Sunday 24th April 2005
next update week ending 6th May 2005
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Well, at least the weather has improved during the last few days and it has been more encouraging to take photos. A trip last Monday was made to Newbury and the depot of Weavaway in my quest to get further photographs of the new Volvo B9TL / East Lancs Nordic Myllennium double deckers. The results can be seen under the operators heading below.
Newbury & district visited
I also visited Newbury bus station and was pleasantly surprised to find an "old fashioned bus station" and no apparent "on street loading" in the town centre. Maybe some other places could learn from Newbury?
The bus station is predominantly a Newbury Buses operating centre but other operators, including Weavaway, do use the station as well. A total of 18 Newbury Buses services, including variations on main routes, radiate from Newbury and reach out to Basingstoke, Calcot, Didcot, and Reading whilst also providing most local services. If one wanted to visit Newbury from Oxford one would probably take a service from Oxford to Didcot and then catch a Newbury Buses service 6 or 9 which operate Monday through Saturday except Bank holidays. Journey time on either route is about one hour and the routes do run through some very nice countryside in this part of West Berkshire.
Newbury Buses provide some very useful timetable booklets for each service and there was a very helpful Information Office located at the bus station.
The area is also close to Lambourn, home to racing studs and service 4 serves this location from Newbury.
for further service information check this link : http://www.reading-buses.co.uk/new.htm
Another operator was Cango who operate service in Hampshire and services C21 and C22 serve Newbury from Burghclere using an Optare Alero.
Check this link http://cango.hants.gov.uk/timetables.asp
I found the visit most interesting and rather worthwhile.
The 1st Slough & Windsor Running Day - 17th April 2005
A few more interesting pictures on this event have been sent in by Mike Sheppy and I will allow myself a moments nostalgia for RLHs.
A selection of pictures taken by Mike on the day at Amersham.
Some further pictures taken at Gerrards Cross Bus Circle.
are the pictures I took at Slough (many into the sun!). As the conductor of
RLH48, obviously most are of 'her'.
RLH48 had the fuel injectors 'tweaked' the week before by Ward Jones and was transformed from a 'sedate old lady' into a 'spring chicken'! Hills that she used to crawl up in 2nd gear she now 'flew' up in 4th! The heavy loads that day (up to 50) were no problem.
Windsor traffic was a nightmare though. We lost 20 minutes from our schedule each time we passed via the castle and eventually had to cut out one return journey there from Slough.
Photographers still at Slough at 1717 for our final departure to Berkhamsted were 'treated' to the sight of RLH48 emerging from the shadows of the bus station displaying the 'white on blue background' blinds of the short-lived '353X' express service. (Has anyone sent you pictures of this? I was onboard so didn't get any).
All in all, a great rally day with perfect weather."
Colin Cooke also sent some interesting pictures some of which I used last week. I am using another this week.
The RMC at Beaconsfield.
I mentioned prior to the event that Thames Travel would be running a special connecting service from Oxford,
The question is did anyone get a picture of the bus used? This was the "Pink Lady", their new Scania/East Lancs double decker. I understand this also provided some service runs on the day at Slough. Any details and pictures would be welcome.
The last RMs on the 19 - a final contribution
Peter Edgar from Chinnor writes "I
have just been reading your latest news letter and thought you may be interested
in the attached photo's that I took last Friday on the final night of RM/RML
operation on the 19. Until I read your update tonight I did not realise that RML
2347 was an ex Wycombe vehicle. 2347 did in fact perform the last RML journey on
the 19 as BA 8, so its nice to know that our area had some involvement with this
final journey on such a historic London route.
The 19 is special to me as I had many school holidays, and lived for two years on the route when it ran through to Tooting Bec. "
Lewknor and the Taxi-bus Connection
The vandalised shelters on the London side and then the Oxford side. This happened over last weekend.
