Sunday 30th January 2005
next update week ending 12th February 2005
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Last week started with my birthday on Monday and continued with a number of very pleasant happenings including a visit to both Hamburg and Hannover and a bumper contribution from many of you with interesting photographs.
The very fact that so many of you contribute with notes and pictures each week does make the time spent each Sunday producing the page most worthwhile. Thank you!
We have a number of interesting topics in this week's editorial including one item, which although not bus related, I hope you will find interesting.
News was released this week about an initiative to donate buses to the trouble stricken areas from the recent tsunami disaster.
Full details of this response can be found on the following web site - http://www.asiabusresponse.co.uk
Significantly Go-Ahead have participated and The Oxford Bus Company is sending four withdrawn Darts as part of the group contribution.
The buses in question are
Dennis Dart 519 seen nearly 18 months ago when working the 5B from Greater Leys on 13th June 2003
We look forward to further details as they become available and must congratulate the group on this initiative.
Hamburg and the Fuel Cell Citaros
One of the three fuel cell Citaros, 2372 HH-QT-132 in the parking area.
This last week I visited Hamburg and was privileged to visit the HAMBURG HOCHBAHN bus company. This company was one of the of the nine European companies chosen to participate in the trials, sponsored by the EEC, with the Mercedes Citaro-Ballard fuel cell buses. A map of the disposition of the 27 prototype buses is shown below.
A significant factor relating to Hamburg is the fact that they have elected to produce their own hydrogen fuel.
I was told that the buses, three are allocated to HH, are now running well with few problems. Two are required for service and one is held in reserve.
A short demonstration run proved the bus to be powerful and very quiet. Emissions are limited to steam and heat from the propulsion system, a factor which would appeal to a city like Oxford which, from many areas, is expressing concern about such matters.
The bus has a driving cab layout almost identical to a normal Citaro but unlike its cousins has a flat floor throughout. The Hamburg version has three entry/exit doors and the engine is located at the rear offside producing a layout which in some ways is reminiscent of the Volvo B7. A control cabinet takes up the near side rear of the bus but is not at all intrusive.
The interior of 2372 showing the offset rear engine compartment. The buses seat 35 which is not bad considering the three door layout.
The high roof with some additional weight means that drivers need to be careful when cornering. Indeed some 20 drivers have received special training before being allowed out in service. Extracts from the well produced brochure are included with this article courtesy all the companies concerned.
2372 being refuelled.
My thanks to all those involved in the visit which I found most interesting and worthwhile.
A tribute to route 36 with photographs by Gavin Francis.
Gavin Francis, one of our regular contributors spent much of a very cold and damp Friday catching the dying day of Routemasters on the 36. I felt that it would be sad to let this event go without mention in these pages, especially since one green RML may well have worked in High Wycombe when new. Certainly many of its sisters did.
RML2317 at Queens Park Station on 28th January 2005.
THE RM, RM1 at Kilburn Lane little showing its almost 60 years of age.
A Craven RT, 1431 with RT4421 both at Queens Park Station on the 28th January.
A personal favourite was always the RTW, even now looking so much wider than the ordinary bus.
RTW75 is seen at Vauxhall Cross Bus Station on the 28th.
....and finally in the interlude of nostalgia, RT1431 is seen from the classic position on RM1,
the nearside downstairs front seat. There will really be quite nothing like this in the future.
One can almost hear the AEC engine thumping away just in front of your feet when you look at the picture.
Many thanks to Gavin for these superb pictures which go along way to capturing the event of the final day of RMs on the 36.
Oxford Tube Connection - Lewknor
Launch of this service is tomorrow and photographs of the service would be much appreciated.
The front of the brochure shows the vehicles to be used and some brief details.
I know. it's not a bus but it is a M A N.
On Wednesday last week I visited Hannover and during my time at the airport a colleague had arranged for me to visit the airport fire station. Here I was shown their latest acquisition, an Austrian built tender which had an M A N 1000hbhp engine capable of taking this mammoth along the taxiways at up to 140 kph. In fact on a demonstration run we reached over 100 kph which is pretty good going for a 40 ton beast. Water is delivered from the cannon over the windscreen at a rate of 3000 litres per minute. I wasn't allowed to drive the ting but I did have an itchy right foot. The airport authority has two other similar machines.
Now on to this week's News and photos. Thank you to everyone who has contributed this week.
