Spottings & Jottings
Issue nr 57 - April 19th 2012
If you wish to be included on a mailing list where I will
advise of any mid-week news please let me know
The April weather has been more like winter than April showers with quite a lot of heavy rain, such a change from the weather of only just over a week ago. Then we enjoyed unseasonably warm sunny days, ideal for photography.
The last week or so has seen a significant drop in bus group share prices which is of concern. One hopes that things will improve especially since travel by public transport, especially road is going to become more in demand as the price of fuel continues a seemingly never ending upward spiral.
I have a question which raise its head every time I drive through Oxford.
It is "Why do the traffic lights have such illogical sequences, especially at night time.
Even when there is nothing else in sight the lights go through a whole sequence causing delay and standing time?2
My logic says that in 2012, with all the technical advancement surely we can have a system of lights changing as required in the wee small hours.
The pedestrian lights in the high Street change even when there are no pedestrians in the night time causing vehicles to stand for what reason? - one can only wonder.
I would love some answers.
FREE TRAVEL FOR LONDON MARATHON COMPETITORS
· Offer open to all participants in this major charity event
· Services run from Oxford to London up to every 10 minute
London Marathon takes place on 22 April 2012, and is
largest annual fundraising event on the planet – runners have raised over
Oxford Tube confirmed today its continuing support of those who work so hard to complete the London Marathon each year by offering free travel for all participants.
The Oxford Tube service runs up to every 10 minutes between Oxford and Hillingdon, Shepherd’s Bush, Notting Hill Gate, Marble Arch and Victoria, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Carole Stevens, Oxford Tube Manager said “We are
really pleased to be showing our support for the runners again this year.
Also, the money that many of them raise for their chosen charities has never
been so important, so we wanted to do our bit to make sure that the
charities can benefit from every penny raised.”
She continued, “Even if you are simply going to
London to show your support, the Oxford Tube is a great way to get there.”
Participants should simply show their official race number to the driver in order to travel. For everyone else, fares start from as little as £13 return, with up to two children travelling for free.
For more information, visit www.oxfordtube.com or call 01865 772250.
Dates for your diary
Amersham & District Motorbus Society
Running Days 2012
Sunday 20 May SLOUGH based at Brunel Way adjoining new bus station and near railway station.
Sunday 24 June UXBRIDGE based at Chippendale Way, R/0 The Chimes Shopping Centre, as previously
Sunday 19 August HEMEL HEMPSTEAD based at bus station, Waterhouse Street
Sunday 7 October AMERSHAM based at car park near railway station
When readers take copies of pictures from the OCBP site
Some of the contributors to this site have noticed that their pictures are appearing on e-bay sites selling such things.
Needless to say this is a theft of copyright and one which I deplore!
I would not wish to have to watermark photographs, thereby making them unsalable as such but if this practice continues I shall be left with no alternative. I am sure this would detract from the pleasure so many of you get from the OCBP.
May I please ask readers to do two things?
1/ If you see any photos on sale please let me know and where they are appearing.
2/ If you are someone who has copied and sold photos please desist as this is theft and I will have to take legal action against anyone found doing so.
The site is free to all readers and I pay a price to publish the pages which is not passed on.
Please respect those freedoms and I hope I may not have to mention this matter again.
The level of contribution to this page by readers, as ever, remains excellent! Thank you all.
Malcolm Crowe - Editor - OCBP - April 19th 2012
Observations and pictures
writes "Here are some photographs I took yesterday of the coaches at the Wycombe V Carlisle match yesterday at Sands industrial estate.
Gavin Francis writes with several pictures.
A few pics from 100412
I cannot believe you could get 14 cases in that rack!
Driver tells me he thinks they have bought 50 of them!
I cannot believe you could get 14 cases in that rack!
Luke Braham writes "Today I went to Milton Keynes and saw Z&S of Aylesbury running an Enviro 200 with the registration OU12 CZV being used on route 33/33A but I went outside by The Food Centre to get a picture but there was a Dennis Dart running the service then. I will try to get a picture next time I go to Milton Keynes.
The Red Rose Enviro 300's are used on Milton
Keynes Route 19 to Newton Leys. They was not used on the service today but
Enviro 200 OU07 FKH and a Dennis Dart. But I have seen the new Enviro 300's
on the service but just not today so no picture again, just my luck! "
Pictures by Gavin Francis.
Above pictures by M Crowe.
Not unexpectedly Carousel, now under the wing of Oxford bus renumbered the fleet into the OBC series, following on from the Thames Travel fleet and its own. Details of the renumbering were kindly provided by the company.
Renumbering of fleet
From 1st April, the fleet was renumbered into the Oxford Bus Company sequences.
This followed a similar exercise a short while ago with the Thames Travel fleet.
The new numbers have been applied in gold transfers behind the driver’s cab offside, alongside the front entrance door and low down at the offside on the rear boot.