I am sad to report that the new bus shelters at Lewknor Junction 6 on the M40 have already been vandalised. As can be seen from the pictures above the glass has been broken but as it appears to be shatter proof it is at least not lying all over the ground. One wonders just what motivates the people who do this kind of thing?
The service is gaining in popularity and there has , on occasion, been a wait for intending passengers whilst the buses return from an earlier run.
I personally feel that a connection from Stokenchurch and maybe Radnage would be well used but seemingly that is not so easy as Stokenchurch lies in Buckinghamshire and the service is run by Oxfordshire.
It is also interesting that in spite of the additional stop at Lewknor, The Oxford Tube generally arrives in London or Oxford at about the same time as the The Oxford espress which does not stop whilst both services will have left their origin departure point at the same time.
A comment on the matter of bus stations and in particular Aylesbury
Arriva Olympian 5121 leaves Friars Square Bus Station on the 66 to Buckingham 22nd April 2005
The overbridge, to the shops, leading from a large car park can be seen above left corner.
of Bucks County Council writes "...regarding Peter
Kay's item on this week's page enquires about the future of Aylesbury's Bus
There is little doubt that the majority of passengers find using Aylesbury Bus Station an unpleasant experience which leaves much to be desired. It stands as a monument to much that was bad in 1960's design - but it has one major trump card up it's sleeve. It's in exactly the right place for the overwhelming majority of bus users.
Aylesbury's town centre is surrounded by the town's inner ring road - and the bus station, located in the south-west corner of the town centre, inside the inner ring road, gives access to virtually the whole of the shopping centre, as well as the railway station, within 3-4 minutes walk.
The ring road passing the bus station to the left in this picture allows good access and egress.
Inside the shopping centre on the way to the bus station which is well sign posted.
Despite a widely expressed desire to move the bus station elsewhere, the fact remains that there is no more convenient location in the town centre than it's present location. However, over the next 30 years, Aylesbury's population is set to double, and the town centre will need to expand in order to meet the demands of that growth. The two existing shopping malls, located either side of the market square, will be joined by major new developments alongside the inner ring road to the south and east of the existing shopping centre. The focus of the town centre will thereby be dispersed more widely around the inner ring road, and nearly two years ago, the Council commissioned consultants to investigate ways of improving access to the town centre for bus users.
Two pictures showing the "island layout" of the bus station and the third showing the passenger entrance to the buses,
actually similar on both sides and the centre houses a clean and bright waiting area.
Several different schemes were considered by the project team, and ultimately it
was agreed that the existing bus station would be retained and extensively
refurbished as part of a multi-million pound project (known as the Aylesbury
Public Transport Hub) which would see the creation of a priority route for buses
around the inner ring road (anti-clockwise) with high quality 'superstops' close
to each of the new development areas. Initially submitted as a major project bid
last Summer, the Aylesbury Hub project has now been selected by government as
one of three transport projects for "more detailed appraisal" following a bid to
the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's new Community Infrastructure Fund.
Details of the project are on the Council's website at:
As for the bus station itself, the project aims to address many of the negative features of the present bus station, including:
* Better management of the
conflicting users of the vehicle concourse (the bus station also provides HGV
service access to several major stores,
and a customer loading bay for one store)
* Minimising pedestrian/vehicle conflicts at the entrance and exit to the bus station
* Extending the enclosed passenger concourse to the edge of the departure bays, with automatic doors to each bay.
* Improved lighting, climate control and security measures within the passenger concourse
* Real time passenger information throughout the bus station and at the "Superstops" around the hub
* A direct link for buses and pedestrians between the bus station and the nearby railway station
The real challenge is, as always, to balance the convenience of location with the creation of an environment which can be made attractive to both existing and, just as importantly, potential new public transport users. An enclosed location beneath a shopping centre will present particular challenges in terms of the lack of natural light and the need to provide an appealing, well ventilated environment for passengers - but we believe this can be achieved with sufficient care (and adequate resources)."
