Spottings & Jottings
Issue nr. 40 - January 18th 2011
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
A Happy New Year to all my readers and my apologies for the large gap between issues. Indeed nearly one month has passed. Part of that can be attributed to Christmas and some days off and the remainder because I have worked tow weeks with only one day in between. Now we are back on track and i hope to maintain a fortnightly issue schedule.
A great deal has been going on and correspondence has been significant. Some 200 e-mails have been received with reports and some 27 of you have contributed pictures for this issue. Thank you to all of you!
This level of support is really appreciated and I do hope you all keep up the support for 2011.
A real treat at Winchester on January 2nd was this Leyland Tiger which was running between the Park & Ride and the City Centre. Pictures by Malcolm Crowe.
Some items of significance reported in this issue are the launch of a First Greyhound service between Glasgow and London, the Reading Blockade which took place over Christmas and the New Year, Stagecoach bus orders for 2011 and an update on happenings in Blackpool and a report from Mike Bennett on Winchester 2011.
The two programmes on coach travel in the 20th century were broadcast over the past two weeks and in some ways proved disappointing. The use of model buses pushed around with a large finger was, in my opinion, a rather bizarre way of showing viewers what happened in the period since the '70s and I was personally surprised that no mention was made of the number of new coach services provided since deregulation with only British Coachways highlighted. Of course National Express was well featured but only a glimpse of an X90 in Victoria to represent the many successful coach services introduced since deregulation. Finally the rather bizarre pronunciation of the surname of Anne Gloag (Glow -Ag) left one with a feeling that the research was rather poor.
The weather which we all faced over the Christmas period has now left this area replaced by dull very wet days and equally wet nights. How nice it will be to see the sun.
I must comment on how well our local operators performed and kept the public informed. I know some outlying areas were without services for several days but the main routes in general only lost services on the first bad Saturday afternoon. well done to all concerned!
Ken Gladstone writes "On your last OCBP you have a mention of the Wright Streetlite spotted on Rte 142, I believe this is a Reading Buses route and not Thames Travel, this was used as a demonstrator for Reading Buses on the two days mentioned, so the sighting does add up."
Sorry for that Guys!
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.
For those interested in all things London, I can recommend the link below. The monthly magazine is of particular interest.
Oxfordshire Bus Enthusiasts Society
John Hammond writes that The Folly Bridge Inn is the location for the meetings of 2011.
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: 15th February 2011.
The Annual General Meeting and a talk to be confirmed
19.30 - 21.30pm
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 link and we hope many of you will attend future meetings.
Finally and as always, my thanks to all who have contributed to this issue.
Malcolm Crowe - Editor - OCBP - January 18th 2011.
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
Gavin Francis visited Lincoln on the 15th January to watch Wycombe win! He took some interesting pictures of local buses operated by Stagecoach. All the SC buses are on the Newark Road.
The livery variation on the Scania is interesting. Pictures by Gavin Francis.
Gavin was also at Stansted when filming was taking place for a new movie including in the case Dame Judy Dench. He says he was asked to get "off the set" as he was wearing a high viz jacket and after removing same took a couple of pictures.
Also included at the same time was an ex Stagecoach bendi bus from London now working the Stansted Park & Ride services.
Before and after or then and now!
We note that Diamond Holidays have ceased trading and a picture by Gavin refreshes our minds to this company.
Eurolines do not escape problems and one of the Spanish Van Hool's used on London services is seen being towed away from Victoria on Christmas Eve. Probably a most inconvenient time to happen?
Reports by Stephen Le Bras.
Stephen Le Bras writes "In your latest page you ask if OVs on the C1 are rare. The answer is no, one or two appear quite regularly along with older DEs.
I have worked out that, if you add FJ60HXX to NEx's own fleet (photo in the latest report) and three 3 more possibly HXU, HXW and HXZ, then you would have C103-09 allocated to the 025/035 and C110 as already known on the 561. You would also have 34 Levantes- i.e. two batches complete. We will have to wait and see!
I braved the weather on Bank Holiday Tuesday (28/12) to visit London although it was an afternoon visit rather than my normal longer Saturday trip. The main interest was Stagecoach Megabus 54101 which was rostered for the 14.30 departure to Bristol. The coach which appeared at the Birmingham show in November is registered CN60FFR.
Picture by Gavin Francis.
Readers will note that the Elite style destination screen seen on this coach at the Birmingham show has been replaced with the original style.
I awaited its departure in Semley Place where a van was parked partly on the kerb and partly on the road which meant that all coaches had to swing to the right of a bollard to reach the end of the road. After a bit of reversing, all coaches managed to negotiate the obstruction.
The congestion caused by inconsiderate parking caught on camera by Gavin Francis.
Oh and another NEx Levante for the 025-C113 FJ60HXU which has 33 on the front screen.
As I left the 702 inbound to Victoria this morning (Jan 8th), a 3 axle Mercedes/Caetano Kings Ferry coach reg FJ60KUN made its appearance from the Sammy's direction. No time to take a photo as it took off. It is in a contract livery of dark grey (for ?ski tours)
Caught by ace reporter Gavin, two of the new tri-axle Mercedes Levantes.
60 plate Levantes are up to number 60 with 2 more to Bournemouth Transport- 330/1(FJ60HYN/O) and as many as 16 for Your Bus, Nottingham.
Surprise of the day was noted westbound on the M4 as I left London on a 702. In front of us was an all white Levante- no NEx names at all. We moved up quickly behind the traffic by the traffic lights and I noted FJ60KUH- one of the Mercedes/Levantes! As for which operator- the rear screen scrolled a telephone number for private hire and then Bennett's!
Two slight accidents noted too- WHD 1, one of the hybrids on route 24 removed a parking car's front bumper cleanly, whilst an A6 tri-axle NEx coach exited VCS a bit quickly and dented the offside of an Audi.
Megabus 54101 is back in use on the Cardiff service- seen at 8.45am.
From Richard Sharman
Richard writes "RML2573 is seen passing through our county just before Banbury heading North, it is vinyled on the side for Capital Radio Group."
From Jamie Williams
Jamie visited PVS Barnsley recently and has sent us some excellent pictures of the breakers yard. These include a local one, Arriva Bus which had burnt out, Volvo 3453 W453XKX. also Jaime found Vario 2190 in the same yard.
