Oxford Chiltern Bus Page

Spottings & Jottings

Issue nr 50 - October 7th  2011

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Current archives from October 2002

If you wish to be included on a mailing list where I will advise of any mid-week news please let me know


Stop Press

Friday 7 October, 6.05pm: Coach fire, M40 east southbound between junctions 5 (Stokenchurch) and 4 (Handy Cross). Five fire engines attended and when I saw the coach over an hour later it was just a structural shell and apart from the fact that it was a single decker I could not determine what type it was and as there was nothing left its ownership was also impossible to determine.

The motorway was closed between junc 5 and 4 for several hours resulting in heavy congestion on alternative roads for a very long time.


nic public sculpture ‘Hand of God’ by Lorenzo Quinn installed on Park Lane

The installation of Hand of God on Park Lane forms part of Lorenzo Quinn's worldwide public art programme in association with Halcyon Gallery,
and is exhibited as part of Westminster Council’s two year ‘City of Sculpture Festival’.

Forgive my starting the page with this picture and details but as one drives down Park Lane, London its stands out and I thought makes an unusual frontispiece to this issue. It replaces the one which featured a hand grasping a Fiat car.

For the past few days I've felt like the car with a severe head cold grasping by head and chest. Why are summer colds always the worst. This partly explains the delay on publishing this issue.

So, on to the buses, with much relief I hear many say!

This issue contains reports on Duxford and the many buses and coaches from our area. Also worthy of mention is the new service from Northampton to Bicester served by ex SC Oxford
M A N s with 22920 and 22922 having been seen.

We can also report the first 61 plate vehicles and the fact that the very first reported and photographed was a new Wright's decker sent to me by John Marsh.

Another item of significance is the transfer of two ex Park & Ride deckers from Oxford Bus to Thames Travel. One of these, Trident 107 was seen operating an X39 service along the Abingdon Road earlier this week!

On Monday 3rd October the centre of Oxford was brought to a standstill in the early afternoon. The reason was a fire in the engine compartment of one of Oxford Bus's Scania/Enviro 400s which I think was working route 5. The incident happened outside Queen's College on The High and the bus involved was 223.

Traffic was severely congested in the area of The Plain and the whole of Magdalen Bridge was full of buses heading into the city. There must have been more than fifteen buses in that queue and traffic from the three roads entering The Plain was also at a standstill. Services to Oxford East and crosstown services, including the 400 Park & Ride service were significantly affected.

As I was driving an Oxford Tube I was unable to take any pictures, I wonder did any reader do so?

Finally in this part I am publishing a number of pictures taken by readers at Duxford. There are many picture sites with too many pictures to mention. Just Google Duxford 2011 - pictures and you'' be amazed.

The latest buses to join Arriva The Shires, all seen at Duxford Showbus 2011.

BOAC as one would like to remember it and a very smart limo.

I liked this elderly Albion with Harrington body once with Charlies Cars of Bournemouth.

New coaches for Stagecoach, a long way from their present home.

Enviro 400 corner

Motts and Green Line were represented

Once nr 651 in the Oxford Bus fleet and a regular on the 4 road services, this bus has gone to
work on the Isle of Wight on an easier schedule of summer services.

Who can doubt the elegance of the seemingly ageless design of the RT, amazingly a 1939 bus which even in 2011 looks modern.

What a delightful acknowledgement of the work of Red Rose's co-founder, Christopher Day, who died earlier this year.
The new livery suits this bus rather, don't you agree.

One time local operator, Thames Valley, was represented by these two erstwhile Bristols.
What veritable workhorses these buses were!

The Stagecoach Megadekka was in attendance, having recently been treated to a fresh coat of paint,
bringing memories of yesterday's Stagecoach back to visitors.

Finally a more modern bus was this uno bus in its rather striking pink and purple livery.


I remember these when i was a young buck! The lower deck windows were to help standing passengers see their stop.

At least some bendi-buses have found further use after withdrawal from London. However the must be fields of the things somewhere in the U.K.?

Your Editor on arrival at Duxford with 15609, a Witney Gold bus.


15609 arriving at Duxford in quite a cloud of dust. I was only crawling!



When readers take copies of pictures from the OCBP site 


Some of the contributors to this site have noticed that their pictures are appearing on e-bay sites selling such things.


Needless to say this is a theft of copyright and one which I deplore!


I would not wish to have to watermark photographs, thereby making them unsalable as such but if this practice continues I shall be left with no alternative. I am sure this would detract from the pleasure so many of you get from the OCBP.


May I please ask readers to do two things?


1/ If you see any photos on sale please let me know and where they are appearing.


2/ If you are someone who has copied and sold photos please desist as this is theft and I will have to take legal action against anyone found doing so.


The site is free to all readers and I pay a price to publish the pages which is not passed on.


Please respect those freedoms and I hope I may not have to mention this matter again.


Oxfordshire 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: Oct 18th - South Midland buses by Paul Lacey (visiting speaker)

19.30pm - 21.30pm

Meetings are held in the upstairs function room at:

The Folly Bridge Inn

38 Abingdon Road



Some limited parking at the back of the pub, also close to bus stops (frequent X3/X13 or 35 routes stop outside)

or a short walk from Oxford City Centre - For directions click HERE 


All meetings start at 19.30pm although you are welcome to come along beforehand for food in the bar.

Future meetings are planned as follows:
Nov 15th - Around Britain by Bus by Graham Low / Chris Bates
Dec 13th - Pictures from the John Law collection (Britain/Worldwide from 1960's onwards) by John Law (visiting speaker).

A detailed programme of meetings can be found at the following link and we hope many of you will attend future meetings.



The level of contribution to this page by readers is excellent, indeed in modern parlance, very cool! Thank you. 

Malcolm Crowe - Editor - OCBP - October 7th 2011.


Glenn Knight reports as follows:

27th Aug 2011

Arriva 4363 at Aylesbury depot G Knight

Seen in Hitchin on 100 to Stevenage, 3886 - KX11PUU

Flights FJ11 GKX on 777 to Stansted Airport 

On a visit to Arriva Aylesbury's depot:

5101 - G651UPP - LED Destination removed

5104 - G654UPP - LED Destination removed

3152 - N702EUR – delicensed

On a visit to Stagecoach 's Bedford depot:

14000 - F110NES in retro-livery

33806 - R706YUD now at Bedford from Cambridge (once with SC Oxford)

16086 - R86NXO to be scrapped

 Greenline 702:

32348 - LK53LZL loading in Bracknell

37987 - BJ11ECX running dead to the depot


20374 - CV55AOO

Vale Travel:

Y847TGH seen in Milton Keynes on route 2 to Newport Pagnall.

In Luton on September 3rd 2011 the launch of new buses - none for High Wycombe sadly!!!

Arriva 3884 St Georges Sq Luton 030911 G Knight

Arriva 3894 St Georges Sq Luton 030911 G Knight

Glenn also sent this most interesting picture following a visit he made to Heathrow.

An A380 test plane visits LHR/British Airways 

Eddie Brown YN05GXA Scania/Wrights Solar ex Reading 1001 taken in York on 23/08/11

Stagecoach Yorkshire 22913 S913 CFC ex Oxford taken in Sheffield on 25/08/11

Tim Hall of Swindon writes "Where do all those Eavesway Van Hool's go on the A34 through Oxfordshire? It's here, Southampton Docks on their Cruise Link service,  with pick-ups in the North/Midlands to P&O and Princess cruises."

Richard Sharman writes with a Banbury update:
Banbury’s Solos are now unbranded in anticipation of the new E200 arrivals. There are sadi to be eight new buses expected soon. They are to be used on the 59 Banbury-Oxford,
(rebranded and renumbered S4) and the 500.

One of the former Oxford Pointers is seen on the 3rd of September....the last day of GA01 operation before the service was renumbered on the 5th to 200.

One of the original ALX200's from the R8**YUD batch soldiers on at Banbury, having departed Oxfordshire some years ago
it arrived back via Stagecoach Western to Oxford for the 10's,
then transferred to Banbury with the need for extra vehicles due to GA01 operation.

All of Johnsons Excels have now been repainted into the Current Bus Livery.

B M Coaches have recently updated the coach on the London - Bicester Village Express to a Van Hool Astronof from a 9700.