415-417 (STL 9,10,11) AF53 GCX, GCY, GCZ (MAN 14.220/ MCV Stirling)
418-419 (EVO 12,15) AE59 AWH, AWJ (MAN 14.240/ MCV Evolution)
420-424 (ENV 16-20) RX60 DLY, DLZ,DME, DMF,FKF(MAN 14.240/ AD E200)
471-473 (AL 1,2,3) C1,C2,C3 WYC (Irisbus Agoraline)
481 (DAF 981) R981 FNW (DAF SB220/ Plaxton Prestige)
521 (DAF 54) CB54 BUS (DAF SB120/ Wright Cadet)
561-562 (DPL 423, 479) P423, P479 MLE (Dart SLF/ Plaxton Pointer)
751-753 (P 22,24,25) YX07 HNO, YX07 HPJ, RK07 BNF (Plaxton Primo)
871-872 (MB 51,53) CB51, CB53 BUS (M-B Citaro)
873-875 (MBA 26,27,28) AE61 EWO, EWP, EWR (M-B OC500U/ MCV Evolution)
918-922 (EVL 4,5,6,7,8) PN02 XBZ, XCA, XCK, XCS, XCT (Volvo B7TL/ East Lancs)
923-924 (L 530,534) G530, G534 VBB (Leyland Olympian/ Northern Counties)
925-927 (L 554,556,563)
H554, H556, H563 GKX
(Leyland Olympian/ Leyland)
Several vehicles are not renumbered as they are likely to be disposed of fairly soon:
DMS 8 (R708 MEW), DMS 23 (S523 KFL) Dart SLF/Marshall
DPL 480 (P480 MLE) Dart SLF/ Pointer
BL 21 (MP56 BUS) BMC Hawk
DAF 976 (R976 FNW) DAF SB220/ Plaxton Prestige
PVL 58,91,210,211 (W458, W491WGH, Y801, Y811 TGH) have
retained their London numbers.
Richard Sharman visited High Wycombe and took a number of interesting pictures on April 7th.
The new depot
Former W & D Tempo being prepared
. I am told that more of these buses are expected from W&D. The A & TV Circle report that 2501/2/3 are already with the company.
(Please note all depot shots taken from depot fence)
All above pictures taken by Richard Sharman
Mike Bennett visits High Wycombe and Carousel
"I was in High Wycombe Bus Station for a short
while on Saturday April 7th around lunchtime. Of the many photos I took, the
most interesting are the ones of Carousel Buses, one of the recent additions
to the Go Ahead fold.
Several buses were seen, and most have been renumbered to fall in line with the Oxford Bus Company and Thames Travel numbering schemes. Two of the three new Mercedes-Benz OC500U/MCV C124 RLE Evolutions presented themselves, and very smart they look. They carry new fleet numbers 873/4, with 875 as the third member of the group. These numbers follow 871/2, their own M-B Citaros, which in turn follow on from the OBC Citaros, the last of which is 870.
The Carousel MAN 14.220 / MCV Stirlings, and the MAN 14.240 / MCV Evolutions and MAN 14.240 / ADL Enviro200s, have new numbers starting at number 415 through to 424, following on from the Thames Travel MAN 14.220 / MCV Stirling and Evolutions, which end at 414.
Double deck buses, presumably all highbridge, follow the Thames Travel fleet numbers that finish at 917, an ex Go Ahead Brighton and Hove Trident / East Lancs, with 918 - 922, Volvo B7TL / East Lancs from London General.
Presumably the Marshall Capital bodied Dart SLF, DMS 23, still with the old fleet number, is due for early withdrawal, as similar DMS 8 and 13 have been sold to a dealer."
All above pictures by Mike Bennett.
Reported by The Thames Valley and Aldershot
Interest Circle is the fact that four Olympians with NCME bodies are
expected. These are R267/9/70/87 and come from Go – North East. They are in
yellow at present and have not arrived at High Wycombe. Therefore this
transfer may not be correct.
Therefore this transfer may not be correct.
Also reported is that Citaro MB52 went for scrap.
I note that from January 3rd earlier and later services were introduced on the 336 as 336X and operate direct, missing out Chorleywood Village or Rickmansworth High Street.
Late news and pictures - 19th April.
The first Tempo appears to have entered service, 803 pictured below in Carousel livery with fleet number and legals. It was parked in Wycombe Bus Station this afternoon, 19th April.
Another picture taken this afternoon is off Volvo decker 918 working a 643 schools service to Stokenchurch and Radnage. I think I'm correct in saying that this is now the only service to Radnage. Obviously there is a morning inbound journey.
All above pictures by M Crowe on April 11th and 19th.
Julian Wells sent two pictures of recent acquisitions to this fleet. Pictures of the coaches when operating wioth York Pullman can be seen by clicking the links below the picture titles.
Ex York Pullman 232 DB08YPB
Ex York Pullman 279 YK10BUS
Wilf Lewis sent a nice
picture of a recent repaint, a
sent a nice picture of a recent repaint, aDennis Dominator - East Lancs
Chassis Type:- Dennis Dominator
Chassis No:- DDA1031/1023
Body Type:- East Lancs
Body No:- EL A9708
Regn No:- H804 AHA
Regn New:- 08 / 1990
Delivered New To:- Midland Red North 804
Hedley Shanks writes "I have just received some great photos of E153OMD, which we sold to Stuart Boxall of the Bromley Bus Preservation Society.
