A Happy New Year to all my readers
Sunday 2nd January 2005
next update week ending 15th January 2005
Please note that any comments made in this news page are those of the Editors' and in no way constitute
any official points of view from the bus companies mentioned, or indeed any other official body.
As a news page we reserve the right to make valid comments as seen from an editorial point of view.
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Christmas seemed to be over in a flash and here we are in 2005. I was just watching the film "Back to the Future" and thinking wouldn't it be great if one could just pop back a few years or more. However yesterday I visited Winchester and the FoKAB Running Day and somehow it was like the film with a glimpse of the past when buses were buses and not as an article in the Daily Telegraph last Saturday about the Routemaster put it, modern buses are like wardrobes on their sides. Perhaps for me the real blast from the past was the Ribble "White Lady" entered by Steve Morris owner of Quantock Motor Services. An original double deck coach, not perhaps a Neoplan Skyliner but very much something with character.
The exterior and two shots, one of the lower deck and the other of the upper deck.
There is an excellent article on this double deck coach in the February issue of Bus & Coach Preservation.
Winchester proved to most interesting with the last Bristol VR of Stagecoach operating some routes and the New Zealand test bus also present.
This VR is, I am told, the last operational VR in the Stagecoach fleet and is soon to be withdrawn.
It is currently allocated to Basingstoke and was used in Winchester on the FoKAB Running Day 2005.
The Designline M A N 14.220 HOCL trial bus is now with Stagecoach South and appeared at the FoKAB Running Day.
It makes an interesting comparison with the Bristol VR of 1977 operating now with Wilts & Dorset but new to Hants & Dorset.
I took a large number of pictures and enjoyed the morning I spent in Winchester meeting so many old friends and putting faces to names of those who correspond with me on this page.
2005 is for me a milestone since it is in this year that I retire but providing my health holds out I will now be able to indulge myself in my favourite hobby of buses. I hope to now have time to get to more rallies and catch up with old friends. Somewhere in all this I intend to drive as before and certainly am currently enjoying driving on The Oxford Tube. indeed 2004 saw me changes horses, so to speak, in moving from Go-Ahead to Stagecoach. I had not envisaged this when 2004 started but stranger things have happened at sea so off with old and on with new. Certainly the new Neoplan Skyliners are settling down after the first few teething problems and have become a familiar sight on the M40 between Oxford and London. Whilst perhaps somewhat slower than a Volvo when starting off, once under way, they sail along in fine style giving a very smooth ride as voiced by many many passengers.
Boxing Day sees one of the Neoplans heading for London with a full load.
New Year's Eve also saw many Tubes proclaiming "Sorry Coach Full" even most returning from London early on New Year's Day.
Once again, Oxford Bus did not operate any coach services on Christmas Day and the only services leaving Oxford were provided by The Oxford Tube which ran a two hourly service from 7 'til 7 between the city and London via Heathrow. most services were fully loaded and a premium fare was charged on the day.
I received an interesting mail bag over the Christmas break and this will be a very full News Page. Many reports and questions and also details of events in 2005, sent to me by Michael Wootten. I include this list below for interest and hope to see you at some of the events mentioned.
Bus Running Days 2005
At the 16th Running Day at Amersham on 2 October 2004 a number responded positively to the idea of a Slough/Windsor Running Day next Spring. I have had talks with both First Berkshire and Slough Borough Council on this and an agreed date for the first ever Slough/Windsor Running Day is Sunday 17 April 2005. This will be 2 weeks after Cobham, and , unfortunately only 1 week before Country Bus Rallies' event at East Grinstead which is a well established date in the Rally Calendar. Country Bus Rallies have been advised of this date which should not detract from their well supported annual event and, indeed, we would encourage promotion of that event at Slough.
2005 marks the 75th anniversary of Green Line Coaches operating between Windsor/Slough and London and this event can mark the start of celebrating that anniversary. Slough Bus Station is to be used as the focus for the event - regrettably there is no site suitable and available at Windsor at this time.
