Spottings & Jottings
Issue nr. 15 - 21st December 2009
A Happy Christmas to all my readers
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The past week or more has been one of those periods one would prefer to forget. My HP Pavilion laptop crashed with a problem which turns out to be not an isolated one, the mother board fried. seems this has happened to thousands of people with this model and it alwasy happens when the system is out of warranty. HP don't want to know and so I was obliged to buy a new system, recover my files by putting the hard drive in an enclosure and get back to something like normality. I have been able to access my e-mail using another laptop but it has not been easy. Anyway here we are with a Christmas edition of Spottings & Jottings which includes a lot of interesting developments in our area.
As ever your contributions are much appreciated and enable me to provide another page of great interest.
Snow falls around the Chilterns and brings chaos to our roads
The passenger service information screens at Wycombe Bus Station at 0900 on Friday 18th December 2009.
Picture by Gavin Francis.
Indeed at this time the only buses in the station were two Carousel and an Arriva Park & Ride.
Picture by Gavin Francis.
This Volvo on the 31 seems to be hiding its destination from intending passengers. It is 3863.
Picture by Gavin Francis.
A snow covered Volvo B10B 3842 sets out for Marlow on the 800. Picture by Gavin Francis.
The bus station operating area was somewhat snowbound. By 1043 when this picture was taken more services were running.
Picture by Gavin Francis.
For a greater part of the morning the M40 was closed between junctions 6 and 3 in both directions.
This resulted in very heavy traffic in the centre of Wycombe and the appearance of unusual visitors to the town.
Oxford tube 50202 is seen negotiating the main roundabout in town. Picture by Gavin Francis.
I was operating the 0630 737 service to Stansted and was told to avoid both High Wycombe and Hemel Hempstead as both were heavily congested at my departure time. Indeed the 0430 only reached High Wycombe at around 0700. I took the Thame, Aylesbury route out of Oxford and experienced an extremely slow journey towards the county town. Taking the A41 from Aylesbury I left this road at the B489 and headed over the hills to Dunstable and Luton. There were heavy delays to get through Dunstable but once on to the M1 I was soon leaving at junction 10 and running into Luton just 30 minutes behind schedule. Service Support then told me to avoid Hatfield and run direct to Stansted using the M25 and M11 which I did so. I was able to leave Stansted near to time with a near full load of passengers mainly for Luton Airport which was still closed due to snow. This time I did serve Hatfield and then onwards to Luton. The service was once again routed direct to Oxford, using more or less the same routing as my Stansted bound journey in the morning, except that I operated via Prices Risborough to Thame as the A41 into Aylesbury was heavily congested. I pulled into Oxford just five minutes late feeling somewhat exhausted.
Not a day to be repeated but as I write this page the snow is still quite thick outside our house on the Chilterns and I have the 1830 to Stansted to look forward to tonight!
Snow also fell in many parts of Oxfordshire and the pictures above from Richard Sharman tell their own story.
Woodstock, where the minibus is pictured had a good covering of snow.
Once again my thanks to all my readers, many of whom send me such pleasant notes on the work which goes into each edition of the OCBP and may I wish to all a very happy and peaceful Christmas.
Nigel Peach writes "Arriva now have eight withdrawn vehicles parked at Cressex. There are five Volvo B6s: 3115, 3127, 3138, 3139 and now 3117, together with accident damaged B10s 3330 and 3843, and DAF 4491 (T494 KGB). This last one particularly mystifies me. It doesn't seem to say in any lists that this bus is unlicenced but it has been out of service for over a year now. I wonder if any of your readers know why, and whether it is likely to see service again.
Just two B6s remain in service at Wycombe: 3128 and 3133 - both still going strong."
A new correspondent, James Allum, has sent some nice pictures from the Hemel area and i look forward to more in the future.
James Allum recently decided to visit the terminus of the route 4 and 5 in Grove Hill West, Hemel Hempstead and took these photos.
Andrew Morgan also sent some excellent pictures, catching up for me on my distant view of a Volvo on the 724.
Arriva Harlow Volvo 3874 in Welwyn GC on Greenline 724 heading for home and Harlow. Picture by Andrew Morgan.
Andrew also sent this interesting picture of Arriva Solo 2464 taken on 17/11/07 at Heathrow Airport on the 724.
On the Greenline front another interesting working recently was this DAF coach 4365 back on the 757. Picture by Gavin Francis.
Paul Davis has been a star getting pictures of Carousel's two Routemasters in service on Line 1 with full front destination displays. What a brave sight they make. He writes "Malcolm, yet more on the Carousel RM's.
