Issue 92

Sunday 29th August 2004
next update week ending 11th September 2004

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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This week was rather quiet and I have only a short report with a seeming dearth of reports from my correspondents. Some interesting news was forthcoming about the new lives of the old M A N Tubes but that was about the most major item.

I was interested to learn of plans for the interchange a Lewknor and I found the concept most encouraging. The Tube has for many years called at Lewknor and when the Watlington-Oxford service was operated by Stagecoach a connecting bus was run from Watlington to Lewknor. This has long since finished and now the county has stepped in, following a successful bid for Government funding, to introduce a new taxibus service in the area. This will offer new travel opportunities for those who do not have access to a car and encourage those who do to leave their car at home.  On the Watlington side of the motorway two lay-bys have been constructed on the west side of the A4009. The larger (and nearer the M40) of the two lay-bys will be for buses and taxis and the smaller - called a "Kiss and Ride" lay-by will be for private vehicles to pick up and set down passengers. The bus lay-by will be subject to a bus stop clearway and the "Kiss and Ride" lay-by restricted to a 20 minute waiting limit. I notice that cars are already using the lay-bys for parking and I wonder how restrictions are to be enforced. I cannot imagine a flying squad of city centre style parking wardens descending on illegally parked cars. In Oxford some wardens use scooters but these, whilst fine for the city, are hardly suitable for a long trip!!  It is intended to have pedestrian crossing facilities and a 40mph speed limit will be enforced.

Similar facilities are to be provided on the north side of the junction but these will be fitted into the existing slip road taper.

Illuminated wooden bus shelters, which will include a telephone link with with the taxibus operator will be provided at both  the locations plus a number of cycle racks. There will be limited street lighting and a crossing to The Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Completion of the scheme is timed to coincide with the introduction of the new local taxibus service on 27th September. This service will operate on Mondays to Fridays (including late evenings) and will focus on Watlington and Chinnor. It will also operate to and from Chalgrove and Thame during peak hours. A special Dial-a-Ride service will also be available for those with mobility impairments. All these services will be specifically designed to link into the Oxford Tube services. funding for the new bus service has been agreed for one year during which the level of use will be monitored.

When the scheme is completed there will be a slight loss in the number of parking spaces but it hoped that some car users will switch to the bus. A link with some background can be found at

David B wrote some weeks ago asking about a trip from London to Oxford. Dave drive for National Express and has sent an interesting report on a sampling of the two main operators on the route which I hope everyone finds interesting.

David writes "As you know I was planning a trip to Oxford and back. Today I finally accomplished this - which is quite fitting for me as my first passenger trip alone at the ripe age of around 12 was aboard a very old route 190 coach (a Tiger) I think between London and Oxford. These were in the days where whilst the speedo spent most of its time jammed against the stop at 80 mph, the climbs out of High Wycombe and up the hill Lewknor reduced speeds to less than 50 mph! 

I boarded Scania DF53OXF on the 10.00 departure from London Victoria. Much has been said about the excellent ambience of these coaches. I would like to add a few comments of my own. For the passenger the seating at the front is a little high for a good view out. One has to lean forward for the best view and the blinds were fully raised. There is much to be said about the number of cameras dotted around the coach not to mention the powered luggage lockers but I was wanted to see what performance was like compared with other new vehicles such as the B12M. The .. I am assuming it is a 5 speed ZF automatic box is extremely smooth in sharp contrast to the AsTronic box of the Neoplan Oxford tube I will describe later.  Acceleration was certainly brisk enough - there were around 30 passengers on board but not quite as fast as some B12Ms I have travelled on. Perhaps this particular vehicle was not the best example of a Scania but a kick down was needed in order to accelerate quickly from 90 to 100 kph. Incidentally this particular coach cruised easily at an indicated 100 kph with just over 1500 rpm on the clock - my GPS unit subsequently gave a reading of 98.5 - 99 kph. A note about speed limiter settings. HGVs weighing more than 7.5 tons have their limiters set at 85 kph plus a 5 kph technical tolerance so that they must not have a powered speed in excess of 90 kph. EC 92/24 states for PCVs weighing more than 7.5 tons the *set* speed is 100 kph so there can be a 5 kph tolerance allowing up to 105 kph. This can make a difference when overtaking 90 kph limited lorries. Nevertheless a National Express joined us from the M25 heading north on the M40. We matched its speed nearly exactly until the dip into High Wycombe when we were baulked by a van to 85 kph. Whilst the National Express coach, a Volvo B10M got stuck behind this van and could barely hold 80 kph out of High Wycombe, we reaccelerated in fine style to 98 kph well before the summit. Arrival in Oxford was well within the 100 minute allowance given.

