The page for enthusiasts in the Oxford Chilterns Area - News from you and news for you - pictures too  ~~~~   The page for enthusiasts in the Oxford Chilterns Area - News from you and news for you - pictures too  ~~~~   The page for enthusiasts in the Oxford Chilterns Area - News from you and news for you - pictures too  

Issue 152

Sunday 6th November 2005
next update week ending 18th November 2005

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002

Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

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.

If you wish to be included on a mailing list where I will advise of any mid-week news please let me know

Although the content is limited this week, I do feel that it is of great interest and I hope that you all enjoy the page. Contributions are significant, especially in the picture content and we note the arrival of a new bus for Stagecoach in our area.

Last day of Routemasters on the 38 - more pictures

This week I am including some pictures received from contributors which I hope you will enjoy. As ever Gavin Francis makes his contribution as does a new contributor, Jay.

Contribution by Jay


The end of the 38 (pictures above by Gavin Francis

Report from Luton by Mike Penn.

Further news from Luton is that "Two more Scanias for Arriva The Shires noted today (Saturday) are 3610/1 (KE 55 GWA/GWC).  3601-4/11 now have route branding for the 38 though 3602 and 3603 were on the 27 today.  A photo of 3616  (KE 55 CVL) appeared in this week's Luton Herald & Post showing its route 27 branding though I haven't seen this or any others with this branding myself yet. There were still at least three Tridents on the 38 today with one each also on the 9 and 12 - the latter is unusual as it is normally a single deck route."

More on route 505 by Mike Penn 

I have to confess that having read your piece about route 505 (Luton to Oxford) I couldn't recall the route.  However, on checking, I have found some photographs of vehicles on the route which I am attaching.  They are all Luton & District - I don't seem to have any photos of Oxford vehicles on the route.  According to Alan Parfitt's book "Luton and District - A Profile 1988/89" the route commenced on November 22nd 1987 and ceased in September 1988 so it couldn't have been particularly successful.  If my photos are typical of the vehicles employed it is perhaps not too surprising.

The first two photographs are of Leyland Nationals photographed in May 1988. Both show the route number but give no other clue as to where they are going. 

458 (ORP 458M) is the one painted in an experimental livery.
Fortunately, perhaps, this scheme was not perpetuated and 458 remained unique.

550 (ERP 550T) has "Expressline" branding but this meant nothing as
it had standard National seats and no other concessions for long distance travel.

The third photo shows a slightly better standard - it is a coach and at
least it says where it is going to.  It is ECW B51 bodied Leyland Leopard
170 (CNH 170X) - one of three in the fleet - which is in the then standard
Luton & District coach livery.  It was photographed at Luton in June 1988.

The final two photographs are Duple bodied Leyland Leopards 189/90 (NNH
189/90Y) photographed in August 1988.  They were dealer stock vehicles
purchased by United Counties in 1983 although the chassis were built in 1980.

Now I wonder who is going to produce pictures of Oxford's contribution to this route?

Other Luton area news from Mike Penn

Mike writes "Turning to other operators Lutonian has taken over the operation of services 44 and 45 between Luton and Stevenage (the roundabout route via some of the villages) from Grant Palmer with effect from October 31st.  The normal vehicle for this is Dennis Dart S462LGN, recently obtained from the Leicester operation of Centrebus.  Lutonian also has a new Dart  (SN55 DVC) although it is running with a Centrebus disc at present.  It normally works the 89 service from Hitchin to Henlow Camp although it was in Luton on service 10 on Tuesday."

Virgin Trains - a trip by your Editor


On Saturday I was asked by my company to go to Crewe to bring back 50040 which had been having attention to its engine by Crewe Engines. I arranged to travel up on Virgin Trains and have to admit that this was my first use of a British train for many years. I had got used to German trains for a whole year (2004-2005) of very regular travel and which I always found excellent and hoped for a good trip on the booked Voyager, used on the Bournemouth-Preston service on which I was to travel.

The train was scheduled to depart at 0832 and arrive at Crewe at 1054. On booking my ticket I discovered that the service had problems when starting out from Bournemouth and would be running some 30 minutes late. Also it might incur additional delays having lost its "path".