Jay Houlden writes "Now being back in Oxford i can start reporting things again. Over the past two weeks I've been out and about in Oxford and noted the following odd observations.

OBC Trident 104 was out on Route 8 on 07/09/11, and Arriva coach 4362 paid a visit to the 280 on 01/09/11, also 22052 made an appearance on the S5 on 25/08/11"


Keith L McGillivray writes "I thought you might be interested to see these collections of photographs of Lothian's new Enviro Hybrids - they enter service on Sunday 11th after a public launch in Edinburgh city centre tomorrow.

They are registered as follows:

201 - SN11 EES
202 - HY61 BUS
203 - LB61 HYB
204 - LB61 BUS
205-212 - SN61 BBF/J/K/O/U/V/X/Z
213-215 - SN61 BCE/F/K

These shots show bus number 201 on test runs in Falkirk during August. Lothian were keen to ensure the buses weren't visible to the general public before they entered service, hence the Falkirk trials.



These pictures show the buses on delivery from Falkirk to Edinburgh last Monday - thirteen of the fifteen buses ran together in convoy from the factory to Lothian's engineering facility at Seafield.


In order to maximise their launch impact, Lothian had requested that local photographers didn't publish shots of the buses until press and political launches had taken place. As a gesture of thanks for keeping photographs under wraps, Lothian held a fairly informal event for local enthusiasts last night - three of the new buses attended.


Gavin Francis writes "This one on hire to Terravision. Seen it at both Stansted and Victoria. This is a coach that Malcolm & I saw at Alum Bay last year, when we were on our annual visit to the island."


Adam Green writes from Hemel to send some interesting pictures taken recently which are included below:

CY66 was on the 787 going to Cambridge

3564 was parked up in the Bus Station

3272 was on the 500 to Aylesbury - the days of the ELC Scanias seem numbered now!

5149 on the 3 in Hemel Bus Station

Colin Richardson writes "Last week was very interesting for the county. Luke refers to week ending 1/10/11

Service 300 - the Saturday service has been increased during shopping, it is the first service to be increased on this day for some years.
Service 55 - Aylesbury Bus Station-Stoke Mandeville Hospital - Wendover - Amersham Hospital on Monday to Friday for hospital shift workers and others.,
Service 72 - Wycombe hospital - Amersham Hospital - Monday-Friday evenings only.
Service H! - High Wycombe Bus station -Hospital as acicular Monday-Friday 20 minutes.

Fleet News 

 Arriva logo

Adam Green sent a number of pictures and reports as follows:

3307 is at Watford

Tridents 5423,5424,5425,5426 and 5427 are at Hemel Garage now having come from Ware where new Wrights buses have been entering service.

3234 has gained a Led Destination display  and a Enviro 400 was on the Greenline 759 tonight.

Pete Cabin writes "An unusual visitor last week, was Arriva’s 4491 T491KGB was operating on service 300 to Aylesbury seen leaving High Wycombe in the late afternoon on 05.09.11. Also it has been repainted making 4490 T490KGB look more disgraceful than ever.

Volvo B10BLE/Wrights 3309 W137XRO  is at High Wycombe confirmed when I saw it on Friday 15th September 2011 working service 32 en route to Booker Asda.

A transfer from Milton Keynes is Solo 2430 X351AUX, which is to be used on the new service H1 to High Wycombe general hospital which started today Monday 26th September 2011.
Also noticed Volvo 3310 W138XRO in service at High Wycombe working the 32s on Monday 26th September 2011.

Yet another newcomer to Wycombe {this bus is from the MK depot} is Dart 3180 - P180SRO, in service on 28th September 2011.

On the new h1 to Wycombe General Hospital there are now three local runs to the hospital, with Arriva's Park & Ride, the h1 and Carousel's route 27, which in my opinion is a bit over the top.

The Solo 2430 X351AUX was working the 74 to Slough on 28th September 2011.
Meanwhile Aylesbury were using coach 4362 W362XKX on service 300 to Wycombe - Aylesbury on 28th September 2011.

Glenn Knight writes "Seen in Luton St' Georges Sq:

K407FHJ Luton SOS Bus

Bryan Larkins writes "The only recent thing that immediately comes to mind is seeing on Monday this week were new Arriva Volvos 3886 and 3887 route branded for the 100/101/102, but 3885 isn't branded (as yet)."

Nigel Peach writes saying "On your last S & J you mentioned that Wright Renown bodied Volvo 3308 had transferred to Wycombe from Stevenage. I've not seen that one yet, but 3307, 3309 are now in Wycombe and today (23rd Sept) I saw 3310 for the first time (all with Wycombe "blinds"). The registration numbers for these buses are not as listed in the 2009-10 Arriva handbook. They are: 3307 is W134 XRO, 3308 is 136, 3309 is 137 and 3310 is W138 XRO. So far I don't know what buses have been replaced - most of the remaining Scanias seem to be still going strong!

At the Cressex depot this morning (24th Sept) were Dart 3180 (P180 SRO) and Optare Solo 2430 (X351 AUX), both of which were at MK. I wonder if they are transfers or just visiting.
Scania 3161 (N711 EUR) has joined those withdrawn buses, leaving just 3146, 3162 (both "blue route 32" branded) and 3163 from this batch still in service at HW. Sister 3143 has the red band painted round it.

Another newcomer to Wycombe is Alexander bodied Volvo B10 3458 (W458 XKX) from Stevenage."

Several other pictures are included with credits as appropriate.

Arriva 5426 r 280 Oxford High St 280811 G Francis.

Good old Arriva, they seem so often to get the wrongly branded bus on a route. 


Noel Clark, Operations Manager, Carousel Buses Limited writes "Attached are some photos you may find of interest. 17th September was a busy day with both RML896 and RM2198 out on weddings. Open top Routemaster RML2457 has been sold for non-PSV use and will be departing shortly.


Former Countyrider green liveried Darts DPL423 and DPL479 have been repainted for Purple Route 35/36 with the seats re-trimmed in purple to match.


Finally, our first Plaxton Primo RK07 BNF has been allocated fleet number P25 to avoid confusion now we have three of them".

Pete Cabin writes "Dart DPL 423,  P423MLE has been repainted into the purple route 35 & 36 routes where she joins sister DPL 479 P479MLE which was as reported the other day been repainted into the purple scheme."

Nigel Peach writes "The two green "Easy Bus" liveried Darts, P423/479 MLE have been repainted purple for the purple routes 35 and 36 to Flackwell Heath. A picture of 423 is attached, shown in Flackwell Heath on Monday 19th Sept. Interesting that these buses are older than the previous purple bus R706 MEW, which was scrapped a few months ago!

An interesting place for the fleet number!
Also attached is a view of Carousel's Baker Street yard taken from above Suffield Road - perhaps qualifying for Buses in the Landscape. (I did feel a bit self conscious as I waited for a young lady to come of her mobile phone and disappear, but I see she just got into the bottom right picture - oh well!!)

It looks as though the two Volvo B6s P232/6 AAP have been taken out of service? I've not seen them out and about lately.

Richard Sharman writes "Centrebus have recently gained a Northamptonshire County Council demand responsive service into Banbury, the most south westerly service operated by the group.

The vehicle operates on what was the old 508 service, but is now a Call Connect service, it operates from surrounding villages into Banbury between 9am-3pm Monday to Saturday and in peak periods operates in the Towcester/Brackley area.

The vehicle is out-stationed at Towcester(with main depot being Corby)."

Cyprus Citaro with First Group markings

Geoff Stewart writes "In Issue 48 on the 25th July 2011, you carried a report about Cyprus buses. A Mk 1 Citaro with First Group markings was mentioned, with the question as to whether it did actually work for First Group?

By chance, I came across a reference on another Forum which suggested that it ( but there may be more than one) was ex Dublin Aircoach which is a First Group operation. So the old markings are probably genuine after all.

Aldershot, Hants - Out of area, but I do enjoy your site. Keep up the good work, it must take a hell of an effort each month/ Thanks!"

Heyfordian 9682FH on schools in Stokenchurch 190911 G Francis

Heyfordian YJ11EJU on route 103 leaves Butterwyck Place,  Oxford on September 5th. Picture by Gavin Francis

Motts ex Dublin Olympian T300MTT on schools service in Stokenchurch. September 19th by Gavin Francis.