My thanks to Jaime for these most interesting pictures. I know that the end of the road must come to all and everything one day but it is sad to see buses which one knew when new in the final days or even hours.
The expected new AD Enviro400 19659 was noted in service that evening on the S5 - Reg'n OU60CVA.
I haven't included the picture from Peverel as the quality was as he admitted rather poor.
From Glenn Knight
I've been out and about around Hemel Hempstead this lunchtime and have pictures of the following:
Arriva the Shires:
Little Jims: R948VPU Mercedes Benz loaned from Faresaver Ex- Arriva East Herts & Essex MBV948
Seen in Luton with new 38 route branding KE55GWA 3610
Seen in St Albans with new 321 branding T495 KGB 3279
Seen in Hemel Hempstead today (14/01/2011) was ex- London Country LR18 converted into a mobile NHS Health Clinic. This particular bus will be touring the East of England for the next 7months.
Another picture of this bus was sent to me by Andrew Morgan (Herts) taken in the Tesco car park at Hatfield.
Quite a lot of modifications to the bodywork are evident.
Late sightings in London and around last night (17-18 January, were of Neoplan 50129, still in full Megabus livery in Bulleid Way waiting to work the night service from London and then on the M40 East London Trident 17786 being towed north. I wonder where to and why?
And so on to fleet news with individual company happenings.
From the previous issue Mark Turner writes saying "the part in Arriva where it says 'Dart 3186 has been transferred from Garston to Wycombe is doubtful'. I think its Dart 3189 that has been transferred from Garston to Wycombe and not Dart 3186. 3186 was seen in Watford in the recent snowy weather. Dart 3189 hasn't been seen in Watford for a while e.g.: late November until now."
Maybe readers can clarify
James Allum writes with Hemel news:
T491 KGB was on the 5 but broke down after doing a round trip from the Town Centre (Riverside) to Bennetts End, this bus made it from Bennetts End as far as Lawn Lane where it broke down. Some two or three hours later the bus in question was being towed away to the Depot.
On the same date two of Aylesbury's Tridents were on the 500 heading towards Watford Town Centre and 4367 was also spotted heading towards Aylesbury Bus station again on the 500.
David Hillas writes with the following notes:
With reference to No 39 of the Oxford and Chilterns Bus Website page, Arriva bus 3413 (P833HVX) is still at High Wycombe. It hasn't yet moved to Arriva Kent & Sussex. I travelled on it this morning (24/12/10) on route 45 (High Wycombe - Great Missenden).
Last Friday 14th January, Arriva bus 3834 (M504VJO) a Dennis Dart on route 2 ( Town Centre - Haydon Hill and Quarrendon) in Aylesbury. Previously, I believe that it was a staff bus at Aylesbury Depot.
Adam Green notes that Dart 3215 has been painted in to Inter Urban Livery.
Andrew Morgan sent a picture of Arriva (London red) Optare solo 2471 (YJ06YRT) in Watford on local route 1 taken on 04/01/11.
16th January The above routes have their times altered and Route 4 on inward
journeys each day between 09.15 & 16.00 will not serve the Station and Great
Western Street, but will turn right from Walton Street into Exchange Street to
minutes saved in the running time due to heavy traffic. The reversed route is
Gavin Francis writes "I saw at Arriva Wycombe is 3446 which not so long ago had a lot of money spent on overhauling it, branding (leather seats?) electronic screen etc. but is now dumped at Wycombe without an engine. Waiting for new parts or the end of the road? "
Gavin included this picture of 3446 taken at Milton Keynes in March 2009 to compare with the sad sight at Cressex depot a week ago.
Having seen the bus through the fence myself and noting the lack of engine and some body panel damage I do not think it will take to the road again. Ed.
Some surprise was caused when one of the London Volvo deckers appeared repainted into a variation on the Carousel livery. The bus is EVL7 and is seen in Wycombe Bus Station last December.
Leaving the bus station on December 30th. Picture by Gavin Francis.
A sister Volvo at Stokenchurch in the snow on December 22nd 2010. Picture by Gavin Francis.
Additionally to the full item on the launch of the new First Greyhound service between Glasgow and London, Gavin Francis got some pictures of the three coaches involved and included some previous pictures of the same coaches.
All pictures by Gavin Francis.
The old order on, January 9th the day before, which has been swept away by Greyhound. Picture by Gavin Francis.
One of the blue Citaros working the X74 out of High Wycombe. Picture by Gavin Francis.
Peter Leymanwrites "Heyfordian have gained two more bus routes which were operated by Reading buses/Newbury buses. These routes are -
Buses transferred to Didcot depot:
P/Centros - KX08 OMR
P/Centros - KX08 OMP
E/Dart - KX57 FMD
Two Optare solos have now joined the fleet, these buses are now going to be used on route 114/116 to take over from the Plaxton Centro's which are now carrying on their work in Newbury. One of the solos has already started its work in Oxford, working on the 25A into Oxford. These buses came from Stagecoach and were new to Cooks of Wellington prior to their takeover by Stagecoach.
Optare Solos registrations
While I'm on the subject of Optare buses, The two Optare double deckers purchased by Heyfordian which I think are ex- Eastbourne buses, shown by the picture of R874MDY parked up at Bicester depot back in November. It had just come out of the paint shop. These buses are only contracted to do school runs.
One of Heyfordian's older Scania coaches ( LDZ 2502 ) has just been repainted in to the new colour scheme to continue its work doing school contracts.
All the photos were taken at Heyfordian's yard at Murdock Rd, Bicester, except
the Solo taken in Oxford."
Hedley Shanks writes "Just a couple of bits to report to you, the unfortunate de roofed T200MTT is going to be repaired by our man in Ireland who we purchased it from, it went back on Monday 20th Dec. He has a scrap RH/RV which he will transplant the roof. He also brought over RV497 for Red Rose Travel with another one to follow. This resides in our yard at the moment. We have also purchased another RV which is coming in February which I do not know which one, all Roger would say it would be a ‘V’ reg, so it will be RV550 onwards.
Due for delivery in January is another Scania K400EB6 Lahden Omniexpress C63Ft 14.1m only this one has a saloon mounted toilet. This will be MT60MTT. Also on order for April is Two Jonckheere SHV B9R 12.8m C53Ft, with one of them been promised to be ready for our yearly jaunt to the British Coach Rally."