A number of routes are planned as follows:
20 ( High Wycombe) - Bourne End - Cookham - Maidenhead - Fifield - Windsor - Slough
63 Taplow - Dorney - Eton Wick - Eton - Slough
335 (Watford - Rickmansworth - The Chalfonts) - Gerrards X - Fulmer - Slough
353 ( Chesham - Amersham - The Chalfonts) - Gerrards X - Stoke Comn - Slough - Windsor
441 ( High Wycombe ) - Beaconsfield - Farnham Royal - Slough - Windsor - Old Windsor - (Staines)
442 Burnham Beeches - Farnham Royal - Stoke Poges - Slough
457 Uxbridge - Iver Heath - George Green - Slough - Windsor
457D Pinewood - George Green - Slough - Windsor
458 Uxbridge - Iver - Langley - Slough
460 Staines - Wraysbury - Datchet - Slough
A pvr of 19 is envisaged with routes 20,63,335,442,458 & 460 being primarily single deck operated. The 20 & 63 were former Thames Valley and the remainder operated by the Country Bus Department of London Transport. Many of these routes are no longer seen and a service to Burnham Beeches was withdrawn circa 1957. It is hoped that ex LT vehicles would operate the former LT Country Bus routes. A 10 minute headway is proposed between Slough Bus Stn & Windsor - outside the former garage in St. Leonard's Road.
Feeder services are planned from High Wycombe on 20 & 441, Amersham/Chesham on 353, Watford/Rickmansworth on 335, Uxbridge on 457/458, and Staines on 441/460. If you are interested in operating any of these please let me know. If you have any other suggestions for feeders such as Routes 718/725 also let me know please.
A meeting with First Berkshire has been arranged for very early in January to progress matters - please advise if there are any issues you wish me to raise.
Sunday 2 October 2005 is the date for the 17th Amersham Bus Running and this year will mark the 75th anniversary of low height double deck vehicles operating around Amersham. The low bridge RLH class were withdrawn from Amersham Garage 40 years ago and it is hoped that an increased service on Route 336 - their main route - will be operated this year with one afternoon journey operating from Chesham to Watford. Any available RLH bus will be most welcome.
October 1965 also saw the introduction of circular town service 442 in High Wycombe and two round trips are planned for this route.
A limited service also ought to be run on former Green Line Routes 703, 709, 710 & 711 but more ex LT/LC single deckers would be needed please.
This October saw a pvr of 28 and thanks to Peter Gomm, acting as Fat Controller, there was over 100% operation of scheduled services as a number of unscheduled extras were also run. This was despite the terrible weather Peter had to endure during the afternoon.
A big thank you to all of you who participated in 2004. Well over 2500 passengers were carried on the day according to the returns submitted by the drivers and many complimentary e-mails were received. Country Bus Rallies intend bringing a vehicle to this Running Day and I have offered to help at all their Running Days with the exception of East Grinstead when I'm away for the weekend.
I appreciate that it is often very difficult to give a commitment so far in advance but please if you know that you will be able to come to either/both of these Running Days let me know as soon as possible by e-mail/telephone - 01494 437750 or my mobile 0791 6310 253.
You will appreciate that timetables/schedules etc. have to be prepared well in advance and an early positive response helps with this.
If you attended Amersham in 2004 and did NOT collect your plaque, please let me know and you will then receive one.
If you are unable to attend please let me know then I won't contact you further for 2005.
May I wish you a Merry Christmas and look forward to seeing you in 2005.
Please contact me as soon as possible. Thank you.
on behalf of Amersham & District Motor Bus Society
Paul Harrington writes " I am trying to find a contact number or Email address for the owner(s) of Bristol Bus KSW 748 (JRX823). I am considering purchasing a sister vehicle and would like to ask them a few questions."
Please send an e-mail to me at email@example.com if you can answer Paul's question.
James writes "I'm trying to find some old pictures from MK Citybus/Buckinghamshire Roadcar days, or even before that when it was United Counties, but my searching hasn't produced any results. So now I am appealing to your reader if they have any I could upload to my site, http://journals.aol.co.uk/arrivatheshires/news, with credits to them of course!!