I think I could have taken a Stockport service but was told this was also running late and would miss a booked connection at Birmingham for Crewe, I thus opted to take the 0832. I took a coffee at the well served station concourse shops and waited. My train eventually arrived quite late and departed 37 minutes behind schedule. It is booked to call at Banbury, Leamington Spa, Coventry, Birmingham International and then Birmingham New Street. By the time we arrived at Coventry we were obviously running behind a slow train and one seemingly could have walked more quickly than the train was running. Our arrival at Birmingham was some 60 minutes late but by an amazingly fast turnaround we left only some 52 minutes behind schedule. Once again the run through to Stafford, calling at Wolverhampton was slow and with the "scenery" in the black country not at all pleasant. After Stafford we did get a fast run to Crewe where we arrived some 55 minutes behind time.

The Voyager train was reasonable but I would not say the seating was comfortable for a near three hour journey. I did notice that a cleaner came round during the journey which was needed as the buffet sells everything in large brown bags. My ticket was checked twice during the journey as there was a crew change at Birmingham. The fare, single, was over 35 and as an occasional user I was not encouraged to travel by train again.

In conclusion I would say that my experience left a lot to be desired, the staff on the train blamed the track/signalling company for their additional delay, saying they always let the slow trains go first. The engine noise was harsh and there some unpleasant rattles. Altogether the trip I had looked forward to was one I would prefer to forget.

From this experience I now understand why coaches are always so full. And yes, before you say it, I know the M40 is not always an easy motorway and coaches do run late but at least you can see what the reason for the delay is and talk to a driver who can explain what is happening. On a train you are just left in the dark.

I used the train for 3 months, daily, from Stafford to London and return and would strongly suggest the service was much better then, 1975, than now. The trains mostly ran on time and I could expect to be no more than a few minutes late each day.

My apologies to rail lovers but I speak as I find.


I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this page and look forward to your continued support in the future.

Malcolm Crowe - Sunday 6th November 2005

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002 to date

News of the local companies 6th November 2005

Luton Report by Mike Penn 

All 19 of the new Scanias for Arriva The Shires are now in service.  Fleet and registration numbers are as follows:

3601  KE 55 CTV
3602  KE 55 CTU
3603  KE 55 FBY
3604  KE 55 FBX
3605  KE 55 CTO
3606  KE 55 CTK
3607  KE 55 CTF
3608  KE 55 GVY
3609  KE 55 GVZ
3610  KE 55 GWA
3611  KE 55 GWC
3612  KE 55 CVG
3613  KE 55 CVH
3614  KE 55 CVJ
3615  KE 55 CVK
3616  KE 55 CVL
3617  KE 55 CVM
3618  KE 55 GXR
3619  KE 55 CVA


3601-12 have route branding for service 38 (Luton - Houghton Regis - Dunstable) and 3613-8 have route branding for service 27 (Luton - Marsh Farm).  3619 has no route branding at present.

please see the photographs above  of two of these - 3602 (KE 55 CTU) and 3617 (KE55 CVM).  I have found that it is difficult to photograph the destination indicators on these.  Unlike some of the new types where you seem to get just one or two lines of dots when using a fast shutter speed, on these you seem to get all or nothing.
(Welcome to the club - I had the same problem taking pictures of the new National Express Irizar PBs and no one yet has got any kind of pictures the Thames Travel Mercedes on route 17. Ed.)

These appear to have replaced all the Tridents as I haven't seen any since last Saturday.  However Bristol VR 5033 (SNV933W)  and the three oldest Olympians - 5165 (EWW544Y), 5170 (B605UUM) and 5381 (MUH281X) were still in use today (Friday) on school or staff shuttle duties.

The new Sunday service to Stokenchurch started a week ago and this morning I managed a shot ion the pouring rain of the 1015 departure from Stokenchurch to High Wycombe. The route is numbered 342. The loading was as far as I could see two people. I would however note that apart from an item in the Bucks Free Press, there has been no sort of local publicity and I fear this service will go the same way as the last attempt with a minibus. Maybe I am missing something here and funds do not allow any kind of publicity. Perhaps someone may wish to comment.

The rather empty 342 service today with two passengers on board, heading for High Wycombe.

Ed Maun writes "I was in Aylesbury yesterday (31/10) and noted that Blue Route 2 had commenced between Bedgrove and Quarrendon.    Bus stop flags along the route carry branding. However, the buses operating the service were devoid of route branding.  MPD Dart 3297 X297MBH was one of the vehicles on the service this appears to be a recent allocation to Aylesbury."