More pictures from Gavin Francis.
This coach is the only PB remaining with NEx operations and it is based at Crawley.
however it is seen here on an A6 working in VCS. It was NXL32 but is now C058.
Recent additions to the NEx own fleet nominally based at Crawley.
I am told that the 15metre Volvo tri-axles used on the 421 between Blackpool and London are to be replaced with 14.3 metre coaches, no further details available but I think they may be tri-axle Elites.
Allan Field writes to send photos taken in Oxford on Friday 31st December. He says it is unusual to see a new Scania d/d on service 500 together with a single deck.
For those interested in old COMS VRs Jos van Hemert, Nijmegen, The Netherlands published this picture of Western National Bristol VR 962 GUD749N - Plymouth Garage WN - 16-07-1991
Airline branded coaches continue to appear on the X90, even in the dead of night. It seems that the X90 fleet might just be having problems.
Picture by Gavin Francis.
The use of the "green" fleet on the Park & ride services seems to be less regular than in earlier times and it is possible to see just about any member of the fleet (bar coaches) on these services.
David Nutton writes "Perhaps you might be interested in the attached photo of two R H Transport buses together at Water Eaton - both working on the 700. Taken on 28 October."
659 is the ADL Trident/Enviro 400 which is to be allocated to Bicester out station for S5 services. It is due in the next few weeks.
Some changes to the fleet occurred following the loss of contract in Witney. Four Solos have left the fleet, being 47456, 47457, 47458 and 47459 plus the Jericho Solo 47363. This has been replaced by 47455 from Witney. This leaves 47449-54 at Witney. The Solos were moved to Cwmbran to join other ex Oxford buses at that location.
Astromega 50214, the coach involved in the problem on the M40 on August bank holiday Monday operated its first service following return from repairs at Van Hool. It was used on a service extra on New Year's Eve driven by your Editor.
50214 is seen here at Grosvenor Gardens on New Year's morning. It operated a service to Oxford at 0350 on that day.
Another picture of this coach was sent by Gavin Francis. I wonder if readers can see a difference to all the other Astromegas?
Gavin Francis suggests that the coach company which may have one of the ex Oxford Tube Neoplans is Andrews of Tideswell. Can any reader confirm and or supply photos of this?
Julian Wells supplied this picture of one of the Neoplans now with Omega Travel.
Other Stagecoach news.
Gary Seamarks forgot to say the Park and Ride Darts at Bedford are being repainted to Standard livery 33181/4 already done 33812/3 to follow, they were council owned unsure if they still are and at last the destination displays are to be reinstated.
Marcus Lapthorn says that d/d's are still showing up on the 66 route between Swindon & Oxford, sometimes with more than one on the route. 18177, 18444 & 18445 seem to be regular performers.
Stagecoach West route 66 seems to be somewhat disrupted today, Monday 10 Jan with buses from Swindon toward Faringdon arriving here around 10 minutes late in the morning. Also at least two Darts on the route today 36128 and an older Dart - possibly 33492.
Mark E Lyons notes a couple of central London observations...
East London is now applying Stagecoach fleet names (well, Leyton Garage is) to its fleet - although smaller than the version used previously.
The hydrogen buses are not in service yet but crew familiarisation has begun.
D Milo notes that 53020 is now at SC Rugby
Gavin has taken some interesting pictures of coaches on Megabus duties in London.
The first shows a Citylink 15 metre which looks rather battle scarred, quite unlike Scotland to turn out such a coach!
Taken by Gavin on January 16th 2011.
A much newer coach is the one seen at the show, 54101, with an Elite style display which has been altered before it entered service.
This was not from Rugby and thought but from Cwmbran. It is seen in VCS on Christmas Eve.
Unusually a two axle Volvo appeared in London on January 9th on the Scotland services.
Finally one of the other tri-axles, looking spruce but somewhat travel stained on December 23rd!
Andrew Morgan (Herts) sent this picture of the recent acquisition to the fleet, once with Stagecoach and more recently with Ensignbus. 10/1/11 of Tigerline W72 seen in Hemel .
First Greyhound starts a new service from Glasgow to London by Colin South
The overnight coach service that runs between Glasgow Buchanan Street Bus station + Hamilton Bus station to London Victoria (originally operated by Silver Choice) that was marketed at the "Knight Flyer" following its purchase by First Glasgow... has now changed hands and forms part of greyhound UK from Last night (Monday 10th January 2011)
For this First have dispensed with the use of coaches hired from Dawson Rentals... (most recently limited to a single Plaxton panther, and a Plaxton Paragon) and reallocated 3x First Cymru ex National Express contract coaches (23205, 23206 and 23207) which have been refurbished and repainted into the Greyhound livery.
The service is reported to be now starting and terminating at the greyhound stances in the Green Line station on Bulleid Way rather than the main Victoria Terminal/s
The First service from Glasgow to London under Greyhound UK was operated by Volvo Plaxton Panther 23207 - WM04PHK - "Hello Dolly"... destination board/screen was showing service/route number 007
I didn’t get a chance to see the inside or check which of the standard greyhound features have been included on the refurbishment of these 3x coaches... however from the outside the seats looked like they had a sort of shine.. so im assuming that they have received leather seats... the seating capacity is/should have been reduced from 53 seats (when operated by Dawson rental vehicles) down to 49 seats on these "new" Panthers.
Please find attached a picture taken prior to departure of the service, sorry about the quality however the weather was rather bad and the only place i could get a clear shot was through a glass panel.
First Group yahoo group by a First Glasgow employee at Cumbernauld depot that the coaches have received fabric seating with a leather headrest panel.... so not full leather as i previously suggested.
Stagecoach Group today (Wednesday 12 January) announced multi-million-pound plans to buy and lease a total of more than 520 new buses and coaches for its operations across the UK in 2011-12.
The Perth-based transport group is investing £52million in 360 new buses and coaches for the coming financial year. These vehicles will be introduced in the company’s regional bus networks across the UK, further improving the standard of travel for passengers in Scotland, England and Wales.
Stagecoach has also confirmed plans to lease more than 160 new state-of-the-art vehicles for its bus operations in London, which were acquired in October 2010.
