Issue 84
(original Oxford Bus Page included, nr 300)
Sunday 27th June 2004
next update week ending 9th July 2004

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 & when each News Page is posted
please let me know on
malcolmhc@aol.com

As most of you know this last week and indeed next week is Wimbledon and as such my time is limited as I am driving for London General on their Heathrow-Wimbledon service plus the Motspur Park & Ride. Time is thus limited and I have had to reply upon contributors for this week's page. I do thank all of you who have contributed to make this week's page.

Another milestone has been reached as you can see in the header above. This is my 300th page since I started editing the Oxford Chiltern Bus Page and formerly The Oxford Bus Page. For interests sake I include a copy of the report for the 4th July 1999 which will give some idea of what has changed over the past FIVE years.

News from Oxford
High Wycombe & the surrounding areas

update Sunday, July 4th 1999 by Malcolm Crowe

Again further new buses have been delivered to Oxford Bus. Tridents 112, 113 and 114 have now arrived  and will be entering service. Volvo B10BLE 810 has entered service and 811 was under prep on Saturday morning. The 400 road has seen its first  Trident and most journeys on 300s are now Trident operated. I am advised that Titan 950 is reprieved until this coming Friday. The 52 road still sees a mixture of old and new but when the final deliveries of the new B10BLEs enter service most journeys should then be low floor served.

226, 228 and 229 are under conversion to single door for Wycombe as these notes are written. 203 has now been withdrawn along with 209,215, 216, 219, 966 and 970. It now seems that Metrorider 781 will stay with Oxford but its role is not clear. Other Metroriders to remain will be 782 and 783, since one bus is needed for the 61 Jerico service.

On the Stagecoach front no further deliveries can be reported with new Tube coaches reaching 54, which had its full livery applied last Friday. The rear of this coach carries a picture of London only with no other lettering.  Both 38 and 48 were noted today, 4thJuly, on X50 service to Stratford. Is this the first use of these coaches on this service ?  48 now sports full wheel trims and looks much better.  Further unusual workings by dedicated route branded buses has been seen once again during the past week with a blue top M A N operating X39 to Heathrow Airport on Thursday afternoon. Both blue and orange top M A N s continue to work Abingdon direction services. A Volvo B10M (9xx series) was seen route 7 on Thursday.

A big surprise was news of an ex Hong Kong Dennis Dart/Plaxton DP at Horspath Depot for quite a few days. It seems that this is one of the 20 similar buses in transit from Hong Kong to Manchester. Most have now arrived in Manchester have been on the same sailing from Hong Kong to Southampton. The one at Oxford 1421, suffered a mechanical failure on the A34 en route to Manchester and was recovered to Oxford. It is expected to go to Manchester early next week.

Ex Oxford Olympian 217 has been seen with Charlton Services operating a school contract in Thame and 216 is now thought to be with Worths of Enstone. Both are currently in Oxford livery without vinyl's. So it seems that we may still see these proud old ladies from time to time in Oxford on service. Your sightings are much appreciated and thanks this week to Michael Wootton of Woottons Coaches, Princes Risboro' for the report on 217.

Wycombe Bus will shortly receive the first of the five Olympians 225-229, following conversion at Oxford. A really professional job is being made of these conversions to single door and Oxford Bus are to be complemented on the excellent work being done by their body builders. Indeed the conversions are fully in-house and much skill is needed to achieve the end result. We hope to bring a photographic record of the work when the buses are completed.

Finally on the Oxford-London services, from reports received, it would seem that both companies are carrying increased loadings and many more people are using the coach. This is good news and should help a little to reducing congestion on the roads. There are now 9 departures offering over 500 seats per hour in peak periods. Often additional vehicles are put in, especially by Stagecoach and it is not unusual to see 2 or even 3 double deck coaches in quick succession on the M40. Indeed the intensity of service for an express route can only have been matched by the long gone X60 service between Manchester and Blackpool, which was at its peak in the 1950s.

Click here to see P&R Trident launch - Dateline Tuesday June 1st 1999 and you can also view the New MAN Tube launch report here.   (The links are still working Ed.)

