Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002
News Archive Pages from the "Oxford Bus Page"
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This last week has been one full of interesting and in some ways momentous news. The sale of the Go-Ahead West Midlands operation - GWM to Rotala ( http://www.rotalaplc.co.uk/ ) and Centrebus operations based on St Albans - http://www.centrebus.co.uk/ - to Universitybus (uno) - http://www.unobus.info/ is significant in both cases.
Stagecoach in Oxfordshire is making a major investment in new double deck buses for services from Oxford to Chipping Norton and Bicester. Full details and pictures may be found further down this news page.
Woottens Coaches surprised everyone by buying three ex Strathtay Leyland Tigers which have now arrived in their new home in Buckinghamshire. Michael also added another Tiger, this time a coach from the North West. I am able to include many photos thanks to Michael and Suzy Scott who has sent me pictures of these buses in their former homes.
Since the last issue - http://www.oxford-chiltern-bus-page.co.uk/230208.htm - Reading Buses has said good bye to its last step entrance buses and may now claim to be totally low floor. An interesting day was laid on for enthusiasts on 23rd February and I include several reports from readers including some very nice pictures.
Dave Harries send details of an Enviro 200 Dart which is expected to join the fleet of Courtland Coaches in Bracknell and will introduce bio-fuel to this operator.
Fifty years ago Aldershot & District introduced the Dennis Loline and Mark Lyons reports on a day on March 1st 2008 when this event was recalled by the use of a preserved example.
National Express have announced plans to operate a Commuter Express from Swindon and Reading to London using tri-axle Levantes.
The Lib-Dems have warned of problems with the national concessionary bus scheme due to come into operation from April 1st. This matter is covered under the heading further down the page.
I must thank the very many readers who now send reports and pictures every day and thereby enable me to produce what has become one of the seemingly favourite reads for so many of you. I am only sorry that, due to other commitments, it is not possible to produce a page on a weekly basis. Thank you to all involved.
Sunday 9th March
A number of corrections to the original page of Friday 7th have emerged and I would like to thank Robert Williams for drawing my attention to various items. You can see these corrections below relating to the Stagecoach Scanias, the Reading report and the bio-fuel Dart.
Disposal of Go West Midlands
The Go-Ahead Group have announced that further to the review of the West Midlands bus operations referred to in the Group's interim results announced on 15 February 2008, Go-Ahead announces that it has on the 3rd March completed the unconditional sale of 100% of the share capital of the company to Rotala plc ('Rotala'). The gross asset value of the business was approximately £1 million and the net book value was approximately nil. Rotala operates the long established North Birmingham Busways and Central Connect services in the Birmingham Area, as well as other businesses in the region.
This is interesting news as for a number of years now the GWM operation was run by the Managing Director of Oxford Bus and as such had quite close ties with our local operation. Indeed a number of Oxford buses ran GWM including representatives of the Volvo B10B batch of Plaxton Verdes 601-620, some ex London coaches, on the then National Express contracted routes and the major part of the Darts with Wrights bodies, once the mainstay of the 13 service to the JR hospital (401-410)
More recently a clear out of surplus buses and coaches saw many ex Oxford vehicles turn up at Stafford Bus Sales.
This picture from Ben Morroll shows a Dart acquired from London General many months ago but working in full Diamond Bus livery.
Expansion for uno
Centrebus’ St Albans operation passes to university’s operator
Hatfield-based Universitybus, which trades as uno, has agreed to takeover the St Albans operation of Leicester-based Centrebus.
The enlarged operation, to be managed by a new Universitybus subsidiary uno Buses, will increase Universitybus’s penetration into the St Albans area and expand its fleet from 58 vehicles to more than 80.
The takeover will be completed on 2 March and over the coming months Centrebus’s St Alban’s fleet will be re-branded in the distinctive uno livery. No other changes are immediately planned for the St Albans operation.
Centrebus were gradually repainting acquired buses in their current orange, blue and white livery and also had a number of new buses working in and around Luton.
Pictured by Glenn Knight, 125 is seen in Luton Church Street on 26th February last.
Another picture from Glenn Knight showing the latest arrival with uno is this one of a Citaro, also in Luton church Street on 26th February.
The purchase seems to make sense as the Centrebus operation was an arms length operation and uno are on the ground so to speak and have been now for many years. The uno fleet is very distinctive and always well turned out. They nearly always buy new buses and have now a very modern fleet.
Developments are awaited with interest and I am sure correspondents will fill my desk with reports and pictures in the coming weeks.
Stagecoach in Oxfordshire prepares to launch a new fleet of Scania deckers
Delivery is in progress of a thirteen strong fleet of Scania N230UD/Alexander Enviro 400 deckers for services to Chipping Norton and Bicester. The first buses are expected to enter serviced next Monday and I await readers report, impressions and pictures of these new buses. They are the first Scania N230UDs to be bodied by Alexander and represent a significant investment for the company.
Details of the buses expected to enter service first are shown in the table below. This was corrected on Sunday evening, 9th March and chassis and body number details will be posted when they are confirmed. The reason for the changes is not known at this time.
Alexander Enviro 400 N47/29F
Alexander Enviro 400 N47/29F
Alexander Enviro 400 N47/29F
Alexander Enviro 400 N47/29F
Alexander Enviro 400 N47/29F
15435 is expected to be KX08 KZH.
Further details of the remaining buses cannot be confirmed at this time.
These were the first 08 registered vehicles I had seen and must be some of the first 08's in Oxfordshire.
The above buses were transferred, in exchange for Olympians, to Chipping Norton today Sunday and they will enter service on Monday morning duties, 10th March.
15432 above and 15433 were the first to arrive at Horspath.