Continuing our historical theme from earlier issues Ed Maun has once again come up trumps with some more pictures of local interest.
Ed writes "I’ve found some more photographs which I trust are relevant to the “Bus Page”. They all date from 1955.
Returning to the Kings Arms at Stokenchurch, I am reasonably sure the shot of Bristol Tramways 2824 OHY996 was taken in the roadway between the common and “tippings” and the Memorial Hall. This road was often used as on “overflow coach park” at very busy times. This a Bristol LWL6B with ECW FC37F coachwork.
Mindful of the recent book about South Midland, 88 SFC503 was photographed at Maidenhead Coach Station. It is a Guy LUF with Lydney/BBW C41C coachwork. This photo appears on page 124 of Paul Lacey’s book. History of South Midland.
South Midland 91 TWL56 was also photographed at Maidenhead and is a Bristol LS6B with ECW C37F coachwork
Both the South Midland coaches were later painted in the maroon and cream coach livery which was introduced in 1958 with the first Bristol MW coaches.
I have included Thames Valley 628 GJB266 as, although photographed at Station Hill Reading, it is heading for High Wycombe on service 28. It is a Bristol LWL6B with ECW B39R body.
I have also included Thames Valley 415 CJB134 as, although photographed at Reading Stations, it is a sister vehicle to the two buses allocated to Stokenchurch dormy shed from 1942 to 1950. The Stokenchurch pair were 413/414 CJB132/133.
I really do appreciate the contributions from Ed Maun as they give an excellent insight into workings some 50 years ago.
Talking about 50 years ago and more I thought the picture below should be entitled "Ghosts of Christmas Past" so forgive me if it's a week or so late.
One might be forgiven for thinking that the ghosts of COMS past might be turning in their graves
at the sight of the new comer stopping outside their old home bearing 5 in the route number.
SVV588W writes further "Nice
to hear from you again. I used to read your pages at work after you came to High
Wycombe and photographed SVV588W. But then I retired and was cut off until I had
this wonderful Internet stuff installed in October. No prizes for guessing which
website I sought out first.
I now live in Southmoor and own both SVV588W, my Chiltern Rover, and SVV589W, currently in Stratford Blue colours.
In the meantime I will observe our hourly 66 route between Swindon and Oxford and also the hourly Thames Transit Abingdon to Witney X15s"
In this last weekend's Oxford Times there was an article saying that it hoped from mid year that legal enforcement of the no go areas for private car traffic in Oxford - part of high Street and other areas - will be legally enforceable. hooray for that, the abuse of signage at present has to be seen to be believed.
I have received a lot of pictures which should keep us supplied for the whole year to come. I have to thank especially Chris Maxfield, Richard Griffin and Gavin Francis for a regular supply of interesting pictures in the modern vein and Ed Maun for the historic shots. Also so many others who regularly contribute and make this page what it is.
In five or six years this page has grown far beyond the weekly single page of news devoted to Oxford City. It is most gratifying and thank you to all.
Now on to this week's News and photos. Thank you to everyone who has contributed this week.
Malcolm Crowe - Sunday 2nd January 2005
Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002 to date
News of the local companies – 2nd January 2005
Reports this week bring us up to date with happening from Arriva. The first is from Nigel Peach who writes "I said I thought that the Carlyle bodied Darts had gone, but 3094 has reappeared and was on the 300 on Tues 21st. It had no destination blind although I'm sure it did when it was in Wycombe a month or so ago. No sign of 3098 which was in Wycombe for the same brief period as 3094, but the latest Buses magazine reports 3098 as being withdrawn (but it also reports Olympian 5124 as withdrawn - this has recently reappeared in Wycombe as previously reported). Scania 3158 has had its read ad for Lakes Electrical extended to an all-over advert - apart from the front which remains in Arriva colours.
