Tuesday 4th April 2006
next update week ending 14th April 2006
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The past week has been one full of interest and Sunday saw many hundreds of enthusiasts descending on Cobham and Wisley Airfield for the annual "bash". Last week also saw the launch of the new low floor services on the Oxford-Bicester corridor as well as changes to the Wantage group routes operated by Stagecoach. Following the withdrawal of the Stagecoach X4 service, Oxford Bus launched its own X4 service with a number of journeys from Abingdon on the X3 renumbered X4 and terminating at Queens Lane instead of the rail station.
New buses were the order of the day and Oxford Bus pipped Stagecoach to the post with the first "06" plate buses on local service in the city. The Stagecoach Tridents on the Bicester services were on 55 plates.
With the approaching lazy crazy days of summer I am delighted to bring you a day out by Derek Dawson, who used the X5 to visit Milton Keynes and Cambridge from Oxford. I found his report interesting reading and hope to bring more of this type of article in the coming months. Look for the article under a "day out to Cambridge" below.
Cobham seems to come round very quickly these days and once again there were hundreds of interesting buses for all to see. Perhaps the highlight of the day for myself and two fellow enthusiasts, Gavin Francis and Chris Maxfield, was the chance to ride on FRM 1 the front entrance-rear engined Routemaster prototype which sadly never went into full production.
The bus proved very popular and seemed always to run with full loads throughout the day. The engine and gearbox noise were a joy to behold with a variety of sounds allied to a Leyland Lion, hints of an Atlantean and somehow another hint of AEC. Apart from a rattle from the fire extinguisher the bus was rattle free and gave an excellent account of itself. The driver admitted it was the first time he had ever driven this bus but his performance was exemplary.
The weather was kind for much of the morning but then we had several downpours which hastened our departure homewards around 1530hrs. Below you will find an interesting selection of vehicles local to our area.
Picture by John Marsh
East Kent Leyland Tiger PS1 owned by Ward Jones of High Wycombe
Reading, old and older.
Latest offering from Reading, how times have changed.
Thamesdown and it seems that the Reading fashion has caught on here too.
Richard Sharman came along in this nicely repainted Dart which sadly broke down at Stokenchurch on its way home.
There were so very many photographers there that I am sure there were also several hundred identical pictures but the foregoing are some of the more local ones taken.
Stagecoach handbook for 2006 from British Bus Publishing
The latest handbook from BBF was on sale at Cobham and was the ever popular Stagecoach edition now in its 13th year. It includes all the latest takeovers and as ever is invaluable in keeping track of this now very large fleet. As in earlier editions it includes the 2006 orders.
A day out to Cambridge by Derek Dawson
Derek asked me if I would like an article on his intended day out to Cambridge using the X5 service from Oxford. With the summer days just around the corner, I thought this would make an interesting change for readers and also might inspire some more similar articles.
Day Tripper from Oxford
Not wishing to get involved in a debate on the Bus v Rail theme from previous news sheets but last Monday had a day out to Cambridge by Stagecoach X5 with a Explorer ticket, at £7 this is excellent value try getting to Cambridge and back by rail for £7 plus with the excellent half hourly service of the X5 you can get on and off as you wish spend as long as you wish at each stop (right where the buses are) Plus you get all the stuff on the road which you don't on the train.
On with the trip
Departure from Oxford was at 06.25 being the first service out Thinking that this might have been a night stopper was somewhat surprised to find this actually worked a service in from Bedford leaving at 04.35 my coach was 52382 one of the Expressliners and of the 5 different ones I used over the day was the best. First stop was Gloucester Green where I made NatEx P70SAS next stop was Bicester where I made one of the new Tridents (18395) and Arriva (2244) next stop was Buckingham (Tesco's) noted here was one of Jeffs Olympians. It was then on to Milton Keynes where stops at the Rail and bus stations produced numbers of MK Metros also seen were two of the Virgin Liveried Expressliners, a brief visit to the coachway which was empty Last time I was here was on an overnight London-Edinburgh NatEx services about 15yrs ago. Bedford was next which was my first get off stop I spent an hour here apart from United Counties buses/Coaches here included Barfordian/Cedar/Souls/Bedford Bus/Green Travel and Expressliners. New here are AD Darts 34826-35 in MARS livery and looked very smart. The bus station was busy all the time in the 1½ hours I spent here I logged 87 different UC buses plus the rest. Weather was cloudy and windy but plenty of places to log everything whilst under cover (still outside). There is a cafeteria and a Hot Dog stall also toilets around the station.