It was just about to make a one way journey to Barnsley when he rang out of the blue to see if we still had it and the rest is history.
He said to use these photos as you wish but I think he has done a fine job as we can see when it made its' first appearance at the M & D rally at Detling on the 31st March.
summary might be of interest. Figures refer to UK Coach:
*Revenue from NX coaches was £259.1 million
*Profit was £34.9 million
*Profits up 9.1% on 2010
*Operating margin 13.5%
* 80% of coach ops outsourced
*Mileage increased by 1%
*Fuel costs reduced by 3%
*Customer satisfaction rose to 84% (2010 was 76%)
*Kings Ferry to provide police transportation to Met Police for Olympics
Unusually for 2012 a brand new Scania/Caetano Levante tri-axle YN12 CZJ
has been noted in service with Bruce's Coaches. See this link.
Unusually for 2012 a brand new Scania/Caetano Levante tri-axle YN12 CZJ has been noted in service with Bruce's Coaches. See this link.
David Allen also got a picture of the coach operating the 539 service
through Oxford by Bruce's coaches.
David Allen also got a picture of the coach operating the 539 service through Oxford by Bruce's coaches.
The very latest news is that the company has been successful in gaining part-funding from the government for the purchase of a further 19 electric hybrid double deck buses.
Oxford bus have this time decided to buy Volvo chassis with Wright bodywork of similar style to those now delivered to Brighton & Hove. The 19 new buses will replace the 100 series Tridents which are now 14 years old.
The return to Wright's bodywork last favoured for the 800 series Volvos recently retired from the city fleet is notable.
The company's current fleet list is included on their web site at the following link:
Fleet update - 31 March 2012
Renumbered : 81/82 to
51/52 and Re-liveried (3/12): 51 to Ashmolean Museum livery and 52 to
Creation Theatre livery.
The above coaches can be seen on all express services.
83-99 to X90 livery
Withdrawn : 29-46
Sold : Trident 909 to PC Coaches, Lincoln.
A recent addition to the service fleet is this crew bus which is pictured in Gloucester Green by Dave Allen.
Grimstone from Brighton and Hove writes that e
writes that ex B&H Volvos R218 HCD and R225 HCD which are with Oxford bus as training vehicles, appear to have been re-reg ?
Can anyone confirm this fact please?
William Devenish writes
"Firstly please accept my thanks and a pat on the
back for the sterling effort you do with the OCBP- I have been an avid
reader since 2003! Please tell me you have a 10 year anniversary celebration
planned later in the year?
Anyway my main love is
aviation and I often read the pages of Airliners.net in particular the trip
reports section. Imagine my surprise when I see the following picture in a
trip report by a British guy about his recent flight between Banda Ache
(sadly of Tsunami fame) and Medan in Indonesia.
I could hardly believe my eyes and the best bit she
still has Oxford Bus Company logos on the side of her!
I have emailed the author of the report asking if
you can share the picture on your site. Hopefully he will be so kind to
I do wonder how she has managed to get all the way
out there? IIRC these buses (forgive me I am unsure of the model etc) used
to operate to Wolvercote?
Permission has been
granted for the picture- guy is Gabrielchew (his username on
he wants a link to the round up when you publish
Several buses were donated after the Tsunami disaster and these included some buses from Oxford. The following link refers. Ed.
Bob Stanger writes sending images from Reading showing the new Wright produced Streetlites' that have entered service to replace most if not all of the Optare Solos in the fleet.
Streetlites shown are 153 on route 29 and 154 on route 19 .
Edward Neal writes "I took this bus on a tour of Leighton Buzzard, Bletchley, Central Milton Keynes and Westcroft District Centre last Easter Monday. It was also out on Rt. 275 Oxford - High Wycombe on Tuesday the 10th."
Enviro 300 22762 is the latest repaint and looks very smart indeed as seen in the picture by Gavin Francis below. Note the larger fleet numbers now being used.
Richard Sharman writes "Banbury's E200's have been branded as follows- three for the S4 and four for the 500 with one remaining in corporate livery as a spare. This picture shows an example of the new 500 branding." (I remember driving this bus the day it was delivered from Alexanders. Ed.)
Richard also notes that Johnsons have started to use the formerly Stagecoach Warwickshire operated Scania's after a period in store.
Further Scania K230UB / Alexander Dennis Enviro 300's for Northampton noted on delivery are KX12AKU / KX12AKV and KX12ANP.
Martin White writes " e
Martin White writes "
earning there keep in the town"
Lapthorn writes "
Lapthorn writes "Since the Gold d/d's were put into service on the Swindon to Oxford 66 route, loadings appear to have increased especially during peak hours. With the onset of the 'fuel crisis' loadings appear to have increased even more.
This is great news but there is a downside as well. The increased volume of passengers coupled with the fact that it takes longer to load and unload from a double decker than a single decker, has resulted in some journeys arriving at the terminals up to 10 minutes late! There is a 15 minute turn around time, but at the Oxford end of the route the driver may have no time for a break before returning to Swindon. At the Swindon end of the route this is less of a problem as there is always a crew change there. I suspect that if this continues the journey time allowance may have to be increased in due course.