Bryan Larkins writes "The reason I came across your site was Googling for any info on a National Express coaches fleet list and it picked up on your report within the Spottings and Jottings issue 49. So far my search has not been successful so anyone can advise of where an up-to-date fleet list is available, either to buy or online, it would be appreciated."

Bryan, I suggest you continue to read my pages as I report many new coaches for NEx as is the case in this issue. BBF fleet books have a recent edition but it is very soon out of date.

Recently seen on the M40 and now owned by Omega Holidays was ex Veolia (NEx) C009 - YN55PXA, retaining its white livery with Omega branding. Pictures would be appreciated. Again this was seen heading for the city centre through Oxford's Headington suburb last Thursday morning.

More Caetano Levante Volvo B9Rs are listed below. These are the first 61 plates seen.

FJ61EVN : Volvo B9R / Caetano Levante - Galloway , Stowmarket
FJ61EVP : Volvo B9R / Caetano Levante - (National Express)
FJ61EVR : Volvo B9R / Caetano Levante - (National Express)
FJ61EVT : Volvo B9R / Caetano Levante - (National Express)
FJ61EVW : Volvo B9R / Caetano Levante - Lucketts, Fareham (National Express)
FJ61EWA : Volvo B9R / Caetano Levante - Lucketts, Fareham (National Express)

Galloway of Stowmarket have just received this new Caetano for route 481. Seen in Sammy's arrivals VCS last week by M. Crowe.

NEx Kings Ferry FJ10EZG r A6 VCS 010911 M Crowe

Stagecoach Elites at VCS 040911 M Crowe

First 23311 YN54NYR r 508 VCS-BPR 020911 G Francis

NEx CY126 r 025 Sammys 090911 G Francis

NEx Elcock A2EXC r 410 VCS 020911 G Francis

NEx Lucketts x4959 FJ58AHN at VCS on 021009 & 080911 G Francis
Is it now due a repaint or what?

NEx Selwyns Travel YJ04BOV r418 VCS 090911 G Francis

NEx SH19 on the A6 running round to departure at VCS 020911 G Francis

The last one in captivity we see NEx SH58 at VCS on the A6 - 020911 G Francis
This is the last and only Irizar PB still in National Express's own fleet.

Very much part of the scene at VCS is spotter extraordinaire Allan Wilson seen on September 2nd 20111 by Gavin Francis.

 Whilst returning a coach to South Gloucester Bus & Coach at Filton, Bristol I came across ex 616, Volvo B10B/Plaxton now all white and with SGBC.

Picture will be in next issue.

Company update

20 August 2011

Withdrawn: 795/8

The withdrawal of 795/8, the last Volvo B10BLEs means that we now have no Volvo buses in the fleet, breaking a link going back to 1995 when 601 (N601 NJO) was
delivered. Both 795 and 798 are now being used as driver training vehicles.

Christopher Lowe writes "I presume you have already had confirmation, but Thames Travel has former Oxford Alexander ALX400 bodied Dennis Trident 107 (T107 DBW) which is still in OBC two tone green livery and still carrying fleet numbers 107 but with the addition of Thames Travel fleet names on the front and nearside. I saw it in service yesterday (Sept 2nd) in Reading operating on the 144 to Wokingham but had a blank front destination display with a side one working." 

Alex Horwood writes “Re the Oxford Bus Tridents with Thames Travel, I have seen one working the 32 route (8th Sept I think), I also understand they have gained oxford's 107.

I would imagine as this is what they did with the hybrid it will now go on the 144 as that usually has a decker on it then it will be thrown around between the 32 and the 144 I don't think it will be going on the X39/X40 as the buses from that route ether go on the 101 or the 106 upon arrival in oxford though who knows."

From your Editor, "saw 107 working the X39 into Oxford late the other day with full destination display "X39 Oxford Express". 

Ex-Oxford B10B by the Sea! 

Richard Sharman writes "Southern Vectis are now operating this ex London/Oxford/BlueStar B10B K125 BUD. The strange box on top is not a hybrid drive or gas conversion but in fact a Wind Deflector for the massive rear Sunroof!"


And now some pictures from Gavin Francis.

Over six years ago Gavin caught the then 651 working a number 8 to Barton.
OX 651 in Queen Street on July 26th 2005.
Would anyone have thought how this bus would eventually end up?

OX 34 now minus a rear destination screen in GG 030911 G Francis
I wonder where its gone?

OX 37 r X90 BPR 090911 G Francis
Rumours suggest that these coaches may be replaced shortly?


Red Rose

Surely one of the highest route numbers ever, Red Rose's W reg Dart is work the 2201 through Stokenchurch.
Picture by Gavin Francis.

R H Buses

R H Buses 405 works route 18 in Oxford on September 7th. Picture by Gavin Francis. 


As promised-SC Northants in Bicester by R Sharman

Seen operating on the first Saturday of the new 8 service is a vehicle that is no stranger to Oxfordshire! M A N 22920 was once an Oxford bus and worked the Kidlington-Barton route.

It is now with Stagecoach Northampton.


The hired coach, FJ60HYV, a Caetano Volvo B9R, belonging to SGBC, which has been used in Oxford, almost since new was returned to Bristol on Thursday 29th September by your Editor.

Ready to leave Oxford for Bristol on the afternoon of Thursday, September 29th. M Crowe.

 It was a warm old journey heading westwards into the afternoon sun and I was pleased to arrive at the SGBC depot near Filton and then experience the HST service from Bristol Parkway to Didcot and connection to Oxford on a 165 class DMU.

Didcot and then Oxford.  M Crowe.

Whilst a Filton I had a short time to look around and will include pictures in my next issue.



Just occasionally the opportunity for an unusual picture presents itself.
This couple had been to a music festival and I asked for a picture on one of our Tube coaches.
They were actually catching Megabus to the West of England.

The Oxford tube meets a local service at Lewknor.
The 124 runs on market days and has recently been taken over by Arriva from Red Rose.

This ex Tube was at Duxford and is reported as going to Ireland with five others.
Full details are awaited. It was 50113 in the Tube fleet.  M Crowe.



Paul Dudfield writes "S&J 49 was certainly a rattling good read (to adapt Worth's Coaches' slogan).

As Megabus features quite strongly in OCBP the enclosed picture of a Scottish Citylink coach pretending to be a Megabus in Exeter heading for Plymouth may be of interest. Mind you, Scottish Citylink coaches in Exeter are nothing new. Also enclosed is a picture of a Northern Scottish Metroliner also in Exeter heading for Plymouth, this time on the overnight service from Aberdeen. The photo was taken on 13 May 1984 when the coach was almost new. The driver was very pleased by the interest I and a fellow enthusiast were showing in it. He had taken it over in Bristol and was very willing to pose for photographs as he backed off the stand."


Victoria is now strongly featured as a Megabus departure point.

The use of trailers on the Astromega operated services is needed to meet axle weight limitations.

Another double deck coach used is this tri-axle seen heading for VCS last month.
It is a regular on the Manchester service and belongs to Blackburn PH.

Another day and another coach from Blackburn PH.
Blackburn PH YJ05XXK on Megabus MAN 090911 G Francis

Not a regular in Victoria on Megabus, 53101 is seen in Bulleid Way on layover
on September 21st 2011 by Gavin Francis.

It seems a problem to set the M destinations as seen on SC Megabus 54023 route M11 in Bulleid Way,
on September 5th 2011 by Gavin Francis.

SC Cwmbran's 54004 on the M7 to Cardiff near VCS on September 2nd 2011 by Gavin Francis

These B10Ms are due to be replaced by the start of 2012. SC Midlands Megabus 52526 is not in service
when seen on September 2nd 2011 by Gavin Francis.

SC Midlands Megabus 54051 is heading round to departures at VCS for a Leeds service on September 3nd 2011 by Gavin Francis





Christopher Lowe writes "I presume you have already had confirmation, but Thames Travel has former Oxford Alexander ALX400 bodied Dennis Trident 107 (T107 DBW) which is still in OBC two tone green livery and still carrying fleet numbers 107 but with the addition of Thames Travel fleet names on the front and nearside. I saw it in service yesterday (Sept 2nd) in Reading operating on the 144 to Wokingham but had a blank front destination display with a side one working.

Your Editor writes "I have since seen this bus working the X39 into Oxford with full destination displays on the front screen. It was heading up the Abingdon Road and I at first thought it was 117 still in use in Oxford!"