Merc 2196 now has a new style destination display thus completing the trio of 2196-8. The only other Merc in Wycombe, 2171 still has conventional blinds.
3174 - P674OPP - an East Lancs Flyte 41 seat bodied Dart of 1996 has appeared at Wycombe having previously been at Harlow.
Francis writes "On
a visit last week I looked for 3174 again but still no luck. However 3094 was in
action along with trainer 3316. 3094 of course carried on a long held tradition
of Arriva vehicles arriving having no blinds fitted. Originally new to London
Country North West in 1991. 3316 is a 1984 Volvo B10M re-bodied by East Lancs in
1992. Came from Grey-Green in 1997." (I was
more lucky this morning than Gavin. see above Ed.)
Gavin Francis took this shot of 3094 at Newlands Bus Station on the 339
Click for the full size picture of 0447 working a 342 to Stokenchurch. Picture by Gavin Francis
Another Gavin Francis picture this time of Scania 3158 in Lakes advertising livery.
I had not noticed that Dart 3482 when being repainted as a spare for the U9 did not have an exact livery match. 2/1/05 at NBS
Finally the dreaded blind defect has reached Aylesbury as seen on Olympian 5104 working a 280 departure from Oxford.
Now the second green DAFs for the 336 has arrived. They are not yet ready for service but Steve Burns said today they should be ready quite soon.
Fleet number DAF984
Nigel Peach writes "Have just been to the bank and while on my travels I diverted via the Carousel depot. The second green DAF has arrived. It is R984FNW."
Gavin Francis adds "Went into Wycombe this morning (29/12) and saw Carousels Cadet on The 1 to Bourne End."
The bus stops on the 336 are being rebranded in preparation for the new buses.
Picture by Colin Cooke who also thinks the 336 may well be ending for the Metrobuses.
However the green DAFs are not ready just yet.
Dennis Troughton of Loudwater writes "I have an interest in Carousel Buses more than any other in the Wycombe area and noted today out of the corner of my eye an RM on route 1. Unfortunately I was not in a position to chase it and photograph it as I was en route to Ruislip.
I am an ex West London boy, and the fascination with Carousel is the ex LT buses they have, although as you're well aware they're getting new ones from elsewhere nowadays.
I note your photo of CB54 BUS has an RM in the background - do they own it or it is hired in? (It is owned by Carousel Ed)
Ed Maun wrote "I have discovered what Carousel are running on the 320 Chinnor – Risborough Rail Link service. It is CB 54 BUS, the new VDL Wright Cadet single decker. It also has a slogan in the rear window that reads ”Don’t Accept Second Best – Travel Carousel”. The 320 service is run under contract to Chiltern Railways."
Seems that today the Christmas branding was to be removed and I got this shot of DAF54 with 320 route settings
bering the route it is intended for - Princes Risborough to Chinnor.
A number of photos have reached my desk showing the continued demolition of the old COMS Cowley Road Garage. They make sad viewing. I also show a layout of the garage as it was in its heyday.
COWLEY ROAD GARAGE DECEMBER 2004
The sun sets on the old garage, or at least what remains of it !
COWLEY ROAD GARAGE JANUARY 2nd 2005
The fuelling alley roof has gone and in the old garage area much of he surface has been filled in and levelled.
News of fire damage to Trident 106 reached us over the last few days. It is I am led to believe quite serious with damage to the rear end and engine compartment. 106 has been in the wars before and had a serious accident only earlier in 2004.
Red Trident 102 operates a 2 road working last Saturday and is seen approaching Carfax.
News from company sources reveal that Citaros 825-827 will be repainted in local bus livery as I am led to understand that increased capacity is required on the 400 service and as such Tridents 103-105 will be returning to green Park & Ride livery. As I went to press Citaro 825 had appeared on routes 15 or 16 over the past few days and my photo below shows it in its new livery. However when the picture was taken it lacked fleet numbers except for one on the fuel tank filler.
825 on a 15 road working last Friday, 30th December.
ute to the new depot from town.
Bus Monkey reports
on the OBC front;
832 on 16.