As this is the last week of school term I managed to get into High Wycombe for the morning peak today Mon 14Dec, in case the pattern changes when there's no school workload.
RML896 worked 07:21 HW-Bourne End and 08:00 retrun, more or less on time. RML896 is now fully blinded for Route 1 on all 3 sides.
RM2198 worked 07:50 HW-Bourne End and 08:25 return and was 10mins late throughout (this seems the norm.....). RM2198 was fully blinded at the front but blank at side and rear.
Also there were a couple of West Midlands Liveried Metros out on Carousel this morning Mon 14Dec.
B865DOM was on Route 3 (pic attached, slightly blurred due to shutter speed). Another was out on school duties but I couldn't see the number plate - possibly 707."
Pictures by Paul Davis.
Carousel advise me that they will operate a special service at Christmas and the New Year.
Noel Clark, Operations Manager, Carousel Buses Limited writes "we are intending to run Line 1 on New Year’s Eve with RML896 and RM2198 all day, assuming both vehicles are available for service. A revised Saturday timetable will be in operation, copy attached. Standard fares will apply, a Wycombe Zone day ticket is £3.10 for unlimited travel. I have attached a photo of RM2198 departing the bus station on Line 1 on the morning of 8th December.
Additions to the fleet this week are 3 ex-TWM Metrobuses 2707, 2744 & 2865. These are to replace withdrawn ex-LT Metrobuses M336, M1345 and M1356."
The timetable is shown below.
Bourne End - High Wycombe 1
CHRISTMAS SPECIAL TIMETABLE 24, 29, 30, 31 December
Notes :NXNE NXNE
Bourne End, Railway Station 08:20 08:50 09:20 09:50 10:20 10:50 11:20 11:50 12:20 12:50 13:20 13:50 14:20 14:50 15:20 15:50 16:20 16:50 17:25 18:10
Wooburn Green, The Red Lion 08:25 08:55 09:25 09:55 10:25 10:55 11:25 11:55 12:25 12:55 13:25 13:55 14:25 14:55 15:25 15:55 16:25 16:55 17:30 18:15
Wooburn Green, Holtspur Avenue 08:28 08:58 09:28 -- 10:28 -- 11:28 -- 12:28 -- 13:28 -- 14:28 -- 15:28 -- 16:28 -- -- --
Loudwater, Station Road 08:31 09:02 09:32 09:59 10:32 10:59 11:32 11:59 12:32 12:59 13:32 13:59 14:32 14:59 15:32 15:59 16:32 16:59 17:34 18:19
High Wycombe, Rayners Avenue 08:33 09:04 09:34 10:01 10:34 11:01 11:34 12:01 12:34 13:01 13:34 14:01 14:34 15:01 15:34 16:01 16:34 17:01 17:36 18:21
Wycombe Marsh, Post Office 08:37 09:07 09:38 10:05 10:38 11:05 11:38 12:05 12:38 13:05 13:38 14:05 14:38 15:05 15:38 16:05 16:38 17:05 17:40 18:24
High Wycombe08:47 09:17 09:48 10:16 10:48 11:16 11:48 12:16 12:48 13:16 13:48 14:16 14:48 15:16 15:48 16:16 16:48 17:16 17:50 18:33
High Wycombe - Bourne End 1
CHRISTMAS SPECIAL TIMETABLE 24, 29, 30, 31 December
High Wycombe 07:55 08:25 08:50 09:20 09:50 10:20 10:50 11:20 11:50 12:20 12:50 13:20 13:50 14:20 14:50 15:20 15:50 16:20 17:00 17:40
Wycombe Marsh, Post Office 08:03 08:33 09:00 09:32 10:02 10:32 11:02 11:32 12:02 12:32 13:02 13:32 14:02 14:32 15:02 15:32 16:02 16:32 17:12 17:52
High Wycombe, Rayners Avenue 08:06 08:36 09:04 09:36 10:06 10:36 11:06 11:36 12:06 12:36 13:06 13:36 14:06 14:36 15:06 15:36 16:06 16:36 17:16 17:56
Loudwater, Station Road 08:08 08:38 09:06 09:38 10:08 10:38 11:08 11:38 12:08 12:38 13:08 13:38 14:08 14:38 15:08 15:38 16:08 16:38 17:18 17:58
Wooburn Green, Holtspur Avenue -08:41 -- 09:42 -- 10:42 -- 11:42 -- 12:42 -- 13:42 -- 14:42 -- 15:42 -- 16:42 17:22 18:02
Wooburn Green, Windsor Hill -- 08:43 -- 09:45 -- 10:45 -- 11:45 -- 12:45 -- 13:45 -- 14:45 -- 15:45 -- 16:45 17:25 18:05
Wooburn Green, The Red Lion 08:13 -- 09:10 -- 10:12 -- 11:12 -- 12:12 -- 13:12 -- 14:12 -- 15:12 -- 16:12 -- -- --
Bourne End, Railway Station 08:18 08:48 09:15 09:50 10:17 10:50 11:17 11:50 12:17 12:50 13:17 13:50 14:17 14:50 15:17 15:50 16:17 16:50 17:30 18:10
NOTES: NXNE - Not Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve.
