Spottings & Jottings
Issue nr. 36 - November 1st 2010
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Current archives from October 2002
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advise of any mid-week news please let me know
Well, the clocks have gone back, maybe for the last time as there is movement afoot to stop this time honoured system. I seem to remember they tried it once before and it didn't work!
We are now heading for Christmas with only 55 shopping days left, so I hope you are all getting prepared. This will mean more passengers, especially since during the school half term which took place last week a large number of children go for days out, especially to London.
On the traffic side the route into London, recently plagued by several sets or roadworks is due to be free of these encumbrances from November 6th when the M40 between junctions 3 and 4 sees the end of the contraflow at present in place. Wheatley is finished at last and works on the approach to Lancaster Gate eastbound are also now over. Finally Headington, London Road, works are now completed, though the location of the inbound coach stop, outside the Pizza shop , is not the best location as it is often blocked with cars and taxis,, making unloading very difficult. Needless to say the M40 is still troubled with more than its fair share of accidents all set to hinder the smooth running of coach services each day.
Further new buses and coaches are entering service and an increasing number of Volvo/Levantes are now joining National Express operators on services into London.
Arriva has been re-awarded the contract to run the Park & Ride service in High Wycombe which now carries around 5000 passengers per week.
Much to the relief, no doubt, of operators across the country the BSOG grant was cut by only 20% when it has been suggested it could cut by as much as 50%. This was of course following the announcement of government cuts recently published.
Marcus Lapthorn provides us an update on matters concerning the Cambridge Guided Bus way which is somewhat behind its original schedule.
Geoff Cunliffe has again provided new of happenings in Blackpool with news of the proposed new trams due in service by 2010.
As ever there is a great deal of information and many pictures contributed by readers which always add so much to the page. Thank you all.
We are looking for pictures of Leyland National PUK641R when it was operated by Ensign Bus and Classic coaches, most especially if anyone has pictures of this bus operating London route 60.
A word about digital photos
I receive many pictures for inclusion on the page and notice that some contributors do not have the date set up on their cameras. It would really help if you could check this and if your date is not set it would be most appreciated if you could do this within the camera set up.
Oxfordshire Bus Enthusiasts Society
John Hammond writes that The Folly Bridge Inn is the location for the remaining meetings of 2010 and the dates are confirmed as:
Bus Enthusiasts Society
The Oxfordshire Bus Enthusiasts Society was formed in June 2010 and aims to provide an informal
monthly social meeting in Oxford for those with an interest in buses. Meetings are normally held
on the 3rd Tuesday of each month and normally take the form of a picture show with local and guest
speakers. A small charge is made to cover the cost of hiring the function room and this is usually
around £1 per person per meeting depending on numbers.
Next meeting: 16th November 2010.
19.00 - 21.30pm
when your Editor will be giving a presentation on his life with buses
Meetings are held at:
Upstairs Function Room
The Folly Bridge Inn
38 Abingdon Road
A detailed programme of meetings can be found at the following look and we hope more of you will attend future meetings.
Finally and as always, my thanks to all who have contributed to this issue.
Malcolm Crowe - Editor - OCBP - November 1st 2010.
A note regarding photographs which show drivers faces.
Somebus drivers do object to their pictures being taken, even though the photographer is taking the bus and not the driver.
Readers varied contributions
London & Oxford Interlude by Gavin Francis
Another tri-axle, this time an Irizar PB from Wrexham - http://www.straffordscoaches.co.uk/
Pictures all from Gavin Francis.
And so on to fleet news with individual company happenings.
Stephen Le Bras writes "I have just read through your latest report and I can add FJ60HYY to the list of South Gloucester Levantes on the 403. I also managed to see the Thames Travel E400H last Tuesday on a trip to Reading for a three hour course, plus old First coach 20201 being used as a ferry vehicle for the RailAir coach link."
Richard Sharman writes "Seen whilst on Holiday in the Newquay area this week are-
Ex Stagecoach Oxford Vario S376DFC freshly acquired by Summercourt
All four ex COMS Tridents now with Western Greyhound which are dedicated to the hourly 583 between Perranporth and Truro.
