquiry came from three persons.
The first to give evidence was Mark Williams a Vehicle Examiner of the Driver and Vehicle Standards agency (D.V.S.A.)  Some of his evidence was challenged by Andrew Martin and at one stage he made allegations that Mark Williams had been selective of what evidence he had given and that his intention was to be vindictive against him.  He also alleged that the Vehicle Examiner had been groomed in his evidence by a previous employee.  Evidence was given about numerous prohibitions, an incident of a wheel loss occurring on the Wrexham by-pass which had not been reported, lack of a forward planning maintenance schedule and a missing file relating to one vehicle.  Mark Williams also gave evidence concerning the fact that vehicles were being kept overnight at Rhosymedre thus the company were not operating under an appropriate licence. 
Traffic Enforcement Officer Sarah O'Brien also gave evidence relating to allegations concerning  the company operating in Wales without the correct licence. She also gave evidence that a vehicle was found without tax and also that another vehicle had displayed a ‘void’ disc.
The third person to give evidence was Nesta Jones who was employed by Bus Users (Cymru) and had the role of compliance officer.  Her role was to monitor the timekeeping of the services.  She indicated that just after the 64 Llangollen to Llanarmon DC service had commenced she had found problems.  But after she had submitted her report to the company the performance on this service improved and she did send a letter to the company to confirm this.  However in June and July of 2018, due to complaints, she again monitored this service over an eleven day period and found that 5% were found to run early, 7% late and 28% failed to run or did run on the correct route.  When the new service in Wrexham commenced in the summer of 2018 she carried out monitoring checks on these service and found that for 84 observations  3.5% were early,  22.5% were late and 22.5% failed to operate.   She made further checks later between 17th July and 8th September and found 14% were late and 29% failed to operate.
During the day Andrew Martin made various representations to the Traffic Commissioner. He indicated that the problem of the vehicle without tax was a fault of one of his employees.  He did not accept the Traffic Commissioner’s suggestion that he failed to ensure that this employees work was checked. He indicated that initially they had intended to work out of different premises in the Wrexham area but negotiations for this property failed. They eventually found the premises in Rhosymedre.  He indicated that he had hoped that the issue of the Wales licence would have been issued sooner but even though it had been delayed he had been confident that it would have been granted.  He had by that stage recruited drivers.  After a number of exchanges with the Traffic Commissioner Andrew Martin eventually accepted that he had operated without the appropriate licence and that in hindsight this had been a mistake and that it would not happen again. In relation to the service timing issues he stated that at the end of the day he had not set out to run a rubbish service but that he had become ill and had lost control.   He stated specifically that at the time of the incident of the lost wheel he was having surgery and that he had no knowledge of this and could not have possibly had a meeting with the driver involved as had been alleged.  He stated that from 2003 until 2016 he had an unblemished record with no prohibitions but after taking on a certain manager there had been a number of prohibitions.  He indicated that after that employee left there was again a period of no prohibitions until June 2018.  He then employed other managers and he had become ill.  He stated that his eyes had not been on the ball for a while.  He stated that when he decided to close down and give to the Traffic commsioner notice he was then let down by his drivers, some of whom had not turned up for work, and therefore the service was not operated as intended. 
In response to a question by the Traffic Commissioner Alan Jackson agreed that he knew that the business was operating without an appropriate licence at Rhosymedre.  Alan Jackson also indicated that he had not told Andrew Martin this as he wanted to ensure he kept his job.
After a brief adjournment the Traffic Commissioner stated that he would be issuing a written decision in due course after he had read through a transcript of the days hearing. He stated that it may take some time before this would be issued.  He then indicated that he would however give an indication of what his written response was likley to include.
He indicated that on a finding of fact he had accepted all the evidence that he had received from Vehicle Examiner Mark Williams and he commended him on his responses to the questions asked by Andrew Martin who had impugned his integrity.
In addressing Andrew Martin Nick Jones indicated that he was concerned about his lack of professionalism and that he had clearly not kept up to date with certain legal matters and had not sought the appropriate advice.  He was also concerned about the attack that had been made on the integrity of the Vehicle Examiner .  He stated that he had accepted that there had been health issues and that for whatever reason there had been issues with former staff.  He did however indicate that an Operating Licence relied on trust and that this was an issue.
He then indicated that he would be intending to refuse the application for the licence in respect of TSL (Wales) Limited.
He then stated that he will be intending to revoke the licences of both The Skiers Lodge Limited and Express Airport Transfers (Europe) Limited.  He intended to disqualify Andrew Martin for a period of time.  He stated this would not be lengthy but sufficient to give him time to reflect and learn from the experience.  He would have to demonstrate that he was better to deal with officials.  He indicated as a Traffic Manager he would lose his repute and that he was thinking of ordering that he needs to re-qualify before being permitted to be a Transport Manager in the future.
In relation to Alan Jackson he accepted that he had been honest but that he had no hesitation that he would have to loose his repute and that he would need to re-qualify in the future.  As he was aware that Alan Jackson intended to retire shortly he did wish him a very happy retirement.