Photographic Report

Oxlineup.jpg (55218 bytes)

New arrivals !
Three of the new Volvo B10BLEs share the line with Tridents 110 and 112
at Oxford Bus Cowley Road Depot last Saturday.

Ox504psvwash.jpg (82207 bytes)

Another interior of Cowley Road Garage with 504 undergoing
a full wash prior to PSV inspection.

Ox781qq.jpg (71474 bytes)

Watch this space for further news on the new role of 781.

OX3olympians.jpg (67810 bytes)

Olympians 226, 228 and 229 seen last Saturday morning in the bodyshop
at Cowley Road. Work is proceeding on all three on conversion to single door.

sco4olympians.jpg (39492 bytes)

All four Olympians transferred from   London after single door conversion.
Taken last Saturday morning. With Brookes University starting Summer Vac,
these buses could see service on other than their intended routes !

scoBRLHTbus.jpg (66522 bytes)

Dear old "AFJ" is still serving at the driving school of Stagecoach Oxford
and was under routine maintenance last Saturday at Horspath Depot.

HKG1421sco.jpg (51027 bytes)

Surprise of the week was a "foreign visitor" in the shape of Hong Kong Citibus 1421
en route to join its brothers in Manchester where they will enter service with Stagecoach.

Geoff Cunliffe writes and I hope no one minds me including his comments regarding the page.
Geoff says, "
It doesn't seem that long ago that I wrote to you to congratulate you on reaching the milestone of the 200th. edition of the Bus Page, and here we are now at edition number 300. 

The bus operations in and around Oxford can be fascinating to enthusiasts yet there are many, like myself, who can only visit occasionally or, indeed, not at all. Your web page is an invaluable way of keeping up to date with what is happening thereabouts, and the reason it continues to grow, arguably, even stronger is that it is honest and well-informed, thanks to the invaluable array of contributors anxious to share their observations and comments with like-minded enthusiasts. 

But let us not forget your input, for without you pulling the efforts of others together, the page would probably be no more. Not only do you have a 'proper' job which takes you abroad every week, you drive at weekends and edit the web page on your 'rest' day. Your readers owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude for the time and effort you expend to produce a page virtually every week with a mid week update on several occasions. 

On behalf of your many, world-wide fans, I thank you for the Bus Page."

Well, enough of reminiscing, time to get on with this week's page but it certainly makes you think. Nearly time for another launch page. This time for the 2004 New Oxford Tube.

Now on to the reports for our area. Your contributions continue and I am pleased to receive them each week. However due to afore mentioned time constraints these will be held over until next week. My thanks to everyone who sent information.

Malcolm Crowe, 27th June 2004

Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

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

News of the local companies 27th June 2004

Steve Warwick sent me a couple of photos of the Olympian coaches which were sold out of service many months ago. What fine vehicles they were, though towards the end they sadly suffered a number of body problems.

  

I have been promised some pcitures of these coaches in their new home in Warrington by another Stagecoach friend, Les Burton from Manchester.

Additionally Steve advises that 280 branded Olympian 5160 has now returned and also 5159 has entered service. Sadly I don't have any pictures of the final product in service to publish.

Peter Cartwright of Wycombe District Council writes "Arriva are planning further alterations in October and a new timetable enhancing the frequency of Route 363 has been registered. This appears to be in anticipation of Quality Bus Partnership Route 31 which for the moment is "on hold". 

Carousel Buses, High Wycombe.

Peter Cartwright of Wycombe District Council wrote to correct an item from last week under the Arriva heading. He says "Route 323 will NOT be operated by Carousel buses on Sundays who are not to take up the tender award but, I believe, Z & S of Aylesbury will run the service. Route A40, operated by Carousel, will now commence commercially on Sundays on roughly a 2 hour headway, joint hourly headway between Wycombe & Beaconsfield with route 74 which is also being operated on Sundays by them under contract to Buckinghamshire County Council. The 372 becomes hourly with a possible extension to serve Wycombe General Hospital, stopping in Queen Alexandra Road near the former LT/LCBS garage!"

Thanks to Peter for that useful correction.