Citybus Dave writes "Yesterday I saw a new and unused Scania Omnicity double decker YT11 LSD parked in Thames Transit's Wallingford depot. It was red. do you think this is their's or just passing?

Whilst Robert Williams seems to have the answer saying "Noted on Friday 2nd from afar, and then Monday 5th up close was a new Scania OmniCtiy Double Decker YT11 LSD in London red apparently operating a special service for the Wallingford Bunk Fest.  

It had white LEDs in all of the destination display boxes, but no blinds. The legal lettering was taped over with brown parcel tape, and it passed me by too quickly to get any more detail. 

The Bunkfest website suggests that a special service was being run by Thames Travel, but no services were scheduled today, or at that time in the morning (0830ish) on Friday, so I am none the wiser as to the operator.

Graham Low writes to include a picture saying "Here is Thames Travel R9 OXF on route 132 in Wallingford on Saturday September 10th. It has no fleet numbers, or fleet name except on the front.

Picture by Graham Low.

I read that Thames Travel have now made the 32 route fully commercial. 


uno Dart DP119 works the 714 on September 6th as seen by Gavin Francis. 

Leyland Tiger, W62 - A15WTN, suffered severe accident damage when a tree fell on it on November 9th 2010. By April 2011 this bus had been written off but the registration has been retained.

I am a little out of touch with this fleet as I have not had reports since the take over by Bowen Travel Group. 


Cambridge Busway by Marcus Lapthorn

I visited the new Cambridge Guided Busway over the bank holiday weekend and have a few updates to add to the excellent coverage that appeared on your last web page.

I am very impressed with this long awaited project which is being very well supported by passengers. In the first week of operation I understand that around 117,500 passengers travelled on the guided busway. Indeed I was also informed that already four more buses have been ordered to cope with the high demand - two single and two double deckers!

The two Stagecoach A & B routes run very frequently whilst Whippet Coaches run route C hourly. The double deck route B from Huntingdon to Cambridge is very well loaded and provides a very quick and easy way into the City centre.

The amount of car parking spaces at St. Ives Park & Ride site is considerable and my photos illustrate the vastness of the entire site. I presume that this Park & Ride site is perhaps on the site of a former railway marshalling yard? Station buildings are still in evidence at St. Ives town where the C route buses terminate.

The ticket machines may not be as easy to use as one might expect. There are prominent signs stating that passengers MUST have a ticket from the machine before boarding. However the ticket machines do not appear to have been programmed for all destinations. For example if one is at the terminus of route A at Trumpington, then there is a temporary sheet of paper on the machine stating that for return tickets to Addenbrookes Hospital one must purchase tickets from the driver! Also it is not immediately evident how to purchase tickets for intermediate destinations. However no doubt regular passengers will figure it all out quickly.

The raised concrete guides are not continuous as breaks are needed where pedestrians/horses/cars may wish to cross the tracks. This then results in the drivers slowing down upon approaching a 'break' in the track, when they glide over the 'break' before reengaging the guide wheels in the wide 'mouth' of the next length of guiderails. The two small horizontal guide wheels are fitted to the front axles of the buses.

There are some small sections of the busway where no guide rails are in place. At these points there are warning signs painted onto the road surface, and signs on poles stating that 'Guided Buses only' are permitted. Traffic lights are along the route for controlling the safe passage of the buses across roads. The overall feel of this busway is that it is very much a 'child' of the railway it replaced.

The bus drivers are taking pleasure in driving along with no hands on the steering wheel in the busway sections and perhaps trying to alarm passengers on oncoming buses!

The busway tales up much less space that a conventional two way road and you can see that buses are passing one another safely but very close together, just like the trains do.




All above pictures in this article by Marcus Lapthorn.

Bus service updates in the MK Area by Harold Atkins

Gary Seamarks report in your 28 August report advises that Stagecoach services 160/165 from Bedford are withdrawn. Only the 165 remains, it is now a schooldays only bus between Brogborough and two Leighton Buzzard schools via Woburn and Hockliffe operated by Centrebus. On the same timetable, Centrebus is also operating the extended replacement for Grant Palmer services 10 and 10a (CMK – Leighton Buzzard via Woburn) which were withdrawn after 20th August. The new 49 marketed as “49 Connect – a partnership between Central Bedfordshire Council, South Midland Connect and Centrebus”. It operates as a normal bus between Leighton Buzzard and Woburn Sands via Hockliffe siX journeys daily Monday – Saturday. Two of the six journeys extend to Wootton passing five villages (Husbourne Crawley, Ridgmont, Ridgmont rail station, Brogborough, Lidlington and Marston Moretaine) on an “on demand” basis on request by telling the driver if on the bus or by calling 0844 357 49 49 if you want it pick you up. Connections are at Woburn Sands on to Arriva 3 for CMK and at Wootton for Stagcoach 53 to Bedford.

Grant Palmer withdrew from MK service 23 (Bradville – Great Linford – CMK – Heelands) in July, which is replaced by MK contract 23 (Wolverton – Gt Linford – CMK) operated by Z&S. This means that Z&S now required 14 buses just to run their MK contract services, with Red Rose and Vale Travel requiring four each. This excludes vehicles needed for crew changes, servicing etc from their bases in Aylesbury.

Another Centrebus development is service 90 run by their Bed & Herts branch although a Northants contract. In the Milton Keynes changes on 23 May, Stagecoach Midlands 89 was diverted through Deanshanger to replace Arriva 14. Northants introduced the 90 (Potterspury – CMK) partly as a connecting service to the 89 at Potterspury so that residents of Cosgrove and Yardley Gobion, previously served by the 89, could still travel to Towcester and Northampton. This apparently was little used so from 05 September the 90 will now run Yardley Gobion, Cosgrove, Old Stratford – Central Milton Keynes operating 5 journeys Monday – Friday. The same bus will also operate one morning journey a day Monday – Friday as 90A CMK – Wicken, which was reduce to a shared taxi in May, but now at least gets one proper bus.

There are changes at the other end of Stagecoach 89 (CMK – Towcester – Northampton) in that this bus changes into service 8 at Northampton and proceeds on to Weston Favell Centre. In the other direction, the 8 runs half hourly with alternate buses changing to the 89 to MK, but the other alternate buses continuing as an 8 (previously 88) to Towcester and Silverstone hourly. From Silverstone, alternate 8s now continue two-hourly to Brackley and Bicester. In Northampton, both the 8 and 89 are diverted through West Hunsbury (Shelfleys). There are lots more bus changes throughout Northants on 5th September, but I think this is getting a bit out of your area.

First 61 plate PCV from John Marsh.

Delaine 150, (AD61DBL) Volvo B9TL/Wright Gemini 2 (H45/30F) is, according to the Delaine web site, the first provincial Gemini 2 to be built to the new European Type Approval Regulations.


Alex Carter ‘steps back’

Go South Coast Managing Director Alex Carter, 52, has suddenly stepped back.

In a brief statement, Go-Ahead says: “Alex Carter is currently unable to fulfil his duties as MD at Go-South Coast and so Andrew Wickham is temporarily covering the post. There is nothing further to say, but we would urge you not to draw any conclusions based on speculation.”

It is understood that Andrew Wickham, 45, is also continuing as Managing Director of Go-Ahead owned Plymouth CityBus.

Prior to his appointment to the Plymouth post on 1 December 2009 - the date when Go-Ahead completed its purchase from the council - Andrew Wickham was Operations Director at Go South Coast.

Originally Go-Ahead’s Group Development Manager, Andrew Wickham was immediately appointed Operations Director at Wilts & Dorset when Go-Ahead bought the 365-strong bus business from its Directors for £32m on 11 August 2003.

Previously with Stagecoach (where he was latterly Managing Director of Oxford) Alex Carter was appointed Managing Director of Wilts & Dorset, also on 11 August 2003.

Further acquisitions in the area followed to create what is now Go South Coast, running 550 vehicles with key depots in Poole, Salisbury, Eastleigh and the Isle of Wight, supported by smaller depots at Bournemouth, Swanage, Ringwood, Lymington and Totton, plus smaller outstations primarily within Wiltshire.

From Brian Matthews via Marcus Lapthorn

Whilst digging into more detail about the current Edinburgh fiasco over the new tram system (it's now back on for the Haymarket to St. Andrews Square (BR Edinburgh Waverley) section, this having been rejected just a week before, I've noticed that part of the tram route is being built on the "no longer used guided busway". 