They seat 47/29 and certainly offer more leg room than the Tridents they will partly replace.
The upper deck and lower layouts can be seen in the pictures above.
15436 is seen above at Scania Banbury before delivery - pictures by Richard Sharman.
The driver's cab area - M Crowe
15436 is shown above with fleet numbers and lettering on 6th March 2008. M Crowe
Many of the controls are similar or the same as the Scania/Caetano Levante coaches also operated from Oxford on National Express service 737.
We will cover the introduction and further deliveries of these buses as the weeks pass by. I look forward to more reader contributions.
A bio-fuel Enviro 200 by Dave Harries
Dave Harries writes to say "Sitting at the Alexander-Dennis yard in Bristol this afternoon was this freshly painted Enviro 200 Dart in all-over Magenta. I understand from a member of staff on-site that the vehicle is probably going to Courtenay Coaches, Bracknell (although it "belongs to us (Alexander-Dennis) in the meantime") and is to be converted to run on bio-fuel.
There is another Enviro 200 in the yard in all-over white and this is to be put into the same livery and have the same conversion fuel wise. Both vehicles are unregistered.
Bio-fuel Enviro 200 Darts - Alexander-Dennis, Bristol, 28th February 2008 Pictures © Dave Harries
Full-size photos of the magenta Enviros are shown above.
The VINs are:
SFD151AR27GY10513 (for the one standing on its own :: File CIMG0999.JPG)
SFD111AR17GY10510 (for the one standing next to the TWM D/D :: File GIMG10003.JPG)
CORRECTION TO THE ABOVE FROM ROBERT WILLIAMS - Sunday 9th March
Courtney – the vehicles are not being converted to run on bio-diesel. Courtney use PPO – Pure Plant Oil which requires engine modifications unlike ordinary bio-diesel which does not. This is as per their other vehicles which you have featured on your page from time to time.
That picture of a Roadliner Olympian
Several readers wrote to correct my assumption that this vehicle was ex Stagecoach.
Picture by Gavin Francis
From Alistair Liddle
Re. the photograph of K155 ELF in you current page. As far as I know this bus was never in the Stagecoach fleet, it started life in July 1993 with Citybus as fleet number 345, reg, FR2618. It was withdrawn from service in late 2005 and was shipped to the UK in January 2006 by Ensign Bus. Shamrock of Poole took delivery of it in December 2006 registered as K134 KNO but because of technical problems it never entered service albeit it had been painted and liveried into their fleet colours.
It passed to Roadliner in February 2007(?) but still in the Shamrock livery but with the Roadliner registration K155 ELF. It was finally painted into Roadliner livery in September 2007.
A lot of this information comes from my various Hong Kong books as well as from Graham White's superb website: http://www.orientalmodelbuses.co.uk/
From Dave Rogers
Just reading the latest page. The Roadliner, Poole Olympian coach is not ex. Stagecoach, and never has been owned by Stagecoach.
It was previously owned by Citybus, Hong Kong, fleet number 345, and was imported by Ensignbus (dealer). It is a 12mtr coach, whereas the Megabus ex. Citybus Olympians were 11mtr, and was originally a dual door bus. Since its return to the U.K. it has been fitted with 100 coach seats, complete with 3-point belts, had the centre door removed and had soft trim applied to all the side walls and ceilings. Details of this immaculate fleet can be found at www.roadliner.biz They also have a beautiful, and now quite rare, Leyland Royal Tiger Doyen, onboard which I travelled to Paris for New Year!
From Derek Doling
Reference the Roadliner vehicle featured on your page. Details can be found at www.roadliner.biz and look under enthusiasts and fleet list.
My thanks to all those who took the trouble.
Those Reading pictures last issue from Marcus Lapthorn
From Julian Walker on Reading pictures
Please thank Marcus Lapthorn again for his additional pictures of Reading Lolines on their last tour. I now know that on my first visit to Reading as a boy I missed them by a mere four months - drat! Does anyone know if any of the Lolines have been preserved?
The picture of the Metropolitan is interesting, as it depicts the 25 as I first remember it, as a Henley Road to Southcote route. I remember it being extended to Caversham Park, replacing an Alder Valley route (138?), and also to Ford's Farm, Beansheaf Farm and Calcot Savacentre as Greater Reading expanded ever-westwards.
Warning on concessionary funding
The National Concessionary Bus Scheme is suggested that it
is going to cost English council tax payers up to £60million according to
research by the Liberal Democrats. The LibDems say that despite government
claims that the total grant of £212million for the extension of free bus travel
for all over 60s will be sufficient, Freedom of Information requests sent to
councils across England show that almost half claim to be under-funded.
The LibDems say that the two councils which have the greatest shortfall are Brighton and Hove and Nottingham, which are under-funded by almost £1.7million.
The LibDems shadow transport secretary, Norman Baker, says: “This scheme will help many poor pensioners, but thanks to terrible accounting from the government, it will be council tax payers across the country who will end up picking up the bill. The government should review the funding formula to ensure that no councils are hit too hard.”
Reading says good bye to its step entrance deckers
Reading Buses put on a fine show on Saturday 23rd February to mark the end of step entrance operation in the town. Readers sent several reports which record the day and their thoughts. I would also refer readers to the excellent site by Rob Williams who has covered much about Reading and the end of step entrance buses.
READING BUSES – Bid a fond farewell to the Metrobus by Frank Brown.