Gavin Francis sent this picture of a rather special Dart in the Carousel Yard.
He says
"Went into Wycombe yesterday morning and found a Caetano Dart in Carousel's yard.
registered HX53ODH."

Official sources from Carousel advise that this Dart is on trial for routes in the area and is built to the same specifications as the Guernsey ones, i.e. 7ft 6in wide and with a four cylinder engine. Seems it is a very nice bus. 

     

   

Fellow enthusiast Chris Maxfield has been busy with his camera and has sent the following contributions.


649 is seen here at The Churchill Hospital last week. Chris Maxfield.


An unusual location for coach 71 - seen at Elms rise last week.

Adrian Lancer poses a question saying "Only observation of note was COMS Citaro 837 travelling eastbound between junctions 6 and 7 on the M40 at 7.05am,m displaying "Private" on blinds - any ideas?"

I can answer that one, it was on its way, with Richard Griffin, to The north Weald Bus Rally. I am sure I will have pictures of this event by next weekend.

Ian Pinnell reports as follows for the 27th.

Route 2 

652
636
607 -- carrying a lot of passengers for a Friday evening!

604 -- Working on Q card

No reports from Bus Monkey this week.

BMW held a family open day last weekend and I received the following report "Stagecoach in Oxford sent along:  22053, 22940, 22917, 22279, 22935, 22915, 22920, 22923, 22052 and 22916 to operate a free circular service around the perimeter of the BMW Factory at Cowley for the factory family fun day held on Sunday June 20th.  8 buses and 11 drivers operated a free service approximately every 4 mins from 0830-1730 around the site serving stops at different attractions open around the site for the benefit of BMW employees and their family and friends. One bus was parked up spare and one was a control bus and staff rest point."

Thanks for that report go to John Hammond, Commercial Assistant, Stagecoach - Oxfordshire & Warwickshire

Matt Cooper sent an interesting report which I quote below "  Its been some time since I have sent you anything for the Oxford and Chiltern pages and thought I'd send you a few snippets of news from the 'north' side of the region.  Stagecoach are now using one time Oxford Darts 33813-820 (R813-9.720 YUD) in Northampton mainly on town services 15 and 16. These last operated in Peterborough.  They run alongside 11 brand new Transbus examples used on service 1.  These replaced some ex London Volvo Olympians.  Megabus is coming to Northampton, well to the M1 services by Rothersthorpe J15a anyway!  A rota has been established to cover drivers coming down from the North to relieve for breaks etc.  Until 1993 Northampton has numerous workings in conjunction with National Express on similar arrangements and the run from Scotland to London via Manchester provokes some 'older' Stagecoach employees memories when Stagecoach used to use Neoplan deckers on London-Scotland trips in the early days of the Group. On 22 June in preparation for the use of these drivers on the routes Leyland Olympian 'Magdalen' from Oxford and the Volvo Arctic YJI xxxx were in use on driver training.  Also of interest is the former First Railair Volvo B12M's (pictured in your last report) are being used on Fraser Eagle rail replacement work and often spend the night parked at St. James garage. They have Bristol legals and are being used by their drivers as well as some from First Midland Red"

Ian Pinnell sent the following sightings. for the 27th.

Route 7

22919

22915 -- Seemingly with squeaky breaks

And 22924

 

Training continues but I have no reports of any further deliveries in addition to those mentioned last week.


Here's a shot of the rear of one of the new Tubes.


Philip Rumsby sent this shot of one of the new Tubes on a training run taken at Green Road.
I've included it as a larger sized picture than usual, it was so nice.

One of my regulars sent the following report of a journey on one of the M A N s. Sunday 27 June 2004, at 0200. - My brother was on the 0040 X90 London-bound, and he sent me a text not long afterwards to say that they'd been diverted away from Headington Hill because "of a Tube on fire.

It seems that the coach involved was Tube 50040, Gipsy Lane inward stop, upper o/s saloon window broken and all back end & rear window bay area blackened and deformed.  Engine cover melted off completely.  An awful smell of burnt plastics.  Oil/diesel spillage all over the road, mopped up with absorbent sand.  Five Stagecoach vans in attendance, and about eight staff looking on.  Kardos prepared the vehicle for towing and there was lots of burnt-on plastic and general filth on the road.  Police closed the road from Gipsy Lane to Headington shops.  But X90/757/N7 were permitted to come through outward-bound only."