Next stop was Cambridge Dummer St Bus station This place appears to get chaotic at times surprised they have not sorted out something better than this but no problem finding spots to photograph nearby This obviously is dominated by Cambus but plenty of other stuff including United Counties/Viscount/Huntingdon & Dist/Whippet/Burtons/Guide Friday & NatEx in the 2hrs here logged over 90 Cambus and 50 others.
Another ½hr at Bedford on the way home and it was down to Milton Keynes for 1½hrs to hit the MK Metro fleet still not much sign of the Arriva takeover. Apart from MK other offerings came from Jeffs/ Green Travel/ Grant Palmer & Arriva It was then back home to Oxford having logged over 350 different buses. Really enjoyed the trip think the next one will be soon by the X5 & X4 to Peterborough. Well done Stagecoach for £7 you cant go wrong.
A646BCN Guide Friday also operate as Cambridge Blue
23018 YN54APV First Manchester are one of the NATeX operators into here
22327 AE51RZF Cambus City Livery
Cambridge Park & ride operated by Stagecoach
17053 T653KPU 17036 S836BWC 17056 T656KPU 17010 S810BWC
E176OEW Whippet Fenstanton use a variety of Buses/ Coaches on Services
H683GPF Burtons Coaches
EU04CZS & VRG417T Guide Friday operate several open toppers here is Old and New
T126AUA Huntingdon & District (Cavalier, Long Sutton)
Back via Milton Keynes
Report from Reading by James Cusworth
The first eight Omnidekkas, for premier routes 25/26, were due to enter service on the 27th March. These were delayed and so East Lancs has hired three former London Sovereign Optare Spectras for Reading Buses to use:
2001/2 entered service on the 27th, with 2000 following later in the week (I first saw it on the 29th). They were used exclusively on the 31/33 routes, with the centre doors not in use. Paper displays were used, and the destination displays were blank although 2001 did have a blind fitted but not used- 2000 still had it’s Sovereign blind fitted and 2002 had it’s Sovereign blind laid in the luggage rack whilst in service.
Premier routes 25/26 and soon-to-be premier routes 23/24 have had an interesting mix of vehicles over the past week, mainly Leyland Olympians and MCW Metrobuses pending delivery of the Scania Omnidekkas.
Some pictures of the three Spectras, including 2001 broken down on Wednesday.
Pictures of the Spectras taken by John Marsh
Probably the last remaining golden jubilee bus in the country is Reading Buses` 723, waiting to operate a route 20 journey, predominantly operated by Excels during the daytime.
The 10 Excels (901-10) all went as planned on the 16th March, with 905/6/8-10 all still in service by the 13th March and withdrawn on the 14th.
908 and 909 on 13th March, their last day in service. 904 on 13th after having been withdrawn.
Thames Travel have fitted combined route and number blinds to at least three of their MPDs including 751.
An addition to the Thames Travel fleet is S725KNV which has been operating on the X40 most of this week.
Thames Travel’s 205 outside the new main entrance to the Royal Berks Hospital.
Both taken in Hounslow, may be of interest to you. End March 2006 Ben Morroll
John Marsh writes "I am reliably informed by "Buses" Editor Alan Millar that these buses (the Spectras) came via Capital Logistics, Arriva and Sovereign and not Metrobus (Orpington) as in your correction of last week."
Several readers wrote in regarding these Spectras and I think matters are now clarified with the report and pictures above.