Reading waved goodbye to its last step entrance buses over the weekend of 23/24th February 2008, the town becoming step free from Monday 25th February. On Saturday 23rd six Metrobuses and a couple of early Spectras operated in ‘normal’ all day service on routes 12,20,31,33,63,65 and also a special on Premier Route 17. Sunday 24th all available veterans were employed on the football match troop movement between the railway station and Madejski Stadium. Metrobus 465 [sporting Reading FC colours of blue and white] ran a Sunday afternoon commemorative tour organised by the British Trolleybus Associations Reading Branch, over former stomping grounds. Unfortunately Reading had just lost 2-1 at home against Aston Villa, possibly leading to relegation. The sight of 465 parading around old haunts rather rubbed salt into the wound!
The Optare Spectras arrived in Reading in 1992 and included the prototype exhibited at the 1991 Bus & Coach Show all numbered in the 7xx series. From 25/2 the early step entrance versions will be confined to schools [701-4/6/7] or supplement Newbury Buses [708-11]. 705 was sold to Ensign [dealer] in March 2007.
[Noted in last day use, Sat 23/02/08 – 701/10]
The Metrobus proved a trusty steed in Reading, first introduced with rival Leyland Titans in 1979. The Metrobus eventually won favour and today the surviving fleet were all 1987/8 mk II versions from a batch of 15 acquired in 1991 [455-69], ex LBL [Harrow Buses M1454/6-69] rendered surplus due to tendering losses. From 25/2 the survivors were delicensed and withdrawn pending sale. However it was a fitting tribute by Reading Buses to give the popular Metrobuses a good send off after 29 years of distinctive service. [Noted in last day use, Sat 23/2/08 – 463/4/6/8/9]
From Mark Lyons
Although rather gloomy I decided to
take a look at Reading's farewell to step entrance buses today. My main focus
was route 17 as this has not seen step entrance buses since the arrival of the
Omnidekkas in October 2004. By contrast they have were common on the other
routes covered today until yesterday!
466 passing the site of the Wokingham Road terminus of the tram service.
When trolleybuses were introduced the route was extended to the Three Tuns public house which remains the terminus of route 17 to this day.
An Olympus passing a Metrobus on route 17 - this has not happened before, and won't happen again!
One unexpected consequence of the return of step entrance buses to route 17 - passengers have got very used to low floor vehicles and a
number of elderly shoppers with trolleys were caught out. The photograph is taken at the location of the only passing loop of the trolleybus network.
One more from last Saturday showing 469 performing a turn on route 12.
Mark adds "I attach two photos of Reading's recent deliveries that may be of use. 11 Olympuses had arrived in time for the relaunched network this week - 841 - 7 in light blue and 848 - 851 in orange.
From Stephen Le Bras
After a rather quiet day on the bus front yesterday, I joined the throng on 465 at GKS, Reading this afternoon. A very pleasant RTS trip, although I left outside the station at 4.05pm before the last knockings to Swallowfield. My only photo was taken at GKS as the light deteriorated steadily during the afternoon and it was raining before dark!
I was advised to stay downstairs, as there were around 40 people on board and the upstairs was pretty full! My old friend Chris Spencer gave us a running commentary of the roads being travelled so it was very interesting and well worth the fare for the day's excursion! (even including the football result for Reading vs Villa). A good trip for a reasonable fare.
I'm told that 465 is supposed to be off to Belgium, but 455 at Newbury is staying for the moment.
From Stuart Curwen www.thamesdown.fotopic.net
Stuart sent some interesting pictures and a report saying "As well as the photos attached - below are the buses used on Saturday 23rd Feb to mark the end of step entrance buses on normal town services with Reading Buses.
Routes 63/65 Reading - Woodley
Routes 31/33 Reading - Turnhams Farm/Purley
Route 17 Wokingham Road - Tilehurst
Routes 12/20 Reading - Lower Earley
Routes 12/20 Reading - Lower Earley
Optare Spectras that were used were as follows
Routes 31/33 Reading - Turnhams Farm/Purley
Routes 63/65 Reading - Woodley
I was informed that the last run on the 17 was performed by Spectra 707 L707LJM as 466 E466SON had a few problems. Also Spectra 701 was changed for 702 during the early afternoon."
Pictures from Stuart are shown below.
For further pictures do visit Stuart's excellent site - http://www.thamesdown.fotopic.net/c1463359.html
STOP PRESS UPDATED - SUNDAY 9TH MARCH
I am most grateful to Robert Williams - BusZone who has sent some corrections and updated news regarding the Reading matters reported above.
From Robert Williams
re Report from Julian Walker. There are examples of most types of former Reading vehicle in preservation, including a Loline: www.buszone.co.uk/News0707.html
re Report from Frank Brown. Only five Metrobuses were in operation on the last day (the five noted later on in the report) not six. His list of current step Spectras includes 703 which left the fleet in July 2005 and went to City Sightseeing, and omits 712/3. From 25/2 the step entrance Spectras will only temporarily be confined to schools services until the remaining Scanias arrive and the generic Tridents and Spectras can be freed up to take on these duties as well. Only 708/9 are going to Newbury (indeed they went some months ago), not 710/11. Low floor 721 went to Newbury a month or two back, and another low floor will follow, again once the rest of the Scanias have arrived.
re Report from Stephen Le Bras. As you’re publishing his report a week after the event it is now out of date! 455 was pretty quickly withdrawn from Newbury but has been temporarily replaced by 468 until the remaining Scanias arrive in Reading.
National Express to launch a further commuter service
From Dave Rogers
' National Express is to launch its next Commuter Service in late April. Starting at Swindon and calling at Reading, there will be two morning and three evening services. The coaches will be tri-axle Levante's with 53 leather seats and an 850mm seat pitch. National Express is in the process of recruiting an operator. (The normal seating for these coaches is 61.)
The coach service is different from a normal coach journey. A text message is sent to each customer 10 minutes before the coach arrives. When the coach arrives, the commuter is given his or her favourite newspaper as well as a complimentary bottle of water. Every person is guaranteed a leather reclining seat with at-seat tables and Wi-Fi.