The new orders follow an annual tendering process and all of the vehicles meet the latest Euro 5 emissions standards. The latest boost for passengers is in addition to investment in more than 60 hybrid electric buses, which was announced late last year.
It will mean Stagecoach is now buying or leasing more than 580 new buses and coaches for the UK in the 2011-12 financial year and the company's investment in new vehicles outside London over four years will reach nearly £290million.
Les Warneford, Managing Director of Stagecoach UK Bus, said: “As well as offering the best value bus fares in Britain, we are driving up the quality of travel for our customers by investing in greener vehicles, better facilities and improved services.
“Minimising carbon emissions is a key factor in our investment programme. We want to play our part in reducing the impact of travel on the environment. We believe there is a big opportunity to attract car users to the benefits of greener, smarter bus travel and cut our own carbon footprint.”
Vehicle manufacturers ADL, Scania, Plaxton and Volvo will supply a total of 255 double-deckers, 74 single-deckers, 166 midi-buses, 28 coaches and 64 Hybrid vehicles. The new vehicles are expected to go into service by April 2012.
Details of the new orders are as follows:
UK Bus operations outside London:
London Bus operations:
Stagecoach has also been leading the UK with the introduction of green hybrid electric buses. It is already running vehicles using the technology, which produces 30% less carbon emissions than standard buses, in Oxford and Manchester.
As previously announced, the company is making a £9million investment in 47 state-of-the-art electric-hybrid buses for Sheffield and Newcastle, part-funded by support package of more than £4million from the Department for Transport's Green Bus Fund.
In Scotland, Stagecoach is also investing £2.4million in a new fleet of 17 hybrid diesel electric vehicles, following an award from the Scottish Government's Green Bus Fund of around £1.5m million in support funding.
Stagecoach is officially Britain’s best value major bus operator, according to independent transport consultants TAS, with fares up to 30% cheaper than the UK’s other major transport groups.
Reading engineering blockade
From Andrew D Webb
The hub of replacement services is Reading station, with buses using the station forecourt as well as the long closed bus station opposite. RH Transport provided at least four vehicles on 28 December. Former Oxford Tube vehicle spent most of the morning parked up, before a van arrived to recharge its batteries. Elderly Plaxton Volvo B10M E804DPN was used in service, alongside two LAG EOS coaches, R48GNW is seen awaiting its next duty. R52GNW was also in use.
Ridgeways Coaches had two anonymous white Plaxtons present, UKZ6768 and NHT160.
Reading station is completely closed to all rail traffic until Friday, meaning
an extensive network of rail replacement bus services is in operation to move
passengers to and from Reading to connect with trains.
Maidenhead's station forecourt has been converted into a bus station for the duration, with services to Reading as well as an express to Didcot Parkway. The latter is in the hands of several operators, including Tappins and McLeans, pictured awaiting their next trip on 28 December. Also present during the day was a coach from Whites of Wallingford.
Alongside the rail replacement services Reading had plenty of conventional
services to cater for the bank holiday shoppers. Thames Travel had two Enviro
200s out, including 110 seen arriving with an X40 service. MCV Evolution 757
has a multi coloured front, presumably after some replacement panel fitting.
The 800 service to High Wycombe was worked by the usual Volvos, R370TWR and R371TWR (pictured), alongside a Wycombe route branded Scania.
Parked in an industrial estate on the north side of the railway line west of Maidenhead for several years is a former Portsmouth Atlantean YBK338V. Not sure what it is used for or how it came to be there.
Between late Christmas Eve and 2nd Jan 2011, a major rail replacement scheme was centred on Reading, with the rail lines in and out of the station totally suspended every day except 31st December when trains were allowed to operate. Major route diversions were planned with many long distance trains diverting via other lines into London, but many other services including Thames Valley local stopping routes were suspended and bus replacement transport in operation.
11 routes operated out of Reading to Theale, Basingstoke, Redhill, Wokingham, Maidenhead, Didcot and Swindon via direct and stopping routes. Many local coach and bus operators were brought in to run these services and
this included Reading Buses, RH Transport, the Weavaway fleets, First Thames Valley, Coachmiles, Barnes Coaches, Ridgeway Coaches, Tappins, Whites Coaches, Truemans, Mortons, TK Travel. Services to Wokingham were covered by Stagecoach in Hampshire.
Reading Buses had a number of vehicles out and were covering route B2 (Reading-Basingstoke with intermediate stops) and D (Didcot all stops to Reading and then direct Maidenhead or Reading-Twyford-Maidenhead).
First were operating Route J to Maidenhead via Twyford & Henley.
Whites Coaches & Tappins were operating routes F&G, a mixture of Didcot-Reading and Didcot-Maidenhead workings.
Services to Wokingham were covered by Stagecoach in Hampshire through Stagecoach's own rail replacement unit.
A lot of preparation went into managing vehicles at major stations, with significant changes to the forecourt at Didcot Parkway to create a bus station, and in Reading the reopening of the old bus & coach station opposite the station to provide additional capacity. Temporary lighting and a coat of whitewash helping a little bit to improve the inside of this facility, which had been quite significantly vandalised in recent years as it sat idle.
I covered Monday & Tuesday for Reading Buses on Route D, and later in the week covered routes F & G for Whites Coaches, I was mostly working late turns so the photos I could get are not great but give some illustration.
Attached to this are:
2663 - A Stagecoach South Dennis Trident branded for 'The Rivers' takes layover at Reading Buses depot.
2665 - R51 GNW of RH Coaches at Reading Buses depot.
2666 - YT09 FLN - A Scania / Irizar of D&P Coaches taking layover at Reading Buses depot, next to it a 17 branded Scania Omnicity shows evidence of being used on rail work too.
2669 - YT10 OAO - A Scania / Irizar of D&P Coaches taking layover in the Reading Buses depot.
2670 - R49 GNW of RH Coaches heads up a row of parked coaches, the others being mostly from the Weavaway fleets. Parked at the Reading Buses depot.
2677 - YR58 SOU of Reading Buses in this plain red livery sits at depot between trips
2702 - A shot from Station Hill looking into the old bus station with buses and coaches inside for the first time in many years.
2704 - 809 DYE, a First London Dennis Trident reverses out of a bay inside the bus station whilst heading towards Maidenhead via Henley.