These have been reregistered as follows: WK51 CAB/CAF/CAL/CAP which where R4-7 OXF.
Marcus Lapthorn writes "On Friday 29 Oct Stagecoach West had double decker 18182 on the 66 route from Swindon to Oxford.
On Saturday 30 Oct Thames Travel double decker 608 was being rescued by a tow truck just outside of Wantage. It had been travelling from Harwell to Wantage. At first I thought that maybe it had suffered an engine fire as the rear of the bus was blackened. However I think that it had probably suffered a sudden oil leak which had coated the rear with the fluid."
Wycombe Park & Ride - from Monday November 1st this service will be renumbered to PR1. There will be a revised timetable with extra running time and as a result wider headways in the peaks. (See article under Jottings. Ed.)
Dave Stewart writes "You ask in the latest Arriva piece in OCBP 17Oct what the problem is on route 321. (with seeming lack of Citaros. Ed.) No problem at all, it is to do with a recent frequency (and thus PVR) increase! The increase actually began on 9th May 2010 but it is only recently that they have got round to branding the 'excess' buses. (PVR is Peak Vehicle Requirement. Ed.)
Dan Bailey sent pictures as per their titles below.
3198 R198RBM seen working a Sunday service on route 60 to the zoo at Whipsnade.
3449 R209VPU on a rare working of route 23 at Sundon Park shops. This was, we think, refurbished for the 100 service from Aylesbury to MK.
Glenn Knight also sent some pictures.
3448 R208VPU seen on the 14:30 70 to Luton Rail Station. This DAF used to have Line100 branding.
Arriva (Aylesbury) launches new Service 160 to Bicester Shopping Village from Saturday 16th October 2010
There are four journeys each way on Saturdays and Sunday with a journey time of 50 minutes to Bicester Village.
Richard Sharman sent these interesting pictures.
Citaro 3922 on a new Weekend Service 160 between Aylesbury-Bicester from 16th October.
Ian Brown from Hemel writes "Your last production was first class, as always. You must spend hours putting this together." (Indeed I always do. Ed.)
Seen at Hemel Hempstead bus station on 20th October is former Green Line,
re-liveried in Arriva colours on a 500 direct service Hemel-Apsley-Kings Langley-Watford.
Picture by Ian Brown.
Nigel Peach wrote "Aylesbury based DAF 3446 was damaged in an accident a while ago. I was surprised to discover it at Cressex (bad frontal damage and engine removed) where it is parked in the same spot withdrawn Olympian 5132 was. 5132 has disappeared (maybe to Aylesbury?!)." 3145 has also arrived Cressex as shown in the picture below. Ed.
Adam Green writes "4055 was commented as being a Trainer Bus in your last News Update it is not a Trainer it is in full passenger service on the 758,768,712"
Several readers noted that 3178 P178SRO is now at High Wycombe having come from Milton Keynes. My photo below shows that it still carries MK Metro as its legal owner!!!
Other pictures taken this week show a further odd bus which has reached Wycombe and have been pressed into service.
3414 comes from Ware in Hertfordshire and is not low floor.
A recent repaint for the Wycombe fleet is 3824 now without branding for the red route!
Cressex depot continues to provide much of interest. 3866 was on suspended tow but as to where it was going or had come from.
It looked rather woeful with panels missing around the engine.
This Scania was recently allocated to Hemel but now appears to be on Aylesbury's books.
Another Scania, this time Wycombe's 3147 is seen at Stokenchurch on the 340 service.
Taken by Gavin Francis in Hemel, this coach is still hard at work in the Arriva training fleet.
A report from Richard Sharman notes that this company has two new Volvo B12B's as seen in his picture below.
One of two new B12's for Bakers, the other being EB60MTB pictured by Richard Sharman.
Carousel observations from David Hillas who writes "Re Nigel Peach's comment about Carousal Bus RK07BNF Plaxton Primo on the latest above page, that it is still in service. I saw it working on route 305 last Friday 15th October. That route operates between Beaconsfield and Uxbridge via Seer Green, the Chalfonts, Gerrards Cross and Denham with depot workings to High Wycombe. There was some talk ages ago that that vehicle was to be sold, but obviously that isn't so at present. It would appear to be a regular on route 305. I haven't seen it work on any other route."