The drop-off points are Hammersmith (for tube connections), Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and Victoria Coach Station.'
This promises to be an interesting development, especially the use of tri-axle Levantes, so far only seen on the Stansted-London services. The reduction in seating is also interesting and a further development I read in routeone - http://www.route-one.net/index.asp - that NEx is using a tri-axle Levante as a product test bed to evaluate a range of seating types, including integral belt mounting arrangements, headrest styles and seat fabrics. The interior of the coach is divided into curtained sections with different types of floor covering used in each.
Delivery of new tri-axles top Stansted is now up to SC44 seen yesterday, Thursday. This brings the total in service now to 37, SC's 1,2,23,24, 40, 41 and 42 at least are two axle coaches.
Three Tigers for Buckinghamshire - pictures and news of a fourth from Michael
plus other news from Woottens
Michael Wootten writes "As confirmed in my email last week, 3 x Leyland Tiger / East Lancs Myllennium DP49F have been acquired from Stagecoach Strathtay. These are D315SGB, A127ESG and THL290Y, which were Stagecoach 25814/6/9, and previously Strathtay 425/8/31. All were rebodied by East Lancs in 2000 and are now being prepared for further service as W57-9. Photographs can be found at www.woottens.co.uk by following the Enthusiasts link.
Pictures by Michael Wootten
is Leyland Tiger 260 / Plaxton Paramount 3500 F341XFR, which was
previously PBV779 with Holmeswood Coaches of Ormskirk. It has become W56 in the
Woottens fleet and replaces the last Bristol VRT (W9).
Withdrawn and sold is Leyland Lynx W50 C63HOM. Sister vehicles W33 and W34 (C64/6HOM) are also withdrawn and have been advertised for sale marking the end of the Leyland Lynx here.
Bristol VRT / Eastern Coach Works W9 JWV273W has been sold for preservation. This was the first service bus to be acquired by Woottens and has been in use here for almost eight years. We are delighted to see the vehicle enter preservation with the new owners.
I've attached a photograph of refurbished ex-Horseman Volvo B10M / Jonckheere SIJ305 (L901NWW), which was mentioned on your page last week.
Suzy Scott has researched to find more
pictures of the Strathtay Tigers in service and some are included below.
Had a look around the collection over the last two and a half years which I hope readers will find of interest?
The ones that have gone to Wooten's are/were
425 - Stagecoach 25814
428 - Stagecoach 28516
431 - Stagecoach 25819
There were six in the batch, and I've enclosed one of each vehicle now with Woottens.
25814 (425) WLT943 at Arbroath depot in October 2006
25816 (428) back to THL290Y, was YSV318 at Dundee High School in April 2006
25819 (431) already back to A127ESG, was VLT93 at Forfar in June 2006
The Eden Centre High Wycombe
Hard to believe but this was once the entrance to Wycombe's Newlands Bus Station and to the left of the wood pile would have been the fuelling pumps.
The Eden Centre is due to open during this month,
A Shamrock Olympian (ex Lothian) taken in Bournemouth on 4th March by Dave Rogers
Another one from Keith Shayshutt, this time in North Wales - just look at that slate - a Silver Star (ex GMB) Bristol LH in June 1996
Keith writes "Silver Star (Gwynedd) Bristol LH BNE765N is seen running through the slate quarries from Carmel to the terminus at Y Fron in the Snowdon foothills - dated June 1996. At this time most of the Silver Star fleet used to be outstationed at night at various points in this area and it was not uncommon to find an LH perched in a rocky lay-by at the side of the road. The fleet now lives at the new depot in Caernarfon."
My contribution this week is of one the Arriva Solos leaving West Wycombe en route to High Wycombe on Line 40.
The 18th century Church of St. Lawrence, with its golden ball on the top of the hill above West Wycombe,
is a well-known landmark and is visible for many miles stands in the background
It has a spectacular ornate painted interior.
HISTORY IN PICTURES AND WORDS
If you have any pictures or historical memories and wish to submit them for this page please send them to the me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Let me have your contributions
An historical question on COMS Bristol VR loan from Allan MacFarlane
Allan writes regarding some Bristol Omnibus loans to COMS way back when.
From Allan MacFarlane
I have enjoyed delving into your Oxford & Chilterns Bus Page on occasion and I'm amazed by the amount of detail! Well done.
I hope you don't mind my using it to get to you for a bit of research I am doing.
I am in the advanced stages of writing a book (my 5th) on the complex history of the VRs of Bristol Omnibus Company and its successors. On a couple of occasions, BOC leant VRs to COMS but I do not have any idea why COMS needed the buses, or to what use they were put.
The first instance was in 1978; to quote from my draft - "On October 16th, 1978, MR’s 5028 [MHW295L] was sent on another of its jaunts. This time it went to City of Oxford Motor Services, but as it was no longer an overall advertisement, the reason was less obvious. It was allocated to Bicester. It is on record that when it worked to Bedford it was borrowed by United Counties while on layover! The loan ended on 17th November."
The second occasion was in 1984 - "Before much else happened, 5033/95 [JHW107P, NTC571R] were relicensed to go on loan to City of Oxford Motor Services, from 1st November."
I would be very interested if anybody knows of the activities of these three. If there are any photographs of them at work with COMS, I'd be extremely interested in borrowing them?
Please let us have your replies and what about pictures? I feel sure some of my readers will have the answers Allan requires.
Aldershot & District's first Lolines
From Mark Lyons
Aldershot & District's first Dennis Lolines entered service on 1 March 1958 - to mark the fiftieth anniversary of this even the A&D Bus Interest Group ran a number of the type over former route 14 between Aldershot and Winchester on 1st March 2008. The buses were a familiar sight in Oxford in the early '70s as some were hired to City of Oxford to help it through the vehicle shortages of the time.