My only comments having visited this bus station are that it is very difficult to get good pictures and I was appalled by the behaviour of many of the local school children who were on their way home. There was a lot of fighting and the few elderly people who were also waiting looked generally apprehensive. On the plus side it was well lit, very clean and apart form the little dears quite inviting..
Reading to London with Thackray's Way with further thoughts on this subject
Reading – London Express service
During last Monday's visit to Newbury I also had opportunity to check on the fares charged for the rail journey to London from Reading.
I found out that the fares are:
Peak day return £28.80
after 0930 ret. £23.80
A day ticket off peak inc the underground £15.60
An off peak return just to Paddington £12.00
Now whilst realising that the rail fares from Oxford are relative, the coach fares are much cheaper and at least passengers are guaranteed a seat, not always the case when travelling on the train.
I do feel that the good folk in Reading have a poor deal compared to Oxford since they do not have a coach service. If a service is attractive - frequent, good coaches and it goes to where people want to go, then it will flourish.
Surprise trader in Oxford
Not quite to do with buses but I was very surprised to see a street trader had set up a stall by the London coach stop at Queen's Lane last week, selling sun glasses. Quite a good spot for trading I suppose but I wonder how long it was before someone came to "speak" to him?
writes re radio aerials saying "I
have a partial answer for your news page last week.
Geoff Cunliffe asked,
Oxford Bus Company:
Question - why have at least some of the Scania Irizars got THREE radio
Answer - The first batch (Airline) actually have four!
1) All OBC buses are fitted with an aerial for the Controller's radio; this is a flat box nearly 1 foot square, fitted to the roof. It looks like (and is usually incorrectly assumed to be) a ventilator of some kind.
2) All OBC vehicles (except 644 and probably a few others) have recently been fitted with a spindly aerial, generally fitted off to one side, above the driver (opposite side on Excaliburs). In all cases, nearby there is a small flat disc. My strong assumption is that this is the GPS equipment: the disc is the antenna that collects signals from satellites, and the aerial sends the calculated location information for that vehicle back to the base station.
3) All OBC's Scanias have a biggish aerial immediately behind the centre top marker-light. I believe this is for a car-radio-type FM radio system (disconnected, except in 50).
4) The Airline Scanias, but NOT the Espress quintuplet, have a short stubby aerial just behind (2). Those vehicles are fitted with a different sort of Controller Radio system, which is the only reason I can think of for its existence; however, these vehicles still have the box-type (1) aerial.
Note that all of the Stagecoach fleet also appear to be fitted with the GPS equipment (2), and that the Tubes and some of the local buses also carry the (1)-type aerial.
Can another reader shed more (or definitive) light on these assumptions?
Kind regards & keep up the good work on the page,"
A home for Bertie
John Watts writes to ask if any reader is interested in the following bus.
FOR SALE – OFFERS IN THE REGION OF £10,000
83 Deeds Grove High Wycombe Bucks HP12 3NY
Following the article last week about the Bristol VR which is for sale as Wonderbus, Matt Cooper writes "Been digging a bit more in my lunch break! The VR in the picture is (PBD 40R) ex Northampton 40, withdrawn in 1991 to Harris Bus, Grays for use as a Lakeside Shopping Centre car park shuttle. It has obviously stayed in the London area to date. I found the information on Bristol vehicles for sale site which includes a number of other odd Bristol vehicles for sale, found using Google!"
Professor Wood writes regarding developments
in Banbury saying "Noted
in Banbury on Friday were.
Stagecoach Olympian 16525 on the B5 local.
Stagecoach B6 31852 now sporting a Mega Boot Advert for "Tiles R Us".
Johnsons of Henley Cadet YJ51ENE on the 270 Stratford service still with it's Abacus Mega Rear.
SMS Solos X943 NUB, W262 EWU in silver branded livery for the 499/508 Brackley services.