This was open for 5 years 2004 - 2009, the guided part being 1.5 km. Some articles say that when opened in 2004 it was already intended to use it later for the trams. A pic (not mine) attached from 2006

Picture by Brian Matthews

Northants Service Changes

Service Changes in Northants from Monday the 5th effecting a number of Oxfordshire operators.

New Services in our area from Tex Coaches and Stagecoach in Northants start a new Route from Bicester, the 8.


Other Changes here-


Stagecoach drives ahead on UK Bus Awards shortlist

Jump to top navigation Jump to site services


Stagecoach is leading the way with the highest number of shortlisted nominations at the UK Bus Awards for the fifth consecutive year.

The Perth-based transport group has 23 shortlisted entries in the competition’s 21 categories this year, with four Stagecoach companies in line to be named Britain’s best bus operator at the London awards ceremony to be held in November.

Stagecoach South, Stagecoach East Midlands and Stagecoach West are shortlisted for the Top Shire Operator Award, while Stagecoach Manchester is a finalist in the Top City Operator category. All four companies are also in the running for the prestigious UK Bus Operator of the Year Award.

In addition, three Stagecoach services – Stagecoach East’s X5 service, Stagecoach East Scotland’s Fife Express City Connect and Stagecoach in Oxfordshire’s Oxford Tube service – have been named as finalists in the Express Operation of the Year category.

Stagecoach Group is shortlisted for the Environment Award for its Sustainability Strategy, along with Stagecoach in Oxfordshire which is nominated for the introduction of electric-hybrid buses in Oxford. Stagecoach is also a finalist in the Innovation Award category for the launch of smart ticketing on buses across the UK.

Two Stagecoach bus depots – Torbay at Stagecoach South West and Kilmarnock at Stagecoach West Scotland – have been named as finalists in the Top National Bus Depot Award. In addition, two Stagecoach employees – East Scotland, Bluebird and Highland Marketing Manager Sarah Anderson and Bluebird Operations Manager Graeme Leslie – are in the running for the Young Manager of the Year Award.

In the Marketing Excellence category, Stagecoach UK Bus is nominated for its Gold service while Stagecoach Yorkshire is nominated for its Creating Bus Passenger Growth in Sheffield strategy, Stagecoach West is nominated for its Greener Journeys campaign and Stagecoach East Kent & East Sussex is shortlisted for its Canterbury Triangle service.

Stagecoach London has two drivers – Frank Tumfo and Yvette Tomlin – in the running for the Top London Bus Driver Award.

In addition, Stagecoach has been shortlisted for the Putting Customers First Award for its Citylink Gold operation which is a joint venture between Stagecoach and international transport group ComfortDelGro.

Stagecoach Bluebird’s Jet 727 Service, which links Aberdeen City Centre with Aberdeen Airport, is a finalist in the Making Buses A Better Choice category, while Stagecoach West’s Route 66 service, between Oxford, Faringdon and Swindon, is in the running for the Eureka! Award for Marketing Initiatives.

Stagecoach UK Bus Managing Director Les Warneford said: “It’s extremely pleasing to have so many of our people and our companies nominated for these awards. To have such a high number of shortlisted entries is also a real credit to all of our staff across our business who work incredibly hard to provide good value, high quality bus services for our passengers.

“We will continue to strive to attract even more people to our greener, smarter services.”

The full list of Stagecoach finalists is as follows:

The results are reported below. 

Double success for Stagecoach at top bus industry awards


Stagecoach is celebrating a double success at the 2011 Route One Operator Excellence Awards after winning two top honours.

The Perth-based transport group and Scottish vehicle manufacturer Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) were jointly awarded the inaugural Green Award at the Birmingham ceremony, after leading the UK on the introduction of state-of-the-art green hybrid-electric buses which produce up to 30% less carbon emissions than conventional diesel vehicles.

And Stagecoach London Engineering Director Darren Roe scooped the Bus Engineer of the Year Award after impressing judges with his enthusiasm and dedication, as well as his ability to inspire others and to make significant improvements through simple but effective changes.

Stagecoach UK Bus Managing Director Les Warneford said: “To win two such high-profile awards is very pleasing. Darren’s professionalism and dedication, as well as the enthusiasm he shows when teaching others, make him a very worthy winner.

“We are working hard to become a greener business in a number of ways, including the introduction of low-emissions vehicles, so we are delighted that our efforts, and those of ADL, have been recognised in this way. We look forward to attracting even more people on to our greener, smarter bus services.”

Government figures published earlier this year confirmed that Stagecoach Group is leading the way on investing in new greener buses using state-of-the-art hybrid electric technology.

Market-leading British bus manufacturer ADL and BAE Systems provide the technology behind the new low carbon buses, which also feature an innovative regenerative braking system, with many of the vehicles being built at ADL's manufacturing plant in Falkirk, Scotland.

Colin Robertson, Chief Executive of ADL, added: “We are delighted to have won this prestigious award. It recognises the progress we have made in establishing ADL as Europe’s leading supplier of hybrid-electric vehicles, while also acknowledging that our technology is reliable, easily maintained and delivers what it promises – improved fuel efficiency and reduced emissions. Together, ADL and Stagecoach have gone a long way towards demonstrating that these are the vehicles of the future. Over 200 ADL hybrids are now operating in the UK and Continental Europe with a further 150 due for delivery in the next 12 months.”

In the past year, Stagecoach has ordered 142 green hybrid electric buses at a cost of £26.9million. The transport group has committed to invest £23.5million in 123 of the new buses for England, with a further £11million of funding coming from the Government’s Green Bus Fund.

A total of 26 ADL Enviro E400 hybrid buses are now in operation in Oxford with a further 30 already serving passengers in Manchester. In addition, 21 of the state-of-the-art vehicles went into service in Sheffield last month, and 26 went into operation in Newcastle this month. An additional 20 ADL Enviro E400 buses have also been ordered for Manchester.

Furthermore, in Scotland, Stagecoach has ordered 19 hybrid buses, at a total cost of £5.3million, to go into service in Perth and Aberdeen. Stagecoach is investing £3.5million in the new vehicles and will receive an award of around £1.8million in support funding from the Scottish Government’s Green Bus Fund. The new Enviro 350 hybrid vehicles will also be manufactured by ADL and are expected to go into service in the summer of 2012.

Stagecoach has a comprehensive sustainability strategy and is investing £11million in a range of measures to meet its environmental targets. The Group is targeting an overall reduction of 8% in buildings CO2 emissions and a cut of 3% in annual fleet transport CO2 emissions by 2014.

Last year, Stagecoach Group was awarded the prestigious Carbon Trust Standard after taking action on climate change by measuring and reducing its carbon emissions. Stagecoach is the first Scottish-based transport group - and one of only two listed UK public transport operators - to have achieved the stretching carbon reduction benchmark. It covers all of the Group’s bus and rail operations in the UK.

Stagecoach Group won the Travel and Transport Award at the 2010 Green Business Awards. In addition, in July this year, Stagecoach was Highly Commended as Company of the Year at the inaugural BusinessGreen Leaders Awards.

megabus.com announces new Birmingham-Edinburgh link Jump to top navigation Jump to site services


Market-leading budget coach provider megabus.com has announced a timetable enhancement which will provide additional journey options for travellers as well as a new link between Birmingham and Edinburgh.

The low-cost coach operator – which offers journeys from £1* – is introducing two new daily journeys between Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh. From 2 October there will be a new northbound service each morning and a new southbound service each afternoon.

The change provides a brand new twice daily link between Birmingham and Edinburgh. It also increases the number of non-stop megabus.com journeys between Birmingham and Manchester to 10 each way per day, offering passengers even more journey choices.

Operations Manager for megabus.com, Ian Laing, said: “More and more people are looking for budget travel to help make their money go further. We are pleased to be able to expand our service to ensure we can offer passengers even more journey options than ever before.”

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. Almost three million passengers now use megabus.com services in the UK every year, travelling between more than 60 towns and cities across the country.

In 2006, Stagecoach launched megabus.com in North America where it has now been used by more than 10 million passengers.

Bookings for the new services can be made now. For more information about megabus.com services visit www.megabus.com

Charges reintroduced for parking at three of Oxford's Park & Ride sites

According to the latest issue of The Oxford Times, parking is to reintroduced for three sites around Oxford.