2706 - 676 DYE, another First London Dennis Trident sits inside the bus station. In the temporary improvement to the facility, you'll notice that the old signs,
many of which carried reference to old Bee Line services have been cut off and removed from the old concrete stands.
2707 - The work to whitewash the walls is seen here in this shot of the bus station from the bottom end. The Portacabins contained facilities for drivers to use.
2712 - RH Coaches T182 AUA & former Stagecoach Oxford Olympian R424 XFC of Stagecoach Hampshire sit in the old layover area in the bus station.
2716 - Another wider view inside, with 676 DYE in view.
2722 - First Trident LK03 NLR sits at Reading Station whilst on route for Maidenhead via Henley.
2724 - A Truemans coach unloads passengers at the station on Tuesday.
2725 - Reading Buses Scania Omnicity 1112 (YN08 MMK) loads up with passengers for Maidenhead. Double deckers working the Reading-Twyford-Maidenhead trips.
2727 - B3 SLT of Shore Line, Dorset picks up passengers for Didcot Parkway on Tuesday.
2746 - Reading Buses 1014 (YN05 GXR) was my bus for Tuesday. It was seen late on Tuesday evening at Goring & Streatley station bound for Maidenhead.
The D between Maidenhead, Reading & Didcot via intermediate stops were all worked by Scania/Wright vehicles.
These being just able to squeeze under the 11" bridge at Cholsey Station.
These were taken on 1st January 2011, the last night operations on the blockade, a much scaled down operation with buses only replacing trains heading west out of Reading whilst the Caversham bridge was replaced.
2752 - Reading Buses 1030 takes a break inside the bus station. By 1st Jan the bus station was reduced to only a layover facility again.
2753 - YN10 FZP, Dennis Javelin of Whites Coaches seen on a break inside the bus station.
This was my vehicle for the evening and probably the only time I shall have ever driven a PSV through the bus station at Reading!
2755 - A line up of waiting coaches inside the bus station.
2760 - An elderly Volvo B10M/Jonckheere of TK Travel, Reading
2761 - J14 TRU & J30 TRU of Truemans Coaches.
From Bob Stanger
A few post snow pictures taken in Reading before Christmas.
Maybe I am just in time. I'm certain that you have had many photographs relating to the 'Reading Blockade' during Christmas and the New Year. Whilst Robert has covered this comprehensively on the BusZone site, there are photos relevant to OCBP due to Rail Replacement buses to Didcot.
Attached are a selection of shots taken on Friday 31st December featuring Reading route branded buses unusually on these services particularly Route D from Didcot to Maidenhead.
501 the unique East Lancs MAN Kinectic came out from withdrawal to perform a couple of trips to Maidenhead and back.
As you know Reading has also gone Hybrid and also attached is 201 with the private plate MRD1 that has adorned many a Reading Bus over the years.
From Vic Gackowski
Reading Station Closure - Rail Replacement at Didcot Parkway 27th to 30th December 2010
Reading Railway Station was closed completely to all rail traffic after the last service ran on Friday 24th December 2010 until 0400 on Friday 31st December 2010. After allowing New Year revellers to travel by rail it was partially closed again from 0300 on Saturday 1st January 2011 until 1200 on Sunday 2nd January 2010.The closure was to transfer Signalling to a new centre at Didcot and to install a new bridge deck across the Caversham Road to carry additional lines. These works were part of work planned to boost the capacity of Reading Station over the next few years.
With one of the busiest stations outside of London closed for such a long period of time a massive rail and road plan was formulated and advertised well in advance. From the start of service on Monday 27th December, local Rail services were operated to rail heads as close to Reading as possible from where rail replacement buses would continue in to town via any stations in between. These rail heads were at Wokingham (for Guildford, Gatwick Airport and Waterloo), Maidenhead (for stations to Paddington) , Theale (for Newbury and the west) and Didcot Parkway (or Oxford, Bicester, Banbury and the north, the North Cotswolds and Swindon). No rail services operated at all on the Henley Branch or Basingstoke line during the closure. FGW High Speed services ran hourly from Paddington to both Bristol and Swansea via High Wycombe , Banbury and Oxford whilst one West of England service per hour ran via Salisbury and Basingstoke in to Waterloo. One High Speed service per hour also ran from Didcot Parkway to Cheltenham Spa via Swindon. Cross Country train services Terminated at Didcot Parkway from the North and Basingstoke from the South. FGW High Speed Trains have visited Waterloo on several occasions in the past but a visit to Banbury via the Chiltern Lines is rare , if not unheard of before in public service. One FGW HST at Banbury is rare in its self but to see two there at the same time has not occurred before.
Enough about trains, this is a Bus Page , so what about the rail replacement services provided?. This was a massive task and from reports and observations was a successful exercise. Up to 142 vehicles were in use each day, provided by 28 operators. Of these, up to 28 vehicles were on Standby duties at a number of key locations. The Standby commitment varied because Newbury Races took place on one of the days which required very special attention. In addition to an intensive service of fast and slow road services operating to and from Reading Station itself there were other services that by-passed the town in order to provide links for people travelling further afield. There were Non Stop links via the A34 , M4 , or both , between Didcot Parkway and Maidenhead, Didcot Parkway and Winchester and Slough to Theale. A Non Stop service was also in operation between Reading and Swindon via the M4. The number of routes in total numbered 14.
The Didcot end of the operation saw services operating at 30 minute intervals to Reading (Fast) , Maidenhead (Fast), Maidenhead (Slow via Reading) and Winchester (Fast). The majority of journeys , with the exception of the slow service to Reading, ran with two vehicles during much of the day. 14 of the 28 operators could be seen here using an average 49 of the 142 or so vehicles in use. Didcot was busy yet only 4 out of the 14 routes served this station. Local operators featured on the Didcot to Reading and Maidenhead fast services with vehicles provided by McLeans (Witney), Ridgeway (Wantage), Tappins (Didcot) and Whites (Berinsfield / Culham). Other vehicles on these routes came from Reading and Wokingham Coaches, Shoreline Coaches (Bournemouth), Pewsey Vale Coaches, Newtons of Guildford, Barnes of Swindon, Chapmans (S Wales) and Reading Buses. The Winchester service was in the hands of the Tellings Golden Miller group (Based at Heathrow) with several different liveries on show, Brijan tours (Curdridge Hants) and one local vehicle from Heyfordian. Reading Buses operated the Didcot Parkway to Maidenhead stopping service with their Single Deck Low Floor Scania / Wright Solars which are route branded. A total of different 11 vehicles were in use which made a striking sight at Didcot Parkway every half hour as different route branded vehicles arrived to add a splash of colour at a most unusual location. Standby vehicles at Didcot were provided by TK Travel of Aldermaston (2) and Z&S from Aylesbury.