So overall a great result from introducing
'luxury' double deckers so well done Stagecoach West. These new buses are
also so much more reliable than the s/d MAN's they replaced! "
writes "I said I would contact you about Abbey Travel, Selby, M.A.N. Jonckheere Monaco.
We had Hunters, Daventry testing a Skyliner,
a few weeks ago, but sadly no order. "
On Monday to Friday Oxford Tube has two park-up coaches in Sammy's at Victoria. As we can see from the picture below major resurfacing work is taking place in Sammy's which is closed for some days now.
As a result the two coaches are now being parked up at Hillingdon as seen in the picture below from Dave Allen taken on April 16th.
A significant development in the megabus.com story started on April 16th when the first services left for Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam. Full details can be found on the company website and on a journey I checked the outward fare was £4.00 and the return £10.00. Quite a bargain!
The first journey was worked by one of the ten Volvo B9R/Plaxton coaches allocated to these service, 53643 - KX61 GEY operating the 0900 to Paris. Gavin Francis was on hand to record the event at Victoria.
From Bob Stanger who writes "Rather a long time since I sent something to you, however, yesterday !6th April, I popped into Calcot Sainsbury's where you know all too well there is a drop off/pick up point for Nat/Ex and Megabus. To my surprise and pleasure I captured Stagecoach Gold 15523 operating the Megabus journey to Gloucester mid afternoon. A couple of images for you."
Alex Horwood writes
writes"I have managed to find out about some tender wins and changes to services
the 130 will extend to Wantage in place of the
36/X36, however I am unsure of how that will work .
the 114/115/116 will pass to Thames Travel from
the 97, formerly 107 (my local route along with
the 91) will return to Thames Travel
the 700 will pass from RH to Thames Travel
the 142 will also pass from go Goldline to
Steve Gee writes "Seen this morning, 5th April, at approx. 10:20 between J8A & J9 of the M40 heading north, a convoy of four Leyland TRCT East Lancs vehicles of Tiger Line. All were running on trade plates so assume they were leaving the fleet & heading for a dealer somewhere. I can't identify them exactly as they were too close together and there was traffic blocking my view but I think one of the registrations ended in 1722, but I don't seem to have an up to date fleet list for them.
Can anyone help me out there, I'd be grateful.
There was also a plain white coach with them
whose reg which I think ended in 106. "
16 Apr 2012
Transport group Stagecoach today launched a new network of low-cost coach services from the UK to Continental Europe – and revealed it was already investigating the potential for a cross-Channel sleepercoach.
The Group’s budget coach operator megabus.com today started running daytime and overnight coach services between its main hub in London and destinations in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Passengers can travel to Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Boulogne on a new £2.5m fleet of state-of-the-art coaches equipped with free wi-fi and toilets. There is also a dedicated Paris-Brussels-Amsterdam service. An interchange at London Victoria Coach Station also offers through services to and from locations in Scotland, England and Wales.
And Stagecoach pledged to shake up the European coach market with a combination of high quality travel and low-cost prices, with seats from just £1 or €11. Passengers travelling on the cheapest tickets pay just 0.5p per mile (0.3c per km) to go from London to Paris, 0.7p per mile (0.4c per km) from London to Brussels and 0.5p per mile (0.3c per km) from London to Amsterdam2.
Sir Brian Souter, Stagecoach Group Chief Executive, said: "We launched megabus.com in Scotland nine years ago and it has already transformed inter-city travel in the UK and North America. With the rising cost of living, rocketing fuel prices and running a car becoming more and more expensive, everyone is looking to make their money go further.
"For too long, people in many parts of Europe have been paying too much for their coach travel. Our new network offers families, students and tourists great value fares and high-quality coaches. These services will deliver a long-overdue shake-up to the over-priced European coach travel market."
Bookings for the new services can be made through www.megabus.com and already many trips are sold out. French and Dutch language websites trading in Euros will be launched soon.
In the meantime, customers in France, Belgium and the Netherlands can book through a network of approved travel agents. Full details are available online at: http://uk.megabus.com/megabuscom.aspx. See below for details of European services and pick-up/departure points.
megabus.com, the award-winning budget travel operator, already covers around 60 locations in the UK and more than 70 major cities in the United States and Canada.
The low fares coach service runs in and out of the heart of major cities, avoiding extra transfers and waiting associated with air travel. Clear low-cost pricing, with no extra fees for luggage or airport taxes, contrasts with budget airlines criticised for pricey add-ons to basic fares.
Stagecoach also revealed today that it is investigating the potential for a sleeper coach service between the UK and Europe. The company is working in partnership with Belgium manufacturer Van Hool on a 15-metre concept vehicle, based on its Astromega double-decker coach.
Van Hool already manufactures double-decker coaches used on the Group’s megabus.com services in the UK and North America. Astromega double-decker coaches are also used on Stagecoach’s Oxford Tube, Europe’s most frequent express coach service running up to every 10 minutes, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Current designs would see the sleepercoach fitted with 48-seats and tables for use during the daytime, which could be converted into 43 bunks on overnight services.
megabus.com already operates a sleepercoach service between Glasgow and London seven nights a week, using specially-refurbished single-deck articulated coaches.