Geoff Amos' New Evolution AM05GAB (Great Registration) on the Great Central.
Noted in Leamington also on Friday was one of WCC's new Scania school coaches YN54NYM.
Slimlines for Oxford?
They say you need a sense of humour and Gavin Francis proves just that. His picture of this bus stop and road layout in Horspath Road may suggest that Optare Solo Slimlines are imminent for Oxford.
Having found a good map of the Chilterns (see at the bottom of this page), I now realise that I need regular information from Dunstable, Hemel Hempstead, Hitchin and Luton. Is there anyone out there who would be prepared to send in regular report and digital photos of this interesting area?
Now on to this week's News and photos. Thank you to everyone who has contributed this week. I have not received so much news this week and so the operator reports are predominantly photographic in nature. I do however realise that many of you enjoy the photos more than the text.
Malcolm Crowe - Sunday 24th April 2005
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News of the local companies – 24th April 2005
I made a foray to Aylesbury last week, mainly to get some pictures of the bus station relating to the article in this week's Editorial but I also secured a few interesting pictures of Arriva buses.
Here ex OBC Dart 503, now Arriva 3833 and once based at Wycombe leaves Friars Square on a 54 working to Halton Camp.
22nd April 2005.
I must say that although I have had a go at Arriva for the use of paper stickers instead of proper route blinds all the buses seen in Aylesbury had a full set of blinds.
today, Sunday, I had the chance to pass by the new Arriva depot being constructed at Lincoln Road, High Wycombe and as the photos below show, work is progressing well with the roof now on the main building. does anyone know when completion is scheduled for?
Mike Penn sent an interesting picture of an ex Wycombe based bus now working in Southend. It was 5828 but was renumbered 5882 when moving to Southend. (An interesting move of digits !!) Mike reminds us that this was the bus in Swan FM advertising livery.
Chris Maxfield notes that Optare Alero YN04XZK was operating the 260 service last week and it was in full South Yorkshire PTE livery but minus vinyls.
Nigel Peach writes "All Leyland Olympian 5120 (G290UMJ) has received an electronic destination display - the first double decker at Wycombe that I've seen to be so treated."
Last week I posted a picture of the little DAF/VDL bus (CB54BUS) in Stokenchurch on a school service. I saw on Friday that it then appears to work dead to Chinnor/Princes Risboro' presumably for the rail link service.
Volvo nr 71 becomes a TV star.
Last Wednesday Airline coach nr 71 became a TV star for a moment when it was featured on an episode of the latest series of Airport on TV.
We were accompanying a traffic warden whose last job of the evening was to visit the central bus station. Here she found a honeymoon couple who had sadly lost their cases, apparently out of nr 71. They had been stolen and I am led to understand that "a gang" had been operating for sometime stealing passengers luggage at the coach station. There was no reflection on the company or their driver and one can only sympathise with the honeymooners and their loss. I also understand some people have been arrested in connection with these thefts.
I would personally sympathise with the driver as well, what an awful thing to happen, leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.
Older Darts in Salisbury.
Richard Sharman writes "Very surprised to find ex Oxford Darts 510/12/15/19 parked at Go-Ahead's Levers Coaches at Swallowcliffe nr Salisbury. They are complete and still have vinyls and blinds in place."
Richard wonders why they are there and of course they are the buses donated to the Tsunami Bus Appeal reported on this page many weeks ago. They were due to leave Southampton on a cargo ship recently.
Richard then notes that Wilts and Dorset Premiere 350 R811NUD is now 5032 at Damory, Blandford.
Where did they go?
Mike Penn sent an interesting picture this week of one of the old Bristol RE dps which were used on the London services in the '80s. He says "an older picture this time of Bristol RELH RBW84M photographed in Southend in August 1989 when it was working for Lynxline of Rochford."
Oxford Airline nr 62 leaves Gloucester Green last Thursday evening, 1900 on 210405, on an X90 working to London.
