The page for enthusiasts in the Oxford Chilterns Area - News from you and news for you - pictures too  ~~~~   The page for enthusiasts in the Oxford Chilterns Area - News from you and news for you - pictures too  ~~~~   The page for enthusiasts in the Oxford Chilterns Area - News from you and news for you - pictures too  

Issue 153
(OBP-368)

Monday 14th November 2005
next update week ending 25th November 2005

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002

Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

Please note that any comments made in this news page are those of the Editors' and in no way constitute 
any official points of view from the bus companies mentioned,  or indeed any other official body. 
As a news page we reserve the right to make valid comments as seen from an editorial point of view.

If you wish to be included on a mailing list where I will advise of any mid-week news please let me know
malcolmhc@aol.com

This last week has been of significant interest in our area not the least of which was that Stagecoach Oxford Tube won "The Claudia Flanders Memorial Ward for Accessibility" at this year's UK Bus Awards. More details are published below. Also Oxford Bus has re-registered a number of vehicles to retain cherished registrations from the R registered batch of coaches. Photographs have also been received of ex Oxford Bus Volvo B10Bs now with Damory. I also spent sometime at Risinghurst on Saturday taking pictures and was surprised at the number of motorists breaching the bus lane from Thornhill.

"The Claudia Flanders Memorial Ward for Accessibility"

Last Wednesday, 9th November, the Hilton hotel, Park Lane, hosted the annual UK Bus Awards, this being the 10th Anniversary event. Many operators had entered this year's event and Stagecoach were successful in three categories. Firstly Stagecoach West Scotland were declared Overall Winner and also gained the Larger Fleets award but nearer to home The Oxford Tube gained "The Claudia Flanders Memorial Ward for Accessibility". It was in 2004 that Stagecoach invested almost 8m in 25 new coaches so that its entire fleet operating the Oxford-London service would have both low floor access and a wheel chair space. The Judges' comments recorded that "long distance coach travel by coach can be difficult for disabled people ad has so often been impossible for those who need to use wheelchairs. In addition to the fully-accessible fleet for the Oxford Tube service, the staff training measures, publicity and new website combine to provide a truly accessible service round the clock."

   
Wheelchair access on the Tube


Paul O'Callaghan, Stagecoach in Oxfordshire Service Delivery Director, with the award.

In addition to the above Stagecoach awards nationally saw other successes:  

Bus Marketing Campaign of the Year

Runner Up - Stagecoach UK Bus - "Where You Want To Be" 

The London Bus Garage of the Year

WINNER - Waterden Road - Stagecoach London 

A full list of the winners will eventually be posted on www.ukbusawards.co.uk

Responses to my article on Virgin Trains

Last week I wrote about my experiences when using Virgin Trains from Oxford to Crewe. I had expected some replies but was surprised to receive articles supporting my comments and from other sources I learn that time keeping on these services is really poor.

Noam Bleicher writes "You need not fear causing offence - this rail lover for one despairs of the passenger experience on Virgin Cross Country, and you will not find many rail users leaping to their defence. In fairness however some of this is not their fault, but due to lack of co-ordination and territorial rivalry between different parts of the industry.

You correctly point out that the engine noise on Voyagers is intrusive. Worse than this is the poor amount legroom and cramped seating. This is exacerbated by the seating layout, which is mainly of the unpopular "airline" layout - the few seats facing tables are always the first to fill when the train is loading. Facing seats would afford ample luggage space behind seat backs, but because Voyagers have mainly airline seats, more space is wasted having dedicated luggage racks. All this can be blamed on Virgin, and it is evident that aeroplane designers had a much bigger involvement in the design of these trains than train designers.

The terrible punctuality Cross Country services experience is, I'm afraid, down to lack of industry co-ordination. Services entering congested urban networks such as the West Midlands and Greater Manchester are given lower priority than local stopping services. It is possible that running just three minutes late will result in loss of path to a local stopping service. Local signallers will always favour local services, and it is common to see a local service whistled off Birmingham or Coventry exactly on time, when a Cross Country service which needs the same path has just pulled in or is loading passengers. I use Cross Country once a week to travel back from the midlands on business. Around 50% of the services I use are outside the industry's own definition of "on time" i.e. under ten minutes late. Until such bloody-minded signalling practices cease your journey experience, and mine, will continue to be the norm. 

Having said what I said about Virgin XC, the equivalent bus offering to Crewe is also poor. Despite the delays, Virgin XC offer a departure every half-hour to Crewe, taking between 2h20 and 2h50 as booked. Most services only require one change. National Express buses however offer only one daily departure arriving 1805, taking 4h10. At a cost of 22.50 single, the rail offering at 35 doesn't look bad. I fear problems Virgin have operating their XC services will serve sadly to drive people back into their cars, not onto National Express."