Sir Brian added: “Our new routes to France, Belgium and the Netherlands have already been extremely popular. Based on our experience in the UK, we are also very excited about the potential for sleepercoach services across the Channel and look forward to continuing to develop our concept vehicle.”
megabus.com was launched in Scotland in 2003 and expanded to the United States in 2006. The popular service provides carries around 5 million passengers in the UK every year. More than 16 million customers have travelled with megabus.com in North America since the launch in April 2006 and the service has expanded rapidly over the past 12 months.
Visit www.megabus.com to book and find information about services, stops, schedules, arrival and departure times and fares.
Details of megabus.com European services:
Pick-up and departure points for new megabus.com services in Europe
MANAGING DIRECTOR OF STAGECOACH UK BUS TO RETIRE NEXT YEAR
· Les Warneford to be succeeded by Robert Montgomery from May 2013
· Robert Montgomery appointed Deputy UK Bus MD as part of succession planning
Stagecoach Group announced on 11 April 2012 that Les Warneford, Managing Director of its UK Bus division, is to retire next year.
Les Warneford, a former bus conductor and one of the UK bus industry's longest-serving managing directors, will step down from the post on 1 May 2013 when he will be succeeded by Robert Montgomery, currently Service Performance Director.
As part of the Group's succession planning, Robert Montgomery has been appointed Deputy Managing Director, Stagecoach UK Bus, effective 1 May 2012. He will work closely with Les Warneford over the next 12 months to ensure a smooth handover of responsibility.
Stagecoach is one of UK's biggest bus and coach operators, with around 2.5 million passengers travelling on the company's 7,700 buses every day. The award-winning company has around 25,000 employees across the UK.
The company's network stretches from south-west England to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and it includes major city bus operations in London, Liverpool, Newcastle, Hull, Manchester, Oxford, Sheffield and Cambridge.
Sir Brian Souter, Stagecoach Group Chief Executive, said: "Les has played a very significant role in Stagecoach's success. He has headed a division which has provided consistently strong operational delivery, the best value fares to customers, huge levels of investment and industry-leading financial performance, as well as an exceptional track-record of passenger growth.
"Robert has spent a decade with Stagecoach and has overseen the strong growth of our bus companies in the south of England, as well as expanding our megabus.com budget coach operation in the UK. I am confident he will build on these strong foundations. We also have a talented and experienced wider senior management team at our UK Bus division, and a strong network of regional bus companies who have the power and flexibility to run their businesses locally."
Robert Montgomery - whose first job in the industry was as a seasonal bus
conductor in Paisley, Scotland - has nearly 40 years' experience of
regulated and deregulated markets in the bus and coach sector.
After completing a degree at the University of Glasgow in 1974, he spent two years as a graduate trainee with the National Bus Company based in Darlington. He then held various management roles in Newcastle, Whitley Bay and Wakefield before being appointed Area Manager Derbyshire with Trent Motor Traction in 1980. He then held senior management positions with Red Bus, North Devon; United Transport Buses; and South Yorkshire Transport.
Robert Montgomery is a former Managing Director of Dublin Bus and ex- Director (Scotland) with First Group plc. He has also worked as a freelance consultant on behalf of the World Bank and been a non-executive Director of GM Buses (South) Limited. He has been Stagecoach UK Bus Service Performance Director since 2002.
The other members of the UK Bus senior management team are: Colin Brown, Finance Director; Robert Andrew, Regional Director (North), and Sam Greer, Regional Director (Scotland).
Les Warneford is an Exeter University graduate. During his career, he has been a bus conductor, driver, clerk, traffic officer, traffic superintendent, and operations director in Bradford, Leicester, Grimsby and Staffordshire.
In 1990, he returned to Grimsby as Managing Director of Grimsby Cleethorpes
Transport which was acquired by Stagecoach in 1993. Under Stagecoach, he
became General Manager Warwickshire (1994), Managing Director Cumbria
(1994), Managing Director Manchester (1996), Regional Director Midlands and
North West (1998) before being appointed UK Bus Managing Director in 2000.
He has three adult daughters and lives with his wife, Aileen, in Buxton,
Scania to launch UK gas bus
Following significant success in a number of Swedish cities and other
locations around the world, Scania (Great Britain) Limited in conjunction
with Alexander Dennis is to launch a gas bus into the UK.
It follows MAN’s entry into the UK gas bus market – which has seen it win orders for 21 buses from Arriva – part funded by the Green Bus Fund Round 3 – this week.
Scania will supply its KUB chassis and
high-pressure lightweight composite tanks to ADL for fitting an adapted
Enviro300 43-seat, 12.2-metre body. The bus will be available via both
Scania and ADL.
The bus, with Scania's 270hp EEV 9.3-litre
five-cylinder energy-efficient lean-burn gas engine, with no need for
exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) can operate on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)
The unit is based on the same platform as Scania's modular-build 9.3-litre diesel engine, which limits the number of new components required for the gas chassis to around 40 items.
Coach ban on M4 in London 29th March
A weight restriction has just been introduced on the M4 in west London by
the Highways Agency and, it says “will remain in place until further
It is between junctions 1-3 westbound and
junctions 3-2 eastbound.