This is the second fire, the last being 50038 which has recently returned to service. One can but sympathise with Stagecoach as such event are always difficult to deal with.

Adrian Lancer reports that "Took a ride on the Oxford Tube this morning. The LSP change was due for today, but TfL have not posted the latest version of the bulletin on their site, I'm not sure whether the introduction of the Skyliners, the additional set down stop at Park Royal or the timetable changes were approved!  (Was travelling in wrong direction for Park Royal stop and didn't see any Skyliners out)."

Martin Sutton, Managing Director of Stagecoach in Oxfordshire advised re the "extra" Megabus working the Oxford-London services that "We have a fourth Megabus.com vehicle in Oxford at present whilst the other 3 are modified to latest spec., ie electronic destination, larger fuel tanks, toilets etc. to aid inter-route flexibility"

Stratford Blue

I received the following report regarding the new operation of the X50 service.

It was nice to see Stratford Blue 403 work the X50 to Chipping Norton from GG on 27/6/04. Although the bus was X20 branded.

Ian Pinnell

Ralph Adams reports "Today was the first that that the Enviro of Stratford Blue came to Oxford on the X20/50/20 from Birmingham to Oxford. The bus was basically green (not blue) as it was supplied by Warwick CC and lettered for X20 Stratford - Birmingham. Compared with the Airline next to it, the overall height is very low. When it came on stand at GG, the front grounded on the pavement. It reversed back which then meant passengers could not get off onto the pavement and the back was sticking out. It then went forward very slowly, but every time the brakes were applied, the chassis lowered. The front of the chassis is sloping but the maximum distance it could come without grounding was with half the doorway over the pavement.

The Enviro had 44 seats which seemed to have ample leg room on each seat and most had ample padding on the seat cushions. Unlike the other Warwicks CC buses also operated by Stratford Blue which are 2 + 3 seating, they had good wheelchair space and sufficient seat width space.

It has a laminated sheet stating -
Services X20/X50/50/516/524/527/531
Operated by Guide Friday Ltd Trading as Stratford Blue
under contract to Probus Management Ltd
Trading as Petes Travel


The LCD destination set was alternating as Stratford 50 and Upon Avon 50. The choice seemed limited to above and
Oxford 20 and Chipping Norton 50. Several passengers asked if it went to Blenheim (not apparently on the blind scroll) and of course when it leaves Oxford it technically is Chipping Norton 20

The driver said about the range of tickets he will accept. In addition to cash, valid Stagecoach tickets and a range of Centro tickets are all valid.

If you missed it today, they come in every Sunday 4 times. As there are only 3 Enviros and all 3 are needed 7 days a week (normally to Birmingham), substitutions must take place on some days."

John Hammond responds "The reason Stratford Blue are running under "contract" to Pete's travel is due to a standoff between Warwickshire CC & The West Midlands Traffic Commissioner.  Normally, when a short notice or emergency contract change like this happens, the operators can deregister or register at shorter notice (i.e less than 56 days) with a PSV 350A document and support from a local authority etc. 

However West Midlands blocked this registration by Warwickshire CC and so "Pete's" are still the registered operator for the next couple of weeks until the statutory period for registrations is completed!

Stratford Blue will be receiving a Plaxton Pointer Mini Dart to back up the Enviros, as will Stagecoach in Warwickshire for the 63-64 group."

I look forward to some photos of buses on this service.

Z & S Travel Aylesbury


Gavin Francis sent this picture a few weeks ago which is no relevant
in view of Z&S taking over the Sunday 323.

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

I welcome your photos for inclusion on this page. Please send them to me at
malcolmhc@aol.com

If you are a model fanatic check out this site
Mention the Oxford Chiltern bus Page and they will give you a further 5% discount.

http://www.sjmodels.co.uk

Place your orders to sales@sjmodels.co.uk or on the text orderline on 07941 095511, quoting the model they require and the offer code of "OXFORD BUS".

Also this is a most interesting site which I do recommend

Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

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