Glenn Knight was hot off the mark with a picture of the latest new bus for Carousel.
Taken at Heathrow Airport on 25/10/10 on A30 to Chesham M A N ENV20 - RX60FKF,
the last of the Enviro 200's only being delivered a couple of weeks ago from MAN Dartford.
Stu Harvey writes "First noted last Saturday on the A40 service was ENV20 RX60FKF, another new MAN Enviro 200, this one has no route branding but full livery. It has been a regular on the A30/A40 group all week, even my transport home one evening and very good they are too. One other ENV still does a solitary 740 journey in the morning, before going onto the 4.
"Also I wondered why I had not seen the Citaro's all week, Friday night may have given me my answer. I travelled on MB51 and it now has a screen above the first front seat, which was showing images from the onboard CCTV. I suspect the other two may be so fitted. Will try and check this week. (Following on from my mail at the weekend. Citaro MB52 also has the same screen fitted showing CCTV images. Not seen MB53 yet.)
"In response to the question on your last page. The Plaxton Primo is alive and well and normally spends its time on Route 305 or the 580/1. As for the DAF981 R981FNW, I haven't seen it for the last two weeks. I have seen every other single deck in the fleet this week however.
"MCW Metrobus M703 KYV703X I think disappeared some months ago, EYE 336V I think may be a more recent departure. Ailsa A431VNY wasn't around when I went past the garage on Thursday, last I time I did see was mid September I think.
Then Stu added on 28/10 "DAF981 R981FNW was in service this morning on Line 1"
Grant PalmerGlenn Knight writes "MX06ADU now with Grant Palmer for service 68 Bedford - Stewartby. - This bus is ex-Kingsferry, Gillingham & Judges of Corby."
Nick Eustace writes "I was just browsing the net and came across the link below, although not sure how old it is."
Nick adds "Seems Tappins have got rid of 461XPB, such a shame as I remember going to school on it back in the 80's when it was new. If I had the money I'd be buying it as a project."
Well I'm not sure about that as Gavin got a picture of 461XPB last Saturday on Rail Replacement work in Oxford. Maybe it is not the same 461XPB referred to by Nick. (see picture above)
Stephen Le Bras writes on his observations at Victoria on 23rd October"Another two South Gloucester Levantes noted- FJ60HYU/W- as I left Victoria on the bus home and no crane blocking BPR this week. However, FJ60HYR was parked for a while in Elizabeth Street with 040 London on the display. It has "10" on the windscreen (HYY seen last week has 17) so this is the batch number.
Picture by Gavin Francis.
I also noted L444SGB on the 444 as it arrived at VCS. When the driver brought the coach around for loading at Bay 9, I noticed a "On hire to Stagecoach" in the front nearside window."
On 30th October Stephen adds "This week in London and L444SGB was back with South Glos. Only one new Levante seen on the 402/403 and it was one I'd seen before.
However, Haytons of Manchester have at least two brand new Levantes seen on Birmingham routes. Numbered on the windscreen 26 and 27 - so part of the second batch of 17 - were FJ60 EFU and EFV.
Surprise of the day were the Plaxton Elites from Yorkshire with a sash across each side advertising £13.30 fares for 7-days in advance booking.
The Yeomans pink Levante, FJ07TKD, was on route 509 - have they been given diagrams to Cardiff?" Picture by Stephen Le Bras.
Gavin Francis reports seeing the Yeoman’s pink Levante heading towards Wembley for the AMERICAN FOOTBALL game on 31st October.
Finally Richard Sharman took a picture of Veolia NXL23 on Rail Replacement in Bicester on 31st October. Now I thought that NEx liveried coaches were not allowed to be used on anything but NEx services?
Picture by Richard Sharman.
Gavin Francis contributed some more NEx pictures which are most interesting.