Picture by Mark Lyons.
Editors note: 351 – SOU459 – came to North Western Road Car, Stockport in 1959 and was operated on the 28 route between Manchester and Hayfield. This was used in extensive trials before NWRCC ordered a batch of front entrance buses, 812-826 RDB 812-826 delivered in 1960. 812-814 had Gardener 6LX engines.
In return NWRCC lent their front entrance but similarly bodied East Lancs Loline I, 813 RDB813, for A&D to trial front entrance deckers.
A coincidence with a Bristol VR picture by Steve Bunce
From Steve Bunce
How very odd that you should publish an old picture of TPN103S in the exact same week that I take the enclosed photo of it at Binders Yard, Cryers Hill. It is seen in what I think is the Wiltax yard next door to Ward Jones' place, and it is looking in very good health these days.
Picture by Steve Bunce
I also enclose a couple of photos of a motor home conversion I saw on the A40 travelling west at Denham a couple of weeks ago. It looked pretty ordinary from the back so imagine my surprise when I saw it's front in my mirrors! It is a Ford chassis with the remains of a Duple Viceroy body, new to Lawson of Methven I believe, in 1971.
Picture by Steve Bunce
Visited Honeybourne with WTG333T Bristol VR Alexander H44/31F Ex-Cardiff VR 333& TGD221R Ford R1014 Plaxton C45F Ex-Bowman, Craignure & Tourex of North Hinksey sister LWL743W & LWL744W withdrawn 9/07 Leyland PSU3 C53F Ex-Percival, Oxford 78 & 79
Above pictures from Glenn Knight
Now I wonder if anyone is interested in these ex Percival's coaches still with their Oxfordshire registration. Somehow they look preservable.
You may know that there are some alterations planned for 10 March with Carousel becoming the operator serving Flackwell Heath. I am still waiting for all the details.
Amersham & District Running Days for 2008 are:
4th Slough/Windsor Running Day Sunday 11 May based on Slough Bus Station with a number of alterations this year.
Uxbridge/Northwood Running Day Sunday 1 June which, it is intended, will cover routes 309 309A 347 158 220 223 & 225. Details are still to be finalised.
3rd Hemel Hempstead Running Day Sunday 22 June based on Hemel Bus Station. Marking 60 years since the first Country RTs came into service. These were allocated to Tring and Hemel Hempstead (Two Waters) garages for the 301 and 302 routes. It is hoped that a number of RTs will be operating on these routes on 22 June.
20th Amersham Running Day Sunday 5 October based on car park adjoining Amersham MET Station. This has become a very popular event and no doubt it will still attract many after 20 years when again there will be some alteration to routes operated.
Thanks to all my contributors who help to make this page what it is.
Malcolm Crowe - Friday 7th March 2008
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002 to date
News of the local companies – 7th March 2008
Two surprises from Arriva this week were the arrival in High Wycombe of two new Solos which I am told are part of a larger batch destined for this depot. They are in normal livery and one has been working Line 40 for most of the week. They differ from the first two, branded for Line 40, in that they have 6 cylinder engines as opposed to four. Wycombe is, as many readers know, very hilly and demanding of buses used in the area.
The second surprise was the sighting in Hemel Hempstead of a red and cream Arriva Dart, maybe 3176, with some major branding working route 4. By the next issue I am sure I will have pictures and details of this bus.
Your reports follow.
From Stephen Le Bras
(Stephen is referring to the two white coaches in use on the 757. Ed.)
I noted 0411 the Plaxton one at least twice on Saturday so it has not been replaced by 0412 (DAF Van Hool coach YJ57 BTU) which sadly I didn't see (Sat 23 Feb)
Both white Plaxton 0411 and white Van Hool 0412 were on the 757 Saturday 1st March, the latter running the same schedule 1030 ex Vic as two weeks ago and the former an hour or so behind.
From Matt Robinson
When I arrived in Aylesbury Bus Station on Saturday I was greeted by the sight of a newly applied nearside only contravision ad to Volvo Olympian 5144 (N35JPP). The ad is for the Eden Shopping Centre in High Wycombe. I don't know if any buses in Wycombe have received similar applications as I have not visited Wycombe for a few weeks (confirmations welcome). I've attached a dodgy photo of 5144 (taken off the phone rather than the camera) - although hopefully somebody has sent you a clearer one! I think 5144 is rapidly becoming my most photographed Arriva bus in different guises.
Also noted in Aylesbury was the
fitment of Red Route Dart 3485 (W485YGS) with an LED blind. The text 'Red Route'
repeatedly scrolled across above the destination which I thought was a nice
touch. It appears to be the only Dart so treated out of Aylesbury depot.
Dart 3178 (P178SRO) was working Line 300, while Line 300 branded Scania 3160 (N710EUR) was today's 'special guest' on the Leighton outstation working of the 70.
I attach another photo of Dart 3484, this time in Leighton Buzzard on Line 150 (unable to display route 150 at all on the power blind). It had just replaced failed Dennis Lance 3378 (M268VPU).
Back at Luton, Scania 3604 (KE55FBX)
has had its offside rear corner repaired following fairly major accident damage
after being struck by a car in Marsh Road. Leyland Olympian 5093 (F643LMJ) is
back in service following accident damage. Volvo Olympian 5142 (N42JPP) is also
back on the road after an engine rebuild.
The latest Dart back from repaint is 3286 (V286HBH). Sister 3285 has emerged with LED display fitted, and was due to go to Garston for re-spray.