Vehicles weighing more than 17 tonnes will be directed to follow a signed diversion route between these junctions via the A312 and the A4.
The Highways Agency says that the restriction is a “precautionary measure,” after a scheduled inspection on the Boston Manor viaduct, just west of junction 2, identified a “possible need for maintenance work.”
The restriction is “not expected to increase journey times on the M4” says the Highways Agency, but warns that drivers on the A4 and the A312 diversionary route “are advised to keep up to date with traffic conditions and allow extra time for their journeys if necessary.”
M4 weight restriction toughened 30th March
Hard on the heels of yesterday afternoon’s decision to ban vehicles over 17 tonnes on the M4 in West London; overnight the Highways Agency reviewed its position and toughened the ban to all vehicles over 7.5 tonnes.
The emergency ban comes after an inspection of Boston Manor viaduct, just west of junction 2, identified a “possible need for maintenance work.” No date has been set for lifting the ban.
A signed diversion is via the A312 and the A4, which is expected to be very
busy, lengthening journeys, especially at peak times.
2012 by Geoff Cunliffe
2012 by Geoff Cunliffe
Geoff writes to update
on matters concerning the new trams in Blackpool.
"I have managed to get hold of a copy of the Blackpool tram timetable which is in their latest timetables booklet although not on their website. I have managed to scan it on my wind-up laptop (isn't XP slow?) for those of you who, like me, enjoy playing with timetables.
It looks fairly straightforward, but I cannot quite work out how the 09NS35 actually gets to Fleetwood, and that little early morning section is not quite as simple as it looks methinks.
There is also the page from the booklet referring to the use of the heritage trams. I guess they will be for sale next!
I understand the trams will run a more intensive
service (a) as summer approaches, and (b) when they have got all the fleet.
I think we are up to number 11 in deliveries to date.
There is an item about the new Blackpool trams on the BBC News web page at:-
There is also a slightly speeded up cab ride from Starr Gate to Talbot Square at
As you may know, there is a VIP trip today with “full” service starting
tomorrow. Wonder why they wanted 16 new trams when their PVR seems to be
six? Especially when they have the a handful of balloons and the odd other
car to supplement the service in addition to the heritage fleet.
Today’s reports of the first public day of tram operation, marred when the first one derailed at Fleetwood at 5.55am this morning! Studying the VT footage, it took place at the first corner after leaving The Ferry, i.e. where the track turns right from Queen’s Terrace to run up the right hand side of Pharos Street past the lighthouse. As some locals said when interviewed, the ‘proper’ tram's managed not to be derailed by sand for 126 years but it happened to the new tram on the first day!
After the expenditure of £100m and four years of
effort, Blackpool has its new SuperTram system. It replaces that which has
served the town for 126 years and which had, at its peak, about 140 trams.
It hasn’t always gone terribly well. The first
plan was thrown out by the Government as being too extravagant as it
proposed a transport system extending far beyond Blackpool’s boundaries and
taking over some rail routes which still carry trains. However, a watered
down system, basically just replacing the last remaining line along the
Promenade to Fleetwood, was approved.
There were many arguments about the location of a
new depot for the system, where logic appeared to be ignored and the
Planning Permission decision to position it at Starr Gate was called-in by
Government, although quickly accepted.
The choice of new trams was not straightforward,
with many supporters opting for the TramPower unit which had been on test in
the town for some years during its development but which rather ruled itself
out by catching fire on the Promenade whilst on a test run. The larger,
costlier, more complex German-built Bombardier Flexity-2 units were
We got a first sight of them last September as
the first of the sixteen was publicly launched in a show punctuated with
clouds of dry ice and scantily clad ladies miming to violin music. Since
then, we have had tantalizing glimpses of the new cars on test and on
training duties as twelve of the sixteen have now been delivered.
As the launch day approached, a timetable was
published which gave a basic twenty minute service during the day, although
we had been promised a ten minute one. However, those of us who enjoy
reading timetables realized all was not well, and a revised one was issued
even before the service started! The first tram out is 5am, and the last one
doesn’t get back to the depot until 1.15am. Not for several years have we
seen such a long operating day which, it is hoped, will attract commuters
and late night revelers as well as the normal daytime passengers.
On Monday 2nd April, a full day’s
ghost running took place, testing the system albeit without passengers. On
Tuesday 3rd. April, a ceremonial tram carried dignitaries and
some competition winners along the line to Fleetwood, pausing for speeches
Wednesday 4th. April saw the first car
in passenger service, numbered 006, depart from Starr Gate at 5am where some
forty enthusiasts (I thought there would have been more) had queued for the
privilege of riding on the first journey. It arrived at Fleetwood about an
hour later where it promptly derailed due to sand in the tracks causing the
service to be cut back to Ash Street until about 10am! As the day
progressed, there were some heavy loadings, leading to the timetable
becoming a fiction. A friend waited thirty-five minutes for a southbound
tram at Cleveleys,- and this on a theoretical twenty minute headway. He said
that whilst the new trams are nice, you could have been riding on one
anywhere in Europe whereas there was nothing like a proper Blackpool tram.