A new branding exercise with many coaches now carrying flash messages. Pictures by Gavin Francis.
For a small station Oxford now sees some of the most modern coaches operated under National Express. SC Oxford and Selwyns share space in Gloucester Green with new Levantes.
Pictures by Gavin Francis.
Not so long ago this Scania 59213 was part of the SC Oxford fleet but now works the 007 to Dover for SC East Kent. Picture by Gavin Francis.
The company buses are seemingly lacking in branding these days with the City2 etc now missing from buses. The super rear branding is still in place but one wonders what is planned as the new Scania deckers carry now route branding at all.
I chanced on a couple of nice pictures of Oxford's Scanias on the Brookes services leaving Wheatley bound for Oxford.
ADL loan bus 900 is once again in service but so far recent pictures have not come to light.
This little Primo gets around and is seen here on the contracted evening 52 service (Wycombe-Hemel) looking rather battle scarred. Pictures by Gavin Francis.
Steve Gee wrote "Noted MAN Saloons 22917 & 22922 heading north on the M42 near Solihull this morning 22nd October at about 11.20."
I seem to have missed the fact that one of the new Solos is now called Rosie as the pictures below show. This was a competition run by the company to name the bus normally used on new route 20.
Pictures by Malcolm Crowe.
Passengers often ask me when we stop at Lewknor, why and does anyone use the service from here. Apart from the large number of school children who travel daily to Oxford many commuters use this service to London as seen in my picture of the 06.47 taken this morning.
Picture by Malcolm Crowe.
Other Stagecoach news.
Bob Couper notes that 22917/922 S917/922 CFC, ALX300 M A N s from Oxford have spent the weekend (23 and 24 October) at Dunfermline, but may be bound for Strathtay. Pictures of these buses in their new home would be appreciated.
East including Cambridge
Glenn Knight writes that "22060 KV53FAK an M A N Alexander ALX300 now sports a special Cancer Research livery." His picture is shown below.
A surprise appearance on the 16:45 X5 to Cambridge on 18th October was 18106 KX04RVF as shown in the picture below.
53273 KX56JZL is now in Stagecoach livery once in that of Virgin Trains for the X99. This is the third Volvo B7R Plaxton to go into Stagecoach strips from Virgin Trains livery,
Marcus Lapthorn writes "On Friday 29 Oct Stagecoach West had double decker 18182 on the 66 route from Swindon to Oxford and 18192 on Monday 1 November."
Only today Marcus added more information on the Swindon M A N problems. He writes "22620 and 22621 were indeed modified by Swindon garage during the summer of 2010. The aperture on the nearside rear has been increased in size, as well as the larger vents that were introduced onto the rear panel of these buses. This has been done to try and increase the airflow through the engine compartment and especially past the cooling pack which is located on the near side. This modification has been partly successful, but the real problem is possibly brought about by the relatively high speed that these buses travel at on the long distance route between Swindon & Oxford. Whilst travelling at speed these vehicles tend to suck in a lot of debris, such as sweet papers, twigs, leaves etc etc. Swindon garage have tried to deal with that problem by pressure washing out of the radiators every 4-5 days. Unfortunately this process is a little noisy and has resulted in a complaint to the Council about this by a nearby resident. The end result has been that at the present time Swindon have had to cease this pressure washing technique. When these vehicles are on Swindon Town routes, where the average speed is lower, then these overheating problems rarely arise."
Readers can see the modifications made to the M A N s by reverting to the issue nr 35 or S&J.
Gavin Francis caught this Volvo tri-axle on a Megabus service to London showing new super rear branding.
Some nice pictures taken by Gavin Francis over the past weekend.
BSOG to be cut, but not axed
The English Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) has been spared the axe in today’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), but it will be reduced by 20 per cent - saving “over £300 million” - by 2014-15.
The announcement – which describes BSOG as “bus subsidies paid directly to operators” – provides some breathing space for passengers, who will see fares rise as result.
The Treasury adds: “The Government will also work with bus operators and local government to examine smarter ways of administering this subsidy to get better results for passengers and taxpayers.”