Malcolm Crowe - Sunday 30th January 2005
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News of the local companies – 30th January 2005
Abbey Coaches, High Wycombe
A visit to the Cressex depot this morning revealed a number of Prestwood vehicles on site plus an interesting new arrival.
J8TCC - This little 32 seat M A N has Jonckheere bodywork and what appears to be a toilet at the rear.
I am unaware of its history or how long it has been with Abbey but it was very smart indeed and
someone had parked it most considerately for the camera.
A dearth of reports about this company this week.
I have some photos from Gavin Francis but I have held them over until next week. There is however a nice shot of the revised bus stop flags for the 280 taken by Chris Maxfield.
Another Gavin Francis contribution, this time of 3126 (with new destination screen) at Hill Avenue in Amersham on 24th January
Gavin also caught 3811 at Stokenchurch opposite the Kings Arms.
Steve Warwick writes "Wright bodied Dennis Dart 3375 (K762JVX) has come to the end of it's days has a cracked chassis cross member and Carlyle/Dennis Dart 3098 (H245MUK) is also scrapped at Aylesbury.
Mercedes/Plaxton Beaver 2416 (N176DWM) has returned to Aylesbury to replace 3375."
Steve goes on to note that on:
Sat 29th Jan
Volvo/Plaxton Derwent 3080 was on loan today from HW and worked 61 Aylesbury-Luton.
Does anyone know which bus was involved?
Gavin Francis caught up with the little Cadet on the 320 at Princes Risboro' on the 24th January.
Graeme writes "I thought you'd be very interested to hear of an accident that
happened at Chesham High School this morning involving a Carousel Metrobus and a
I was in the IT rooms in the school and happened to be looking out the window. A Carousel Metrobus on route 337 (fleet no. M524 I think) was pulling into the school as usual but I didn't think anything of it, and looked back at my computer screen. However, this changed when suddenly there was a banging sound and the bus appeared to stop abruptly and my reaction was to look to see if it was going to try and reverse, but I suddenly saw that it had hit the wall by the staff car park! The exit door was promptly opened to let the kids off (it was full at the time) and there were teachers coming out to see what was going on. I couldn't believe what had happened.
After a few minutes the bus was moved forward away from the wall, but the damage was done. The front nearside of the bus was completely smashed in and the wall did not fare much better! I don't think it is a write-off but I am doubtful that the bus will be repaired as it is now one of the oldest vehicles in the Carousel fleet, being W-reg (24 years old). But, stranger things have happened to we may say it back in service again.
No other real news to report except that the green low floor DAFs are well and truly in service now- R984FNW was on route 336 this morning; it arrived minutes after the accident occurred."
We will have wait and see what happens to M524 but I can imagine the driver's embarrassment.
Last week I mentioned that 638 was fresh out of repaint and then received two pictures of the aforesaid bus. It however does seem that brush painting is still in progress as there were some comments from correspondents that it appeared to a brush paint rather than spray paint job. Cameras appear to have fitted during the overhaul.
Volvo 638 caught in the lens of Martyn Banham at Headington, looking very spruce.
Another repaint, this time returned from Loughborough where the work was carried out. Trident 105 back in green after a few years in red.
Again its look very smart and was caught on camera by Gavin Francis last week.
Another Gain Francis gem was Volvo 653 on the 300 Redbridge service on the 25th January.
I also saw one of this batch on the 300 at Redbridge last Friday.
Once again a Volvo/Plaxton X90 branded coach appeared on the X70 last Friday. This time it was nr 9.
See the article above in the editorial regarding the disposal of the last four of the Marshall bodied Darts. This batch will indeed be well spread around the world now.
One supposes that now the 105 is back
from Loughborough another Citaro (826 or 827) will have gone there in its
place for repainting into red.
Gavin Francis caught Olympian 2185NU at Stokenchurch on the 24th January on a school special.
Yes, Gain was busy last week and here is another picture from his lens.
Here 18180 operates on Bravos, maybe for the one and only time during its sojourn in Oxford.
It is seen loading at Carfax on 25th January 2005.
Workings noted in the past week by a number of you were 20543 on 3, 16521 on 7 and 16520 on 1. Also on Tuesday 18179 on the 29
Interesting news reaching me this week is about the X5 service. First there is a new branding to the livery and secondly it appears that one can book Megabus tickets on this service. Suzy Scott writes "Anyway, news more local to you is that Megabus are now booking seats on the X5 Cambridge - Oxford run. " http://www.megabus.com/timetable_cam_oxf.php
I was unable to check this evening as the Megabus site is down for maintenance.