With 5 departures and 5 arrivals per hour to be handled at Didcot, in addition to the local scheduled bus services, let alone public safety, there would obviously have been a serious congestion issue if some sort of action plan had not been formulated in advance. The solution was the creation of "Didcot Parkway Bus and Coach Station". In the weeks leading up to the operation the East and West car parks were closed to commuters. Railings were removed and kerbs dropped to provide a through bus way from a new entrance at the extreme end of the West car park , through the forecourt and out via a new exit at the extreme end of the East Car Park. Normal access to the station forecourt also remained available resulting in more than enough room for the vehicles to move about freely. Water filled temporary barriers were installed to create 9 new bus stops together with temporary toilets and a waiting room. A public address caravan (as found at country shows etc) was also provided with regular announcements being broadcast that left travellers in no doubt where to find their bus or coach. Bus Stops 1,2 and 3 were in the West Car Park and these were the departure points for the Reading, Maidenhead and Winchester fast services. Bus Stops 4,5 and 6 were in the station forecourt and used for arrivals only. A multitude of FGW and First Bus staff were on hand to assist customers to alight and be directed to their waiting trains. Bus Stop 7 was in the East Car Park and used by Reading Buses for the stopping service to Maidenhead via Reading. Bus Stops 8 and 9 were also in the East Car Park and used for local services operated by Thames Travel and Oxford Bus Company. The Milton Park Shuttle and other local services operated by Whites and Heyfordian did not operate in the week after Christmas which reduced possible congestion at these stops.
The method of working at Didcot was well managed by the bus coordinators on duty. Every vehicle had a minimum of a 30 minute turn around. After arriving at Bus Stops 4,5 or 6 to unload the coaches on the Reading and Maidenhead services ran dead to Foxhall car park where messing facilities had been provided. A coordinator at Bus Stops 1,2 and 3 would then radio a colleague at Foxhall when ready to receive the vehicles back for next working. The Reading Buses on the stopping service pulled forward in to Bus Stop 7 where the cards were planned to ensure that as one bus left the stop the fresh arrival took its place. Thames Travel and Oxford Bus Company were left largely on their own although coordinators were always present if required. The 3 Didcot Standby vehicles were also parked in Foxhall.
The attached photographs will give readers a taste of the activity that could be witnessed at Didcot during a very busy period after Christmas. I have also attached photographs taken at Banbury showing the rare sight of FGW High Speed Trains at this location.
By the time every one returned to work on Monday 4th January "Didcot Parkway Bus and Coach Station" had vanished. The temporary bollards had gone, the toilets had gone, the waiting room had gone, the PA caravan had gone, and the associated sineage had gone. Cars had now returned to claim their parking slots.
More on the Blockade and matters Reading can be found on Robert Williams Bus Zone pages.
Faringdon from Marcus Lapthorn
The County Council have recently introduced a new service that runs on just one day a week (Thursdays) between Faringdon & Fulbrook via Radcot Bridge, Carterton & Burford. There are just 3 journeys a day in each direction. The bus for this new route is, I believe, supposed to be low floor but that is difficult because Radcot Bridge is severely humped! The bus that is therefore currently being used is RH Transport no. 107, which is a very tidy little vehicle and apparently this bus is RH's 'spare vehicle'. I am not sure why this route has been introduced as I would not have thought there would be much demand for a once a week only service between Faringdon & Burford. However maybe trade will build up in due course.
I attach a selection of shots taken in Faringdon on Thursday 13 January 2011 @ 1250. Also seen is the Faringdon Community Bus on local route 61 and a MAN on Stagecoach route 66 between Swindon & Oxford.
"The Blackpool & Fleetwood tramway may be closed for the winter whilst further work on upgrading the system to light rail standards goes on, but one tram has managed to escape the confines of Rigby Road depot and venture onto the promenade - Engineering car 754. The most exciting news however, is that it has recently become the first tram to test the new track south of the Pleasure Beach! The car was seen on New South Promenade on Monday 15th November, when it was being used to assist with realigning the overhead wires to match the rails, which are now located further apart to allow for the arrival of the new Bombardier trams which will be wider than any of the present fleet. This duly makes 754 the first tram to run further south than Pleasure Beach since September 6th 2009, when Standard 147 became the very last car to depart from the old Starr Gate loop whilst operating a private tour organised by Tramways Monthly and British Trams Online."The exhibition showing the new trams has opened to the public at the Solarium, with a short report in last night's Evening Gazette.
Will they really be that strange colour? What's wrong with green and cream?
From Jim Tonge
I Have thought for some time that the new trams for Blackpool had to come if the system was to survive. Throughout my 70-odd years of life Blackpool has been synonymous with green and white vehicles, both mechanically and electrically propelled and having seen one or two of the continental systems I feel sure that the new trams will be a success once Bombardier have learned and understood the problems of sand and salt water ingress. However, I do agree with Geoff on the colour scheme shown on the model and feel that a change of colour would be a break with tradition. From what I have seen of the present bus fleet I do wonder what is going on in the minds of the transport hierarchy. I find myself thinking of a letter to the press on this. Anyone feel similarly inclined?
From Bob Fergusson
I have previously seen the Blackpool Bombardier Flexity model at the Solaris, and agree about the colour - not at all suitable for a seaside resort. Apparently, the Council wanted all the trams, including the historic fleet painted in this dreadful Burgundy colour, but it has been pointed out to them that they will only own the new trams, the heritage fleet will be owned and run by Blackpool Transport Services. However, BTS have not stated what colour this will be, though the signs are hopeful that green & cream will survive. The current MD has approved the appalling black colour scheme for the buses on the grounds that a third of the 'reserve' fleet were already in black and it would be a cheaper option to apply this (in a slightly different scheme) to the other two thirds. Again, it is a most unsuitable colour from every point of view - durability, visibility (especially at the rear) and cheerless for a holiday resort.