Peter Cartwright tells us that "the timetables/programmes for Slough/Windsor Running Day are now available." Click on this link TheRoutemasterreturnstoSlough.doc
Model bus special offer for readers
James Smith writes "I'm reopening my Bus Model store (its being hosted at www.arriva-shires.co.uk/shop for the time being) And as an opening offer I'd like to give your readers the opportunity to buy a couple of local models at a reduced price.. Anybody wishing to purchase these items should contact me directly by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) instead of through the store...Details Below:
CREATIVE MASTER UKBUS 1014 - DENNIS TRIDENT - OXFORD PARK & RIDE
Normal Selling Price £19.99 - Oxford Page Readers £13.99
CREATIVE MASTER UKBUS 2012 - DENNIS TRIDENT - STAGECOACH BROOKES BUS
Normal Selling Price £20.99 - Oxford Page Readers £14.99
Again my thanks to all my contributors, both old and new. Keep the historical info and older pictures coming but don't forget the modern stuff.
Malcolm Crowe - Tuesday 4th April 2006
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002 to date
News of the local companies – 4th April 2006
Not so much on Arriva this week except that during my sojourn in Bicester this little Mercedes turned up on route 18.
The Optare demonstrator turned up on March 31st in Stokenchurch on route 400.
The Citaros on loan from Wilts & Dorset to cover additional activity on the Oxford-Abingdon direct service entered service last Monday and as such were the first buses in Oxford on local service to carry 06 plates. Gavin Francis was out and about and took the selection of pictures below. Local comments were that many people liked the livery very much, though what the locals thought of the seating with Bournemouth and Poole woven in is not recorded.
St Aldates is the location for Citaros 898 and 899.
Gavin also caught older Mercedes 828 on the X4
Richard Sharman caught this unusual pictures of both ex London General Darts, side by side on 6 road.
An unusual event took place last Friday when Banbury provided a Solo for route proving in Oxford. This was joined by a "Slimline" Solo from Exeter, Devon and both buses were demonstrated to the council in preparation for Stagecoach taking over the 17 route from Thames Travel in June. Many will be aware of the problems TT had in operating the Mercedes specially purchased for the route and it may now be the preserve of a Slimline Solo after June.
This picture shows the two Solos at Oxford Rail Station last Friday. The difference in width is most noticeable in this shot.
The driver from Exeter was anxious to get his bus pictured next to one of our Tube Neoplans.
On Wednesday last I had a few hours to spare and went to Bicester to sample the 27 group of routes. On arrival in Bicester from Oxford the 27 takes on of three routes before returning to Bicester and through to Oxford. The most complicated is the 27C which goes to St Georges Barracks and Bullingdon Prison and some pictures are shown below. Included are shots of the 27B which goes to Glory Farm.
Three pictures of 18396 on the 27C and two of 18395 on the 27B
A couple of duties use an M A N bus and here 22057 is seen working the 27A
John Marsh caught up with 18394 in Oxford en route for Bicester, this time last Friday.
A "new" route out of Oxford is the 33 to Didcot which is seen here in a picture taken by Gavin Francis last week using Volvo 20007.
Dart 34469 is seen on an X30 working waiting time in St Aldates last week.
As mentioned in a previous edition of the news letter, an Oxford Tube coach is used on the 0720 working from Wantage.
Here we see 501206 on the second day of X30 operation. It will run via Cumnor and the Botley Road to reach Oxford at 0815.
Whilst working the X30 in Wantage last week I thought this made a rather nice picture.
34470 was still carrying X4 branding when caught in the lens of Richard Sharman last week.
It was working a staff shuttle when seen in Magdalen Street East.
This picture of a Swindon Volvo B10M, 20683, was taken by "pj9875" and works seems to be in progress on refurbishment.
Long away from its original haunt on Thames Travel service to Blackbird Leys, this Dart 32022 is now in service in Devon.
Two unusual buses working Megabus routes out of Victoria Green Line were caught on camera by Gavin Francis.
The use of a South West Trains branded Olympian is of especial interest.
13642 mingles with Oxford bound coaches and 13646 is seen in Green Line.
Thamesdown Dart 128 pauses in the bus station in Swindon. Picture by "pj9875".
If you have a digital camera and wish to submit photos for this page please send them to the me at
McLeans have one of the first 06 plate coaches in the county and it is seen here at the depot in a picture from Richard Sharman
There is a book called "The Girl in the Street or The Bedside Bus Book by Robert E. Jowitt.