On the return journey I boarded a Neoplan Oxford tube who's registration I could not make out from my admittedly hastily taken photographs. I was looking forward to seeing the AsTronic gearbox in operation, which is essentially an automatic gearbox with a clutch. The driver was saying care has to be taken when moving slowly or the gears will disengage and the coach will roll backwards. On top of that there is a small delay and an interruption of power between gear changes which makes for sluggish take offs. The gearbox seemed to be confused in town as well as there are 12 forward gears and sometimes there was a jerk as it decided which one to select.  These new Neoplans have 301 kw (403 hp) installed power which compares well with the 350 hp the old MAN coaches used to have. Incidentally, the Scania has 340 hp from its 11 litre engine. Once out of Oxford these coaches cruise really well on the M40 - although noted was the lack of cruise control a standard feature on most new coaches. At an indicated 102 kph the engine was turning just over 1200 rpm the lowest I have seen at that speed in a coach. After the call at Lewknor came the tough climb on the M40 and the Neoplan acquitted itself fairly well by topping the summit at 85 kph although we did only have about 20 passengers on. It is difficult to say whether the Scania could do any better. I felt very aware of the length and size of this vehicle particularly when passing lorries. On our journey we passed a Denis Trident double decker and did so again after our call into Hillingdon. The GPS confirmed that this coach was able to maintain 99.5 kph and frequently managed 100 or slightly over on even the slightest downgrade. Coming into London the front door continued to be a nuisance as it seemed to operate far too slowly and the odd squeak and rattle suddenly became noticeable as did the jerky operation of the gearbox but I am sure these problems will be ironed out on what is an excellent addition to the Stagecoach fleet. Our inability to start quickly was noticeable more in London especially compared with buses. The other features of these coaches are the low ceiling (which tall passengers may find disconcerting) but tables downstairs where the Scanias do not have them."

Thanks to David for that report which gives an interesting comparison between the best that both operators have to offer. The Scania is certainly good coach to drive and there is plenty of power on the climb mentioned on the M40. The new Neoplans seem equally at home on the M40 and are performing well. I spoke with a Clarkes driver today in Oxford who had a Setra with an ASTronic gearbox and his comments support those made by David. He told me that ZF have changed the programme on the gearbox of his coach a number of times and it is still a difficult box in London traffic. Time will tell if the Tube coaches improve and no doubt other readers will have their views.

John Bristow write enclosing a photo for the page saying "I was interested to see the picture of the RML carrying route 363 blinds in your report of 19 August and thought that you would like to see the attached photo of RML 2416 at the Penn Pond terminus of the route on 20 February 1966.  According to my records this is the date that RMLs started work from Wycombe garage.

RML 2416 on 20th February 1966 by John Bristow,

The cutting referred to by Ed Maun in his article below.

Ed Maun writes "I have been continuing, albeit slowly with my clearing out!  I have attached a copy of part of a page from the Commercial Motor dated 1st March 1946, which you may find interesting.    It reports on the resumption of the UCOC Oxford to London via High Wycombe coach service.    This of course was transferred to South Midland in 1952 and became their Route D under Thames Valley control, subsequently passing to City of Oxford MS in 1971.    As it used the old A40 road it is the precursor of today’s motorway service.   The coach is a Leyland Tiger with Burlingham bodywork, I think?"

Well on to the news of our local companies and many thanks for the continuing reports including the late ones received today..

Malcolm Crowe, Stokenchurch - 29th August 2004

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News of the local companies – 29th August 2004

Steve Warwick writes "....ex COMS Leyland Olympian 5828 (E228 CFC) has gone to Watford to be repainted into Arriva livery (Swan FM allover ad) and is then going to Arriva Southend. 

Merc 2240 (R760 DUB) has been painted into Arriva livery was allover ad for Interlink. 

The 10.15, X15  to Milton Keynes was worked by a red route Dart not sure which one yet."

Ed Maun writes "X15 branded Scania 3205 was running on the 323 Aylesbury to High Wycombe service today, Tuesday 24th August."



Oxford Bus now seem to have applied front wheel trims to the whole batch of Low floor Darts 401-410.

Volvo B10B 603 works a 2 road service and is seen in George Street a week ago..

Airline branded Volvo coach 70 was seen operating an X90 service last Saturday. Is this the first time one of this batch have operated an X90 since being branded for airport services?

Bus Monkey sent the following sightings.

Tue 24th
809 and 837 on 400
813 on 14

Wed 25th
14 on X70
602 on 5

Thu 26th
805 on 2
817 on 4

Fri 27th
803 and 807 on 2
830 on 13

Ian Pinnell wrote with similar sightings of B10BLEs on routes other than 5, 15 and 16s

A blast from the past was caught on camera today, Monday at Shepherds Bush.

Now approaching 20 years of age, ex COMS 907 is seen with Arriva "The Original Sightseeing Tour" in London
These coaches were all the rage when new and had a similar effect on the streets of Oxford as the latter day
M A N and Neoplan Tubes have in the past 5 years or so. Bus seats have replaced the coach seats
both upstairs and downstairs.

For comparison I took this shot of 904 on the X70 to Heathrow in 1990 in the old Gloucester Green.

Another Gavin Francis photo, this time of 22209 posed in Speedwell Street with the N15 display.
As mentioned before not so many people are around to see the night services.