Nigel Peach writes "Carousel have got (at least) three ex Travel West Midlands Metrobuses (still currently in their old livery). They are :
2707 (A707 UOE)
2744 (A744 WVP)
2865 (B865 DOM)
I notice too that RML896 now has destination blinds fitted.
"Secret Explorer" writes "Carousel 157 to Henley College this morning (15 December) was run by MCW Metrobus B865DOM (ex West Midlands 2865) in West Midlands colours."
Andrew Dyer writes "I thought you would like a picture of Charlton-on-Otmoor services latest acquisition, Leyland Olympian J721 GAP. It is an 82 DP seated Alexander RL version. It was acquired from Stagecoach South (Fleet no 14971) on 4 December 2009. As I was visiting relatives in Oxford that weekend I delivered it and the picture is taken on the afternoon of delivery outside the garage at Charlton. As you will see, the Stagecoach red and orange have been painted out blue to give a quite smart two shades of blue and white livery suited to Charlton Services."
Steve Warwick advises "Heyfordian have a number of new Solos for recently gained tendered services"
Details of new vehicles are:-
Optare Solo's 29 seaters 8.8 mtrs
YJ59 NNG Ch: SABEW3AF09L193542 Body no: 193542
YJ59 NNL Ch: SABEW3AF09L193568 Body no: 193568
YJ59 NNH Ch: SABEW3AF09L193543 Body no: 193543
YJ59 NNM Ch: SABEW3AF09L193569 Body no: 193569
YJ59 NNO Ch: SABEW3AF09L193570 Body No: 193570
YJ59 NNP Ch: SABEW3AF09L193571 Body no: 193571
Optare 23 seater
YJ59 GFV Ch: SABCN2AB09L193101 Body no: ??
Richard Sharman provided a number of pictures.
Andrew Morgan writes "Mullany's buses Plaxton Pointer Dennis Dart SLF T223 SAS parked in St. Albans today (16/12/09) on Wednesday only route 721 Abbots Langley - London Colney Sainsbury's .. makes a nice picture."
James Griffiths of the Hull & Country Bus Group writes "We have bought for preservation Ex Oxford Jeffs, Helmdon. It is WWL209X."
Picture by James Griffiths.
A nice picture of Centenary liveried 817 on 5 road - picture by Gavin Francis.
R H Buses
With S3 branding, 15433 is seen on a Rose Hill 3 service on 15th December 2009.
Picture by Gavin Francis.
Another branded bus away from its designated route is 18399 with S5 branding working a 7A service on 16th December
and pictured by Gavin Francis.
Richard Sharman sent this nice picture of 53610, one of the X5 fleet.
Market-leading budget coach operator megabus.com will help keep Britain moving this festive season by running low-cost inter-city coach links on Christmas Day.
megabus.com will be the only national coach operator to give customers the chance to keep in touch with friends and family throughout the entire festive season.
The popular inter-city coach network, operated by Stagecoach Group, will offer services linking 17 towns and cities across the country on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Passengers will be able to travel between London and Newcastle, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Coventry, Cardiff, Newport, Bristol, Swindon and Reading.
Stagecoach Group Chief Executive, Brian Souter, said: “Demand for high quality good value travel is increasing and, for the first time, we have decided to operate our megabus.com services over the entire festive period including Christmas Day, itself.
”We know there are people who want to travel on Christmas Day to keep in touch with friends and family and we are pleased to be able to help by running our low cost services to some of the most popular locations.”
megabus.com was launched in the UK in 2003 and revolutionised coach travel by offering fares from just £1 via a simple online booking system. More than 2million passengers now use megabus.com services in the UK every year.
For more information on all megabus.com services visit www.megabus.com.
Tex Services - Banbury
Their Dart now fully vyniled. Picture by Richard Sharman.