John Marsh caught this young lady and a Stagecoach Dart at Carfax last week.
I thought it a suitable ending to this week's page !!!
HISTORY IN PICTURES AND WORDS
If you have any pictures or historical memories and wish to submit them for this page please send them to the me at
There are a number of black and white pictures from Derek Doling on hand for future issues but time limits my efforts this week. Instead I thought readers would like this newspaper cutting sent in by Peter Edgar from a newspaper in Aylesbury from many years ago.
The date for this year's Spring event is April 2nd.
Wycombe - Other events in 2006:
Special trip over route 347 from Hemel Hempstead to Uxbridge on 19 March marking the 40th anniversary of RML type vehicles starting on that route from Garston & Hemel Hempstead garages.
Bus Running Days as follows:
Sunday 14 May - Slough/Windsor
Sunday 25 June - Hemel Hempstead
Sunday 1 October – Amersham organised by Amersham & District Motorbus Society
Running Day in Aldershot with details from Andrew Dyer.
I wonder if you could put a piece in your "forthcoming events" section about all the excitement that will be in Aldershot (not often you see the words "excitement" and "Aldershot" in the same sentence!!) over the weekend of 3 & 4 June this year.
Stagecoach is organising an event jointly with the Aldershot & District Bus Interest Group to celebrate 100 years since the first bus service operated from Aldershot to Farnborough in June 1906. There will be a running day and on Sunday 4 June we will be holding an Open Day at our depot in Halimote Road, Aldershot. As with the Portsmouth event last year, we hope to attract local families as well as enthusiasts and all proceeds raised will go to local charities.
As Aldershot has such a strong history of Dennis operation, we are hoping to get as many different types of Dennis bus on site as we can. Do you have a contact at the Oxford Bus Museum who might be persuaded to bring a KFC Loline 2? Sadly, I don't think any of the Loline 1's or 3's that were on loan from A&D to COMS in 1969/70 have survived to enable them to make an appearance, although there will certainly be sister vehicles in the SOU xxx and AAA xxxC batches there.
Running Days as advised by Peter Cartwright, Running Day Organiser Amersham & District Motorbus Society
At last I'm able to officially notify everyone of the Running Days for 2006.
Sunday 14 May 2006 is the date for the second Slough/Windsor Running Day based on Slough Bus Station. Since last year a huge new Tesco store has been built adjacent and is now fully operational. Due to traffic delays experienced last year in Windsor an extra 5 minutes each way is being added to running times between Slough and Windsor.
There is no St George's Day parade to hold us up this year and the Queen's official birthday is 2 weeks plus later when her 80th birthday is marked. I know of no Royal Wedding planned for Windsor this year and, hopefully, timekeeping will be better on the Windsor routes.
An enhancement to the Burnham Beeches service is envisaged with the opposite way round the loop. There is also the chance to have double deck workings but terminating on the eastern fringe of the Beeches.
Another new route for this year will be a service through Windsor Great Park. Crown Estates are happy with this and I have a meeting arranged with them on Tuesday 10 January. White Bus Services currently operate a restricted service here but not on Sundays & on only certain days of the week. Operation is likely to be by non-LT single-deck vehicles. A large number of vehicles is required including at least 16 double-deckers.
Some 40 years earlier on 15 May 1966 RMLs were allocated to Windsor Garage to work several routes in the area. RMC coaches had already been there for some time.
WR Garage operated many other types of vehicle including RT,RF,RC,RCL,RB,RS,GS,SMA,SNB,STL, T and of course some of these only operated in the London Country period. Additionally in the summer months Central area red vehicles were commonplace as green vehicles were reassigned to Green Line relief duties so any red-liveried vehicle would be welcome. At least 30 vehicles (including 5 non-LT/LCBS vehicles will be needed to maintain the schedules.
As 1966 is the 40th anniversary of route 724 it is hoped to have a feeder to/from the Northern areas and to run the route from Slough through Windsor, Old Windsor, Runnymede to Staines. Via Runnymede, by the river Thames was the original routeing when it was extended from Staines to Windsor Castle. It did not serve Windsor Garage nor will it in 2006. The coach link to Staines will therefore be 724 this year in place of 718.