One odd thing is that it appears that you
can also book through National Express tickets on the same service. Graham wrote
in some detail saying "I've
just been to the NX ticket office in Gatwick South Terminal and they were able
to sell a through ticket to Bicester for today, there were no available journeys
Indeed my mother once travelled from Oxford to Manchester via X5 and NX 540 changing at Milton Keynes.
However, I've just tried to look up routes on the NX website which would use the X5 but I can no longer find any routes using the X5 from 31 Jan, but for
travel today on 30 Jan it still permits the X5.
For example, using the NX website, for 31 Jan, Oxford to Cambridge tells you to change at Stansted but for the 30 Jan, times for the X5 are still offered. For Bicester to London, for today you can travel via X5 and Milton Keynes (with through ticketing), but for tomorrow it is unable to find any journeys.
This would suggest that the agreement that the X5 accepts NX tickets will cease today, with Bicester disappearing from the NX network. This would make sense as it seems unlikely that a service could accept both Megabus and NX tickets.
When you say 'this feature is also bookable after 7/3/05' do you mean it is still bookable in ticket agents, but no longer available online?
For those unaware, the X5 (Cambridge-Oxford) also appears in the NX counter guide as one of the 'third party' services, and as such through NX tickets are bookable onto this service.
This is the case even now with the frequency increased to half-hourly.
NX passengers can only board additionally at Bicester, Buckingham, MK, Bedford & St. Neots. Presumably that's pretty much all stops(??)
This feature is also bookable after 7/3/05 when the NX timetables change."
Certainly revised branding is now appearing on X5 coaches as shown in the picture below.
Volvo coach 52387, recently transferred from Perth, shows off the new branding now being applied to X5 vehicles.
After all the talk about coaches on the 66 last week saw fairly regular use of Dennis Darts from the 2000 batch, 33501-13. Some of this batch are branded for a service which goes to Devizes and Trowbridge. It seems strange to see the names of places on the service here in Oxford. Certainly both 33501 and 33505 have been used on this service in the past week.
33805 waits time on stand 10 at Gloucester Green last Friday when working on the 66 to Swindon from Oxford.
The loaned Manchester Tridents were expected to return north today as all of the five new Tridents have now been received. Several pictures were received this week and the new buses have now received fleet names and numbers.
Trident/Alexander body nr 4413/1
18196 KN54ZXL Trident/Alexander body nr 4413/2
18197 KN54ZXM Trident/Alexander body nr 4413/3
18198 KN54ZXO Trident/Alexander body nr 4413/4
18199 KN54ZXP Trident/Alexander body nr 4413/5
When Martin Banham took this picture of 18198 at Gypsy Lane last week it still had fleet numbers to be applied.
Chris Maxfield took this picture of 18199 at Wheatley Campus last Friday.
It has small white fleet numbers on the front whereas 96-98 have large red on the black.
For comparison I include another Chris Maxfield shot this time of 18051 from the first batch.
Out of interest the colour of the "bus" on the front has changed to red on the later batch.
Rob Williams writes
"Noted in service today were 4 out of the 5 new ALX400 tridents. Those seen were
18196-9, all but 18197 was on Brookes, 97 had been allocated to 7's.
It's very likely that at least four of the Manchester Tridents will return home on Sunday - Manchester quite urgently need them back now with 15 B10Ms still up at Carlisle."
Chris Maxfield followed up on Saturday with "18195 was delivered this morning. All 5 Manchester Tridents were been prepared this morning for transfer back up north.
Chris who has now joined Stagecoach added "I had 18199 for my second trip this afternoon. What nice buses these are, and oh how nice it smelt inside!!"
Suzy Scott advises that "News from the Megabus group is that the first Neoplan may well be on the first Aberdeen - London run of the day on Monday coming i.e. 31 January. Well, I might well stop by to get it on the way to work ;-) The launch is due for Aberdeen, Perth and Glasgow (so I hear) for Monday."
So everyone, if you in London or along the Megabus route from Scotland, keep your eyes open and lets see who is the first one with a picture of a fully branded new Neoplan Megabus.
Taken by Suzy Scott on the way into Glasgow BBS (Sat 22nd) 50056 on the X77. Note the spelling of one name on the destination !!
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