While the CSR provides broad-brush outlines, full details of the spending decision by each department are expected in the next few days.
Transport (and BSOG) in Scotland and Wales is handled by the devolved administrations which also face cuts in their overall expenditure. They have not made any announcements about any bus or coach aspects.
CPT CEO Simon Posner says: “We welcome today’s announcement by the Government that there will be no immediate change to Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG). However the announcement that there will be some cuts from 2012 is disappointing.
“We are pleased that the government has listened to the industry and kept the cuts to a minimum and warmly welcome this. By delaying the proposed cuts to 2012, the government gives operators time to plan for a reduced grant and adjust their services, keeping the impact of any cuts to a minimum.
“In doing so they have recognised the important role the fuel duty rebate plays in enabling the bus industry to provide services for our customers that we would otherwise not be able to run.
“We believe that the current arrangement in how BSOG is paid is highly efficient. We will continue to work with the government to develop smarter and more cost-effective ways of paying BSOG while ensuring it continues to support bus services that otherwise might not be provided.”
Successful Park & Ride pays off
The Bucks Free Press reports that High Wycombe’s Park & Ride has been given further mileage after a new contract was awarded for the next three years. Some 5000 passengers a week are using the service which runs between the Cressex Park & Ride and the Eden Shopping Centre via Cressex Business Park, the Hospital and the Rail Station. The buses run up to every 15minutes and the service is operated by Arriva using three especially liveried VDL/Wrights single deck buses.
The contract is to be renewed on November 1st with a revised timetable offering earlier journeys.
The service does not require any subsidy from taxpayers and is effectively cost-neutral due to the increase in users, support from the Chiltern Railways and a new contract which allows Arriva to make more efficient and economical use of the buses.
Passenger numbers have doubled since its introduction in 2005.
The new timetable will introduce earlier journeys for car and rail commuters and for regular users there will be a four-weekly season ticket, meaning that parking and travelling will cost less than £2 per day.
STAGECOACH transported nearly 250,000 people to and from the Ryder Cup held at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport last month.
The transport company provided buses to the venue from three designated park and ride zones over seven days.
For the three practice days, Stagecoach fielded 90, 100 and 120 double-deck buses respectively, which rose to 140 for the three scheduled match days.
And for the required extra day on the Monday due to rain it managed to field 100 buses, despite the short notice.
Buses and drivers came from Stagecoach’s depots throughout South Wales, as well as locations across the UK.
On the scheduled match days, close to 40,000 spectators were moved each day between the three park and ride sites and the Celtic Manor bus station. On the historic day seven, 30,000 spectators were transported
Stagecoach in South Wales Managing Director John Gould said:“Our staff and operation received nothing but praise from spectators and the Ryder Cup organisers for their efficiency and friendliness, despite the atrocious conditions on some of the days.”
More pictures were received from Carole Morgan showing the number of buses used to good advantage. These include 47315 only recently transferred from Oxford!
Blackpool trams again by Geoff Cunliffe
|Pharos Street (Fleetwood Ferry)|
Full information can be found at the following link :- http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/corporate/web/?siteid=5149&pageid=26959&e=e
I said I had some pictures of Fleetwood for you so here they are, together with a logo for the tramway upgrade which has appeared on a brochure issued by Lancashire County Council. I'll get a spare copy and send it to you snail mail. I am slightly unsure about the tram illustration - it is virtually identical to one the local press has been using since the project got the go-ahead. It may have come from Bombardier's design department as an indication of what the units MAY look like. Clearly there are no photographs yet. It may just be a generic five section car set - five sections! At least they will get round the turning loops at Starr Gate and Little Bispham, Anyway, here goes:-
"A few days ago, we went up to Fleetwood to have a look at the tramway upgrade. Lord Street itself appears to be virtually complete. In the whole of its length, there will now only be one stop with raised loading platform. All other old stops will be removed. At the location of the stop, the track moves slightly to the side of the road, and there are projecting pedestrian safety barriers built in to the roadway to make a less hazardous access and egress point. Significant car parking space has been lost with all of this - but that's progress!