Having visited Blackpool this week, it seems to me that there is an awful lot of work to do before a putative reopening at Easter: they haven't even started on the Metropole tracks yet.
From Geoff Cunliffe
Today Margaret and I paid a visit to the exhibition at The Solarium regarding the new trams. It consisted of the one model in Perspex case, and one wall poster. It's as well you didn't have to pay to get in!
The model was as expected, in that strange Burgundy colour that some trendy has come up with. Apparently the Council wanted all of the trams painted in this curious colour, including the heritage fleet, but it was pointed out to them that they would only own the new ones, the older fleet being owned by Blackpool Transport Services. How weirdly some politicians think. The model comes complete with driver, going to a never used destination of Central Pier, and a handful of passengers, including a couple of scantily clad ladies.
I also visited the site of the new depot, likely to be completed at the end of this month. It was difficult to understand the track layout, given the site was fenced off and had many contractors buildings which obscured vision. The old turning loop has been reinstated but may well give access to the depot and facilities. The approaching twin track has a reversing crossover by what looks like a new loading platform/shelter, so trams may well reverse at the terminus when in service.
My mate Bob Fergusson tells me that it seems to me that there is an awful lot of work to do before a reopening at Easter as they haven't even started on the Metropole tracks yet.
I attach photos of the new depot, the tram model and the wall poster,- which you won't be able to read!
New Year’s Day Running Day - Winchester - by Mike Bennett
Well I say New Year’s Day, but this year, as in 2000, this event was held on January 2nd, as Saturday 1st was to be a normal operating day for the local buses in the city of Winchester. The Sunday bus service was much easier to operate amongst the great throng of people and buses gathered to celebrate this great event. I had not visited the city for this event since 2003, but my family was invited down to Romsey to visit my brother’s family so I thought I might make the journey serve two purposes this year.
I dropped my wife in Romsey, drove the few miles to Winchester, and by midday I was in The Broadway surrounded by buses with which I was very familiar, having ridden on many of them over the years.
Of course the local ex King Alfred Motor Services vehicles were everywhere to be seen, mostly covering the local city routes that they would have driven all those years ago. The buses seen below are AEC Renown/Park Royal 596 LCG from 1964, Atlantean/Roe? HOR 592E, Leyland Tiger Cub/Weymann WCG 104 from 1959, PD2/24 POU 494 with East Lancs body, built in 1956, and Leyland Panther/Plaxton UOU 419H. The coaches are Bedford's of course, 325 CAA being an SB3 with Harrington body from 1963, and CCG 704C a VAL/Plaxton Panorama of 1965, both seen in their lighter green livery.
The best of all the King Alfred vehicles on show, nearing completion after a very long rebuild (see Bus & Coach Preservation - February 2011), is the Leyland Olympic/MCW, built in 1950. This was on display in the bus park behind Winchester Bus Station, and was getting a lot of attention. It is expected to be back on the road in time for the London Olympics in 2012, and will make a very welcome addition to the King Alfred fleet in preservation.
The local south coast companies were well represented, as you would expect, with the Weymann bodied Leyland PD2/40 no.112, and PDR1/1 no. 236, from the former City of Portsmouth fleet. I remember seeing both of them regularly as I battled through the rush hour traffic in Portsmouth, to get from my lodgings near Eastney depot to Portsmouth Polytechnic, right in the city centre, between 1965 and 1969. Several ex Southdown buses were also present, including one of the oldest vehicles running during the day, a Leyland TS7 Tiger of 1937, with Harrington rear entrance coach body, which was withdrawn by its original owner as long ago as 1956. This was in total contrast to the other Southdown bus, the 1981 Bristol VRT/SL3/ECW JWV 976W. Eastbourne Corporation AEC Regent III, AHC 442, with Bruce coachwork, (very rare for a fleet outside South Wales), made a wonderful sight as it left the bus station.
The Southern Vectis fleet name was on show with LHS/ECW KDL 202W, and Bristol LD6G/ECW SDL 268. The Isle of Wight services are now part of the Go-Ahead group, but one of the ex Southern Vectis VRTSL6Gs, NDL 637M is preserved in the Solent Blue Line livery, a fleet that has now morphed into Bluestar. Wilts & Dorset was represented by VRT BFX 666T and RELL TRU 947J, with another VRT, GEL 686V, in Damory livery (a W&D offshoot).
A regular attendee at running days in the south is ex Silver Star of Porton Down Atlantean 1013 MW. This bus was new to Silver Star when it was taken over by Wilts & Dorset in 1963, but was soon transferred to Bristol Omnibus, together with the other two similar buses.
One of the biggest surprises was seeing the Renault TN4F, built in 1935 for the RATP, the big operator in Paris, and lasting in service until 1970. It can seat only 33 – but how many can cram onto that rear platform I wonder? I remember seeing buses like this in service in Paris during a 1960 school trip to Bergerac – and riding around the quarry at Crich Tramway Museum, maybe in this bus, but certainly in one of the many belonging to Robert E Jowitt.
I as mentioned earlier, the local operators were running their Sunday service and it made a colourful addition to the scene. Stagecoach in Hampshire and Bluestar buses were seen regularly, with the new operator Velvet putting in an appearance occasionally with a Solo, and an Optare Spectra, recently acquired from W&D.
By 1500 my time in Winchester was coming to an end as I had to get back to a family gathering, so I walked up through The Broadway to the Chesil St car park, and drove back to Romsey. I had a very pleasant few hours, and although I did not ride on any buses this time, I had thoroughly enjoyed my day.
A visitor from afar reports on Oxford and our area.
Had a visit to Oxford this Monday 27th December and took a few photos which may or may not be useful for your next issue of the Oxford Bus News page you do. Been a while since I sent forth anything, but, working in the transport industry, as I’m sure you know is always an ever-changing job. As with the last time I have supplied notes supporting my photos.
Hope you like my offerings.
Adam Baker BA (Hons)
Useful Fuel Duty Rebate and Scheduling Ideas
Photo Notes – Oxford Trip 27th December 2010
Oxford 12001 (OU10GGA) on route 7A to Kidlington, taken outside Debenhams in
I believe this was the one I spotted on a test run in Guildford before they were delivered, unfortunately I didn't have my camera to hand on that occasion.