It subsequently also operated a departure approaching midnight to London as well.
A spring morning on the Iffley road with Oxford 643 passing Dart 401 - 090405
Reader Ricahrd Field sent this picture of 643 way back in August 1999 as a comparison to the one above.
A reader sent comments regarding the use of a BH&D VR on the Watlington route as pictured on last week's page. He says "I am replying to the query raised by John Bristow re the BH&D VRT on loan to Oxford as pictured in your latest bus page, always most interesting.
OCD 765G was actually on loan from Southdown, no 2095, but originally new to BH&D as their no 95.It was loaned from 1 April 1970 until 13 August 1971 and was numbered B2 by City of Oxford which can be seen in the middle of the front panel in white letters and numbers. Fitted with Oxford blinds it worked service 8 (New Hinksey to Marston) until transferred to Watlington from 11 May 1970 for service 76/76A (Oxford to Watlington) but was also noted on services 1 and 82. The loan, and also the M&D mentioned below, was to hasten the introduction of OMO.
Also loaned to COMS from 11 January 1970 until 1 March 1970 was 24 ACD, a Leyland PD2/37 from Brighton Corporation (24) for one-man experiments prior to the introduction of converted AEC Renowns by City of Oxford. It was allocated to Wantage as it was only approved for one-man use in the South Eastern Trafffic Area and used on services 21, 22A/B, 25. Numbered B1 by COMS in similar fashion to OCD above.
Another long term loan was Maidstone & District 6078 (78 YKT) a Daimler Fleetline/NCME from 25 March 1970 until 28 May 1971 and used initially on service 2 and 8 until reallocated to Bicester from 11/5/70. It was numbered M1.
There were also 5 Timpson coaches, a Daimler demonstrator and 5 South Midland coaches at various times in 1970. All due to a shortage of vehicles at this time and for OMO trials. No need to go anywhere to see other buses, you just waited for them to come on loan to Oxford!"
Some pictures of these interesting loans, for use on the page, would be appreciated.
M K Metro
Matt Cooper writes "Both the ex Weavaway Solos are back today, both in o/a purple for new branded route 8, to have vinyls applied soon, and electronic blinds fitted. I'll get a decent pic when there done!"
Correspondent Chris Lowe has been busy with his camera as usual and has come up with another ex Oxford Olympian picture saying "I have been told that both 16508 and 16513 have gone in for re-painting so both should be out soon, think that will then be all of the batch re-painted in the new livery."
M A N 22938 is now back from repaint and was working the 3 yesterday, Saturday.
Gavin Francis sent a couple of nice pictures which I am publishing below.
16519 on 19th April in Queen St on route 10
33651 route branded for the 10 was on a 5A/B working on the 19th April.
Latest fleet news from Warwickshire is that the Megabus Neoplans for Leamington have arrived and are already working to London.
Further fleet news is as follows.