Further to the evening attacks on route 38 buses in the Parkside area, routes 7 and 38 will continue to divert via Sundon Road instead of Parkside Drive on all workings after 6pm for the next few weeks. The situation will be reviewed at the end of March.
3270 was taken in St. Albans St. Peter's Street
Luton & District's first Volvo B6, 3105 (L305HPP) has appeared in Luton's depot this week in a cannibalised state. This bus was new to Hitchin depot but latterly based at Stevenage, and shows the remains of the 2,3,4,5 route branding it carried. Scrapped Mercedes Vario 2172 (R172VBM) was towed away this morning, while failed 709D 2129 (N909ETM) has also disappeared, thought to be for scrap as it had been donating spares to the four examples still active at Luton.
From Glenn Knight
On Tuesday 4th March 2008 on the roundabout on Crawley Green Road Luton, Scania R193 RBM 3193 caught fire no bodywork damage just lots of smoke and a knackered engine, spoke to mechanic and they said when have some time to spare they’ll fit a new engine around the cost of £10,000.
Also at Luton depot is a Volvo B6 M-reg from Harlow with a red line all around the bus. (see 3105 above in Matt Robinson's report Ed.)
From Nigel Peach
I saw two new Optares Solos today (29th February) at Wycombe. 2497 was being used as the staff bus and another (couldn't get close enough to see fleet number) was at the depot. I note they both have "57" reg numbers, just one day before "08" comes in!
I managed to get a picture of new Arriva Optare Solo 2497 (YK57 FHJ) at the depot today, again working as the staff bus.
Line 40 branded 2492 (YK07 BGF) was also there.
Ex Lucky Bus Dart 3102 (L200 BUS) was also there, presumably just temporarily.
The traffic lights on the Oxford Road roundabout have been switched on. Gridlock there today!! (though to be fair, I don't think the gridlock was totally caused by the traffic lights.) I dread to think what the traffic will be like when Eden opens.
From Mark Munday
We have two new Optares in standard livery which will be replacing the two Optares on the 40 service. This is because they have the 6 pot engine and not the 4 pot (go up are hills a lot better).
Mark also comments about the traffic lights saying since they have been turned on, in the worst case it takes 20 mins just to get onto Oxford Road from Frogmoor or the Bus Station. Nice one who ever designed it.
Mark adds 3365 is now deleted from records
From James Smith
Hopefully this email reaches you before the next update. The first of our MPD Darts at Aylesbury has just been fitted with a LED Blind. It is in a different layout to the blinds that have been fitted so far to the 280 Olympians/Tridents. I took a picture this morning at Mandeville Hospital whilst on the 9's, Thought I'd put up a seldom used destination!
Another picture from James showing later Dart 3829 on the 9
3297, seemingly in need of a new blind on a Bedgrove 2 last week - James smith.
Pictures from your Editor
The two new Solos 2496 and 2497 - YK57FHH/J
The running of two competitive services on the same route produces some challenging pictures
- here Arriva's 3841 is hotly pursued by a First Bus Citaro both on the 74.
The two orange Versas ware now busy on the 38 and 39 routes in Wycombe and here 2401 leans into the job as it approaches the Eden Bus Station.
With the delivery of the new Solos the Line 40 branded ones are appearing on other route such as the 32.
However Line 40 still seems to get Darts, even when the Solos are running on other routes as above.
3208 is seen by our new bus shelter in Stokenchurch and 3216 is seen working towards Wycombe on March 1st.
The new bus shelter is seen on delivery on the 4th March. This must make it an "08 plate" !!!!!
The Volvo B6 s are still operational around Wycombe and 3128 is seen on a 362 working this week to Chesham.
An unusual appearance on the 300 this week was of EAST LANCS FLYTE SLF bodied Dart 3172.
Renumbering of routes in High Wycombe has seen more two figure number in use like the 45 seen here operated by Olympian 5094.
These NCME bodied Olympians are often used on the Reading services or the 362 Chesham but in this picture 5153 is seen on the 33,
more normally operated by Darts.
This operator has, yet again, moved the location of its second depot. This time to another location in Cressex. When I visited the parking area in the week a nice selection of deckers was on hand for my camera.
Still looking smart and with a full destination display, Metrobus M1356 waits for the two way traffic light in the centre of Wycombe.
Route 3 operates in connection with school times only and I was lucky to catch a Citaro on this route last Tuesday.
As mentioned in this week's Editorial, this operator has been taken over by unobus.
However surprisingly three new Solos arrived yesterday ( 6th March) as reported by Glenn Knight who writes "three new Centrebus Solos arrived today (6/3) at Dunstable for route 231 Dunstable - Bushmead Via Caddington, Slip End & Luton, Optare Solo M880 B29F FJ08 MBF & Optare Solo M950 B33F FJ08 MBO/U. MBF has a darker paint job and all three buses will be in service on Monday 10th March."
FJ08MBF awaits entry into service - Glenn Knight
I mentioned seeing blue Citaros on the 74 and this week I was able to catch one in the lens of my camera.
A Citaro, ES64037, from Slough in the new blue 7's livery on the 74 in high Wycombe this week.
Deputising for a Solo on the 104, this Dart was snapped by Gavin Francis in St Aldates a week or so ago.
I am pleased to have more pictures from David Percy this week. David writes "A couple of Jeffs Coaches images for your consideration, I hope you can use them for your site."
Volvo/Plaxton ESK897 taken at Cherwell Valley Services, 26/02/2008.
"This vehicle is C29F, and is the Northamptonshire County Cricket Club vehicle, returning from LHR empty, (the platform staff at the NatEx bus station were not amused, as I tried to disembark my passengers at the NatEx Terminal 3 bus station, I realised as I pulled in that I was in the wrong place, but pleaded ignorance(!), and went round to the proper drop of point (hey, I am new to this coach game!)"