Bus Monkey reports

Mon 23rd
16524 on 7/7C
22203 on 10
Also 16526 now single door

Tue 24th
34466 on 10

Thu 26th
16524 on 7/7C
33971 on 66

Ian Pinnell writes "42371 was at work on the 7 a few weeks ago, a very unusual working."

Gavin Francis noted last week that "Brookes Trident 18055 on 7/7C but subbed mid-morning. I have never seen this type of bus on any other than the Uni routes. Brookes MAN 22054 on Bravos but again subbed mid-morning and on the 10s were B10M 20009 and MAN 22203."

I received another report of a Brookes Trident working on the 1 last week. does anyone know which one? Obviously these buses are free at present due to the holidays.

On Saturday all 25 Neoplans were in service and in addition 50038 was also used in service. This was after a day on The Megabus Oxford service on Friday.

50038 is seen at Horspath between journeys to London last Friday.

M A N 34 was prepared and ready at Horspath on Saturday to leave for Scotland. As can be seen under the Megabus heading below many of these coaches are now painted blue.

Trevor Wilson writes "Stagecoach London  red Trident 18255 from Leytonstone seen at 08.00 outside Allsop Arms (near Baker Street) today (Mon 23 Aug) with running card LN01 in windscreen - presumably due to work the 08.30 London -> Oxford."

Gavin Francis recorded this bus when it arrived at Horspath for refuelling later in the day.

This picture by Gavin Francis shows 18255 at Horspath awaiting refuelling.

Today Monday saw this Leyton Megabus working the Oxford service. It is 13633 - G127WGX

I could not resist this shot which shows a Megabus with my initials in Green Line, Victoria.
13612 - J938MHC even has original Leyland wheel trims as delivered.

Rob Williams writes regarding the old Tubes now on Megabus work.

50045 - Western - for Motorvator service between Glasgow and Edinburgh (in red and white Motorvator livery)

50047 - Bluebird - for new Megabus services to Aberdeen and Inverness (in plain Megabus livery)

50048 - Bluebird - for new Megabus services to Aberdeen and Inverness (in plain Megabus livery)

50051 - Western - for service X77 between Glasgow and Ayr (in Stagecoach livery with X77 branding)

50053 - Western - for Motorvator service between Glasgow and Edinburgh (in red and white Motorvator livery)

50055 - Bluebird - for new Megabus services to Aberdeen and Inverness (in plain Megabus livery) 

The Aberdeen/Inverness services started on 23rd August, and the new Motorvator service starts on 6th September. I don't know about the X77. 

Only 50034/8 now remain at Oxford. These are due to leave in the next couple of weeks.

And then Rob adds "More additions to the list today thanks to a report from Gauvin Lewis of London:

50037 - Bluebird - in use on Megabus services (still in Oxford Tube livery)

50046 - Bluebird - for new Megabus services to Aberdeen and Inverness (in plain Megabus livery) 

50058 - Bluebird - for new Megabus services to Aberdeen and Inverness (in plain Megabus livery)

I suspect that the Jonkheeres will start on the Motorvator service when the new combined Megabus Motorvator timetable commences on the 6th September. It might be that they intend both this and the X77 to change (or start to change) to Jonkheeres at the same time."

Suzy then adds a few clarifications saying "A few clarifications are needed here. The "Aberdeen/Inverness" vehicles are being allocated primarily to Perth for the Aberdeen - Glasgow/London and Inverness - Edinburgh services, which have started last week as you described. The motorvator service is already in operation by Bruce Coaches & Longs Coaches, and when Stagecoach commence operation will probably run on loan to them for a few weeks as the registration for Service 900 by Stagecoach Glasgow Ltd. has just been accepted by the TC to start mid-October - same date as when the other two operators have withdrawn.

Service X77 is an existing service, by Stagecoach Western, and is due a re-launch either next week or the following week. Artics will mix (at least initally) with the MAN's."

Campbell Morrison wrote to mention his web page containing lots of pictures of M A N Oxford tubes in Megabus livery. A sample is produced below and I recommend his page to those interested.

50055 - Bluebird - for new Megabus services to Aberdeen and Inverness (in plain Megabus livery) 
Photo by Campbell Morrison.

Ben Morroll sent this picture of 50047 on contract work. The full sets of wheel trims on both 50055 and 50047 are noteworthy.

Woottens, Chesham

Ex-London & Country Leyland National Greenway B49F JIL2199 has been acquired via British Bus Sales (dealer). This bus is fitted with seat-belts and has been purchased for school services.

The last remaining ex-Redwing Volvo B10M / Plaxton Premiere C53/49Ft N289OYE is back in use following interior refurbishment.

Preserved Suburban Express demonstration Leyland National B51F RRM148M has been advertised for sale.

Volvo B12M / Jonckheere Millennium Mistral C51/53Ft W100 TEN (FE02 FCC) is entered in the Sheffield Road Transport Rally, which takes place on Sunday 12th September 2004. All are welcome to join us - coach tickets are priced at just £9.50 each. Lots of local pick-up points. Please contact us for details.

An updated company fleet list can be found at

Thanks to Michael Wootten for this update.

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This is a most interesting site which I do recommend

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