Mike Sheppey writes "
I am employed part-time as a vehicle delivery driver, having retired six years ago, and use rail travel and many rail companies services extensively. I sympathise with your views - Virgin Rail are the company I dislike most. They weren't quite so bad when they still had '125' trains but their new  stock, particularly the 'Voyager', is awful. I agree with you. The seating is harsh, they are noisy and they are claustrophobic. Some have an awful 'leaking toilet' to add to their 'delights', though Virgin assure me that this is caused by a hand basin drainage fault and that they will remedy this problem.

As for the pace of travel (or not!) the Didcot-Birmingham line is particular is very constricted and Virgin are often 'bottled up in a queue' on that route, usually behind a freight train or 'stopping' service. The signalling staff should have been strangled many times over due to the experiences I've suffered. They even manage to 'screw up' on the Reading-Didcot four track section and cause unnecessary and prolonged delays!

In defence of Virgin, the last time I travelled with them and incurred the usual delays, the announcements by the guard were excellent and informed us apologetically of every delay, what was causing them and our new arrival times. Thus we were not treated in the usual manner as 'mushrooms'.

Unfortunately, I get 'coach sick' and cannot travel far on one. Also, the lack of leg room ('seat pitch') in comparison to any rail seats, ensures I stick with rail whatever I suffer and thus maintain my love/hate relationship with them.

Thanks again for you excellent weekly website news."

Well I expect there are more comments but I think we had better close this issue before someone reminds this is a BUS page and not a train bashing site.

Update on Wycombe Park & Ride.

The site at Cressex is now complete and a noticeable feature is the very fine border fencing recently installed. The waiting area is now also completed and facility looks quite good. The seating is however still very basic but the rooms were clean and tidy.

     

A Routemaster in Beaconsfield by Colin Cooke. 

Colin Cooke writes "Seen in Beaconsfield Waitrose Car Park Saturday afternoon was this immaculate RML887 about to transfer a wedding party to a restaurant in Amersham, before returning to its base at Putney...."

Another interesting web site with pictures of this bus can be located at http://www.wongers.fotopic.net/

Terry writes "I know out of your area but I thought would post a busy weekend in London for various things.  Some contract changes in West London take place with London United loosing the 33 and 419 to new operator NCP, also the start of the Kingston Park and Ride.  In turn gain the 27 from First.  Routemaster specials were held on both the 27 and 33 from First and London United.  Pictures of RM880 working Barnes Pond to Fulwell (two trips), they didn't get clearance to go down Castlenau to terminate at Hammersmith so this nice location was chosen.  Interesting changes mean London United are doing some reshuffling of some of the fleet, some spares are to go on hire for Bromley (Kent) Park and Ride which starts very soon, which are rumoured to then go onto Metroline for a short time as well. 

Pictures in full can be located on http://www.wongers.fotopic.net/ of the 33 special."

Ones I couldn't resist.

With the upcoming demise of regular service in London with Routemaster I just couldn't resist these two pictures of RMs on Oxford Street during some recent diversions. The pictures are by T A Partridge.

 

I do think these are some of the most evocative pictures I have seen for a very long time.

Bus Lane abuse

On Saturday last I spent a short time taking pictures near Risinghurst on the A40  The bus lane runs from Thornhill to Green road roundabout and I am aware that from time to time cars do ignore the bus lane to access Collinwood Road which leads into Risinghurst. However what I witnessed was blatant abuse including foreign trucks who used the whole bus lane to Green Road.

I am not setting myself up as a judge and jury but I cannot help but mention the matter such was the level of abuse. I include a couple of pictures to prove the point. Had the police been around they could have made a small fortune in fines.


This car had come all the way through in the bus lane.


The X90 Scania is being followed by yet another car way inside the bus lane.

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I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this page and look forward to your continued support in the future.

Malcolm Crowe - Sunday 14th November 2005

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002 to date

News of the local companies 14th November 2005

Several interesting pictures are shown this week which highlight the recent allocation changes in our area for Arriva.

Nigel Peach writes "I notice that of the two Tridents that came in from Luton, 5422 has conventional destination equipment (i.e. number but no destination!!) whereas 5432 has the new style electronic, easy to read and informative display. 

Arriva had a spell of fitting this new style to the Wycombe buses. All the minibuses and Volvo B6s (except 3127) were done and just one of the Scanias (3144) and just one of the Olympians (5120). I wonder why the conversion stopped there suddenly many months ago!

Thanks as always for the very interesting and informative pages week by week - much appreciated!"


5432 has the new style electronic, easy to read and informative display.


Gavin Francis sent a number of pictures this week including this one of 5124 which has moved from Wycombe to Aylesbury.


Olympian 5106 is now at Wycombe but lacking proper destination screens, hence the paper sticker.


The 342 service yesterday this time with 4 passengers, a 50% increase over last week. This is the 1017 departure to High Wycombe.

Gavin Francis writes "I have noticed that Carousel have been at work on their destination screens recently. I have attached a pic of G530VBB. It alternates between this and route 4 details. 