Martin Roberts, General Manager of Blackpool
Transport Services, was quizzed by the television teams. He admitted they
could have done without the derailment, and added that much of this season
would be a learning curve for them. Given that trams have operated in
Blackpool for 126 years, and have experienced all the political, social,
economic, technical and environmental changes of that period, it makes one
wonder what there is still to learn.
Thursday 5th. April brought another day and another set of problems. Modified Balloon 713, now an overall advertiser for the Houndshill Shopping Centre, appeared and was meant to run from Starr Gate to Fleetwood alongside the Flexities. Due to problems with its doors, it only ran as far as Norbreck, which created massive problems and necessitated other trams turning short. It eventually limped to the Little Bispham turning loop.
There have been the funnies about the upgrade
too. It seems clear that the emphasis has been to provide a modern
infrastructure for the basic Star Gate to Fleetwood Ferry principal route
and many of the quirks beloved by enthusiasts have gone. Now missing is the
crossover at Harrowside, a little used but fascinating short-working
reversing point; the double track turning loops at the Pleasure Beach and
the single track one at Little Bispham have both had their layouts
simplified and are now offer fewer permutations for turning and relocating
cars. The three track section by The Tower has gone and Talbot Square has
reduced parking and reversing facilities, with the third track appearing to
be a loading point for the heritage tram tours. It does, however, have
points already installed for an extension up Talbot Road to link to North
Station (BR) and the site of the proposed new shopping centre, Talbot
Gateway, of which more later. And yet, the crossover in Fleetwood along
North Albert Street has been retained - whenever did a car last turn there?
Probably the same time as one did at Harrowside!
Not all the updates went well at first either.
How many of the tales are apocryphal is not known but it is said that
sections of track in Fleetwood had to be relayed because they were
significantly too high. The layout at Bispham had to be redone to provide
greater space on the third track for short working cars. Part of the
tramroad along the north shore had to be redone because it was more of a
switchback when relayed than it was initially. Sections of track were laid
too closely together given the new cars are wider than the older ones, and
there have been persistent tales of clearance problems and the flags between
the tracks being dug up and reset. Then there has been the contentious
closing of the crossing at Lauderdale Avenue in Cleveleys, and what about
the closure of the Permanent Way yard at Thornton Gate? Some of the access
ramps to the loading platforms have had to be rebuilt because they were too
steep. The early installation of points at Foxhall Square to access the
proposed new depot at Blundell Street has been overtaken by events but at
least they can be lifted and used elsewhere.
During the speeches at Cleveleys on preview day, the Minister of Transport, Norman Baker, said he was very keen to support extensions to light rail systems having already authorized them in Nottingham and Manchester. This was taken as a positive reference to the proposed extension from Talbot Square to North Station and the Talbot Gateway development, returning trams to Talbot Road for the first time since the 1930s. He even went so far as to say that extending tram routes linking all major transport sites on the Fylde coast, could be on the cards. Tim Ashton, Lancashire County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport went so far as to say “we are going to have an electrified rail line to North Station with new trams”. We’ll see.
Looking forward, we have been promised another
new timetable for July, and it is expected that the much heralded ten minute
frequency will appear.
Of course we wish the venture well, but there
will be many problems to overcome. Staff costs are a prime example, with
cars on a ten minute frequency (okay, maybe only at peak times during the
day) with a driver and two conductors, costs will be the same as running the
heritage double deckers, and where will all the passengers come from. On
launch day, many people interviewed for the local paper said they would use
the new cars; let’s hope they do.
I am sorry this report is a bit dry with no pictures. As our editor knows, I
have been incapacitated due to major orthopedic surgery recently, but I hope
to be back out and about before too long - with my camera.
Go for a ride on a new Blackpool tram of course.
Margaret drove us to the Starr Gate area although we actually boarded at stop two, Harrow Place. We caught the 2pm departure, unit 011, which was pretty full, possibly because the 1.40pm hadn’t materialized. Along the way, other passengers managed to be crammed in until the car resembled the Northern Line at rush hour. We were carrying two conductors but saw many people leave without paying. It was almost impossible for them to get round because you could hardly move as a result of the loading. Cars coming in the opposite direction were, with one exception, similarly full.
As one of my friends remarked, smooth they are, soulless they are! Yes you could be in Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield or, presumably Budapest. They also have the same irritating feature that the Virgin Trains Voyager/Pendalino units have - in total contradiction to the laws of Physics, there are more seats facing rearwards than facing forwards, whichever direction the tram is moving! Why don’t they have flip-over seats like proper trams do so they all face the direction of travel?
We travelled as far as Cabin. The stops seem to be curious with long gaps in some parts of the route then some very close together. Also, many have changed location - the Manchester Square northbound stop seems to be half way towards Central Pier, and the southbound Talbot Square stop is quite a way from Talbot Square.
We didn’t have to wait too long for a southbound tram, number 001, to take us back again. Once more it was heavily loaded but had emptied appreciably by the Pleasure Beach. Enthusiasts will be pleased that there is a good forward view through the driver’s cab, and a mass of controls and readouts to try to identify.
Once we get past the school holidays (and the sand stops blowing - just in case), we’ll have a ride along the full length to Fleetwood."