This company runs a service from Wantage to Faringdon - The Flying Horse - and sends the bus for the service from its home depot (?) to Wantage each day.

Phil Stockley, M D of Solent Blue Line has been a star this week in sending two reports on vehicle arrivals at his company.

Phil writes following my request for pictures of the two Airline coaches on loan to Solent Blue Line "I apologise for the poor quality, but luckily one of the coaches appeared briefly outside the front door this morning so I rushed out and took a couple of snaps.  I don't think I have much to offer the world of photography, and of course the sun was in the wrong place and no time to move the coach, but hopefully these give you the general idea.  We do intend to brand the front and rear at some point, but I can't give you any indication yet of when that might happen."


Today Phil sent this report.

Sunday 6th November

I collected the first of the B10Bs from Oxford this morning, being their 656.  It is likely to go for repaint into bluestar colours on Tuesday.

I managed to take a few photos which I trust may be of interest.  By chance, there was a Southern Vectis B7 'decker parked in our yard on layover during a private hire so with help from the SV driver, we were able to line up vehicles of four Go-Ahead subsidiaries for a group photo - a rare occurrence.

I am very pleased with the B10B - it's in excellent condition internally, Oxford look to have done a terrific job with the centre door conversion and it was a pleasure to drive.

Martyn Webb writes "Hi, I have taken a trip home to Wimborne, Dorset (near Poole) and while I was in Wimborne Square, I noticed the ex-OBC bus N606FJO pulling up, and just had to snap a photo of it on my phone! Thought your readers may be interested in seeing it in its new location."

Martyn Webb

I am most impressed by this photo which for a "phone photo" is really clear and crisp.

Paul Green writes "I thought some of your readers might be interested in this photo of former COMS 26 (MUD 26W), taken last month with Fitzpatricks of Listowel in County Kerry, Irish Republic. It went there in 1998 from Chalkwell of Sittingbourne and is one of two Leopards still in use. For those with wider interests than Oxfordshire, the other is the former AJD 166T, one of batch of five short PSU4 Leopards supplied to the prestigious Glenton Tours fleet in  1979,"

Paul Green

655 has now had its centre door removed and may soon leave for the Solent.

Volvo 806 works a 14A service last Saturday morning.

Whilst some coaches on the 757 are provided by Stansted depot others come from the Heathrow depot in Sibson road. Last Tuesday the Heathrow contribution was caught on camera in Oxpens. The destination screens prove as elusive as ever to get a good picture of.

This week saw the arrival of the last of a batch of Optare Solos for Banbury and I was able to get pictures of it before it had been prepared for service at its new home depot. Rob Williams writes with details saying "As per the item on your news page last week, the vehicle in the garage last night was KX55 RCF - 47239. 

The full batch is 47236-9 KX55 RBV/Y/Z/RCF as quoted. They are expected to enter service on the recently enhanced B1, B2 and 488 by 21st November at the latest."

47239 awaiting preparation for entry into service at Banbury. Pictures taken at Oxford depot.

It may be that the Megabus loans from Scotland, 50046, 50047 and 50058 will leave Oxford shortly to return to their home depots. It is expected that 50040, which so far has never "left Oxford" will also join them. 50040 has been to Crewe Engines for work on its engine and local readers may remember that it was this coach which was involved many months ago in a fire at Gypsy Lane. As such it is the only M A N/Jonckheere never to have served anywhere else but Oxford.

The trade press reported that Thames Travel have ordered four Scania OmniTown single deckers for delivery in May.


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Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

A Dutch owned EOS coach at Oxpens last Wednesday.

Oxford to Poland service loads at Oxford's Train Station last Wednesday.
Not sure what the coach was but the design is most unusual.

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002 to date


These are three most interesting sites which I do recommend

Bus Zone Logo (2421 bytes)

Mike Penn's photo page with much from Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire as well as Buckinghamshire

Chris Lowe's Photo page - mainly North West UK

The Oxford Bus Museum


Bus Services in Buckinghamshire

Bus services in Oxfordshire

Where are the Chilterns?

Visit this informative site through the link below.

back to home page
Map showing the Chilterns Hills beginning in Oxfordshire in the Thames Valley and stretching north-east through Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire to Hitchin in Hertfordshire. The highest points are over 250m. There are various water courses running from the Chilterns to the South East.

Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002