Anyone offering to operate a 725 from at least Kingston will be welcomed. Please let me know.
At the moment there is not an area for display vehicles but every effort will be made to find one. Can I please ask anyone who came last year and was allocated blinds and who will/cannot come this year, to contact me urgently so I can collect them for re-issue to others. These are expensive and will be needed on the day.
Sunday 25 June 2006
This date in mid-Summer is for the first Hemel Hempstead Running Day to be based on the Bus Station. Arriva the Shires and Essex have given permission for us to use the bus station that day but like Slough this is an operational bus station and we will not interfere with their operations which are anyway much reduced on Sundays.
This is the normal date for North Weald which will not take place this year and the NLTS have no plans for a replacement event that day.
Discussions have also taken place with Dacorum Borough Council, Herts County Council and the police who have all been most helpful. I have also spoken to the Market Superintendent and am able to book and pay for stall space on the day. For those who don't know Hemel, the covered market is situated behind the bus station - an excellent location.
The market will have a hot food stall that day and another stallholder sells confectionery, soft drinks, ice cream etc. Ample toilet facilities are at the bus station.
Peter Gomm and I visited Hemel on Fri 6 January and, with advice from the police, have identified an area nearby for display vehicles in Dacorum Way and vehicles on long breaks can park in Queensway (formerly Bury Road) between Leighton Buzzard Road and Marlow's, the railway station on one unused bay on Sundays and the bus station itself can be used for shorter breaks without disturbing its smooth operation. Health & Safety issues have to be borne in mind. A requirement of at least 10 double decks and 11 single decks are needed. This excludes any duplication which will be needed.
A number of rural and inter-urban routes have been chosen for operation - 302, 307 ,312.316. 317.317a,318,319 ,320,330, 337 ,347,706,708, 724. The 724 is for a feeder service to/from Watford from the North and then a 708 to/from Hemel. At the moment I have nothing from the South - any suggestions/offers? (THOSE IN BOLD HAVE TO BE SINGLE-DECK OPERATED).
Certain places such as Berkhamsted Station provide good interchanges with rtes 317/a and 312 connecting there and also in central Watford with the 302 and 347 connecting.
The biggest interchange of all, of course, is the bus station.
Again in Hemel a wide range of vehicles have been operated e.g. GS,RF, T, RB,RT,RMC, RML,SNB,SNC plus several others. Like Windsor, Central Area used to loan their vehicles for weekend and bank holiday duplication.
If anyone has blinds for any or part of these areas please let me know urgently.
Please respond as quickly as you can as I want to finalise timetables/duties etc asap.
I am paying a visit to Hemel this morning to see what it's like between 11.00 and 12.00
Sunday 1 October 2006 - the 18th Running Day at Amersham.
As route 724 is 40 years old this year, apart from the feeders, I want to schedule a service between Watford and High Wycombe via Amersham - the original route south of Watford. This will be 29 years to the day since MA Garage took over duties from HE - High Wycombe Garage which closed the previous day, 30 September 1977.
This year should see the brand new bus station at High Wycombe open by this date and this would be the ideal place to terminate. More on this Running Day in due course.
It is hoped to celebrate 40 years since RMLs took over route 363 Totteridge - Holtspur in February 1966. Weather permitting it is hoped to have RML/RMLs running over the route on Sunday 19 February. Likewise a month later to run over the full length of Route 347 Hemel - Uxbridge which received RMLs on 20 March 1966. Anyone else interested in joining us?
Please feel free to contact me by phone 01494 437750 or by e-mail - Peter_Cartwright@wycombe.gov.uk - or post at 54 Guinions Road, HIGH WYCOMBE, HP13 7NX.
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Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002 to date
These are three most interesting sites which I do recommend
Mike Penn's photo page with much from Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire as well as Buckinghamshire
Chris Lowe's Photo page - mainly North West UK
The Oxford Bus Museum
Ray Jackson Art
A web site which has paintings of buses.
Bus Services in Buckinghamshire
Bus services in Oxfordshire
Where are the Chilterns?
Visit this informative site through the link below.
Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002