Volvo 147VKN (an old'G' plate vehicle) at Milton Keynes Museum 27/02/2008.
"Another win. It seems we can do well against the better teams but when we play the bottom teams we are rubbish." There speaks a man who knows his game !!!
I've seemingly always had problems getting a good picture of this Solo of Motts which works the M1 Stokenchurch-Reading service each weekday.
It also works a school run before and after this service.
First of the older coaches I've seen in the livery, VP32 heads off to Norwich on 6th March.
Gavin Francis took a few interesting pictures last week which I include below. I also note that one or more of The Airline have acquired wheel trims similar to the new Volvo Airline coaches.
Trident 104 works the 4A service and is seen in Queen St. I am told that not all services on the 4 routes are Citaro operated.
Volvo B10B 640 is the latest repaint into the new livery and looks very smart in Gavin Francis's picture taken on 26th February.
Gavin Francis caught up with a Citaro on 8 road on the 26th February.
A final offering this week from Gavin Francis - 833 on line 4 (4C) in New Road on 26th February last.
We mentioned the arrival of an ex East Yorkshire Merc Vario, well here's a picture from Glenn Knight which shows the bus in Red Rose full livery.
R H Services
From Richard Sharman
The last of the three New Solo's has now arrived, they are 409-11, MX57 UPS/T/W and are MAN DO834 engined. Solo's 407-11 all feature EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation), which lowers emissions without the need for products such as AdBlue.
Now with fleet names etc, 410 is seen on the 700 this week. Richard Sharman.
We have covered the new Scanias in this week's Editorial. Further developments are awaited with interest.
Six Olympians from the batch 16518-16525 will be going to Cheltenham for use in services to The Gold Cup event next week. It is these buses which the Scanias are expected to replace. I hope that readers who may attend that event will be able to send me some picture, please.
As at Sunday 9th March these are expected to be 16518, 16522, 16523 and 16524 plus either 16520 or 16521.
Thursday 6th March saw M A N 22209, once a Manchester bus, returned from repaint at Banbury.
I received some nice pictures from Colin Grafham taken in Farringdon last year. The buses pictured are shortly to be replaced on the 66 by a fleet of new buses, so once again watch this space.
Ben Morroll sent this picture of ex Oxfordshire 32629 working an X20 service out of Stratford on 29th February.
A major development is covered in this week's Editorial.
From Brian Stevens
Taken in Hatfield Hertfordshire. But just thought some of you may like to know where it is now ( having previously been with WGL of course) & also that the blind still hasn't been altered, another strange thing is that although Showing Park & Ride on the front for Uno's University P&R/Inter-site shuttle service it was at the same time showing Not In Service on the rear.
YJ57 EHU by Brian Stephens
I saw this bus on the old A1 near The Comet - Ramada on Thursday and wondered? Thanks to Brian for answering my wonderings. The magic of the Internet and e-mail.
See in the Editorial above.
A note regarding photographs which show drivers faces.
Following one complaint from a bus driver in Oxford but considering the fact that the photographs are taken of the vehicle not any person,
I will blank out the face to avoid any discomfort to the individual concerned. If you are the person involved send me an email to have this action taken.
I am sure people will realise that to ask everyone in advance of publication, whose face may appear in a picture is wholly impractical in both time and practice.
I am sorry to have to mention such a matter but we now live in a world of human rights and political correctness which must be considered.
If you have a digital camera and wish to submit photos for this page please send them to the me at
Richard Sharman took this picture of a tri-axle Scania-Irizar PB off route in Oxford setting down a student party.
Blunsdons have a recent addition caught in this picture by Richard Sharman.
Coming events, models and useful links
New Trident model with an Oxford flavour
Date: 21st December 2007.
ukbus 1036 Alexander Dennis ALX400-bodied Trident
Stagecoach in Oxfordshire
Creative Master Northcord is proud to release a brand new livery on its well-known casting – the Alexander Dennis ALX400-bodied Trident. This is ukbus 1036 carrying standard Stagecoach livery but with special route branding livery.
This model represents Stagecoach in Oxfordshire 18394 (KX55 TLN). This is the second Stagecoach in Oxfordshire ADL ALX400-bodied Trident model that CMNL produced. The previous one is ukbus 1026 with Brookes bus colours.
Stagecoach in Oxfordshire 18394 is one of a fleet of seven Tridents introduced onto route 27 in March 2006 to replace Volvo B10M single deckers. Route 27 operates between Oxford and Bicester up to every 15 minutes at busy times with three main route variants around Bicester – 27A to Glory Farm and Launton, 27B to Glory Farm and Langford and 27C to Ambrosden and Arncott.
18394 is one of three vehicles which carry supplementary branding for the Bicester Duo ticket which was introduced during 2007. The ticket allows two people to travel from Bicester to Oxford for the price of one.
The replica features excellent detailing, inside and out, including an opening engine door, engine detail and the representation of LED lights at the rear. This is a one-piece casting whose clean lines accentuate the windows and livery application on which all logos and lettering are clearly legible. The model has no unnecessary metal poles to hold it together.
It will be a good opportunity to make a twin Stagecoach in Oxfordshire bus model set with ukbus 1036 and ukbus 1025 representing the common street scene in Oxford.
PSV Circle publishes latest issue of the fleet list for Berkshire and Oxfordshire
Ken MacKenzie writes to note that the new PSV Circle fleet list for Berkshire/Oxfordshire (G432) is now available.
Those readers wishing to buy a copy should write to: PSV Circle, 59 Palmer Avenue, Cheam SM3 8EF - Cost id £7.00 plus 50p P & P and it will also be available at the PSV Circle sales stand at Showbus 2007.