101 on 15
805 on 6
407, 636 on 5
814 on 4C
Ralph Adams writes "one Trident is normally on the 35 arriving at Didcot at 0825 for Didcot Girls School. Obviously there is no need for the allocation during school holidays."
102/3 - 2 Are the red tridents allocated to any specific duties or do they now just fill in when required?
805 - 6
815 - X3/X13
802/12 - 14
809 - 300
There was also at least one if not two Citaros (822/7 I believe) on the 300 as well, along with 826 on the 400. The KasStad services appeared to be worked entirely by green Tridents.
Ed Maun writes to say "an article in the recent Transit (23rd Dec), entitled “Why Abingdon takes the Merc to work”? This as all about OBC’s “Abingdon Direct” service, and makes interesting reading. It quotes OBC as having 80% of the market on that corridor!"
Jeffs Coaches Ltd. of Helmdon, Northamptonshire, has been acquired by L.F.Bowen Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Moseley Group (PSV) Plc of Loughborough.
Jeffs Coaches operates a large fleet of coaches and buses from it’s four depots at Helmdon near Brackley, Buckingham, Greens Norton near Towcester and Witney.
Established for almost fifty years Jeffs operates extensively Private Hire, Group Tours Contract and local Bus Services. They also operate their own Coach Tours and Excursions that are managed from their Banbury retail shop.
Jeffs Coaches is a member of the Confederation of Passenger Transport, Coach Tourism Council, UK inbound and the Guild of British Coach Operators.
Commenting on their sale Ken Jeffs said:
“With no family continuity and given my age I was anxious to secure the future of the business and I am delighted to have reached agreement with the Bowen Group”
Kevin Lower, Chief Executive of the Bowen Group, comments:
“We are delighted to have reached this agreement with Ken Jeffs and especially that Ken is staying on as a Director of the Company to ensure continuity. Jeffs will operate as a separate Company within the Group and joins our other regional brands, Bowens operating from our new depot in Tamworth, Yorks in Northampton and Applebys Coach Holidays in Lincolnshire. This acquisition further strengthens the Group’s coach operating activities taking the combined fleet size to in excess of 150 vehicles.”
The NEx 303 service is from birmingham to Southsea, here we see Selwyns T174AUA approaching Oxford centre along St Giles.
Andy Churchill writes "The Mercedes Sprinter is actually owned by the County Council and was purchased when the original Charlbury taxibus was introduced in 1999 with Rural Bus Challenge funding. It has transferred from Worth's to RH Transport as part of the contract for what is now being marketed as the C1 Charlbury Railbus. The bus will be repainted in January into a distinctive new Railbus livery, and the new Opatre Solo on order for the X8 Kingham Railbus will be in the same livery. Both these contracts have been awarded to RH Transport until 2008."
Work continues apace on the rebuilding of Horspath Garage but will be pending until after the Christmas holidays. A much larger open standing space is being provided but parking will continue at Exel at present.
Ross writes " saw 22935 - X4. There were also Olympians on the 10 and 7 today (29/12), but I wasn't able to ID them unfortunately.
A couple of questions:
Which COMS bus caught fire at Redbridge on boxing day? There is a (very) short paragraph in todays Oxford Mail saying that an electrical fault caused a fire there on board an Abingdon bus. (It was 106 see above Ed)
Also - which runners were the Rose Hill Runner Darts named after? The recent publicity for London 2012 got me thinking (I'm desperate to think of anything apart from yesterday's "football" at the moment!). I'm sure two were named Sebastian Coe and Christopher Brasher but can't remember the others.
York Bus Driver responded
Rose Hill Runner vehicles were
3025 774 32074 M74VJO Lillian Board
3026 775 32075 M75VJO Christopher Brasher
3027 776 32076 M76VJO Dave Moorcroft
3028 778 32078 M78VJO Mary Rand
3029 779 32079 M79VJO Steve Ovett
Comments on the destination screen on 22923 drew several responses.