Andrew Buckingham visits the USA
Andrew sent pictures following a recent visit to the USA. Coach USA and Megabus are of course part of parent company The Stagecoach Group.
Marcus Lapthorn visits East Anglia
We spent 5 days in Norfolk recently. On one of the days I went to Lowestoft and then on to the East Anglia Transport Museum at Carlton Colville.
Photo 349 shows a bus that is headed for the
Bernard Mathews turkey processing plant I imagine.
Photo 350 shows a well laden Nightingales mini bus with two extra 'passengers' on the roof (Indian style).
The weather was dire being freezing cold and very
wet! Two ex Newcastle trolleybuses (London style) are currently on loan to
the East Anglia Transport Museum, from Beamish Museum. I recall running for
one of these trolleys in the 1960's and just about grabbing the platform
rail, before the trolleybus shot off at great speed! The acceleration of
these vehicles was terrific.
Photo 355 shows ex Portsmouth Corporation BUT 313
- the last trolleybus to run in my home city. I and my friends were on this
historic journey on 27 July 1963.
David Stewart-David writes “I've been printing some negatives which have being lying around since the 1970s and have come across pictures of 192 AWL
taken near Newcastle Airport c 1976.
The bus has "Oxford Circus" in the blind and has a thumping great dent in the near side top deck and a missing front window.
The bus was being used as a promotion base for Peter Robinson, carrying "Miss UK" who features in one of the pictures below.
Was the bus subsequently scrapped? And do you know when it was sold by COMS
Buses in the Landscape
Golden Tours are now operating a special
service between Victoria and the Harry Potter Experience at Leavesden
They are using ex Stagecoach London Tridents with a special all over wrap livery and luxury interiors.
Golden Tours are now operating a special
service between Victoria and the Harry Potter Experience at Leavesden
Links & Publications
Mike Penn's interesting web site for pictures
You might be interested to know that I have now uploaded 268 photos taken in Beds, Bucks and Herts in the year 2000 to my website - http://166emj.piwigo.com/index?/category/50-beds_bucks_and_herts_photographs_2000
One of the major events of the year was the purchase by Arriva the Shires of the City of Oxford operation in High Wycombe on December 13th. Two days later, as can be seen from the photographs, vehicles had received Arriva The Shires fleet names and legal lettering but retained their Oxford fleet numbers.
The other major event was the enforced sale of the Lutonian operation by Arriva the Shires.
Both Arriva The Shires and Arriva East Herts & Essex continued to repaint vehicles into Arriva livery though there were still many in previous liveries.
Elsewhere in the region M K Metro continued their policy of purchasing various interesting secondhand vehicles. Some of these came from Border Buses – the company in Lancashire that M K Metro had bought.
Buffalo Travel continued to run but Seamarks were taken over by Dunn-Line early in the year.
independents are also represented.
Todays buses - Oxfordshire
This review covers the September 2010 video by Robin Clare Transport. The issue costs £10 and is well worth this small cost for over one hour of buses and coaches in our area.
The most surprising thing are the changes one can see in only just over
18 months and as such viewers will enjoy a pleasant hour or so bringing back
The most surprising thing are the changes one can see in only just over 18 months and as such viewers will enjoy a pleasant hour or so bringing back memories.
Click on the link above to order your copy now. Oh and do quote the
OCBP when doing so.
Click on the link above to order your copy now. Oh and do quote the OCBP when doing so.
Newbury & District History
Newbury & District History now available
Paul Lacey has now released his long awaited history of Newbury &
Paul Lacey has now released his long awaited history of Newbury & District.
The book covers the whole history of this fascinating company which
although based in Newbury was seen in Oxford, Harwell and many surrounding
The book covers the whole history of this fascinating company which although based in Newbury was seen in Oxford, Harwell and many surrounding areas.
Its coaches were often hired by South Midland who ran between Oxford &
London and there was quite a lot of interchange between the fleets, when
both owned by Red & White.
Its coaches were often hired by South Midland who ran between Oxford & London and there was quite a lot of interchange between the fleets, when both owned by Red & White.
The company ran from 1932 until 1951 but its memory lingers on within
Newbury and recent changes there reflect this.
The company ran from 1932 until 1951 but its memory lingers on within Newbury and recent changes there reflect this.
The book is exceptionally well researched and contains many photographs
plus memories and fleet lists of the company and its constituents.
The book is exceptionally well researched and contains many photographs plus memories and fleet lists of the company and its constituents.
Apart from the archaic Leylands, the company ran some AEC Regals after the war.
These were rebodied with ECOC/ECW bodies purchased from North Western Road Car, Stockport via dealers.
They had been new in 1936 on Bristol Jo5G chassis which were rebodied with Brush bodies in 1946 to a similar design.
Your Editor must have travelled on one of these buses, when in NWRCC service, as a small boy.
They would have doubtless run on service to Highclere, now well known as the house is featured in Downton Abbey.
The cover price is £25.00 but you can get the publication at a special
price of £20.00 for OCBP readers.
The cover price is £25.00 but you can get the publication at a special price of £20.00 for OCBP readers.
Just mention OCBP when ordering from:
Just mention OCBP when ordering from:
17 Sparrow Close
Berkshire RG41 3HT.