This will be a most useful reference for all those interested in the local scene.
Editors review - I have now had chance to review this book and it is indeed very useful, giving details of all known fleets in Berks and Oxon. Whilst some information is not totally up to date it allows the readers to have a comprehensive view of the local fleets and up dates can be gained by joining the PSV Circle. At £7.00 this represents value for money as it also includes a number of good photographs.
A new casting with a local flavour has been released by Britbus as a picture from Mark Lyons shows. It is a nice model but as Mark says, a little pricey at £33.
Model News of an Oxford bus
Guy writes to send a picture of the latest offering on the model front related to Oxford.
A photo disc for your collection
This week I can bring details of a really super new photo disc from Vics cliix. The disc contains pictures taken in the early 1970s by Vic Zealey and copies can be obtained through Malcolm Hyland's web site http://www.cliix.co.uk.
Here are some samples of the 158 pictures on this disc.
The quality is good and they are all at high resolution.
Oxford Bus 125 commemorative book
In last week's issue I mentioned that Oxford Bus were publishing a book to commemorate the 125 years of public transport in Oxford. Thanks to Phil Ashworth I have had a review copy and hereunder give my thoughts on this book.
The book is well presented and includes a number of historical pictures of interest including some I had not seen before. The modern pictures have received a nice treatment reflecting the modern fleet against a background of typical Oxford architecture. The Botley Road rail bridge gets a mention and a picture of an AEC pre war decker which has done battle with said bridge and come off worse from its encounter is included.
The book, whilst rather small to reflect the 125 years in detail is nevertheless a must for all who love Oxford, historians and enthusiasts alike.
Copies of the book can be bought from the Oxford Bus Company, Cowley House, Watlington Rd, Oxford OX4 6GA. The cost is £5.95 including postage. Cheques should be made payable to "Oxford Bus Company", it is also available in person from the Oxford Bus Museum during normal opening hours.
Robin sent me a copy of his latest DVD to review. "Today's buses - Oxfordshire" is the compelling title which includes Henley, Wallingford and Didcot before the viewer is taken onto Wantage, Witney, Banbury and finally Bicester. Each of these locations is covered in2 to 5 minutes and each shows the current selection of buses and coaches to be found. Finally over 37 minutes is devoted to Oxford with filming in a variety of locations in the city.
On another subject the road sense and behaviour of cyclists in Oxford has to be seen to be believed!!!!
The quality of the DVD is excellent and one can really see clearly the details of each vehicle, something which older video always seemed unable to do. All the latest developments are shown in this September 2007 DVD, including workings from Broad Street during the St Giles Fair weekend.
The DVD provides a unique record of events in Oxfordshire during this period and at £10 is not a very large outlay.
74 Polruan Place, Fishermead,
Milton Keynes MK6 2EA
The full details of DVDs available from Robin Clare may be found at his web site :- http://www.robinclare.co.uk/
Dave Rogers sent the following press release.
CREATIVE MASTER NORTHCORD - PRESS RELEASE
Mercedes-Benz Citaro - ukbus 5004 Arriva Manchester - ukbus 5007 Oxford Bus
Creative Master Northcord Limited is proud to release two brand new liveries on its well known Mercedes-Benz Citaro casting. Both models have received significant, yet different, modifications to the tooling in order to represent, as close to 100% accuracy as possible, the real buses on the roads.
ukbus 5004 represents fleet number Arriva North West’s 2851 (CX55 EAA). This Mercedes Citaro is one of three such vehicles with dedicated route branding for service 700 and with the destination set to Manchester. The model features a redesigned interior layout that includes the reduced seating capacity and luggage racks.
Starting on 29th October 2005, Arriva North West’s service 700 runs from Manchester’s Piccadilly Railway Station to Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport. For the service, 3 Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses were purchased and numbered 2851-3. They were painted in the same style and colours as the Scania OmniCity buses that already operated between John Lennon and Liverpool city centre.
ukbus 5007 represents fleet number 830 (X13 OXF) of Oxford Bus Company. 830 entered service in December 2003, to upgrade the X3 & X13 Oxford – Abingdon services. The bus was painted in a new and distinctive livery designed by Best Impressions.
ukbus 5007 features the smooth, curved windscreen with the destination display set behind the windscreen glass rather than the protruding destination found on the Park & Ride Citaros in the fleet. This feature is one of the standard specifications on other Citaros that the Go-Ahead Group has purchased.
Mercedes-Benz Citaro ukbus 5004 and 5007 models are each a one-piece casting whose clean lines accentuate the square-mounted, double-glazed windows and the livery application on which all logos and lettering are clearly legible. Another main feature on both models is the extensive portrayal of handrails. The headlight / indicator units at the front and indicator / tail light units at the rear are made of individual components to look more realistic.
The brand new single-door Mercedes-Benz Citaro bus models will be distributed by John Ayrey Die-Casts Limited (UK), Porte Publishing Company (Japan) and Concorde Hobby Shop (HK) respectively. The ukbus 5004 and 5007 models are limited to 1700 pieces worldwide respectively.
Would readers who respond to the above please quote my site when doing so.
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Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002 to date
These are nine most interesting sites which I do recommend
Mike Penn's photo page with much from Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire as well as Buckinghamshire
Chris Lowe's Photo page - mainly North West UK
John Marsh's pictures with a difference
The Oxford Bus Museum
A web site which has paintings of buses.
Arriva Handbook for 2006-2007
The latest handbooks are now
on sale, the ever
Bus Services in Buckinghamshire
Bus services in Oxfordshire
Bus services in Hertfordshire
Where are the Chilterns?
Visit this informative site through the link below.
Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002
Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002