N E Wales News 2nd October 2018

posted 2 Oct 2018, 08:32 by Ron Newbe

Coastline Taxis (JWL Cars Limited) Rhyl
Solo SR YJ61JGX has joined the fleet. <PHOTO> B35F - it was new January 2012 to Wilson, Rhu, Argyll. In 6/2015 it joined Law, (Blue Bus) Shotts, North Lanarkshire. It was acquired to enable a spare bus to be made available. Unfortunately the Denbighshire branded Solos SR YJ18CZL has been involved in a serious RTC on the A5 on 29th September and is now out of service so the '61' Solo will be used as its replacement on the 55 / X5 until further notice.

Pats Coaches, Southsea, Wrexham
Latest to join the fleet is FXI8838 a Mercedes-Benz 311CDI with Frank Guy, Clay Cross - M16 body. It was new in Feb 2003 to Accord plc, by12/2008 it was Markley, Silloth and in 11/2015 was with Reays, Wigton who were the last recorded operator. <PHOTO2>
The new Higer YT68GWW has now commenced its normal duties involving the Reaseheath College <PHOTO3>.

D Jones and Son, Acrefair.
Both full size coaches have been sold. CS07JDS (Scania K380EB4 / Irizar Century) has been sold to Bolton School Services, Bolton and SU06FKP (Scania K114EB4 / Irizar PB) has been sold to a new operator in Corwall.

N E Wales News 13th September 2018

posted 13 Sep 2018, 05:46 by Ron Newbe

Pats Coaches, Southsea, Wrexham
Newly arrived this month is Scania / Higer YT68GWW (C51Ft). Whilst the primary purpose was to work the Reaseheath College contract it is currently abroad as a substitute for another vehicle that was the subject of a hit and run collision. Scania / Irizar YT10OAX is leaving in part exchange.

E Jones and Sons, Rhosllanerchrugog, Wrexham
A number of the coaches (all Scania / Irizar) here have been given the personalised/cherished numbers as follows :-
SN08CNJ is now EJS7A
SN08CNK is now A7EJS
JN06JXA is now N7EJS
JN06NYU is now EJS7N
The withdrawn Volvo B10M-62 / Jonckheere which was A7EJS reverts to its previous number of L870EPR.
Other re-registrations may happen soon. The 68 seater Scania / Irizar YN12CZG that arrived earlier in the year carries a variation of the firm's livery <PHOTO>

Tanat Valley
This firm has taken over from easyCoach on the 64 Llangollen - Ceiriog Valley service. <Photographed> on 12th September at Froncysyllte on its way to Llanarmon DC is Solo SR YJ13HKT. Whilst the side and rear destinations were working unfortunately the front destination was not. This Solo was the first vehicle to work this service when they originally worked it in December 2016.

Townlynx, Greenfield, Holywell addendum

posted 11 Sep 2018, 09:34 by Ron Newbe

Another two double deckers have now joined the fleet. KU02YBP and KV02URY both new to Connex London [TA80/4] later Abellio [9780/4], and recently with Readypay Limited (T/A Pheonix Coaches) Blyth. They were converted to single door in 2015 and are in a white livery.

<LX03OTG> seen today in the Bus Station, Mold doing driver relief work then onto College duties at Northop and Deeside College.

Traws Cymru T12 - a bit of a fiasco - addendum

posted 11 Sep 2018, 09:21 by Ron Newbe

Latest is that from tomorrow (12th) Tanat will also terminate the T12 Service in Oswestry and not travel to Wrexham until the registration takes effect on 19th October.

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