These are those controlled by the city council, Peartree, Redbridge and Seacourt.

Charges were expected to come into force in October subject to a vote by the city council. 

Blackpool update from Geoff Cunliffe

As the season speeds by and the illuminations are lighting up the night sky, the Latest News section of the Lancashire County Council website about the tramway upgrading (http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/corporate/web/?siteid=5149&pageid=32899) keeps us up to date with progress along the northern end of the route. However, further south on the tramway, within the area administered by the unitary authority of Blackpool Borough Council, arguments still fly backwards and forwards with increasing acrimony about the road crossing at Lauderdale Avenue. It would appear that the Council has back-tracked on its undertaking to keep this crossing open and there is extreme anger amongst the residents of the area.

It seems that there could be a very vague chance that the heritage trams may reach the start of Fleetwood, Ash Street, before the final shutdown of that operation on 6th. November when the Fylde Tramway Society will be holding its End of Season Celebration, see http://www.freewebs.com/fyldetramwaysociety-blackpool/endofseasontour.htm

The chances of a traditional tram making it all the way to Fleetwood Ferry are very remote.

However, the big news is that the first of the sixteen new Bombardier trams has been revealed to the masses. They will take over from Easter 2012 providing an expected ten minute frequency throughout the year for the full length of the system.

The unveiling was performed at the controversial new Starr Gate depot on Thursday 8th September. Invited guests, VIPs and civic dignitaries were transported to Starr Gate in three heritage trams, Balloons 700, 717 and Brush single deck car 632, all of which parked together by the new southbound loading platform (image 0378). 717 still has its original doors but 700, currently in all-over white, probably in readiness for applying the current burgundy colour, has the widened doors which fit snugly to the loading platforms (image 2081).

Bombardier used the event for the international launch of its Flexity-2 model, production of which began in August 2010 at Bombardier’s factories in Bautzen in Germany and in Vienna, Austria. You have to love the local newspaper reporters don’t you, with their scant knowledge and desire for sensationalism. According to them, a company spokesman said that they had “incorporated all the latest developments in tram technology in one vehicle for the first time”, and oweverH

the report goes on to say that “amongst the innovations introduced on the Blackpool tram are conventional wheel set bogies designed to offer a smoother ride”. There’s a surprise then!

Each five-section car set is 32·2m long and costs £2m. They offer full low floor access via the loading platforms along the route and the “advanced, intelligent driver’s desk incorporates two touch screen displays.” They each have route finders (useful for a single line) and electronic information boards, 74 “plush seats” with a standing capacity of 150 – I guess we all have our opinions about standee features! It is anticipated that they will carry two conductors at peak times, just like the present Balloons, dropping to one off-peak. That is still a large crew requirement given that the undertaking had to go OMO for much of the season many years ago to cut costs. A team of 40 drivers will be selected and trained throughout this coming winter ready for the launch of the service at Easter 2012.

There is much controversy about the burgundy colour, traditionalists saying that there is nothing wrong with green and cream. However, Blackpol Council has adopted a burgundy & white colour scheme for its vehicles generally, so that is where it has come from. .

The car had been delivered in great secrecy during the night and came in five sections to disguise its identity. It was assembled in the maintenance section of the new depot where the handover took place. It had been hoped to do this outside, but it was blowing a Force 6 and there was intermittent rain so the ceremony took place out of view to the public and the gathering of enthusiasts. I tried to get a ticket, masquerading as the North West representative of the Oxford & Chiltern Bus Page, but that didn’t work so I stood and shivered with many others!

Eventually, there was the sight of many flashguns going off within the depot, one of the sets of mirrored-glass doors folded back and we were assaulted by pounding music, scantily clad young ladies miming with violins and clouds of carbon dioxide.

“Look, it’s a steam tram” cried one wag nearby, causing considerable amusement.

Car 001 edged slowly out of the depot into the daylight (image 2042). It paused outside the depot for a final ‘official’ photocall (image 2051), then it slowly accelerated down the newly-laid, continuously-welded smooth track heading towards the Pleasure Beach. It glided past my vantage point (image Gaz100911) [photo – “Blackpool Gazette”], full of its precious load of dignitaries and VIPs (image 2053).

There have been some curious decisions made as the infrastructure has been upgraded, and one of these has meant that there is now no crossover along this stretch so, a few minutes later, car 001 returned along the same track (image 2055). It stopped within the confines of the depot’s security fencing (image 2059) before making a second round trip later on.

The photographs obtained do not do justice to the impressive length of the unit, which will have to be recorded at a later date and at a different location, but they do show a record of the first ever outing of a Bombardier Supertram on the Promenade at Blackpool.


The heritage trams with a picture also showing the rebuilt doorway on the balloon.


OCBP Design Concepts by Paul Dudfield

The various "wrapped" buses from around the world in S&J49 reminded me of an earlier example from much closer to home. The photo attached was taken in Witney.

Comment on the report of Cambridgeshire Busway in the last issue by Mike Walker 

Your enthusiastic report on the new busway in Cambridgeshire caused much amusement. As one from the rail industry with a number of friends living in the area served by this white elephant I can assure you that your views are not shared by those in the area who have had to finance a large part of it from their council tax!

There are many problems with the project. First it is years behind schedule (I note the buses appear to have 09 registrations) and it has cost roughly double the original budget making it the second most overspent UK transport project after the Edinburgh trams. When the scheme was proposed local groups within St Ives and the surrounding area lobbied hard to reinstate the former railway and had engineering consultants Ove Arup carry out a feasibility study which proved the railway could have be reinstated for roughly 2/3 the original busway estimate or 1/3 of the final cost! Cambs. CC were not interested preferring “cutting edge” technology of the busway to the out-dated technology of rail!

The final cost is still not known as litigation between CCC and the contractors is ongoing as to who is to blame for the cost over-runs and the problems now being experienced.

Now completed the busway is already starting to break up. This was the main reason for the delay in opening. The busway as you know, is a rigid concrete structure laid upon the soft substructure of the Fens. It does not allow for flexing and as the ground moves (as it does in that area) the structure at best dips but more usually breaks up. By contrast a railway is a flexible structure well suited to such situations (with suitable ground works) as Stephenson proved over Chat Moss in 1829 (a line still in use today) whereas I regret to say that Mr Brunel got it wrong and initially created a too rigid structure for his broad gauge which had to be replaced after only a couple of years. Friends who have ridden the busway report the ride is not comfortable with the bus pitching wildly at some of these areas which are failing.

The busway itself is confined purely to the former rail route. Upon reaching Cambridge they join the ordinary roads and the congestion for which the other varsity city is notorious. I’m told that a week or so ago at least one bus took nearly an hour to cover the last mile of which 20 minutes was spent within sight of the terminal! There may be park-and-ride facilities at St Ives but not elsewhere. Take Swavesey for example. A friend who resides in the village tells me their “station” is 2 miles away and has no parking or even cycle storage so unless the good folk of Swavesey hoof it to the bus they are more likely to take their cars into Cambridge just as they’ve always done. Lexus door-to-door or walk and a bus – you figure!

The frequency of “up to 10 minutes” is confined to the peak. By 18.00 the frequency is hourly and finishes all together at 22.00 so it is of no use to residents along the route who want an evening out in Cambridge. You report loadings were good. I understand they were for the first few days but once the novelty and curiosity factors wore off so have loadings – it is not meeting targets now.

There are other technical issues that have not been addressed or if they have neither the CC or operators will answer simple questions put to them. What happens when it snows? If the depth of snow is up to the curb, not a great height/depth, how does the bus steer itself? What happens if a bus breaks down or gets a puncture? Following buses come to a stand whereas on the ordinary road they who just go round the casualty. On the railway we have things called couplers and if such an incident arises we simple use another train to pull or push the failed unit out of the way (OK I admit in today’s barmy world this takes longer to arrange but we still do it).

My local contacts tell me that despite the brave upbeat public image offered, councillors are already losing patience and it is predicted that within a few years the whole scheme will be quietly abandoned – the life time of the buses probably.

And as for your understandable drum-banging for the Tube over rail, I know which I’d rather be on. Just wait until 2013 when Chiltern arrives in Oxford – don’t think FGW won’t be poised to retaliate!

Never let it be said that I don't give a fair airing to views expressed by readers.