Rob Williams wrote "In response to Martyn Banham's report, 22923 has had that front display for well over two years now. It was originally fitted as part of a trial of LED displays when they first came out, done in partnership with Hanover. (I'm pretty sure that you had reports on the OBP at the time). Later it was the first bus in the country to be re-chipped to allow scrolling via points. However following the recent set of service changes it hasn't been programmed to scroll, which is why it may now suddenly look different enough for people to note down again."
McConn, who has more than a small amount to do with SC destination equipment
writes "Martyn Banham writes in your 19th Dec Issue that he spotted 22923
with a new LED front sign but retaining the old flip dot side and rear and
suggests the front may have been damaged and replaced.
The truth is a little more interesting.
22923 has had an LED front sign fitted for quite some time. This vehicle was used by me to evaluate the effectiveness of LED signs and experiment with scrolling destinations.
This vehicle was in fact, to the best of my knowledge, the first in the Stagecoach Group to have an LED Destination sign. Evaluation proved very successful, so much so that new builds now appear to have LED Signs fitted as a matter of course.
Bus Monkey reports
16520 - 7A
22053 - 10
32613 - 100
33763 - 25
and Ross reports 31/12
22943 - 10
New routes for Stagecoach in Oxfordshire.
The 20A replace the route 70 taken over from Worth's. It is now operated by deckers normally.
Here 16524 enters Gloucester Green to take up its working to Charlbury last Saturday.
The new bus wash at Horspath is helping to present a very clean fleet as can be seen in the picture.
Perhaps now a new route but one which is not seen so often on the blinds is Milton under Wichwood,
Here a M A N works the 7D route which covers Lyne Mead in place of an OBC service.
The planned re-vamp of service X5 (Cambridge - Bedford- MK - Oxford) to a half-hourly frequency early in 2005 has as a result in the acquisition of several Volvo B10M coaches equipped with toilets from a number of Stagecoach group companies, where they have been replaced by new models for National Express services, those acquired are ---
All with Plaxton
Expressliner C49ft bodies, they have also replaced non-toilet coaches
52474-52481 (R174-181DNH) which have passed to Stagecoach at
Not usually seen is the Tubes ability to display Oxford Tube. 50124 is seen passing OBC Trident 108.
Model BrookesBus buses now available.
OBU has commissioned a 1/76th scale limited edition model BrookesBus, the model's, which are incredibly detailed, are available to purchase form the Resources Office, GLC, for a discounted price of £15.00 (usually £25.00).
A photo of the model can be found at the following link: http://www.sdmodels.com/images/bro%20pics/uk2012bro.jpg
If anyone has difficulty in getting one please talk to me and we'll see what we can do.
Rob Williams writes "Megabus Neoplans - there will also be two crew seats on the bottom deck, located behind the driver where the luggage rack is on the Tubes (these seats won't be to a specification legal as ordinary passenger seats), but making the total number of seats 91. Delivery to Aberdeen on/by 14th Jan as per your report / "megaNews". You'll note from the artists impression of the Megabus Neoplan that they will be single door - four of the eight extra ordinary seats go here, and four by reducing the legroom slightly upstairs."
Chris Maxfield reports that the first four Megabus Neoplans are at Mentor in Rotherham and were so by 27th December 2004.
Michael Wootten writes to say "A Volvo B12B / Jonckheere demonstrator is due at Woottens later this month for evaluation. The vehicle features the latest Volvo I-Shift gearbox, which has yet to be tested by the company. The Volvo I-Shift is an entirely new mechanical gearbox with twelve forward ratios. The transmission changes smoothly and rapidly with engine and gearbox electronics adapting gear changes to the driving conditions. Thanks to low internal losses and its ability to optimise gear-changing, it is said to have a positive impact on fuel consumption as compared to conventional automatic gearboxes.
For the last five years the company has specified ZF automatic transmission for all new vehicles. It will be interesting to see how the new Volvo I-Shift gearbox performs."
J159GAT after it's repaint, standing at Princes Risborough Stn. photo by Dennis Troughton.
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