Andrew Morgan writes "Just some info on uno they are said to be replacing in the near future Wright Crusader Dennis Dart SLFs 650-652/64-65/67-68 but are not sure what will replace them as they are after a type of similar size as they find that size best for the 603 plus one of the Olympians is going as they are unliked by the drivers and some fitters. Also they are planning to place another order for Citaros at some point but do not know how many or when ?
One of the X-reg Wright cadets DAF SB120 is in the Lantern Yard at South Mimms as it is still inpounded by the police after accident back in about July .
Yesterday trident 271 was in use on route 601 with ticket machine fitted and uno 272 has already gone for repaint the next one is said to be going in two weeks time which is when 272 is due back then the same with the third."
uno Citaro 319 at Queensbury on 614 (saw 317 going there but I was travelling back on another bus to Hatfield)
Trident 270 in Welwyn Garden City on route 601 taken on 16th December by Andrew Morgan.
Pictures by Simon Hussey.
BSOG reforms revealed
Transport Secretary Lord Adonis has announced fundamental changes to the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG), which will see it being scrapped and replaced by a new system.
From April 2010 operators in England (outside London) will receive an 8% increase in their BSOG rate if they have operational ITSO smartcard systems and, separately, a 2% increase if they have fitted their buses with GPS equipment.
This is in addition to previously-announced changes which froze the duty rebate levels, but from April 2009 brought in an additional 6p per km payment for hybrid buses, and from April 2010, a 3% uplift in the BSOG rate for operators who achieve a 6% improvement in fuel efficiency.
Also, in the “next two to three years” BSOG will move from a fuel duty rebate scheme to a per-passenger payment, meaning operators will face the full cost of the fuel they use.
The new arrangements will rely on accurate recording of passenger numbers, requiring audited data from smart ticketing. Because it could take up to 10 years for the English fleet to be equipped, Lord Adonis plans a “managed transition from BSOG” to the new system.
Blackpool – update on progress from Geoff Cunliffe
Just an update for you about the winter works to upgrade the tramway, much of the information coming, as usual, from my mate Bob Fergusson.
Track on the main, central Promenade in Blackpool has been lifted from Central Pier to The Tower, and already new rails are being laid from Central Pier northwards.
A couple of days ago, Engineering car 754 was on the Promenade at Foxhall Square together with cable drum carrier 750 and the Unimog road/rail truck. It looked as if they were working on the overhead frogs at that junction.
A longish section of overhead wire has been stolen from the section between Rossall and Broadwater. This happened (further north) last time the current was switched off. You'd think they'd learn a lesson and leave the current on as a deterrent.
New poles (green!!) are being planted, by the trackwork services gang, from Thornton Gate north towards Fleetwood.
Day trip to North Wales with your Editor
Normally every weekend before Christmas my wife and I venture north westwards to visit our eldest daughter who lives in Bangor, North Wales. Despite the inclement weather this year was no exception and last Saturday we set out on the 220 mile journey hoping the weather forecast was correct and no snow would fall.
We took the M40, M42, M6 routing round Birmingham and then branched off onto the M54 towards Shrewsbury and the A5. The roads were remarkably quiet and we made good progress towards our destination. The A5 through Llangollen and Betws-y-coed is a most attractive one and the road was almost deserted for most of our journey along this part of our route. as one heads up into the hills above Betws the mountains take over the views and there was snow on the tops and it was very cold, around -3°. I was able to get a rather nice picture of Llyn Ogwen which was frozen close the shore but gave some beautiful reflections further out.
Whilst my wife and my daughter caught up on the various gossip I took the opportunity to pop out for a few pictures in Bangor noting that all evidence of KMP, Llanberis buses had been erased from the area. Their fleet of Volvo buses now carry Arriva livery with only their registrations giving a clue as to their origin.
My first port of call was the Arriva depot in Bangor where the supervisor kindly allowed me to take a few pictures of the the equally few buses on site.
The Solos, delivered since our last visit, were much in evidence and following a local competition now carry the names of the Welsh rugby team players.
These buses are in batch from 681 to 695 and carry the names on the nearside front and above the passenger door.
683 Dai Morris at Bangor depot on Saturday 19th December - picture by M Crowe.
Leaving the depot I went into the city, yes Bangor is a city, and caught up with the local bus scene.
Padarn is quite a big operation now and i note that fleet numbers have been applied. This is obviously to ease allocation.
Like many other operators the Versa has appeared and this one is about a year old. Picture by M Crowe.
Of course a this time of year the light soon goes and our Christmas lunch called. Our journey home was quicker using the coast Expressway to Chester and the M56 to the M6 and southbound homewards. It had been a very pleasant day.