I have not had the opportunity to visit Cambridge and feel sad that the final concept is not as good as hoped, if Mike's comments and those of his friends are to be heard.

On the matter of Chiltern Railways I commend the following link to Mike and other readers as all seems not well on Chiltern Railways at present. I suggest readers also refer to the comments on this link.


I used to use the Chiltern line from High Wycombe to Marylebone and thought how good it was, seems the same cannot be said at present. 


Bedfordshire by John Hammond

Following Gary Seamark's recent observations on changes at Bedford in late August, I attach the following pictures.

IMGP4255 - Grant Palmer Mercedes Vario S355 PGA in Greyfriars, Bedford on new route 27 which operates a circular route to Renhold and other villages to the North East of Bedford.

IMGP4256 - Y857 TGH is a former Go Ahead London Dennis Dart in a purple version of Grant Palmer's livery. This is to match the Bedford Borough Council colours and was requested by that authority for contracted routes. It was on contracted route 28 in Bedford, although this is only clear from paper in the window.

IMGP4266 - W372 VLN is a Grant Palmer Marshall bodied Dennis Dart SLF. New to FirstGroup but acquired by Metrobus with the purchase of Orpington depot. It has been modernised with MCV style front panels. Seen in Bedford Bus station working to Dunstable.

IMGP4274 - S556 BNV - a Vario of Grant Palmer working on service 44 to Flitwick

IMGP4319 - An Optare Solo of Bedford based operator Expresslines returns to the depot having been at work on Rushden local services.

Pictures of the changes to the Stagecoach in Bedford fleet recently.

IMGP4253 - KX04 RVN - one of the X4 Tridents from Kettering now allocated to Bedford for local routes crosses the River Ouse on its way out of Bedford to Wootton.

IMGP4262 - AE06 TWV - a former Cambridge Optare Solo now at work in Bedford.

IMGP4263 - X701 JVV - one of the 2000 intake of Dennis Tridents with President bodywork now working at Bedford, this one on town service 5.

IMGP4286 - R126 HNK is one of a batch of ex Stagecoach in the Fens Volvo B10BLE's now at Bedford. These were new to Blazefield owned "Huntingdon & District" which operated the former United Counties depot at Huntingdon after Stagecoach was forced to divest it and Milton Keynes after the 1997 takeover of Cambus Holdings. This example leaves on Stagecoach's 42 which is timed to run in between Grant Palmer's supported 42 service. The Stagecoach route is commercial and runs via the main road route, Grant Palmer's 42 runs via several smaller communities which no longer have a service following Stagecoach deciding to run the main road routes.

IMGP4293 - AE11 FMF - The Volvo B12 coach which has replaced one of the X5 batch destroyed by fire after a serious accident on the A421 to Cambridge.

IMGP4311 - KV53 EZE - One of the 2003 batch of Darts new for Bedford town services leaves for my home town of Biggleswade on a 73. Since the end of the 'Planets' branding and numbering in August, these buses are now more common on the Biggleswade or Hitchin routes and the 06 batch appear on town services allowing more flexibility with bus workings.

IMGP4314 - AE11 FUG - One of the new batch of Alexander Dennis E400 deckers for Bedford town service 1 to Kempston. This is the first batch of new double deck buses for Bedford since the last batch of Volvo Olympians in 1998. It is also the first scheduled double deck operation of local services to Kempston since the Routemasters were withdrawn in September 1993.

IMGP4315 - KX04 RVM - Another ex Kettering Trident, this one heading for Biggleswade on a 74 working.

IMGP4318 - YJ56 AOM - one of the former 'Bedford Blue' Solo's which has been repainted out of that livery into generic Stagecoach livery. Since this picture most of the batch has been completed and now carry "Bedford Bus" branding.

Rally News

Mike Penn writes "Here are some photos from today’s Ensignbus running day based on Lakeside. For once the weather was kind for a reasonable time. The ones I hadn’t previously seen in these events were the Lancaster PD2, the Royal Blue Bristol LS and RM54. It was also good to see the two Craven bodied RTs out together."




Heaton Park, Manchester by Les Burton

Trident at Heaton Park by Mark Youdan

John Marsh visited Oxfordshire.



Rally news 


A question of bodywork? 

Geoff Cunliffe writes "I wonder if we could use your web page to try to solve an historical problem?

In my last (Northern England) Cobweb Corner selection, I show a Darwen PD1 with Alexander body – what I call a Leyland clone because it is totally identical, except possibly the positioning of the horn, to the original Leyland product.

So just what was meant by the oft-quoted phrase “bodywork by Alexander's”? The arrangement was presumably because of the then restricted body assembly capacity at Leyland. Did Leyland ship a crate of bits to Alexander's who then screwed them together or did they have a full set of jigs for production of their own set of body parts? This latter scenario seems unlikely because it is not thought that Leyland clones from Alexander's were too plentiful so this may not have been economically viable.

Just to complicate things, Preston Corporation received a number of these Leyland clone bodies on their PD1s but theirs were credited to Samlesbury Engineering, a long defunct firm of transport-related engineers, based between Preston and Blackburn which, incidentally, produced Donald Campbell’s ill-fated Bluebird speedboat which finished up at the bottom of Coniston.

My mate and Leyland expert Jim Tonge has contacted ADL to ask if anyone has any information but, strangely, nobody had had the courtesy to reply to his communication.

If any of your readers can shed any light on this issue, both Jim and I would be very interested."

A Thames Valley Bristol in the United States

Nick Thurlow
of Winslow writes
"I was looking at your Web Page and reports therein...all very interesting. I have no particular interest in TV buses being a London Transport man , but I like to keep up with local news.
One item was of particular interest was the picture submitted by Ed Maun of TV 588 Bristol KS6B FMO970 at Reading.
Some years ago I was corresponding with a John Hoschek who was in the New Jersey Transport . He sent me the Reg Plate of this bus which he had taken and a photo of the bus at Cape May New Jersey September 1984.

I have attached a copy for your interest."

Provincial on the South Coast

Marcus Lapthorn writes "The attached photo was taken in Fareham, Hants 1964 by my very dear friend, the late Roger Funnel. The bus is in the unique Provincial fleet.

Picture by the late Roger Funnel

Geoff Cunliffe’s Cobweb Corner

Part Four Northern England

Given the slightest encouragement…..

Once again I delve into my collection of colour slides taken, between about 1955 & 1960, for a final selection which, this time, covers various parts of Northern England.

Starting on the east coast, to Scarborough for three offerings from United. BG 56, EHN 573 is, according to web page:-


an early (1938) L5G with ECW B35F bodywork converted from B35R (why?). (image 185). I might have put it down as a J-type. Service 103 ran from the Railway Station to the Corner Café, a 15 minute run. On service 101, Edgehill Road to the Corner Café was BBH 1, NHN 901, a Bristol K6B with somewhat rare 56-seat highbridge ECW bodywork (image 186).

Scarborough’s sea front service, 109, was traditionally worked by special vehicles. I just missed photographing some early centre entrance Leylands but caught their replacements, typified by BGS 7, 995 CHN, a 1957 Bristol LL5G with special ECW B39C bodywork (image 187). The batch started off as 1946/7 L5Gs which were lengthened, rebodied and re-registered.

I can remember going on the pre-war Leylands with bodies first on ADCs. Ed.

That Scarborough Sea Front service from the Corner Café to Gala Land only took 10 minutes. First bus left the Café at 9.30am and “the service operates to the passengers’ requirements” said the timetable. Given the Trades Descriptions Act, it would be a brave operator who dared to make that claim today – or am I just cynical?

North to Whitby where I found somewhat of a rarity on the coach park by the docks. Atkinson have never been a big player in the PSV field, but there was Newcastle-based Venture Transport 189, VPT 552, an Atkinson FC with a Willowbrook C41F (image 148). Had it backed much further, there would have been one less!

Bedford’s lovely OB was in production until 1950, with a total output of 12,766 plus another 3,000 OWBs. It was replaced by the very different SB and I photographed one, also at Whitby, but I regret that I did not record the owner and cannot make it out on the slide (image 160). There is an OB to come later.

Staying at a Whitby hotel was a Southdown gem which I took with its driver, Charlie Henley who was a most genial and chatty fellow (image 167). 811, LUF 811 was a 1951 Leyland Royal Tiger PSU1/15 with Harrington Wayfarer C26C body (yes C26C), providing sumptuous luxury for its passengers on its programme of extended tours. It lasted until 1966.