"The rest of the Fleetwood track has still to be completed, with works in North Albert Street and Bold Street together with the area of the main terminus by the Ferry which will, surely, retain a layout which allows cars to pass each other.
"It has been quite a short season for much of the tramway this year. Cars were late reaching Fleetwood in the early summer because of the theft, more than once, of the overhead cable. When cars did eventually get as far as Fleetwood, they could only operate to the start of the street section thus terminating at Ash Street. Interestingly, although it is still called that on the Blackpool Transport timetable, the cars show it as the trendily re-named Fisherman's Walk. There have been a few subtle changes - Talbot Square is now North Pier and Manchester Square appears to have become Rigby Road. Geographically accurate but why? Perhaps after 125 years, someone thinks it's time for a change.
"All tram services will be suspended from the end of the illuminations on 7th. November to allow another winter of work on the upgrade in readiness for the launch of the new supertrams at Easter 2012. Perhaps they'll keep the power switched on this year to prevent more cable theft."
Cambridge Guided Bus way
Marcus Lapthorn writes "Latest link attached below for your readers."
Blackpool 125th Anniversary of Trams follow up
Mike Penn writes"Here are a couple of photographs as a postscript to your coverage of the Blackpool 125 years celebrations.
First is tram number 8 which came at the end of the parade. I suspect that it came out of the depot and tagged on to the end of the parade, not starting at the Pleasure Beach. Here it is on the return journey.
This ex Cardiff Bus convertible open top Bristol VR (WTG 360T) also followed the parade, but whether by accident or design I don't know. It is now owned by Classic Bus North West but previously had a spell in Bournemouth, hence the livery. It also ran for Solent Blue Line at one time."
Ray Ramsey writes “Thought you might be interested in a few photos I took on the IOW a few weeks ago whilst on an annual trip colleagues and I take in our preserved Bristol FLF which we drive ourselves a spend a weekend on the island taking in the bus rally in Newport. The snaps here are however not in Newport but at Ryde Bus Station or at Brookes Village on a trip out from Newport with members of the public.
Our trip to Sheffield was timed to take in the launch of new STAGECOACH services in Sheffield competing intensely with First and here we have the FIRST photos I am sure as they were being stickered up as we were there. 15 brand new deckers for the new 88 and many ex Oxford M A N s one of which is also visible being stickered up!
able to get a ride out on the Solo over the route of the new Tramlink 2 which
also starts tomorrow connecting an area currently not served by Stagecoach
with the Tram terminal at Malin Bridge.
Noticed all the First buses on those routes slashing fares last week to ten pence lower than the new Stagecoach fares.”
Marcus Lapthorn writes "I was in Italy recently and photographed a wonderful bus outside of Florence Rail station on Wed 20 October. (Photo 101020).
Tim Hallfrom Swindon writes "two Chiltern Queens photos readers made find of interest."
TJO54K an ex COMS AEC Reliance taken at Reading Station in the 80s.
Buses in the Landscape
Barry who has a web site :- busdepotdirectory.fotopic.net sent another one for buses in the countryside. Barry says "Arriva North East Pulsar 1435 on Redcar sea front with Boulby cliffs (highest in England) in the distance during a real stormy moment"
plus Arriva North East E400 7519 seen in Heighington en route from Bishop Auckland to Darlington.
Andrew D Webb writes "Attached is a picture taken on 19 October from The Heights hotel in Portland showing Chesil Beach. Just visible are two First Wright single deckers busy plying their trade on service 1, linking Weymouth and Portland."
Buses in the Landscape Chesil Beach from The Heights Hotel in Portland - Just visible are two First Wright single deckers busy plying their trade on service 1 linking Weymouth and Portland 191010 A Webb.
Dave Ballantyne sent us a picture "PDF567 is/was VU51FGN a Volvo B10M-62 (chassis nr 53946) with Plaxton C53F Premiere bodywork (0112THM4414) new December 2001 with Pulham of Bourton-on-the-Water taken in Cheltenham where the curve of the bus station lends itself to this photo opportunity."
Bourton-on-the-Water is a delightful place and well worth a visit.