|fleet movement - last period|
|14369||C119 CHM||Leyland Olympian - Leamington to Disposal|
|14373||D123 FYM||Leyland Olympian - Leamington to Disposal|
|14375||D125 FYM||Leyland Olympian - Leamington to Disposal|
|14377||D127 FYM||Leyland Olympian - Leamington to Disposal|
|14378||D128FYM||Leyland Olympian - Leamington to Disposal|
|14942||A542 HAC||Leyland Olympian - Rugby to Disposal|
|14943||A543 HAC||Leyland Olympian - Rugby to Disposal|
|20401||E61 JFV||Volvo B10M - Leamington to Delicensed|
|20402||E62 JFV||Volvo B10M - Leamington to Delicensed|
|20558||P558 ESO||Volvo B10M - Reserve to Leamington|
|20823||P823 FVU||Volvo B10M - Leamington to Reserve|
|40142||M402 LHP||Mercedes 709D - Leamington to Disposal|
|41505||H495 MRW||Mercedes 811D - Disposal to Leamington|
|vehicles awaiting disposal|
|14369||C119 CHM||Leyland Olympian||LN|
|14373||D123 FYM||Leyland Olympian||LN|
|14375||D125 FYM||Leyland Olympian||LN|
|14377||D127 FYM||Leyland Olympian||LN|
|14942||A542 HAC||Leyland Olympian||RY|
|14943||A543 HAC||Leyland Olympian||RY|
|40142||M402 LHP||Mercedes 709D||LN|
|40146||M346 KWK||Mercedes 709D||NN|
|41506||H406 MRW||Mercedes 811D||NN|
|vehicles in reserve|
|20823*||P823 FVU||Volvo B10M||LN|
|20401||E61 JFV||Volvo B10M||LN|
|20402||E62 JFV||Volvo B10M||LN|
Reader Daniel Stazicker writes "....- Looking for two vehicles R417XFC a Volvo / Alexander decker ( former 417 ) & R905XFC a Volvo / Plaxton single decker (former 905). I'm sorry I don't know their new numbers - any idea of depot & or route they are used on ? Any help would be much appreciated"
I was able to advise him that 20005 (R905XFC) is used on a number of routes radiating from Oxford but that 16517 (R417XFC) is now with Warwickshire. Can anyone help with routes it may appear on?
See details of new Leamington Neoplans under Stagecoach in Warwickshire heading.
Another new Neoplan seemingly for Cwmbran is 50139 CN05FVU and additionally 50128 is also at Cwmbran despite its original intended allocation being to Scotland hence its Scottish registration.
Stephen Le Bras writes "I
went to Victoria today (Saturday 23rd April) and noted 50141 and 50136 as
50141 in at 8.25am, left for Birmingham 10.15am
50136 arrived from Leyton 10.15am, left around 10.25am for Manchester."
Ben Morroll sent this picture of 50141 in Bullied Way, London after his trip down from Birmingham last week.
Ben Morroll writes "... went on one of the Megabus Neoplans for first time today (Leamington's 50141 KX05HVE) and would judge them as superb, remarkable acceleration, didn't even seem to struggle going up Stokenchurch Hill as the Olympians used to. Time keeping was very impressive in both directions arriving early. I would definitely choose to use a Neoplan in comparison to the Leather seated Irizar PBs Nat ex are using on the same corridor. The interior of the Neoplan was very light and airy in comparison to the Olympians which have been running on the route, sitting at the rear of the vehicle upstairs made it seem huge!
The vehicles acceleration was smooth and fast, no problems changing through gears etc, and simply sped up the climb through the cutting on the M40 towards Stokenchurch, where by past experience the Olympians really seemed to struggle. This journey and the return (1800 ex London) using the same vehicle had loadings of around 40. Time keeping in both directions was excellent, arriving around 30 mins ahead of schedule in both directions, mainly down to light traffic, but the Neoplan's excellent performance also helped.
I have used Megabus for last 3 times from Birmingham to London and return, previously using rail, and one trip on one of the Nat Ex Irizar PBs, but now the Neoplans are on the route, i will definitely use it again."
I was also impressed by the fact that the other day I saw one of the two new Neoplans overtaking an Oxford Tube on the M40.
I was spurred into action last week following the pictures of the new Volvos from Kevin Stevens. so as recorded in the Editorial above I spent a few hours in the Newbury area last monday. I was able to get a few pictures of the Weavaway fleet including the new Volvo. For full fleet details of this interesting fleet please follow the link to Bus Zone below, an excellent site by Rob Williams.
I saw "AVB" during my visit which had just been mopped out so I thought "better not go inside"
At 16080kgs u.w. with 102 seats these are rather impressive vehicles.
Six of the Dennis condor school buses were parked up. Rob Williams would like the names of each one.
I saw "'ark the 'erald angel" The name of each one is on the offside centre panel.
A Volvo B7R / Plaxton Profile. These have three/two seating for school work.
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