One of the red DAFs now has an electronic screen and the Citaros now have HEATHROW with a plane each side of it after the main display."


My own pictures of L534 was taken in the dark last week.

Nigel Peach writes "Wed 9th. I noticed Leyland Lynx F78 DDA parked at the Desborough Road depot bearing a notice saying "Sold". I think that must bring an end to Lynx operation - I've not seen the other survivor (ex Wycombe Bus Company F558 NJM) for some time now, so I think it must be the end of an era. 

The second of the two Olympians recently acquired from Arriva London - G534 VBB, has now been painted in Carousel livery and looks very smart." 


I was surprised to see this low floor Dart in the yard last week. Is it a new purchase?

Heyfordian

This company purchased several Shearings Volvos one of which is seen on the M40 last Saturday.

Some re-registrations have take place during the past week and new registration for "R" Reg coaches are R256DWL and R258DWL amongst others. Gavin Francis took the pictures below, yesterday, Sunday, when reinstated coach 12 was working the London service. Coach 11 is still R11OXF but so far no information has come to light on the registrations for R8, R9 and R10 OXF.

 

As a result some 4xx Darts have been registered. 409 R409OXF is now R9OXF but so far 408 has not been changed.

 
Both pictures were taken within 15 minutes of each other on Saturday last.

It is suggested that the publicity van has been changed to R12OXF.

Further information is now awaited.

Another interesting web site has come to my notice which covers Wilts and Dorset. This is run by Anthony Poulton who works for W&D. http://poultyphotos.fotopic.net/

     
Anthony has allowed me to publish photos of the Volvo B10Bs which have moved to Damory.

The above web site includes pictures of the ex Citylink coaches, Volvo B10Ms which used to work the X33.


Gavin Francis also sent an interesting picture of a B10B about to be sold to Solent Blue Line.
This is 653 and seems not to have received a centre door removal yet.

I am led to believe that 653 and 654 are now undergoing modification prior to sale to Solent Blue Line.


813 was working on the 8 road last Saturday. Low floors are now becoming a regular site on this route.

City Sightseeing 

Kevin Stevens writes "...attached are 2 photos of 3 of our CSS buses who have been put into hibernation for the winter.  They are Fl No 217, 14 and 129.  The tarpaulins have been put over them like tents to preserve the top decks from rain etc.  It is planned to return them to service on or about 1st April 2006 if required.   

Services in Oxford have now been reduced to 3 buses Mon - Fri and 4 buses Sat - Sun and are still reasonably busy."

 


Gavin Francis caught new open topper 55 with the display "School Bus"

The main news this week is reported in the Editorial.

The Megabus loans from Scotland, 50046, 50047 and 50058 have now departed Oxford and have been transferred to Newcastle where they replace three ex HKG Olympians. Red liveried 50040 is transferred north of the border but as a first non Tube trip Leyton used it on the Plymouth service. It did not get beyond Exeter on its return and Brian George has kindly let me use the photo below taken at Exeter last Wednesday.


Last Monday saw 50046 working the Wantage service followed by 1000hrs Tube working to London.
This was the almost the last day for these coaches to work on Tube services.


The midday working from Birmingham to London last Saturday produced this Trident from Leyton.
It certainly had enough Megabus notices in the front window.
It is seen on the M40 near Stokenchurch, London bound.

Whites of Abingdon


Solo YK04KWE was working the 108 last Saturday.

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If you wish to be included on a mailing list where I will advise of any mid week news & when each News Page is posted
please let me know on malcolmhc@aol.com

PHOTO CORNER
If you have a digital camera and wish to submit photos for this page please send them to the me at 
malcolmhc@aol.com

Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002


Ben Morrell took this picture of Reading Spectra 739 being towed in the Midlands.


Horseman Volvo T20DMB seen on the approach to Green Road roundabout last Saturday.


Oxford to Poland service loads at Oxford's Train Station last Wednesday.
Not sure what the coach was but the design is most unusual.

Stephen Le Bras writes regarding the above picture "It is a Solaris Vacanza, one of several which used to ply the route between London and Poland in various pastel colours. However, they do not appear to have re-surfaced in 2005 and I wonder if they are now reserve vehicles, used when a regular coach breaks down. A yellow one is shown in the PSV Circle Overseas Journal of October 2004.

Solaris does have plenty of bodywork to build as its bus body is becoming very popular in Germany."

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002 to date

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These are three most interesting sites which I do recommend

Bus Zone Logo (2421 bytes)

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

Links

Bus Services in Buckinghamshire

Bus services in Oxfordshire

Where are the Chilterns?

Visit this informative site through the link below.

back to home page
Map showing the Chilterns Hills beginning in Oxfordshire in the Thames Valley and stretching north-east through Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire to Hitchin in Hertfordshire. The highest points are over 250m. There are various water courses running from the Chilterns to the South East.

Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002