Stagecoach in Oxford 50206 (OU09FMY) on its regular mini adventure to London Victoria.
Oxford Bus no. 223 (MF10OXF) operates route 5 to Blackbird Leys as it leaves St Aldates.
Oxford Bus no. 790 (R220HCD), formerly of sister company Brighton & Hove origins operates the cross city Park & Ride route 400 to Thornhill.
Oxford Bus no. 216 (EF10OXF) also operating the cross city Park & Ride route 400, but, towards the Seacourt end.
Stagecoach in Oxfordshire 22764 (OU58GKE) leaves Queen Street, sadly on this occasion the destination display failed to come through.
Oxford Bus no. 220 (JF10OXF) operates route 5 to Blackbird Leys as seen with a good view of St Aldates behind.
Oxford 12026 (OU10GFZ) operates the competition route 1 to Blackbird Leys also
in St Aldates, however,
one wonders which route is the most profitable given the high level of service frequency to Blackbird Leys.
Oxford Bus no.
206 (FF09OXF) operating the seasonal vacation service on route U1 to Wheatley
Campus, as seen in Queen Street in full Brookes Bus attire.
Its also good to see the cricket reference on the side, an apt sight given England's retaining the Ashes!
Oxford Bus no. 90 (KB07OXF) heads for Heathrow Airport on route X70, branded in its “the airline” livery.
And lastly ….
Oxford Bus no.
3 (CF53OXF) advertising its regular occupation on the Oxford/London espress
route, a far cry from the days when COMS operated a joint service with Green
Line on route 290/291/292.
One wonders what the “L” in the drivers cab window signifies though!
The L in the cab window is the running card for this vehicle, shown to help controllers. Ed.
From Gerard Butler
today for a few hours
Arriva's allocation is fairly settled with Dart SLFs on the 1 4 5 and 15, Interurban liveried Volvo B10s on the 31 100 101 and 102, Wright bodied low floor Scanias on the 27 branded in Arriva standard livery and on the 38 in unbranded interurban style.
Elsewhere there were route branded Plaxton bodied Scanias on the 12, and a solitary Mercedes covering Routes 13 and 14.
With Luton's only double deckers being Olympians, the whole of Routes 8 9 23 24 and 25 were covered by them. Alex bodied 5093 was on the 8, 5084 5096 and 5098 were on the 9 and 5095 on the 23. The 24 and 25 were covered by four NC examples originally bought for these routes in 1995/6 these were 5137 5139 5140 and 5142. To complete the picture Aylesbury had 5101 and 5104 out on the 61
Otherwise Centrebus had Centros on the 10 alongside Solos on the 44 and 231 and a selection of Darts on other routes most notably K828NKH on the 17A. Stagecoach had an Olympian and Trident on the S1 to Bedford whilst Grant Palmer were using a Primo branded for Leighton Buzzard service 36 on Luton routes 3 and 35.
Back at High
Wycombe to watch rugby
Nothing different in the Carousel yard today but one of their route 4 branded Enviros ENV17 was on the A40 whilst ENV20 was on the 740 and DAF54 on the 4
Arriva had a normal blue and cream Dart 3214 and Route 33 liveried 3827 on the 33 and 34; The 32 was covered by Orange Route Versas 2401 and 2402 whilst Solo 2496 was on the 40 and 45. The 31 35 and 800 were covered by Route 31 Scanias and Dart SLFs
Ex Arriva Midlands Olympian 5162 made an appearance on the Wasps shuttle bus alongside 5147 5150 and 5153 and route 31 Scania sds 3861 and 3862
One with a Christmas flvour from Gavin Francis who took a dog walking on the nature reserve above the M40 on Christmas Day and caught one of the Oxford Tube services, proving they run 7, 24, 365.
Running Days & Events in 2011nning Days 2011
From Peter Cartwright
Sunday 22 May SLOUGH/WINDSOR - 2 weeks later than usual. The date of the opening of the new Slough Bus Station is uncertain. It should have opened this month but now postponed to April - whether that will transpire remains to be seen. I am still awaiting confirmation from Slough Borough Council. It is possible it will be departures from stops around Slough Station (railway) - reminiscent of days before 1975! I would be appropriate if we were able to take layovers to the east of Slough Stn as in earlier times but I am having difficulty in approaching the appropriate person to make this happen. Any ideas?. City of London are eager for us to use Burnham Beeches again and a good place for meal breaks for single deck crews with a free cup of tea and cake on offer.
Sunday 26 June UXBRIDGE - will be on street departures as before and off-street parking provided. Uxbridge Bakers Road is not to be used. Should we have a few runs over route 207 - now just over 50 years since Routemasters replaced trolleybuses on the 607?
Sunday 21 August HEMEL HEMPSTEAD - date confirmed with Dacorum Borough Council who control the Market Square and Arriva the Shires who have agreed that we can operate from the bus station again.
Sunday 2 October AMERSHAM - Chiltern District Council have confirmed that we can use the surface car park and the basement of the Multi-Storey car park again.
Not sure whether there will be a Potters Bar garage open -cum- running day this year.
Weymouth & Torbay Vintage Bus Running Days for 2011.
Weymouth on Sunday 12 June and Torbay on Sunday 4 September.
Weymouth has a new location, it’s Lodmoor Car and Coach Park just around the corner from the previous site at the College, which should give us more room to play with... but other than that, the event will feature the usual mix of routes around the local area (including, of course, the scenic run to Portland Bill with views across Chesil Beach), a static display and stalls. The shuttle bus to and from the railway station will be running again – times will be on the rally website once we know the summer train timetables.
Torbay will again be at Shedden Hill car park near Torquay town centre, just off the seafront and not far from the railway station. Again, scenic bus routes, static display in the car park and stalls will feature, as usual.
Further details and vehicle/stall entry forms for both events are now on the websites:
Duxford - Showbus 2010
This year's event will be held on September 18th. This is slightly earlier than usual.
From Terry Partridge
The ex Oxford Tube Tiger was found to have serious problems with the chassis and front axle both being seriously deformed. Suggestion was she had been involved in a bad front end accident. She was therefore written off.