Accompanying this is a photograph of 1010, OUF 110, a 1955 Leyland Tiger Cub PSUC1/2 with Beadle (really?) C37C bodywork (image 166). I understand the company found that, by comparison, the Tiger Cubs were very under-powered – which surely was hardly a surprise!

Yorkshire is very hilly in parts and that presents various safety issues which were, perhaps, more significant with the vehicles of fifty years ago. At certain strategic points, United erected signs for their drivers such as the one reproduced here from Lythe Bank on the A173 north of Whitby (image 0070). I have to say I find the instruction strange and, maybe, not in accord with best driving practice suggesting that “cars” should descend the hill with the clutch out, retaining second gear in case engine braking should become required. Anyone any comments?

Crossing the country towards my west coast, I have three Ribble vehicles photographed at Chorley bus station. First is 1530, KCK 876 (image 168), a 1958 Leyland Titan PD3/4 with Burlingham FH41/31FD bodywork built to Ribble’s own requirements. This was the company’s first foray into the thirty-foot models. According to the local papers of the time, they were called “Giants”, although I bet there were other names for them within the company! Note the OW-type Bedford truck in the background with wartime style bonnet. You may just be able to make out a “Ribble” plate on the radiator grille instead of “Leyland”. I challenged Ribble about this at a meeting of the Ribble Enthusiasts Club and was told that, whilst they are proud to run Leyland vehicles, they wanted the passengers to be immediately aware they were travelling on a Ribble bus! I would have thought the fact they were big, red and had RIBBLE in large letters on the side would have been something of a giveaway. Ribble was not the only company to fiddle with radiator badging. It may be worth noting, all these years on, that the front entrance was to give the driver a good view of the door for safety reasons and was not with an eye to OMO operation. I am not sure they were ever operated OMO (certainly by Ribble).

The second Ribble is 2503, BCK 446, a 1947 Leyland PD1A with Brush L27/26R body which lasted until 1958 in the fleet (image 169) on a local Chorley service.

The final Ribble at Chorley is 443, FCK 875, a PSUC1/1 Tiger Cub with Saunders-Roe B44F bodywork, new in 1953 (image 128). Identical 452 is preserved by the Ribble Vehicle Preservation Trust. Just behind the Tiger Cub is another, unidentified, Brush bodied Titan, this time on a later PD2/3 chassis.

I know our Editor is hoping for a number of Ribble slides from me. Unfortunately I do not have such a collection – just one other which is of HR44 Olympic 273, DRN 137, in the gloom of Ambleside depot (image 127). I thought those Olympics looked nice and sounded nice, particularly when driven hard, uphill and in third gear.

Down the coast to Southport and a question. How many bus companies operate Bedford QL buses – yes QLs? Southport did. Shown is 18, FFY 172. It was new to Southport Corporation from the MoD in 1947 and the bodywork conversion was undertaken by local firm Rimmer, Harrison and Sutherland to OB23F for a service which involved running along the beach towards Ainsdale (image 112). Even today, motorists can run along the sands (the tide rarely reaches Southport) although it is many years since there was a bus service. Southport had several similar QLs.

I remember the noise the big tyres made on the tarmac roads. You could them quite a long way away. Ed.

Head inland a bit and you come to Darwen, very much a proud and independent Corporation until it was merged with Blackburn in 1974. They had an interesting fleet, including some (relatively local) Crossleys, and Leyland PD1s, some which were not what they seemed. 5, GTB 166 was from a batch with Leyland-clone bodies built by Alexander (image 113). Nobody has ever explained to me what these really are. Doug Jack’s bible on Leyland mentions them of course but what was really meant by “built by Alexander”? Did they just screw genuine Leyland body bits together because Leyland didn’t have the assembly capacity, or did Alexanders built the bodies from scratch? They were almost totally identical to the genuine Leylands, as were other clones built by Samlesbury Engineering for Preston Corporation (and others?). Help!

Blackpool Corporation ran its own style of vehicles for many years. The double deckers were centre entrance, twin staircase, full fronted machines bodied by Burlingham. 130, FV 7878 was the prewar version on a 1936 Titan TD$ (image 191) whilst 244, DFV 144 is the postwar version on the 1949 special Titan PD2/5 (image 192). They seated 48 and 54 respectively.


Neighbouring Lytham St.Annes Corporation was not to be left out, although they didn’t go so far. When they abandoned their trams, they stocked up with all-Leyland Titans but contrived a full fronted appearance, no doubt with the use of some export body parts. They also all had torque converters fitted which they retained throughout their lives,- something of a rarity. 1937 TD5c 53, CTC 30 (image 188) was the highest numbered vehicle in the fleet for many years and is seen on the shortest route in town, a circular of about ten minutes running time.

Oh, what a classic. Now these were something like a bus. Ed.

Lytham St.Annes were faithful Leyland users from the 1930s to the 1970s but their Panthers (image 190) were the last straw. A later slide shows 72, TTF 744H, a PSUR1A/1R with Northern Counties B49D bodies. Their early Atlanteans were not trouble free and further problems with the Panthers led the faithful Corporation to look elsewhere for its next single deckers.

The Fylde Coast had a pool of joint express routes from Yorkshire, operated by Ribble, West Yorkshire, Yorkshire Woollen, Yorkshire Traction and Hebble. There were sixteen routes in the group. The J1 for Leeds started off from Fleetwood and here out-bound West Yorkshire EUG 34, OWX 146 approaches Cleveleys alongside the tram track. It is a 1955 Bristol LS, believed to have a 6HLW Gardner and ECW DP41F body (image 157)

Now I can't say that driving this type of bus was pleasant. The gear box was hard and the ride harsh. Ed.

With the end in sight, we head north to Keswick. The service down the side of Derwentwater to Seatoller used to be operated by a number of small operators. One was W.Askew whose OB (yes, here it is), GRM 914, was looking a bit down-at-heel by 1958 (image 158). In contrast, Weightman’s Commer (image 159), posed in the middle of Keswick, looked pristine. I regret I have no other details of this vehicle.


When compiling my Carlisle selection all that time ago, I missed one, Western SMT MG 1108, GCS 182 of 1955. It was a Guy LUF carrying the usual Alexander body, this one C41F (image 183).

The Guy I drove was KG967 from Manchester to Glasgow and back. 34mph flat out, very slow and sluggish. Ugh! Ed.

And that’s it – the end of my early colour slides which are of sufficient quality to share. Well, nearly. If our Editor allows, there may be one more small selection which I will hold back until November – the reason will become apparent at the time. So how to end? Eventually I decided to cheat and use a more modern slide. The story about how I became a half owner of Lytham St.Annes all-Leyland PD1 16 is the usual long and involved one. Suffice to say, we acquired it in 1974 and entered it in to the 1975 Trans Pennine Rally. We ran out of time and had to take it in undercoat, duly lined out in black for best effect! It is shown en route at The Shoulder of Mutton pub, killing time because we were all running early (image TP0013). The story goes full circle because thirteen years later, after all the usual highs and lows of preserved bus ownership, we ran out of time and sold it to a guy who was going to operate it, along with several other vintage vehicles, on the sea front at Scarborough as deregulation was introduced. Unfortunately, it almost inevitably finished up in Joe Sykes Yorkshire scrap yard a couple of years later, found no takers and was broken up. (I believe that is the correct Sykes.) I started this selection in Scarborough, and I sort of finish it there.

Thank you if you have stayed the course. I hope you have enjoyed my contributions. As ever, if any vehicle descriptions are wrong, please let me know – I really do want to know. 

Buses in the Landscape

From Barry

A Dalesbus service in deepest Swaledale with a coach seated Vario heading for Richmond.
It's seen between Fremington and Grinton, with the limestone scenery of Fremington Edge in the background

Entering Northwich centre from Winnington, and some early autumnal foliage as Arriva NW Dart 863 crosses the River Weaver.

Another part of the world..... Chipping Sodbury near Bristol.

First of two shots of Wessex Connect in the middle of nowhere.
This is their A9UOB which I think is a Wright Eclipse, at the Cross Hands pub and cross roads near Old Sodbury.
It connects here with a small community minibus for Tetbury.


Pictures from the U.K.